Back in the day, we bought our (then fast) Pentium 333MHz with a 3.3GB hard drive, 64MB of RAM and a single CD-ROM long before CD burning was the talk of the town. Then things changed rapidly when Napster came along. To keep up with the Jones' I decided one Saturday afternoon to go ahead and purchase the Cicero CD burner and install it myself.
The software that came with the burner was cumbersome and too critical for a smooth fast burn with the machine in question. Turning to freeware online, I was happy burning with the Veritas program, although it had a lot of limitations. Our computer crashed one day and after getting it back on track, I couldn't find any freeware or shareware out there that was simple and easy to use.
Download.com was my main source for trying each and every software program available that would be compatible with a (now) slow machine like mine.
One by one they all fell by the wayside. “Your machine is too slow. Try burning at a slower speed.” Finally, I tried the Acoustica MP3 CD burning software for the trial period of 15 days. Skeptical and ready to add to my collection of CD coasters, I decided to test it before actually burning anything. It was a success again and again. I couldn't believe I had found CD burning software that would actually make me feel like I'm king again.
Passing the test
The Acoustica trial-run was the most convincing factor for me in a lot of ways. Unlike other trial versions, the Acoustica MP3 burning software comes fully loaded. You own it 100 percent for those seven days. You can burn as many songs and sessions as you want. All its features are fully operational and purchasing online is a breeze and reassuring.
Once the program is loaded, you immediately notice that layout is simple and uncluttered. Below the regular menu is a string of user-friendly, self-explanatory buttons across the screen. Clicking each one reveals additional features that again are simple and easy to understand. I never used the help menu once, though if you read through some of the reviews on various forums about Acoustica, the company's response is good and efficient. The split screen windows below hold the library of songs on the left and the selected songs on the right. Click on the find button on the left and the program searches for audio files on the hard drive. Select the box against the song you wish to burn and the file automatically gets transferred to the burn-list screen on the right. As you keep on selecting your files to burn, the program prepares each file.
Performance at a glance
Small download size
Efficient technical back-up
Through this process it will indicate possible incomplete songs and normalize volumes of song files that are lower than others, ensuring that once the CD is burned, all songs will have the same playback volume. Here's where the Acoustica program scores big. As an audiophile I can tell you the little features packed into this program are worth every penny. Over and above, you can manually correct volume levels of songs according to personal preference. Songs can be faded in and out by the second, thus allowing non-stop CDs. Files can be trimmed or spliced as desired, and each action can be reviewed before saving the work.
Let it burn
Once the files are ready to burn, click the burn button and you have the option of saving as WAV files first, which is recommend for slower machines. I found this useful in my case. The same window presents the option of choosing the burn speed and three assuring features: test only, test and burn or burn directly. After having been burned myself so many times before with other programs, I always selected the second option and it never failed. The status window showing the testing status and the burn status including the same against each track as it goes along, makes you fully aware of the whole process as it happens.
When ripping CDs, files can be copied and burned in several ways. Files can be saved as MP3, OGG, WAV or WMA. The percentage status for tracks ripped is indicated against each track as it progresses. At the bottom of the window is the player feature that shows the track details and tack length.
Burning CDs was a breeze with the Acoustica, however there were some minor glitches I found that I couldn't find a way around. On most of my burns, I noticed a click sound between tracks. It was more pronounced when the tracks were separated by a few seconds. I tried increasing the silence between tracks and by manually increasing the trim start and trim end but without success. When you cross-fade the tracks the sound is less audible but it still exists. After an e-mail to the programmers, I was informed that Version 4 should not have this problem. I reloaded the program and still faced the same issue. Since then Acoustica has created a newer version, version 4.01, which is available for download on its website and should correct this problem.
Another issue I had with the rip section of the program was its inability to copy faded tracks correctly. It tended to get confused about where the track ended and where the next track started. When I tried to rip a CD that I had just burned using the fading features, the program lost its ability to duplicate the master. The program popped up messages informing me that the tracks may be incomplete and proceeded to hesitate where to begin and end.
Again, Acoustica said the newest version should not have this problem.
The string of awards the Acoustica MP3 CD burning is accumulating shows that the program is worth its price. It is easy to use, user-friendly, and you learn the features quickly the first time you use it and there is hardly any need to use the help menu, which only goes to prove the transparency and strength of the program.
I have now upgraded to a Dell P4 Dimension 4700 and have left all the standard burning software that came with the machine by the wayside. I will continue to use the Acoustica MP3 CD burning software until someone can come up with a program that would make recording my vinyl albums onto my now-forgotten Nakamichi three-head cassette deck seem like rocket science.
DeSouza is an audio freelancer and writer in Toronto.
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