Best format for ripping CD's?
July 10, 2008 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Lots of CD's to rip. What format to save them as? Storage no issue, but like compatibility of 320k mp3 with everything/everyone else. Will I notice a loss?

I've got a couple of gigs in mp3 format that have been purchased/borrowed/file shared, etc. all at 320k. Some of those have been ripped from CD and later burned back onto a CD and I can't hear the difference when played on a medium-high quality system.

But I have hundreds of CD's to rip (looking forward to a central location) and was reading an earlier thread here where they started getting into formats as well as the hardware the OP was asking about. Didn't wanna hijack that thread.

I know I wouldn't use a proprietary format; too worried about it becoming the next 8-track, but FLAC or wav seems like it would stay around, as well as mp3. I like the portability of mp3 for friends, and putting on a player, soon to be a smart phone.

Keep in mind I'm 50- my listening is fantastic but my hearing ain't getting any better. Even my YOUNG friends are turning 30, so they're not what they used to be either. Can I sleep comfortably with my collection in 320k mp3?
posted by davidaugust111 to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, if you want the convenience of a CD without the physicality, you should create FLACs, simply because they're smaller than WAVs with the same result - that you end up with a file that perfectly represents the original CD audio file.

For playability, you should create MP3s of whatever bitrate suits you and your devices/software, but just keep the FLACs around and you can easily re-create MP3s with different settings later without digging up the original disc.
posted by odinsdream at 10:54 AM on July 10, 2008


Well, your hearing probably isn't going to get any better, and if you can't tell the difference now between 1141kbs and 320kbs, then you probably wont be able to in the future.
posted by Solomon at 10:54 AM on July 10, 2008


Ripping to 320 seems like the worst of all worlds to me. It's big, but lossy. If you want to put stuff on an ipod you will probably want it smaller, but transcoding from 320 to 160 will sound worse than just ripping at 160 in the first place.

I recommend EITHER doing a moderate bitrate you like or doing FLAC and reencoding down to smaller sizes for portable players.
posted by aubilenon at 11:03 AM on July 10, 2008


If storage is no issue, there is no reason not to use a lossless format like FLAC or Apple Lossless. If you use iTunes, iPod, or iPhones, I recommend Apple Lossless, as it's natively supported. Otherwise, go with FLAC.
posted by designbot at 11:05 AM on July 10, 2008


Ripping to 320 seems like the worst of all worlds to me. It's big, but lossy.

I second this. Like aubilenon said, I'd rip to FLAC, then you have the ability to transcode to whatever (smaller) form you want later (ie for a portable player). If you do 320 now, then later if you want a smaller copy you'll have to re-rip from cd (transcoding from 320 isn't a great idea).
posted by inigo2 at 11:12 AM on July 10, 2008


nthing FLAC.
posted by PowerCat at 11:19 AM on July 10, 2008


If storage is no issue then get the best of both worlds. Rip one copy to FLAC for lossless storage and rip one copy into some sort of high quality VBR mp3 (V2 or V0 presets in LAME are good) for playing on portable devices. Done and done.
posted by rooftop secrets at 11:21 AM on July 10, 2008


320k mp3 with everything/everyone else. Will I notice a loss?

This is a religious question. If youre going with mp3 do 192kbps and call it a day. Rip a couple of random albums and decide for yourself.

This is also a storage question. Lets say you have 500 CDs. Thats 500 * 640 megabytes= 320gigs. FLAC can shave, say 35% so that leaves you with about 200 gigs of data, which is pretty manageable.

If you go 128kbps mp3 then youre looking at ~72megs per CD, which is 36gigs and fits on a single ipod. Moving to 192kbps raises this to about ~54 gigs. Still fits on portable players.

That said, if storage is not an issue then do flac, but you might need to reencode everything to mp3 again for your portable players if you want everything on one player.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:33 AM on July 10, 2008


For the longest time I was ripping in 256Kbps MP3, because I couldn't tell a difference at anything higher than that. When I decided to re-do my entire music library for organization reasons, I researched my options and ended up deciding on 192Kbps AAC. It is a very widely-compatible format, and I saved about 40% of the space I had been using before for a file that sounded exactly the same to me.

I know you said you don't care about space, which was my main reason for the switch, but I just thought I'd throw AAC out there as a viable option.
posted by joshrholloway at 11:43 AM on July 10, 2008


Also, you didn't mention what you're doing the ripping with, but if you decide on MP3, do not rip with iTunes. It is terrible at ripping MP3s, and at any bitrate they will not sound that great.
posted by joshrholloway at 11:44 AM on July 10, 2008


320kbps aint that great. 192kbps AAC definitely sounds better.

If storage isn't an issue and you want archival quality, I'd rip the CD's into CUE/WAV and zip them up. Keep a copy of them in 192 AAC for playback.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:54 AM on July 10, 2008


What's with the saving two versions (FLAC for storage and MP3 for playback)? What's the problem with just ripping to a lossy playback format, and for archiving, just tucking the CDs away? I know storage is not an issue for the OP but certainly time must be? I would think you could sleep just as comfortably using a media server to playback your MP3s, with the knowledge that the original disks are available in case your hard drive ever fails.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:18 PM on July 10, 2008


I know storage is not an issue for the OP but certainly time must be?

Once you do that first rip to FLAC (or other lossless) there's a bunch of apps out there that will easily do a transcode to mp3 (or other lossy) quickly, and in the background. No time commitment needed.
posted by inigo2 at 12:56 PM on July 10, 2008


Rip one song to multiple formats. Try FLAC, 320k MP3, 192k MP3 and maybe a good quality VBR MP3. Play that repeatedly song on your headphones, home theater, car, etc. and figure out where you can hear the difference in fidelity. Rip to the smallest format where you can't hear a difference in sound quality.
posted by cnc at 1:07 PM on July 10, 2008


Nth-ing the "if MP3, then 192kbps" sentiment.

Anything below 192 is noticeably awful (artifacts are especially apparent on crash cymbals), but going beyond 192 is overkill, and can actually sound worse.

Lossless? Meh. If you're ripping from CD's (which you would presumably be keeping) for portability, I wouldn't bother. Lossless files are really more of a piracy duplication thing.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:04 PM on July 10, 2008


Also, you didn't mention what you're doing the ripping with, but if you decide on MP3, do not rip with iTunes. It is terrible at ripping MP3s, and at any bitrate they will not sound that great.

Huh. Interesting. I'd be interested in reading more about this—do you know of anyone who's compiled data to back this up?
posted by limeonaire at 4:29 PM on July 10, 2008


FLAC for the computer and mp3 (with LAME's V3 preset) for portable devices.
posted by PueExMachina at 8:22 PM on July 10, 2008


unless you are an audiophile meaning you complain about the highs, mediums and lows when listening to music you will not notice between cd and 320kbps mp3, lowest would be 192 for me.

FLAC and ogg are great but bad for compatibility, very few portable players support it.
posted by radsqd at 1:16 PM on July 11, 2008


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