CD-R Duplicators: Part 1
What Are CD-R Duplicators?

Basic Definition

Machines that record multiple compact discs using CD-Recordable media are called duplicators. These are different from the equipment used to create hundreds or thousands of discs from raw materials, which we refer to as replication rather than duplication. In plain English these two words seem to have identical meaning, but the jargon of the compact disc industry requires a way to make a distinction between these very different processes.

Classes of CD-R Duplicators

When duplication was new, and there were only a few devices on the market, it was reasonable to lump them all together. Now, however, the field is becoming crowded, and every manufacturer has something slightly, or even radically, different to offer. To make some sense out of the seeming-chaos, we have chosen to create three arbitrary classes:
  1. autoloaders
  2. towers
  3. copiers


While using an automated system for moving blank and recorded media between devices for unattended duplication (and possibly labeling or testing) doesn't really affect the recording process, there are enough machines available that do include robotics to make this a very interesting category at the high end of the product group. Automation and robotics have always been important in the CD manufacturing process, and now they have moved into the recording arena as well.

Examples of Autoloader Duplication Systems

We have had the opportunity to try out a few of these interesting devices. Detailed reviews of our experiences with these systems were published by TapeDisc Business magazine in their Nov 99 cover article, CD-R Duplication 101. Below is a list of those we have looked at so far, or that are currently being evaluated.

  • MediaFORM CD-3607p
  • MicroBoards (CeDaR) CD Desktop Publisher
  • MicroTech Systems ImageAutomater
  • Mitsui Trans/Corder
  • Rimage Protogé 2000
  • Trace Digital POWERWRITER™ PC-W

Disc Labeling on CD-Rs inline with Duplicator Autoloaders

Most CD-R autoloaders have a way to add a disc printer of some kind to the system, for true hands-off publishing. We are including comments about these labeling devices in our reviews, and taking the opportunity to enlarge our articles in this website about disc printers simultaneously.


For our purposes, we are calling "towers" those systems which have multiple recorders in one enclosure that must be hand-loaded rather than using a robot to move the discs from a spindle. These may include a processor for creating a new disc, or they may simply be used to make multiple copies of a disc that has already been encoded.


The most economical way to create one or more copies of a disc is to use a system with a reader and a writer (or even use the writer as a reader, and copy the disc first to another storage device such as an integrated hard disk). These may be configured either as a computer peripheral, requiring an external processor, or as a stand-alone device that operates at the push of a button.

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