music cd

camtz used Ask the Experts™
A friend send me a cd with 17 songs he recorded and I have tried everything to import them into my music library in iTunes as well as Real Player and even though they will both play them, I can't import them.  the tracks read Track 01.cda and the size for all of them is just 1 kb. however when I play them they show up as 3.24 minutes, etc.

So apparently these songs are locked.  Is there a way for me to unlock them?
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I would steer clear of iTunes altogether.  Download one of the many free third party apps (such as Free Rip available from, then rip your CD to MP3 files.  After that, if you really have to use iTunes, you can import them direct from the ripped MP3s.
An "Audio CD" has a special format, just the same as a DVD has a special and different format.  A Home-Burned Audo CD made using software like Nero, Roxio, or other free "burning software", takes an audio file like an MP3, decompresses it into raw audio format like the much larger WAV file type, and then encodes it onto the CD in a way that a domestic CD Player or CD Drive in a computer can recognise.

If you were to select a whole bunch of 5MB MP3 files and just burn them to a "Data CD" so that they are actually still MP3 files on the disc, you will fit as many files on the CD as it has the capacity to hold.  There are two values on a normal CD-R disc: 700MB and 80 minutes.

In the case of burning MP3 FILES (using the "Data CD" option) to a CD-R, you would fit somewhere around 130 files on it.  800(mb) divided by 5(mb) = 140, but a little bit of extra space is needed for areas reserved on the disc to store details about its formatting and content.

When you burn an AUDIO CD using MP3 files as the source, it is the Playback Time that matters, hence the 80 minute capacity value for a standard CD-R.  Regardless of the file sizes of the source MP3 files, the CD will only hold as many audio tracks as the combined playback of them all one after the other (minus a bit of time used for the silent gaps between tracks).  So, if your source MP3s averaged 4 minutes duration at standard speed, then you will only be able to accommodate 80(mins) divided by 4(mins) = 20 tracks (or perhaps only 19 because of the space between the tracks.

When you look at the contents of an Audio CD in Windows Explorer and see all those 1KB *.CDA files, they are not really there.  The easiest way I can explain it is that Windows conveniently displays the start points of each track on the CD with these little "marker" files.  In a way they are something like a Windows Shortcut to a program or file.  The shortcut is tiny, and is just a "pointer" to where the program or file is located amongst your directories on the hard drive.

Showing *.CDA files so that they appear to actually be the contents of an Audio CD is just a convenient way designed by Microsoft so that when you double-click on a "file" that isn't really there at all it will locate the track on the CD and play it (by default) in Windows Media Player.  Like any other file type in Windows it can probably be "reassociated" with another media playing program, but that's something I haven't tried.

To extract tracks from an Audio CD to a usable Audio File it needs to be "ripped" from it to your hard drive.  A lot of software allows you to do this, including CD Burning software, Windows Media Player, and a host of free, shareware, and retail "CD Ripping" programs.  Normally the software offers some options for what audio file type you wish the track to be saved as, and the ripping process uses an encoder to take that raw data and convert it to an MP3 or other audio file that can then be played back on an MP3 Player (usually MP3 and WMV), Mobile Phone (compatible file types vary), or software Media Player.

Don't allow my explanation to make you feel foolish.  It is a very common misconception that the *.CDA files that are apparently on an Audio CD can be copied out elsewhere and played because of the fact that double-clicking on one of them plays the track from the CD.  Hopefully my explanation of how an Audio CD differs from a Data CD sheds some light on it for you.
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Although I have never used iTunes, I would tend to agree with elementseven's comment based on feedback about iTunes from others who used it.  My brother, who holds a PhD in Computer Science and is a very experienced programmer and a music enthusiast, vowed that he would never again install iTunes on another computer of his because of the way it "took over" his computers and was a major resource hog.  I tend to believe him more often than I disbelieve him in such matters, and have therefore never succumbed to temptation of testing iTunes.

Just a quick warning about FREE "CD Ripping" software though.  Many are Ad-Supported.  Some place clickable or animated banner ads in the actual program window (not sure if FreeRIP still does); some will have a tick-box that is ticked by default to install additional software applications (sometimes demo versions); and others MAY communicate some details to the vendor especially when you uninstall the software.  You may or may not like the fact that they nearly all send the Audio CDs ID to an online Audio CD Database so as to identify the album name, artist, and track names and thereby rip them out with the correct file names and track numbers.

We all have our favorite ripping programs, and in my case it is:
or just my normal D Burning software.
AS BillDL says, there are quite a few free ripping programs available.  My favourites are FreeRip and Audiograbber, neither of which I believe contain any bloatware or advertising.  Hope you find one you like camtz :)
If you are using a windows computer (I am making an assumption here) then just rip the audio cd using Windows Media Player and then import the songs from the location you ripped to.


This turned out to be much easier than I expected.  WMP worked just fine.  Many thanks

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