Looking for free/cheap CD ripper
February 27, 2005 11:38 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for free (or cheap) basic CD ripping software for Windows so I can make MP3s to play on my PDA.

This is a followup to my Palm vs. PocketPC question. Despite the advice of most people there, after trying both I opted for the PocketPC (got the Dell Axim x50v and really like it). Palm was just too Mac-like for my tastes.

Anyway, I'd like to rip some of my CDs to MP3 so I can play them on my Axim and I'm looking for a good app to do this. Nothing fancy, just basic features, but should be capable of variable-bitrate formats since I'm working with limited (flash) memory here. I bought the 512MB CF card with it, but I'll probably get a 1GB card and use the 512 with my camera instead.

I did the Google search but it found a gazillion hits and I'm wary of spyware/malware on anything unknown. So what do you folks recommend?
posted by AstroGuy to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
Right now (seriously), I am using CDex to rip a bunch of cd's to put onto the SD card in my Axim.

I changed the settings to reduce the quality a little to fit more on the card, but the program allows you to go way up to 320k.

Their forum has a post outlining how to use it.
posted by sciatica at 11:49 AM on February 27, 2005

CDEX is what you want, 100%.
posted by shepd at 11:49 AM on February 27, 2005

I'll third CDex, but if for some reason you don't like it, Audiograbber is also top-notch
posted by thewittyname at 11:52 AM on February 27, 2005

CDex fershur! I ripped over 600 CDs over the summer with no problems.
posted by mischief at 12:08 PM on February 27, 2005

Why not just use Windows Media Player (v10)? It has ripping capability (to mp3) built right in. No worries about spyware beyond what's already included with WMP :)
posted by aberrant at 12:14 PM on February 27, 2005

Does WiMP download titles from CDDB?
posted by mischief at 12:16 PM on February 27, 2005

mischief: if WiMP == windows media player, then it gets the id3 info from several sources, gracenote (makers of cddb) among them.
posted by aberrant at 12:17 PM on February 27, 2005

CDex or EAC. Nothing else is really worth it. Both can rip badly damaged CDs with their full error correction settings. Both can get tags from freedb.

For quality MP3 rips, use LAME on some kind of VBR mode if your Pocket PC supports it. --alt-preset-standard is ideal for PC-based rips, but would probably load up your flash card too much. Quality 5 with VBR ABR mode at 128 should work well.

Note: WiMP does not do VBR mp3 encoding.
posted by easyasy3k at 12:22 PM on February 27, 2005

i'm a fan of EAC as well, but to get mp3's out of it you need to download the lame dll and put it in the EAC directory. EAC gets the stamp of approval from the audiophiles at hydrogenaudio, and it's pretty easy to use as well.
posted by escher at 12:43 PM on February 27, 2005

fwiw I use FreeRip.
posted by petebest at 12:46 PM on February 27, 2005

In addition to pulling your song titles down, Windows Media Player has built-in functionality to synchronize with a PocketPC so that you can eliminate the middle step of getting the tracks on your Axim.
posted by anildash at 2:28 PM on February 27, 2005

Thanks for all the recommendations for CDex. I downloaded it and ripped a Vivaldi CD. Sounds pretty good. At the settings I used, 68 minutes of music compressed down to 49MB. What settings would be best for the smallest decent sounding files. (Note that I'm just listening with some cheap RS earbuds, not piping output to some expensive system, so these don't need to be audiophile quality, just listenable.
posted by AstroGuy at 3:44 PM on February 27, 2005

Looks like you can download free alternate players [->audio] that can use ogg vorbis. There are many arguments concerning audio compressed audio formats, but I think there is a general consensus that ogg and AAC win at the low bit-rates.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 3:59 PM on February 27, 2005

CDex, CDex, CDex! (Or EAC, if CDex reports errors even after cleaning the disc.)

How important is sound quality to you? What about speed? Convenience? To summarize: if convenience is most important, use WMP. If speed is most important, use either AudioGrabber, set to the fastest drive speed and using the Xing encoder. If sound quality is most important, use EAC, and set it to keep trying until it gets everything right. If speed, convenience and sound quality are all important to you, use CDex.

On preview: Yeah, like I said, CDex. And as for listenable, try out 96kbps and see if you can stand it. Since we're talking about Vivaldi here, that might be a little worse-sounding than you'd prefer. If so, try 128kpbs. If that still doesn't sound as good as you'd like, take it up to 192. And if it still doesn't sound good, use LAME's --alt-preset-standard setting, which most audiophiles find to be near-transparent.
posted by box at 4:00 PM on February 27, 2005

Here's another recommendation for CDEx.

All I can do with sound quality is parrot back what box said-- it will depend entirely on your ears. I know some people who swear that a 128kbps MP3 is virtually CD-quality, but I like everything to be at least 192kbps.
posted by synecdoche at 4:36 PM on February 27, 2005

Thanks box. My first test was VBR from 64-128 and it sounded just fine to me. The biggest consideration here is file size, since I've only got ~500MB of storage space here. I'm trying the OGG Vorbis encoder now (I use Resco Audio Recorder on the PPC that supports this codec).
posted by AstroGuy at 4:45 PM on February 27, 2005

If you like error-free audio files, or if you intend to ever share your files with other people, please consider EAC over CDex.

The E in EAC stands for exact; it's the only program out there that puts any serious emphasis on preserving the consistency of the original audio. CD drives aren't perfect, and discs certainly aren't guaranteed to be error-free. At best, EAC will fix the problem through its error-correction algorithms; at worst, it will tell you about the problem instead of silently ignoring it.

Once you have calibrated it -- a simple test procedure that programs EAC with optimal settings for your drive -- EAC is as easy to use as CDex, and has the same kinds of features. It will look up track titles on freedb.org, encode the files with whatever encoder you like, and so on.
posted by gentle at 7:55 PM on February 27, 2005

burn4free and itunes are easy to use, if not as feature-rich as CDEX. I am talking about basic ripping for your pocketpc, not audiophiliac obsession with tonal qualities only hearable by bionically enhanced mutant ninja terriers.

on the palm vs. pocketpc: I was a palm cultist for a long time, got an ibook, sold the palm, inherited an old Jornada 540, which is fun to play with. It's like someone took windows 3.1, put a great screen and metal case around it, and made the reset button really big because they knew you'd need it. It seems like it will make an ok MP3 player once I find some cheap CF cards.
posted by mecran01 at 8:08 PM on February 27, 2005

Thanks again everyone. I've been playing with it for a few hours, testing various settings to see how they sound and I think I found a good one for me. I don't plan on sharing these files at all; they're just for my personal use on my PDA (otherwise I'd be listening to the CDs anyway) so the quality settings I chose won't live up to audiophiles' expectations, but it sounds better than a crappy FM signal from WFMT, so it does what I want.
posted by AstroGuy at 8:25 PM on February 27, 2005

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