Can DVD Recorders Record Audio-Only DVDs?

The answer isn't so simple.

Although new DVD recorders are very rare, there are not only millions in use but are still in demand on the secondary market. These devices record both video and audio onto DVD, and with a lot of disc storage space, many think that DVD has more space for audio if not needing to record video too.

Insert DVD into DVD Player

DVD and Audio Space

Commercial DVD and home recording DVD formats allocate a specific amount of space on the disc for recording video, audio, and any supplementary menu structure. 

Since audio files are a lot smaller than video files, the amount of space assigned to audio is less than the space allocated for video recording. This means that you can't fill all the space on a DVD using a DVD recorder with just audio.  

Most DVD recorders typically can't record audio-only onto a DVD, a video signal usually must be present for stability purposes. However, DVD recorders can record video without audio.

If you are recording audio-only using a PC on a data-compatible DVD disc, you can use the entire space of the DVD. However, you can only play that disc on a compatible PC or laptop. For playback compatibility on a DVD recorder, player, or another DVD playback compatible device, consult the user guide for that device. 

You can try to record an audio-only DVD using a DVD recorder and see if it works. 

How to Record Audio From an External Source on a DVD With a DVD Recorder

Before proceeding, check your DVD recorder's user guide. However, whether a specific brand/model DVD recorder can record audio-only DVD is usually not mentioned in user manuals.

One option is to record a non-important video-only source as well as your intended audio source.

The following are steps that you can follow to see if this works for you.

DVD Recorder Line 2 Input Selected

.

  1. Connect any video source to a video input (not the antenna or cable input) on the DVD recorder. Since you won't be watching the video it can be from a cable/box, VCR, or another device as long as it isn't copy-protected.

    DVD recorders only have composite and possibly S-video inputs. DVD recorders don't have HDMI inputs.

  2. Connect any audio source (Tape deck, CD player, AM/FM tuner, network audio player, etc...) into the analog stereo audio inputs on the DVD recorder that is paired with the same video input connection.

    DVD Recorders don't have digital optical/coaxial audio inputs. The audio recorded on a DVD is encoded into the 2-channel Dolby Digital audio format.

  3. Select the input on your DVD recorder (Line 1, 2, AV 1, 2, etc...) that your video and audio sources are connected to.

  4. Select the record mode on your DVD recorder (allows how much time you want to record on the DVD).

    Since video quality isn't an issue if the audio recording is the only priority, you can record up to six hours of audio on your DVD using the lowest record-setting (some DVD recorders have an 8 or 10-hour mode as well).

  5. Press record on the DVD recorder.

  6. Pass play on your video and audio source.

  7. Press stop on the DVD recorder and source device(s) when your recording is complete.

  8. See if the DVD plays back not only on your DVD recorder but also on another DVD player. When you play the DVD back, you can enjoy the audio without having to watch any video.

The DVD Recorder/Hard Drive Combo Option

If you have a DVD recorder/Hard Drive combo, you may be able to fill up your hard drive with audio and then copy what you can onto a DVD using the DVD recorder/Hard Drive combo's cross-dubbing function. 

Magnavox MDR557H DVD Recorder Hard Drive Combo Example
Magnavox

The Bottom Line

You can only play a DVD on a DVD, Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray player, many PCs and Laptops, and select game consoles. An audio-only recorded DVD won't play on a CD player.

Another audio recording question that comes up, is whether a DVD recorder can record Dolby or DTS 5.1 channel surround sound. For answers on this refer to our article: Can a DVD recorder record Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS surround sound?