When I burn a CD on my new IMAC, it doesn't play on my car's CD player.
January 19, 2008 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Why won't the cd player in my car "read" cd's that I'm burning on my new I-Mac?

I do a lot of driving, and typically burn podcasts onto cd's and listen when I drive.

When I burn a CD on my new IMAC, it doesn't play on my car's CD player. The car cd player doesn't reject (eject) the cd, it responds like it's reading and playing the disc, but there's no sound.

The CDs do play on a cd player in the house, but not in the car. I called Apple support, they had me check system preferences to confirm that it's set to burn an audio CD (as opposed to an mp3), and it is. They had no other suggestions.

The auto CD player does seem to work fine in all other regards. I just flipped platforms, and continually burned discs on my Dell, which continue to play just fine in the car. Seems like I can listen to any disc, as long as it wasn't burned on my new Mac!

Any thoughts or suggestions?
posted by elf27 to Technology (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What kind of CD media are you using? Perhaps the car CD player doesn't like those kinds of discs?
posted by JaredSeth at 1:17 PM on January 19, 2008

either the mac is burning cds in a different way that isn't obvious, or the mac is burning them at too high a speed for the cars player to recognize. Try burning at 4x and see if that works, and then increase the speed until it doesn't. Is it "finalizing" the cd? Some players don't like it when that isn't done.
posted by gjc at 1:18 PM on January 19, 2008

Some (primarily older) cd players won't play burned CDs at all.
posted by kickingtheground at 1:25 PM on January 19, 2008

How old is your car? As Kickingtheground said, older players won't play burnt CDs.
posted by k8t at 1:26 PM on January 19, 2008

[Oops...didn't notice it worked on your Dell. Actually, now that I think of it...I've had trouble playing CDs burned on macs in my dad's car, too. Weird.]
posted by kickingtheground at 1:27 PM on January 19, 2008

If you are burning CDs from iTunes downloads, your CD player won't play the DRM-protected .aac files, because Apple is evil and hates you and wants to make you cry.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:28 PM on January 19, 2008

BitterOldPunk: You can burn protected AAC files, to an audio CD, just fine. It's impossible for DRM to have any effect on a regular audio CD. But thanks for the helpful answer.
posted by xil at 1:37 PM on January 19, 2008

BOP is wrong above, of course.

My 2000 Miata stereo plays CD Audio CDs burned on my 2006 iMac fine.

Try to figure out what the Dell is doing that the Mac isn't.
posted by panamax at 1:37 PM on January 19, 2008

Could it be a CD-R vs. CD-RW issue?
posted by iconomy at 1:39 PM on January 19, 2008

Older cars have a hell of time playing burned media. Sometimes buying a different brand helps but not usually. Or as iconomy wrote about using r instead of rw or vice-versa.

If you can get a home cd player to play the disc then its time to start thinking of upgrading your car stereo to something more modern.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:46 PM on January 19, 2008

Sometimes this happens to me. Are you burning using itunes? You may want to burn using Toast, or Nero.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 1:51 PM on January 19, 2008

OK, my answer was flippant, but now I'm curious. I CANT burn audio CDs from my iTunes library and have them work ANYWHERE -- they don't play on my stereo, they don't play in my car. I'll try Toast. Sorry if I misled anyone. I just assumed Apple hated me.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:02 PM on January 19, 2008

Is it possible that your car CD player has a problem with CDs that contain CD text info in them? I don't know if that ever poses a problem with CD players, but I noticed that iTunes on my Mac is set to include CD text (artist and track name). Maybe try turning that off, if you have it turned on. Also, it couldn't hurt to try burning a CD at the slowest possible speed to ensure a proper burn. Maybe try cleaning the car CD player and your Mac's CD drive?
posted by emelenjr at 2:18 PM on January 19, 2008

Toyota, with a Fujitsu / Seven deck, by any chance? Toyotas here are notorious for being picky; older ones before about 2004~2005 mostly flat out refuse to play any burned discs.

There's various parts to the technical reason, but it all boils down to "pressed CDs are different to CD-Rs are different to CD-RWs", "different burners burn discs differently", and "different players are more or less particular about this". For instance, I used to drive a Toyota van for work - of the CDs burnt using the LG drive in my PC, it'd always play old blue dye Ricohs, usually play gold/yellow dye TDKs, and never play CD-RWs.

Conversely, of the CDs burnt using the (older) LG drive in my Mac, no CD-Rs would play - but CD-RWs usually would, although it often involved a lot of loading/ejecting to get it to see them initially and they were more susceptible to mistracking over bumps.

I always burned CDs at the lowest speed possible (not always 1x; that's up to the disc's MDC). The software used to burn made little to no difference. And the deck in a friend's Corolla behaves slightly differently; IIRC it won't play CD-RWs at all, barely plays the blue-dye Ricohs, and prefers gold/yellow dye discs.
posted by Pinback at 2:36 PM on January 19, 2008

The problem might be at any link in the chain - software, disc drive, blank media, cd player.

Starting with the software used to burn the cd - you may wish to enable error checking. Make sure that the session is being closed after the tracks are burned (enable "disc-at-once" if possible). The ideal speed to burn your CDs should be at about 30-40% of your drive's maximum speed. You might want to try some different software; I don't know what software is best, but I find that Nero works for me. Don't overburn - stick to 74 minutes or less. And it's best to burn after a fresh reboot without any other software running.

Bland CDs are not all equal - use the best CDs that you can afford. CD-Rs are dye-based, and different brands use different types of dye. Reading the wiki about CD-Rs may help.

You can't control the strength of the laser you're using to burn (not all drives are equal, either), and some older CD players just seem to struggle with CD-Rs, but the above tips will maximize your chances of burning a playable CD. (And I've burnt plenty of downloaded iTunes AAC tracks without any problems).
posted by malocchio at 7:24 PM on January 19, 2008

Just adding on to what others are saying, I'd try to burn just one or two songs at *1X* speed and see if that works. If it does, you can probably rule out other factors and increase the burn speed until you find the maximum that'll work for your car radio.
posted by edjusted at 11:22 PM on January 19, 2008

For everyone that says BOP is totally off, I'll support what he's saying; anytime I've ever used iTunes to burn an audio CD, either the disc won't play at all, or every track after the first on the disc that was originally in the AAC format will not play on any stereo or car stereo I've tried to play the disc on. iTunes will still recognize it as a valid audio CD and play it.
posted by Cricket at 12:03 AM on January 20, 2008

Are you burning 74 or 80 minute blanks? Try using a 74 minute blank, see if they work better.
posted by nomisxid at 11:45 AM on January 21, 2008

Thanks for all this info.
When my cd wouldn't play after burning from iTunes I read all these comments then tried burning the cd from within iTunes instead of just dragging the icon onto the blank cd in finder.
Then it worked perfectly and the cd played.
I had to create a playlist first or the "burn disk" button is not available. So I created a playlist and put the cuts I wanted in it. When I selected the playlist the "burn disk" button was available. The cd worked perfectly.
The key is the playlist.
posted by itsgreat at 2:12 AM on January 25, 2008

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