Unofficial CD Text FAQ

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This page is intended for at least the short term to serve as a repository for all kinds of information concerning CD Text. It will be updated when we get time, and when we find new information. If you have something to add, let us know and we will add it to the list. If there is something incorrect on this page, let us know. If you are interested in taking over responsibility for the FAQ let us know.

What is CD Text

Essentially CD Text is a extension of the existing audio CD standard ("Red Book") that adds the ability to store text and graphical information like album titles, artist names, and song titles on a music CD. This information is stored in such a way that it doesn't interfere with the normal operation of any CD players or CDROM drives. There is quite a bit of confusion about the standard because there are two different parts of the CD where the data can be stored.

The first place the information can be recorded is in the R-W sub codes in the lead in area of the CD giving a data capacity of about 2,500 characters with Kanji, and about 5,000 characters with alphabet/numbers. This information is stored as a single block of data and is the format used in virtually all of the CD Text CDs shipping today. The method for reading this data from a cdrom drive is covered under the Sony proposal to the MMC spec. The format of the data is partially covered in the MMC spec.

The second place the information can be recorded is in the R-W sub codes in the program area of the CD giving a data capacity of roughly 31MB. This information is stored in a format that follows the Interactive Text Transmission System (ITTS) which is the same data transmission standard used by such things as Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), and virtually the same as the data standard for the MiniDisc. Traditionally the R-W sub codes have been used for text and graphics in applications such as CD+G (CD w/graphics) or in the case of most audio CDs, not at all. The methods for reading this data from a cdrom drive is covered by the programming specs from the individual drive manufacturers. In the case of ATAPI drives, the SFF8020 spec covers the reading of the RW subcodes. There is a fairly short list of drives out there that actually support reading the RW subcodes from the program area. (if anyone happens to have a good list of these drives, please forward it to us for inclusion in the faq)

Available CDs

According to Sony, about 400 companies are now licensed to use CD Text which adds almost no cost to production of a disc. As of late November, 1997, there were apparently upwards of 100 or more CD Text encoded CDs available from Sony. It also appears virtually every Sony title release since April '97 has been encoded with CD Text, they just haven't been advertising it.

Available Drives

Hewlett Packard 7500 / 8100 / 8200 / M820e / 9100 / 9200
Plextor 4220T (requires firmware 1.02 or higher)
Plextor 8220T
Ricoh 7040 (requires firmware 1.20 or higher)
Ricoh 7060 / 7080 / 8040 / 9060
Sony CRX100E / CRX110E / CRX120E / CRX140E / CRX140S
Teac CD-R56S / CD-R58S (requires firmware 1.0J or higher)

Available 3rd Party Software

Golden Hawk Technology
CDRWIN since version 3.6A has support for using these drives to read the encoded CDs.

Fiero Now supports CD-Text with their CD burning software. Free beta version available from their site.

Ahead Software Now supports CD-Textwith their Nero CD burning software. Free trial version available from their site.

CD Text Players

Plextor CD Text Player

Sony Europe CD Text authoring tool

Other Sites of interest

CD Recordable FAQ

Available Specifications

Interactive text transmission system (ITTS) provides the mechanism for encoding sound associated data on prerecorded media and for the transport of such data across equipment interfaces. Defines the higher layers of ITTS, i.e. those system characteristics which are independent of the recording or interconnection medium.
IEC 61866 (1997-08)

MMC spec

CD Standard images

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