Infra Recorder

The state of Win32 burning programs

The proprietary choices for optical disc burning on Windows are pretty obvious: at the fore, there’s Roxio’s offering, EZ Media Creator, and Nero’s offering, Nero Burning Rom. Having used Roxio’s v5 program long, long ago with my Hewlett-Packard 4x external CDRW drive, and having used Nero’s Burning Rom during the entirety of its v6 lifecycle (when it was one of the best offerings on the market), I’ve been disappointed to see most of these offerings turn into bloated creatures, invasive and slow.

Perhaps you want built-in picture managers, movie players, reencoders, editors, and every bang and whistle you can think of. If that’s your bag, baby, you’re more than welcome to shell out $80+ for a copy

My time on Linux, however, has engendered me to the rock-solid (if historically murky in license1) cdrtools, especially since the wonderful k3b is essentially a cdrtools frontend.

Historically, frontends for Windows have been touch & go. Burnatonce, a freeware closed-source frontend, which two years ago was a great little minimalist project, has stagnated, as the developer has no clear roadmap for development or time to create one.

The functional but less-glamorous cdrtfe is another good solution, although my experiences with it have been limited.

Enter Infra Recorder

A relative newcomer on the scene, Infra Recorder is an open source program by Christian Kindahl, the author of TugZip2. Infra Recorder is similar in functionality to other frontends, but it also sports a really slick interface that makes use of the Tango icon set.

Infra Recorder can do the following:

  • Create data CDs
  • Create audio CDs
  • Create mixed mode CDs
  • Create data DVDs (dual layer, too)
  • Create Video DVDs
  • Dump CD to image
  • Write any project to a disc image (.iso)
  • Burn a disc image to a physical disc

I have yet to produce any coasters, although it may be also that my media is very good 3.

With regard to supported formats, we reach a somewhat tricky subject. Infra Recorder’s support for audio formats when burning is plugin-based. The default installation comes with support for WAV files, Ogg Vorbis, and WMA. MP3 support is available, using LAME code, but you have to download it separately because of legal troubles. This is unfortunate, but it’s not a particularly difficult process: you merely download the Zip file and extract irLame.irc into the Codec directory of your Infra Recorder installation.

Technically speaking, any format could be supported as long as it uses Infra Recorder’s plugin schema. I talked with Christian, who said that he wants to support FLAC by default in future versions. I would like to see community involvement in terms of extra installable codecs, but so far Infra Recorder seems to be laboring in obscurity, and unfortunately it changes enough with every release that the codecs need to be updated every time, as well. Once the project stabilizes, and gains some recognition, I think (hope) that user contributions will start coming in.

As you can see from the screenshots, Infra Recorder’s graphical metaphor is nothing groundbreaking: it sticks to the sort of interface used by most of its predecessors. Which is not to say that it’s bad, certainly: it sports a clean, uncluttered look, it has a great icon set (I would prefer to see the size of the toolbar be adjustable, though), and it allows for very handy integration into the Windows shell. The configuration options, while limited, currently allow for tweaking of FIFO buffer size, as well as an activation of file association and an Explorer extension.

Another feature, which I don’t generally take advantage of, is Infra Express, a small window which allows for the simple selection of a project template. All this really does is then launch Infra Recorder proper, and not a scaled-down filepicker dialogue, as is the case with Nero Express.

As an added bonus for those of you running 64-bit versions of Windows, Infra Recorder comes in a 64-bit version, as well (as of v0.42)

Infra Recorder is, I think, the best (certainly the most attractive) cdrtools frontend under active development. If you don’t specifically need some feature of a bloated, expensive proprietary suite, I see no reason why you shouldn’t download this right now.

  1. See LWN’s excellent article[]
  2. TugZip is a freeware general-purpose archiving/compression program. However, it’s stagnation since Fall 2005 has caused it to be very problematic to use, which is why, as of this writing, it is still not present in my Free Software pages. Mr. Kindahl assures his forum members that he is hard at work on version 4.0, which will be open source.[]
  3. Taiyo Yuden, for those of you who are curious, makes the best optical media, no argument[]
§1771 · March 26, 2007 · Tags: , , , , , , , ·

4 Comments to “Infra Recorder: the best Windows cdrtools frontend”

  1. […] I reviewed InfraRecorder, a relatively young project that seeks to add a bit of spit and polish to the […]

  2. Chad says:

    Infra Recorder is simply awesome. I’ve been using it to erase disks (minimal/quick erase), burn and extract .iso’s, burn audio cd’s to cd-rw’s then re-burn different audio to the same CD. I haven’t made any coasters yet either. Using this instead of pay-for software is really a no brainer.

  3. threecheese says:

    Great software. To burn flac, just C:>flac -d file.flac, or use Flac Frontend (which is bundled with the Windows version of FLAC).
    It only takes a few minutes on a good machine.

    You probably knew this, but since this page is high in the ‘Infrarecorder + flac” google search, I thought I’d post it for posterity…

    -threecheese

  4. Helios says:

    Infra Recorder is hands down the best program I have EVER used for burning CDs and DVDs.

    I sat down this morning to burn a copy of a DVD for a friend (a news article that he had appeared in and recorded for use in a court case). I figured ‘no problem’ slapped it in and tried to use Windows DVD maker. Everything seemed great until it got to 7% encoding and had some kind of generic error message pop up. A second attempt did the same thing, so I figured I would try something else.

    I had noticed that realplayer was one of the options that autorun gave me when I had inserted the blank DVD – so I tried it next. It told me that I had to download the DVD burning portion of the software – no problem, downloaded it – but when I went to burn the DVD it required me to select the disk type, and when I tried to pick ‘DVD’ it attempted to sell me a $40 software package (piece of crap…)

    That’s when I decided to hit the web and find what I knew existed out there – an open-source program for burning DVDs. I didn’t actually do any research, but Infra Recorder was one of the first links that wasn’t total b.s. (getting harder to find anything these days since people trying to sell you b.s. have figured out how to googlebomb).

    It downloaded FAST – installed FAST (you have to turn down a few offers like Y! messenger, etc. – but hey, the developer has to eat – so I don’t mind that). Once it was installed, I was still a little bit hesitant since I wasn’t sure what I had downloaded – but I opened it and most of my fears were gone. When I see an interface like the one in Infra Recorder – basic, no frills (the author of this article calls it ‘slick’ – and that’s the right term) I know that I’m in good hands.

    The ‘pretty’ interfaces and useless ‘features’ of most other programs show you where the time and money went – with functionality taking a back seat. The opposite is true with Infra Recorder – I had a fully functional DVD burned (the first time) in a few minutes, and was able to go on with my day.

    Kudos to the developers – they have saved my sanity, and my money!

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