How Cutting Your Own CD Works

Choosing Your Studio

There are four things that need to happen between your live performance and the final compact disc:

  1. Recording
  2. Mixing
  3. Mastering
  4. Burning

To cut your own CD, you just need equipment that will perform these four tasks. There are three basic ways you can go about this.

  1. Component-Based Hardware System - This system involves separate pieces of recording, mixing, effect and CD-burning hardware, so you're dealing with an assortment of equipment. We're talking about the traditional-style components common in recording studios.
Cakewalk Music Creator 2003 Cakewalk Music Creator 2003
Cakewalk Music Creator 2003
Photo courtesy
  1. Computer-Based Recording System - Almost any powerful computer can run recording and CD-burning software. Many of these programs will let you mix the music and create effects. The costs here are lower than for a component-based set-up because if you already have a computer, you only need to purchase certain software programs and a few additional pieces of equipment. The programs and equipment are expensive, but you're spending less money than you would to buy recording-studio equipment. Some common music-studio programs include Cakewalkand EMagic. They'll cost you anywhere from about $100 to more than $800. But you can often try before you buy, so download a trial version to test out the software before you shell out the cash. The downsides: You'll need to have decent computer skills; it takes time to learn to use the programs; and your studio is only portable if your computer is a laptop. For Mac fans, check out Apple's GarageBand.
  2. Studio Workstation - This type of equipment provides almost everything you need to cut your own CD in one portable unit. These units are produced by a variety of companies including Roland and Boss. Check out the Boss BR1180CD Digital Recording Studio with Internal CD-R Drive to see what we're talking about. They offer almost all the tools of a full recording studio. There are a lot of studio workstations out there, and you'll need to do some investigating to find out which one will work best for you. The cost can run about the same as the home-studio computer setup. If you go with a digital workstation, you've got system-wide memory, minimal setup, no wiring, and real portability. The downsides: You might need to buy an external CD burner and a small display screen.