200MHz Pentium II or faster processor
32mb of RAM
25mb Hard disk space
Supported CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW or DVD+R/RW
Blank Recordable Media
Win95/98, WinNT, WinXP operating system
Internet connection recommended but not required.
Last month I took a look at Stomp Inc.’s Backup Mypc which proved to be an excellent piece of software. This month I’m taking a look at another piece of software from stomp, namely Record Now MAX. Armed with plenty of CD-R’s its time to see what this software has to offer…
"Record MAX 4.0 is everything you need to burn everything you've got. This affordable software, which retails for only $49, will allow users to copy CDs and DVDs as well as record video CDs, data CD-ROMs, DVD-ROM, DVD video, bootable CD-ROMs and even create music CDs from a live audio source. This new software is flexible, powerful and easy to use."
Stomp is packaging this software as “Simple-to-use yet powerful CD/DVD creation application that easily performs all your CD/DVD burning needs”. Sounds perfect for burning all those MP3s but there are a host of other features this software boasts. Among burning your banging hits, you can burn any data files, Video CDs, DVDs, Bootable CDs and mix mode tracks. There are also other promising features that ill mention a little latter. Before going into any more depth, let’s have a browse at what new features version 4 brings:
• Fresh new interface that’s easier to use
• Enhanced MP3 Ripping (up to 320kb/s)
• Enchaced Bootable CD support
• Access for persons with disabilities
To test the software I’m going to be using a standard CD burner although a DVD burner could be used. Unfortunately they are still quite highly priced :o(
Firing up the software for the first time presents you with the wizard designed to simplify the process of burning a CD. You can either choose to use this wizard or make your CD manually. To show how easy this should be I’m choosing the wizard and burning some mp3s stored on my computer to a CD that any CD player should be able to read. There are plentiful sub options to choose from such as making a disk for an MP3 player or compiling a music disk from other CD’s in your collection. I’m going to pick the “make a music disk from audio files” option. Now there are 3 simple steps to having a finished cd:
1. Insert blank media
2. Choose and arrange tracks
3. Burn the disk.
Sound simple eh? Thats because it is, before you know it the CD ejects and your done. In case that went a bit quick for ya here
is an animation of the process.
If your not into burning MP3s then the software can be used in the exact copy mode, allowing a bit-for-bit identical duplicate of a CD or DVD. Dont think you can go copying those DVD movies though because as stomp pointout, commercial DVDs employ CSS copy protection. You may ask why bother including this feature? Well you will be able to copy your own home made DVDs as these will be protection free and as the DVD burner takes off this could be a useful feature. The ease of use while making an exact copy is just as simple, if not simpiler than burning the MP3s. You dont even need two drives to make an exact copy as the software can make an image on your hard drive and burn this to CD.
One of the more intresting featueres of this software is its abilty to make a complation music CD. This involves selecting all your favorite music, whether this is on your computer or in your CD collection, and creating one banging mix. You can also make a disk for an MP3 player allowing you to get more music (up to 10 times more) on a disk than the standered .cda format. The disadvantage is that only CD players supporting the MP3 format will be able to read the CD, which in my experience is very few. Burning data is the final option in the wizard. You can creat a disk with long filenames (up to 110 characters supported) that will work under any windows operating system.
The wizard is only half the story when it comes to using Record Now MAX. The bulk of the options are hidden away in the Record Now MAX full application. To get to the main app you simply need to close the wizard and you are left with the main program. The program works around different Jobs, such as video cd or mixed mode. The main difference with the application over the wizard is that options such as number of copies, recording speed and if you would like to test and/or record can be specified. A lsit of current jobs is displayed in the bottom left hand corner. This makes for easy swtiching between jobs at any time. There are too many smaller options than can be explained here, but a few highlights include adding CD TEXT to your audio CDs, editing the gap between each track and live cd burning from an input into your sound card using DJ burn.
The final feature of this software I'd like to talk about is Record Now MAX ability to rip cds. Ripping means that an audio track is extracted and converted to another format, usually for burning at a latter date. In the case of Record Now MAX it is able to convert tracks on an audio CD to MP3 or WAV. Five quality settings are available if converting to MP3, this ranges from lowest quality (96kb/s) to the highest qulaity (320kb/s). This is where the software seems to lack support for formats that your CDs are to be ripped into. Although not
a major problem, may be a few other formats could have been included such as wma (windows media audio).
Overall Record Now MAX is a very well built and thought-out program that allows for much more than just burning a CD. I like the few tools included for ripping audio CDs and the support for future DVD-R drives is promising. The wizard is extremely easy to use and you cant really go wrong using it. The program does become a bit more difficult to use if you want access to the advanced features in the main application but after a bit of practice this isnt really as difficult as it first seems. Once again I can give stomp the thumbs up in creating an execlent piece of software.
+Supports BURN-Proof technologies to eliminate buffer underruns.
+Very easy to use wizard
+Cheaper than similar software, such as Nero
-MP3 ripping could be enhanced