Last updated: August 17, 2021

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Welcome to our big CD burner test 2021. Here we present all the CD recorders we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

With this, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best CD burner for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a CD burner.




Summary

  • CD burners, like DVD burners, are available both as external and internal devices.
  • There are various blank CDs that are suitable for burning. For example, these are multi-erasable and rewritable blanks, audio blanks and printable blanks.
  • When buying a CD burner, you should not only consider the weight, dimensions and scope of delivery, but also the workmanship of the device.

The Best CD Burners in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a CD burner

How does a CD burner work?

CDs are with us all our lives - whether compiling a music playlist for the car or editing holiday photos for friends. In the early 1990s, CD burners opened up new horizons for music lovers: compared to records, you could now burn your own compilations at home - without any loss of quality!

A shiny silver plastic disc serves as the data carrier. All the information on the CD is stored as a sequence of zeros or ones. All letters, and also most of the characters on the computer screen, can be clearly represented as an eight-digit (8-bit code) string of zeros and ones.

These zeros and ones are translated again, so to speak, on a CD-Rom in a series of tiny depressions in the smooth surface ("pits"). The layer and the pits represent the zeros and each edge of a pit represents a one. Altogether, the pits form a spiral-shaped track.

To read this track, the CD-Rom player uses a laser beam. This laser light beam is now directed at the CD. It starts inside and then moves further and further out as it is read. If it hits the layer or the bottom of a recess, it is reflected back.

If it hits an edge, the beam is deflected. The reflected light is measured with a sensor and the different light intensities trigger corresponding current pulses.

With burnt CDs, it is basically the same. Here, a much stronger writing beam is used in addition to the reading beam. One layer of a blank CD consists of a kind of synthetic resin mass (polycarbonates). When this layer is exposed to the writing beam of the burner, the plastic crystallises. This is called "burning" because the laser produces heat on plastic and "burns" into the spots.

The creation of a pit on a CD-R cannot be undone. This means that data that has already been written to a CD-R cannot be erased or changed, so it is only possible to write data once.

Which CD formats / blanks are suitable for burning? (Photo: 500photos.com / pexels.com)

These written or exposed areas are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. During the reading process, the reading beam is refracted and scattered at these exposed and crystallised spots.

On the spots that the writing laser of the recorder has not irradiated, the reading beam can shine through the plastic, is reflected, measured and "deciphered".

What types of blank CDs are there?

Different types of blank CDs are suitable for burning. For example, single-recordable and rewritable blanks, audio blanks and those that can be printed on.

In the following table we show you which blank is best suited for which function and which special features are associated with these blank types.

Type For what? Special feature
Multiple erasable and recordable blanks For regular backups and files that need to be changed often Waste-saving, rewritable up to 1000x
One-time recordable blanks Music collections, video films, digital photos and backup copies Only recordable once
Audio blanks Especially for hi-fi CD recorders that can record and burn one-to-one copies of CDs, long-playing records or music cassettes

Multi-erasable and recordable media are also distinguished from audio blanks and printable blanks because they bear the suffix RW

Printable blanks Professional label prints and desired motifs A distinction is made between blanks that are written directly in the burner and those that are placed in the inkjet printer for this purpose

In addition, you should always use the blank CD that is specifically tailored to your purposes. You won't get far with a normal blank CD in a hi-fi recorder, for example. This is because the recorder recognises the difference to the audio blank and refuses to work.

The situation is similar with printable blanks. Here, too, you need special blanks and special burners or suitable printers.

Different types of blank CDs are suitable for burning. For example, single-recordable and rewritable blanks, audio blanks and those that can be printed on. These different types of blank CDs will be discussed in more detail below.

There are multi-erasable and rewritable blanks and single-recordable media. You can recognise them by the suffix RW. Whether it makes sense to use them depends on the intended use. For example, for a regular backup it is cheaper and saves waste if you can always use the same blank, i.e. a rewritable blank.

You can erase and rewrite the media up to a thousand times. That is enough for several years.

For music collections, video films, digital photos or even backup copies of software CDs, rewritable CDs are always sufficient. This is because data is not changed regularly, but at most new data is added, which can then be stored on another blank disc.

Audio blanks are a special case. They are specially designed for hi-fi CD recorders that can record and burn one-to-one copies of CDs, long-playing records or music cassettes. Such recorders refuse to work with normal blank CDs. Reason: The price of a blank audio CD includes a GEMA fee so that one-to-one copies can be made on the hi-fi system.

Blanks that can be printed are another special form. A distinction is made here between media that can be written on directly in the burner and those that are placed in an inkjet printer for this purpose. Both options require special blanks and special burners or suitable printers.

For example, the burner simply aborts the writing process or claims that there is no medium in the drive, although this is not true. Unfortunately, data gaps on the finished CDs, which the burner has not complained about, also occur time and again. This need not be the case, because if the burner and the blank disc harmonise, data loss and failed attempts at burning are an absolute rarity.

Did you know that the developers of the CD from the music and technology giant Sony took their inspiration from Beethoven?

They wanted a CD with enough space to fit Beethoven's Synphony, which was 74 minutes and 33 seconds long. This resulted in the size of a CD that is still common today.

How compatible is the CD burner?

Today's PCs are equipped with a DVD / CD burner as standard. This optical drive is then "the girl for everything" and should optimally support CD formats in addition to the various DVD formats. In principle, a CD drive / burner is therefore superfluous and can be saved, because the DVD burner can also read and write CDs.

Chip.deTechnik Experten
The media compatibility of CD and DVD burners often leaves much to be desired.

Firmware and software updates can often help to increase the compatibility of burners. The firmware contains the identifiers of the various blank discs and the appropriate burning strategies.

This can be extremely helpful when burning CDs and DVDs. (Source: chip.de)

In fact, there are small but subtle differences between CD and DVD burners, which in individual cases can also cause "burning mishaps" and a lack of data security. The following points illustrate why a CD and a DVD burner in a PC make perfect sense for some users:

  • A current CD burner (maximum speed 52x) usually burns CD-Rs much faster than a DVD burner can.
  • CD recorders are usually better calibrated for CD-R and CD-RW media than DVD recorders. Therefore, burning quality and stability can be better in many cases when using CD burners.
  • Special copying software that directly controls the CD writer (RAW mode) does not work with DVD writers. This significantly limits the ability to make backup copies.
  • DVD recorders in some cases do not support the Mount-Rainier feature, which makes it possible to use a CD-RW virtually like a hard disk and save the time-consuming process of formatting before first use. Other special audio CD formats, such as Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD), are also less well supported or not supported at all by DVD recorders.

It is therefore still too early to dispose of the CD burner in the "electronic scrap". On the contrary - you are on the safe side especially with a CD and DVD drive in your PC. This is especially true for those who want to read audio CDs with bit accuracy.

How often do I want to write to a CD? This is a question you should ask yourself before buying.

What are the differences between burning CDs on Windows devices and on OSx devices?

As before, the burning function is integrated into the Finder and the respective application programmes: ITunes is responsible for audio CDs, the Finder for burning data CDs and DVDs.

What you should know: If you have a Mac without a burner or no drive connected, you will not see any burning options. These only appear in the menu and context menu when a USB or Firewire burner is connected.

External burners do not cost "the earth". Apple offers a burner as an optional accessory when you buy a burnerless Mac. If you are still using an older Mac with a DVD / CD drive in your own network, you can activate "DVD or CD sharing" on this Mac under the system setting Sharing: The Mac without a burner uses the shared drive via the network - but only for reading.

With Windows Media Player you can burn three types of media: Audio CDs, Data CDs and Data DVDs. Choosing the right type of disc depends on the type of content you want to copy, the amount of content you want to copy and the playback method you want to use.

You need two things before you can get started:

  • A CD or DVD recorder drive (also called a CD or DVD burner)
  • A blank CD or DVD disc

How much does a CD recorder weigh?

The weight differs depending on the type of CD burner, i.e. whether it is internal or external.

Internal CD recorders are usually heavier and weigh up to 700 grams. External CD recorders, however, are not much lighter. Their weight is between 250 and 600 grams.

Decision: What types of CD burners are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between two different types of CD burners:

  • Internal burner
  • External burner

Both types offer different advantages as well as disadvantages, which are mainly determined by their intended use. Depending on whether you have a laptop or a desktop PC and depending on what you want to burn, a different type of burner is better suited for you.

In the following section, we'll compare the advantages and disadvantages of each CD burner and show which one is best for you.

How does an internal CD burner work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

We have already shown how an internal CD burner works at the beginning of this guide. An internal burner has several advantages over an external burner: it is more space-saving because it is built directly into the PC case. It also does not require an external power source and is cheaper than an external CD burner.

In addition, the internal burner does not consume any additional connections such as USB ports. The disadvantage is that the drive has to be installed by yourself or by a specialist and the fact that modern laptops in particular often cannot be upgraded with internal drives.

Advantages
  • Space-saving
  • No external connections
  • No external power source
  • Cost-effective
Disadvantages
  • Must be purchased separately
  • Increases the weight of the PC

How does an external CD burner work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

An external CD burner works exactly the same as an internal CD burner. External burners have the advantage of being easily connected to any computer or laptop, saving the labour and cost of installing an internal burner.

In addition, an external CD burner can be taken anywhere without any problems. However, the external burner needs extra space on the desk, an additional power source and external USB connections.

Due to the additional cable connection, external devices are not quite as fast as internal CD burners, especially with high data volumes. Data transfer is significantly slower with external burners.

Advantages
  • No installation or removal necessary
  • Transportable
Disadvantages
  • Additional space required
  • External power and USB are needed
  • Slower data transfer

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and rate CD recorders

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate CD recorders. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular device is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Item weight
  • Dimensions
  • Colour
  • Scope of delivery

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Item weight

If you want a rather light CD recorder, you should pay attention to a low number of grams when buying it.

There are already CD recorders that weigh less than 300 grams. Since the weight of all CD recorders does not vary that much from one product to another, this point is less important when buying.

Dimensions

These are the usual drive sizes for CD recorders. They are thus the largest drives installed in modern PCs.

The usual dimensions are: width: 146 millimetres, height: 41 millimetres, length: approximately 165 to 200 millimetres. Due to the variable length, special care must be taken when purchasing a 5.25″ CD recorder to ensure that there is enough space in the housing.

A special form of 5.25″ drive is the so-called SlimLine variant, which is mainly used in laptops and smaller PC cases. SlimLine drives are significantly flatter so that they fit easily into a laptop case. The usual dimensions for these drives are: Width: 128 millimetres, Height: 13 millimetres, Length: 124 to 130 millimetres.

CD burners are available in a wide range of models and price categories. In the category "Buying Criteria", we have described the things you should look for when buying a CD burner. (Photo: 422737 / pixabay.com)

Colour

If you attach great importance to an attractive design, you should pay special attention to the appearance of the product. There are many CD recorders that are black and have a matt design.

There are also products that have an aluminium-like colour and look noble. Depending on your taste, there is a wide variety of colours for CD recorders.

Scope of delivery

By looking at the scope of delivery, you can see what you might have to buy for your CD burner on your own.

If you are lucky, all the parts you need for the burner are included. Most of the time, however, you will have to buy an additional USB cable.

Did you know that you can go to prison for several years for illegally burning CDs?

In fact, the penalties are relatively high, especially if you use the burned material commercially.

Image source: 123rf.com / 120940620

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