While shopping for music CDs at Media Medley you might run across a listing that has one of the following designations: CD, ECD, VCD, CDR, SACD, or DualDisc.
You might even wonder what the heck those letters mean.
Before you invest in that perfect CD you'll want to be sure that beautiful music will play on your player. Understanding the different music CD formats will help you to get the right CD for your player.
The standard for music CDs dates way back to 1980 when Philips and Sony came out with the "Red Book". The term Red Book, according to urban legend, came about because the specs for a Compact Disc’s dimensions and features were held in a red binder book. Since then, other types of compact audio discs (created on the foundation of Red Book specs) have each gotten their own color to title their book. All of the books together are called the Rainbow Books.
CD or CDDA (Compact Disc Digital Audio)
Playable on: Any CD player around the world.
According to the Red Book, a CD is defined as "a content medium for audio data digitized at 44,100 samples per second (44.1KHz), in a range of 65,536 possible values (16 bits), through 2 channels."
All this means is that most any CD player around the world can play any standard CD at a "pretty good" sound quality.
ECD and CD+
Playable on: Music Tracks on CD player. All tracks playable on DVD player, or computer CD drive, or a multimedia-capable device.
The Blue Book outlines the requirements for ECD (Enhanced CD, also written as E-CD), CD+ (CD Plus) and CD+G (Karaoke with Graphics) CD formats.
Most standard CDs only use anywhere from 40 to around 60 minutes of a CD’s 80 minutes. The Enhanced CD uses the extra space as filler for additional computer/video content. Enhanced CD and CD Plus are a CD formatted so that it will play the music tracks on a CD player.
The extra features come into play when the ECD is played on a device where additional digital information can be displayed. All the media can be accessed on a DVD player, or computer CD drive, or a multimedia-capable device, such as a CD-i player.
CD+G discs are generally used in Karaoke machines which displays the song lyrics with instrumental music.
Playable on: special players, most computer CD drives, and in most DVD players.
The White Book talks about VCD that was developed as a standard in 1993. Sought after as a collectible by some, a VCD incorporates video in MPEG-1 format with the CD. Audio is encoded as MPEG Layer 2 (MP2) at 224 kbit/s. The picture quality may or may not be as good as a VHS video.
Sometimes also called, View CD, VCDs can be played in special players, most computer CD drives, and in most DVD players. It does not play in regular CD players. It’s display radius is a small area about a forth the size of a normal TV screen resolution. If you purchase a VCD, be aware that it needs protection from humidity.
Unlike DVDs, VCDs do not have Region Codes, making them playable most anywhere in the world in any compatible machine.
Playable on: Not recommended for purchased music CDs.
The Orange Book describes CD-R (Recordable, Write Once or Write Once, Read Many) and CD-RW (ReWritable) technologies. CD-Rs are great for storing your computer files, but you probably won’t want to buy a music CD-R since that’s generally an illegal copy of music.
You can generally tell a CDR from a factory pressed music CD by the color of the non-printed side of the disc. A factory pressed music CD will usually be silver/aluminum in color. The exceptions are Gold discs and occasional artistic pressings.
Playable on: Single Layer and Dual Layer SACD requires a special SACD player, or universal player. The Hybrid SACD is playable on any CD player.
The Scarlet Book details the Super Audio CD. The SACD was developed to create higher fidelity digital audio and uses different technology from CDs.
Beloved by some Classical, Jazz, and Classic Rock aficionados, SACDs must always contain a 2-channel stereo mix and may optionally contain surround sound known as multi-channel. Usually the multi-channel sound is 5.1 surround sound, but can be other styles of format, such as quadraphonic 4.0.
To confuse matters, though, there are 3 types of SACDs.
- The Hybrid SACD has both a Redbook standard CD layer and a SACD layer. This popular type of SACD should be playable in any CD player. The best sound quality is heard, however, when a SACD is played in a specialized SACD stereo system.
- The Single Layer SACD has the SACD layer with no CD layer. Often used by Sony Music. This can only be played in a SACD stereo system.
- The rarely used Dual Layer SACD has two SACD layers with no CD layer. This too can only be played in a SACD system.
Not CD Standard. Playable on: some CD players, most DVD players, and all universal players.
The DualDisc is a format developed independently of the Red Book standard by several major recording companies. The DualDisc is intended to play in both DVD players and CD players. One side contains a DVD layer and the other contains a CD style layer.
This format seems to be popular on the market because it has the backing of major recording studios. Additionally, the DVD side allows nearly any DVD player to play the disc in surround sound. However, there are reports that the DVD audio side is usually just a Dolby Digital mix, not true high-resolution sound such as found on a SACD.
There are also some reports that some models of CD players are unable to play the CD side because the CD formatted side is either not up to Red Book standards and/or the disc is too thick.
When planning to purchase a DualDisc, it might be wise to first determine if your player is capable of handling DualDiscs.
Thank you for shopping with Media Medley . We hope you've found this information useful in your music CD shopping.