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CD conversion help plz
April 18, 2012 11:26 AM   Subscribe

What's the latest and greatest for ripping cds? Mac and PC answers both greatly appreciated.

In the past I used exactaudiocopy and (iirc) lame on windows. I heard that lame is not the new hotness anymore. And I think it's time to bite the bullet and have flac rips as well. I haven't ripped a cd on a mac besides using iTunes.

Is there a consensus on what a "good" encoding rate is for mp3s nowadays?

Bonus points for answers that produce folders that have album art and id3 tagging (maybe that's standard nowadays?). (asked before but a while ago)
posted by Phredward to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
For me, it's iTunes. Set up iTunes to keep your library organized. When you rip a CD, iTunes creates an artist folder (if it doesn't already exist). Inside of that, it creates an album folder and puts the album's songs there. For years, I had my own system for keeping everything organized and I fought the idea of letting software have that control. Once I gave in and switched to iTunes, organization became so much easier. Plus, in iTunes, you can right-click on a song (or go into the menus) for an option to show the file in the finder, and iTunes will take you to the song file. I wish all apps did that.

For encoding, lossless m4a is best. If not, at least choose "custom" settings for import and push the rate up to 320 kbps / 44.1 khz.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:35 AM on April 18, 2012


Oh, and yes, that'll give you song files with the proper id3 tags which you'll also easily be able to edit either individually (song by song, I mean) or as a batch (a whole album at a time, for example, or all songs by one artist, for example). Easy.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:37 AM on April 18, 2012


PC: Exact Audio copy. Does FLAC by track or by CD image, creates cuesheets and playlists and rip logs, does secure test + copy rips, pulls metadata from FreeDB and CueToolsDB, verifies rips with AccurateRip.

Mac: XLD. Has many of EAC's features.

LAME is still the best MP3 encoder in terms of perceptual quality per bit.

FLAC is the most widely supported lossless compression format among various devices (not iDevices) and desktop media players and ranks favorably against most lossless codecs in compression efficiency.

For encoding, lossless m4a is best. If not, at least choose "custom" settings for import and push the rate up to 320 kbps / 44.1 khz.

Constant bitrate encoding is a waste of space. This is exactly why LAME's VBR mode is so useful: it will encode silent samples at 16kbps but can go as high on bitrate for actual content as you will allow it (-V 0 --vbr-new will go all the way up to 320kbps for a moment of extremely complex noise).

iTunes is also a crappy ripper (no transparency re "Error Correction", no ability to set drive offset, pulls metadata only from Apple, uses subpar MP3 and AAC encoders, ALAC "Lossless M4A" encoder is often less efficient than ffmpeg's ALAC implementation).

The rip-specific features 2oh1 mentions are features that any worthwhile ripper has; when I feel like a need to do large-scale tag editing or file renaming/sorting on Windows, I use either mp3tag or foobar2000. Mp3Tag can also get good-quality album art from Amazon or Discogs automatically.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:46 AM on April 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'd stick with MediaMonkey. iTunes is okay if you're an Apple devotee, but it Does Not Play Well With Others.

MediaMonkey rips quickly, and whatever bitrate and whatever codec you want, provides id3 tags and album art (whether or not it's displayed on the folders is a matter for your OS, not your music software), and has the most powerful library management software I've seen. I manage about 20k tracks with it, and it's painless.

And FLAC. By all that's good and right, FLAC. m4a is the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) and doesn't play reliably on anything but an iPod. Which, again, is okay if you're an Apple devotee, but not so much otherwise.
posted by valkyryn at 11:49 AM on April 18, 2012


I use iTunes, but back when I was spergy about it, I used XLD.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:36 PM on April 18, 2012


By all that's good and right, FLAC. m4a is the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) and doesn't play reliably on anything but an iPod. Which, again, is okay if you're an Apple devotee, but not so much otherwise.

However the converse is also true: FLAC does not play on an Apple device. So if you're ripping to FLAc you will have to re-convert if you are using one. As far as encoding rate goes, 320kbps or a VBR (variable bit rate) setting of around 256 are considered to be as high as you need to go. I've heard some people argue that they can hear improvements at higher rates, but this isn't something to even consider unless you have a very high-end system.
posted by rtimmel at 1:46 PM on April 18, 2012


And i use Foobar with a LAME encoder (all free).
posted by rtimmel at 1:50 PM on April 18, 2012


The CD ripping service I recently hired used dBpoweramp to rip my CDs to Apple Lossless (aka ALAC, in a .m4a container).

For ripping, dBpoweramp is a compromise. It's not a fancy correcting ripper like ExactAudioCopy, but it does have a "secure ripping" checksum thing that provides some guarantee the rip is correct. It's also a lot faster than EAC. Unfortunately a few of the rips they did are not correct, I have some skips on a couple of finicky discs. I'd say 1 CD out of 100 has a problem.

Disk space is so cheap there's no reason to use a lossy compressor like MP3 any more. FLAC and ALAC do essentially the same thing, and now that Apple finally opened up the format there's no reason to avoid it. I went with ALAC because it plays natively on my Apple stuff. I also have iTunes transcoding to 128kbps AAC for my space-limited iPhone. That's annoyingly slow.

Pay careful attention to your music meta data; good album names, track names, album art all make for a much more manageable music collection. Part of why I paid a ripping service is they in turn pay for access to All Music's database (among others). They also did a clever thing stuffing a bunch of genre keyword tags in the Grouping tag; that makes searches easier.
posted by Nelson at 2:36 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not a fancy correcting ripper like ExactAudioCopy

No ripper corrects errors (which I assume is why Inspector.Gadget put quotes around the term in his reply), that happens exclusively in the drive. The only thing secure rippers do is force re-reads if they suspect an error occurred. dBpoweramp is a secure ripper just like EAC and many others, it just uses different strategies for "error correction". There's no harm in recommending it, it has its pros and cons vs EAC (the main con and the reason I personally prefer EAC is the lack of cuesheet generation).

Regarding FLAC vs ALAC, both are now open-source and none have universal hardware compatibility, but the beauty of lossless is that you can always convert between them at will.
posted by Bangaioh at 2:55 PM on April 18, 2012


I love XLD
posted by silsurf at 2:56 PM on April 18, 2012


Heres a good comparison of FLAC vs ALAC
posted by Lanark at 4:06 PM on April 18, 2012


I second the recommendation for Exact Audio Copy. This past Christmas I digitized my fathers CD collection as a present and it was a breeze to copy about 30 CDs. The CDDB connection was pretty crucial for getting all the info in.

For reference, I use the LAME mp3 encoder with 320 VBR.
posted by Kolath at 5:41 PM on April 18, 2012


However the converse is also true: FLAC does not play on an Apple device.

Does if you use SubSonic...
posted by valkyryn at 9:05 AM on April 19, 2012


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