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Chapter 2. Hardware Basics > Flavors of Optical CD and DVD Drives

Flavors of Optical CD and DVD Drives

Normal music CDs and CD-ROMs are made from prepressed disks and encased in plastic. The actual data is stored through pits or tiny indentations on the silver surface of the internal disk. To read the disk, the drive shines a laser onto the CD-ROM's surface, and by interpreting the way in which the laser light is reflected from the disk, it can tell whether the area under the laser is indented.

There are different formats of CDs. These are actually sorted in a rather odd way. The CD standard information is written in books. These different standards books are held bound between the colored covers of a book. A given standard is known by the color of its cover. There are Yellow Book standards and Red Book standards. (Not terribly creative, but it's how it's done.) All CD-ROM drives are Yellow Book- and Red Book-compatible. Some may boast that they have built-in digital-to-analog converters (DAC) converters. The converters allow you to listen to Red Book audio disks directly through headphone or line audio sockets.


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