Red Book refers to a set of professional specifications for audio CD's.
The reason it’s called that is very, very simple - I promise! Ready?
They are so named because the colour of the cover of the book that contains all these technical specifications for the standard audio CD is red.
There! I told you it was simple!
And if you expect your work to be professionally replicated, your production master CD must conform to the tech specs outlined in this book.
Every CD I master for my clients adhere to this professional standard.
CD players are made to read the red book standard discs. Therefore, your CD will play in any CD player. You wanna be heard, right?!
All red book discs are written in Disc-At-Once (DAO) mode.
Warning! When it comes to the Red Book CD standard, not all software is created equal! Only specialized CD mastering software will create such a CD master.
If the disc you get from a studio is not accompanied by a “PQ Sheet” you probably do not have a red book disc.
Needless to say, all my clients who want physical CD masters, will always get the accompanying PQ Sheet.
An audio CD contains sub-code data which are designated by the letters P to W.
Back to the Lead-In Area: the Q sub-code data contains the TOC complete with Track ID positions. This is why when you load a CD into your player you instantly get information about the number of tracks, their lengths, and the total length of the CD
On again to the Program Area: the P sub-code data show where music tracks start and end.
The Q sub-code data contains time information. It also contains four other types of data:
A PQ sheet is simply a printout charting all this information, timing and otherwise, for the accompanying CD.
What about the rest of sub-code data – R to W?
They're mostly unused at present.
Stand alone CD recorders do not create a red book CD.
Most consumer programs do not, either. Here is a partial list, however, of CD mastering software programs that do:
While the maximum length of CD can be almost 80 minutes, most replicators only guarantee lengths up to 74 minutes.
Remember that one of the original spec for the CD was a maximum length of 74 minutes.
There can still be some older players out there that may have trouble with longer discs.
This shouldn't be a problem as most albums are between 40 to 60 minutes anyway.
You know what's said about too much of a good thing.
Having said that, I’ll say this once more: every audio CD mastered at Mister’s Mastering House conforms to the red book standard!