Home Entertainment & Technology Resource

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Digitising CD's - Codecs, formats and the software needed

Discussion in 'Streamers & Network Music Players' started by Steven, Sep 27, 2010.

?

What is your format of choice? (Multiple Choice)

  1. *

    Wav

    38 vote(s)
    10.1%
  2. *

    Flac

    261 vote(s)
    69.0%
  3. *

    Apple Lossless

    63 vote(s)
    16.7%
  4. WMA Lossless

    11 vote(s)
    2.9%
  5. *

    MP3

    108 vote(s)
    28.6%
  6. WMA

    6 vote(s)
    1.6%
  7. *

    AAC

    17 vote(s)
    4.5%
  8. Ogg Vorbis

    4 vote(s)
    1.1%
  9. Online Music Store Subscription or downloads

    8 vote(s)
    2.1%
  10. Other format (post below!)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Steven

    Steven Senior Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Messages:
    35,857
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +5,463
    A new sticky replacing the old one to open it up for all to provide input on software needed and which formats to use.

    The long-standing threads from the portable music section which contains entirely relevant information:
    Discussion of codecs and bit rates - Which format to use and the software needed, and
    the deprecated Bitrate Debate

    Adding album art to your music

    Please bear in mind the thread will be built up slowly but surely :) Poll is just for fun

    If you spot any errors please ask for a correction
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2010
  2. Steven

    Steven Senior Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Messages:
    35,857
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +5,463
    The obligatory introduction of lossless versus lossy.

    Lossless
    Covered by WAV, Flac, Alac and WMA lossless in the poll. Note this is not exhaustive as there are others such as Monkey's Audio. As the name suggests lossless codecs attempt to deliver CD quality in a digital format without any loss in quality. WAV (PCM) is a straight copy of a CD but not very useful as namely it cannot be tagged with data. The other lossless codecs use compression without any loss of data and can be tagged and played with, so being altogether more useful. Lossless is ideal for archival use as once created your CD's can be boxed away and one can convert between different lossless codecs without any concerns or loss of quality. For the discerning music fan and in an age where hard drive prices are increasingly cheaper

    Lossy
    Covered by MP3, WMA, AAC and Ogg Vorbis in the poll. Again, not exhaustive. Lossy codecs will provide as high a quality as possible in a much smaller file size than with lossless. Useful for where space is a premium on say a portable player. Much of the compression performed by lossy codecs involves removing redundant data, such as frequencies outside of the range of human hearing. Once that data is gone; it is gone! You cannot add back in data which has been removed. Therefore unlike lossless to lossless, it is not a good idea or advantageous to convert a lossy file. The final file size will be dependent on bit rate and other such setting but typically a 3 minute song in MP3 320kbps will be around 7.5MB

    If storage space is a premium then the best way to choose is to rip a few familiar tracks from a CD into different codecs and try to listen for a difference on your own equipment

    Compatibility
    A note on compatibility. Your Windows, Mac or Linux computer may happily play any format after obtaining the necessary software, but your portable and home AV hardware is a different matter entirely. Be aware when making a choice before ripping a large CD collection

    Backing Up!
    Very important. With the relative low cost of hard drives, back up your digital files. Nothing is worse than a computer crash and having to re-rip CD's all over again
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2011
  3. Steven

    Steven Senior Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Messages:
    35,857
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +5,463
    CD RIPPERS
    Strictly speaking no ripper "creates" MP3 or Flac files. A CD ripper will rip a CD onto your computer as .wav files. A built-in encoder or an external encoder will then convert those .wav files into something altogether more useful

    EAC - Windows
    Download from: Download » Exact Audio Copy (and feel free to donate to the author)

    EAC stands for Exact Audio Copy. It is rated as the best CD ripper out there. Why? Highly configurable, accurate due to the presence of secure read modes and will do a better job with damaged CD's where others may give up. It is compatible with many external encoders such as flac.exe and Lame MP3 so you can do something with the .wav files created. Note the existence of the AccurateRip plugin which is an internet database of verified secure rips of CD's collated from fellow "rippers" out there. If the CD is already on the database then EAC only needs to do one pass to perform a secure rip by matching the online sample. The database is quite populated though of course with new music always being released on occasion you might be helping to update it ;) Some excellent guides (may not all be up to date, or at least not created recently):

    dBpoweramp - Windows
    Download from: dBpoweramp: CD Ripper & Audio Converter. Secure ripping to mp3, FLAC, m4a, Apple Lossless & WMA
    Version comparison: dBpoweramp Music Converter

    Note that dBpoweramp does so much more as it is a batch converter, conversion to and between every file known to man and file tagger to boot. It is EAC's closest rival in terms of secure ripping but unfrotunately you have to pay for the feature to be available otherwise you only have access to a standard ripper. With support for multi-core CPU it is faster than EAC however. You can download an initial trial version of the software to see how you get on with it before paying. Set-up guides:

    MediaMonkey - Windows

    Download from: MediaMonkey » Free Media Jukebox, Music Manager, CD Ripper & Converter
    • A full featured media ripper, converter, tagger and organiser

    Max - Mac

    Download from: Max from sbooth.org

    A do-it-all CD ripper, encoder and converter supporting a variety of formats. It is highly rated as the best Mac OSX CD ripper but marked down versus EAC due to the absence of secure ripping modes

    XLD - Mac

    http://tmkk.pv.land.to/xld/index_e.html
    http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/23430/x-lossless-decoder

    X Lossless Decoder for Mac OSX decodes, converts or plays various lossless codecs, including Flac, Monkey's Audio and Apple Lossless
    • Thanks Thanks x 3
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2011
  4. Steven

    Steven Senior Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Messages:
    35,857
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +5,463
    Flac OSX

    Flac Windows

    Now the eagle eyed amongst you will notice your Flac encoder of choice asks for an encoding setting. But why if Flac is meant to be lossless?! In simple terms the encoding settings are to do with the level of compression (and resultant file size) versus speed of encoding. Quality remains the same. Thus -6 will produce a smaller file than -3 but will take longer to encode. It will take longer because the encoder needs to do more work to figure out how best to compress the file without losing any quality

    Apple Lossless

    Well that list of rippers is short and sweet :laugh: ALAC can be played back on iPods but not much else supports the format. Otherwise it is personal preference for home use due to computer software

    Monkey's Audio
    Monkey's Audio is rated as slightly more efficient at compression than other lossless codecs without discarding any of the important data obtained from the original CD. The downside is that support is mostly limited to Windows software and even more scarce on portable devices to mostly players which you can install third party Rockbox software on
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2011
  5. Steven

    Steven Senior Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Messages:
    35,857
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +5,463
    MP3

    The lossy MP3 codec is now universal and the premier choice for delivering digital music. Supported all over on PC, Mac, Linux and on virtually all portable devices, whether it be a dedicated MP3 player, your phone or car stereo

    Lame Ain't an MP3 Encoder - but it still is one. Recursive acronyms should be used more in everyday life :) Lame is rated as the best MP3 encoder having been developed as an open source project from the ground up. Optimised for fast encoding with quality optimised algorithms for medium-high CBR, ABR and VBR bit-rates

    To get started you need the latest Lame codec and a front-end. My personal preference has always been for Razorlame simply because it needs no instructions it is so easy to use. Download the lame source folder, unzip and then put it away somewhere. Then point Razorlame to the Lame directory and away you go configuring your preset of choice. Lame is always in development but for your assurances use the latest stable release over a beta version

    CBR v VBR v ABR

    Before you can configure the Lame encoder you need to think about the settings to use. Firstly which encoding method?

    CBR - Constant Bit Rate
    This is exactly what it says and maintains a constant bit rate across the entire file. So whether you choose 160kbps or 320kbps, every second of the final MP3 file will be at your setting. CBR encoding is useful for consistent results and being able to determine resultant file sizes.

    VBR - Variable Bit Rate
    Here the user selects a preferred quality level or to define a range. The encoder will then select the optimum bit rate for each portion of a song. So during an "uncomplicated" sequence the encoder would use a lower bit rate but during the chorus the encoder would use the maximum bit rate set. The theory is that this compresses the file size even further as you are not wasting say 320kbps on a part of a file that does not need it but it does make predicting final file sizes harder

    ABR - Average Bit Rate
    This takes VBR one step further in that the user will select an average bit rate for the encoder to target. So just like VBR the encoder will select the optimum bit rate according to the portion of the song being encoded but will be more targeted and may select a higher (or lower) bit rate in order that the final result is a file which is within the user's selected target average

    Before selecting your encoding method of choice it is important to bear in mind that your device supports the method. ABR may not be as widely supported as CBR and VBR. For a guide on which Lame presets to use then look no further than the excellent Hydroenaudio wiki:
    LAME - Hydrogenaudio Knowledgebase
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2011
  6. nacmacfeegle

    nacmacfeegle Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    3,146
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +882
    Can I vote multiple times?
    5 years ago I goofed large style and ripped most of my tunes to VBR 320 MP3.
    I've since switched to Flac, but can't bring myself to re rip some 30 thousand songs. I'd rather cut my ears off than go through that again!

    In terms of actual useage time, music mileage if you like, about 50% of my listening time is spent on LastFM and Napster finding new sources of music. I also use the Ipod for about an hour a day in the car, MP3 as its not jailbroken.

    I ticked FLAC as its my preferred choice, but my diet is mostly streaming service and MP3.:rolleyes:
  7. Member 410254

    Member 410254 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2009
    Messages:
    832
    Trophy Points:
    46
    Ratings:
    +106
    If I can add my two cents, I have just collated my music collection to my NAS and really struggled. Using mediamonkey, dbpoweramp and tonnes of others however in my mind there is one program that rules the others and that is Ripstation micro, it batch rips to whatever format you wish, i chose .flac and it auto grabs all album art from freedb.org and track listings and if it cant find album art you can then just grab it from amazon and drag it into the program. A++++++ for this program and i recommend it to anyone and everyone.

    CD Ripping, Content Aggregation, DVD Ripping, Ripstation and MF Digital from Formats Unlimited Inc

    Regards

    Phil
  8. Steven

    Steven Senior Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Messages:
    35,857
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +5,463
    Interesting that early results suggests open source Flac is most popular lossless and proprietary MP3 is most popular lossy
    Yes as it is a multi-choice poll
  9. Mr_Orange

    Mr_Orange Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,912
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Ratings:
    +262

    Here's another EAC guide that I have used and previously recommended to others: A Perfectionist's Guide to Audio CD Extraction and Lossless Compression.
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  10. mengez

    mengez Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,030
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Ratings:
    +104
    I archived my whole music collection to NAS using EAC to create FLAC files for home use. I then converted the FLAC files to MP3 using Foobar and LAME decoder for mobile use. This has been fine up until recently, but the last few albums I've added I've had issues with Foobar converting the FLAC file. Would be interested to hear if anyone uses alternatives for converting to MP3.

    edit:
    Just found the problem on Foobar - I'd moved my MP3 folder to the NAS that the FLACs are on and this seems to be causing the problem. I get a corrupt file message come up and it must be something to do with the read/write on the NAS, as if I convert to the PC HD then there is no issue.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2010
  11. KJ Palmer

    KJ Palmer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    657
    Trophy Points:
    46
    Ratings:
    +111
    My three formats of choice:

    Wav - as the 'daddy' of lossless audio, and as some of my devices can play Wav's but not FLAC's...
    FLAC - fast becoming the standard for tagged lossless audio - the 'MP3' of lossless.
    MP3 - nothing touches it for ubiquity, compatibility and convenience, it can sound great when properly encoded. Why bother with any other lossy format?
  12. irishkeet

    irishkeet Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Messages:
    247
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Ratings:
    +9
  13. lky2k23

    lky2k23 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    316
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Ratings:
    +12
    I went through iTunes with apple lossless, have it on AAC on my iPod.

    Not sure why I went with ALAC now but happy with it at the moment. Use Sonos to play it all through so happy with it. Only issue it playing it on my xbox in another room but not a major issue.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
  14. redmarkred

    redmarkred Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Messages:
    1,212
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Ratings:
    +82
    Hi

    I'm going to rip my cd collection to FLAC!

    Can anynone tell me if the 'Exact Audio Copy' software is free? Do you have to pay anything to unlock any features?

    Thanks :)
  15. mengez

    mengez Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,030
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Ratings:
    +104
    Totally free. I use EAC to create FLAC, then MP3tag to add artwork and finally Foobar to convert the FLAC to MP3 for mobile use. That way I have one library of FLAC's for home and MP3 for iPod etc.

    All three bits of software are free and fully functioning.:thumbsup:
  16. redmarkred

    redmarkred Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Messages:
    1,212
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Ratings:
    +82
    Thanks that's great!

    So does EAC not add artwork to FLACs? I don't need to convert to MP3 as I will just be streaming FLACs over my home network. This will be through a Squeezebox touch so I want the artwork to be displayed!
  17. mengez

    mengez Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,030
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Ratings:
    +104
    There is an option in EAC for adding artwork, but I just found it easier to do in MP3tag, that might just be me though!
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  18. Stone Free

    Stone Free Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2001
    Messages:
    846
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Ratings:
    +27
    There is a AutoIT script on the HydrogenAudio forums that automates EAC and ripping to multiple formats at the same time, and the addition of artwork. It needs a small amount of tweaking (.INI files), to tell it what you want it to do.

    Its called REACT2 - The latest version is the Akkurat Mod - REACT:Mods - Hydrogenaudio Knowledgebase

    It installs as an EXE so you don't have to know any scripting
  19. mr gothic

    mr gothic Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2002
    Messages:
    1,392
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Ratings:
    +44
    hi

    my friend needs help setting up cdex

    could you please easy step by step instructions

    he wants to rip cds to flac to his computer with all data[track/album/artist info]

    i use cdex myself but an old friend installed it years ago for me,is it possible to copy the programe off my computer if so how do i do it?

    thank you
  20. indus

    indus Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    Messages:
    3,044
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Ratings:
    +124
    Hi

    Sorry this is a really basic question but I have never actually ripped a CD. About a year ago I bought a nas and paid somebody to rip my CD collection onto it, so have never actually done it myself.

    I have

    1) A Mac

    2) ipad

    3) Sonos

    4) Nas

    3) and 4) communicate via a wireless router.

    So could somebody tell me how I use my mac to rip the CD and then how I actually get it onto my nas.

    Thank you
  21. TylerDurden

    TylerDurden Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Messages:
    3,460
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Ratings:
    +390
  22. amcluesent

    amcluesent Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Messages:
    4,781
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +883
  23. indus

    indus Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    Messages:
    3,044
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Ratings:
    +124
    Thanks to mods for moving and thanks for the replies.

    AMC, thanks for that link, its excellent
  24. doug_1986

    doug_1986 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,018
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Ratings:
    +112
    .
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2011
  25. doug_1986

    doug_1986 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,018
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Ratings:
    +112
    With the same kinda setup as you I do I think what sonos recommends.

    Basically I copied my whole music folder to the nas (all of it, not just the music files), then launched itunes while holding alt and redirected it to the library on the nas. Then, set sonos to use that folder as its music source.

    Then set itunes to automatically manage music collection, and to copy music files to library when importing.

    All you gotta do then is drag any new music files into itunes, or stick a cd in and hit Import, and everything will be automatically imported to the right place on the nas and will be available to sonos. Also any playlists you make in itunes will be available on sonos
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2011
  26. McChicken

    McChicken Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Ratings:
    +3
    Hi,
    Maybe this is the wrong thread sorry if so....
    in short:
    what is the major difference is between e.g. FLAC, Lossless, and a 320kbs audio rip ?

    long version:
    I have a NAS with some Mp3 on ( mostly my old CD's ) and they are mostly coded to Mp3 with 256kbs and variable bit rate.
    however as I have the last few years used streamed audio ( mostly Spotify) I really have not put any attention to ripping music.
    Now as I will (re-)upgrade my system I would like to rip my CS's to some higher specs, but honestly don't know what codec I shall use, and what is the major difference is between e.g. FLAC, Lossless, and a 320kbs audio rip.
    my system is built around a couple of Sonos streamers, and a Airport Extreme with a NAS hooked up to Active B&O speakers, but will soon have some High-End actives ( AVI ADM 9T)

    so, what shall I re-rip the CD's with and does it matter what Ripping equipment and software that is used or ?

    thanks in advance
  27. Trollslayer

    Trollslayer Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    Messages:
    10,151
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +1,629
    FLAC is lossless and has tags so any information on track name, artsits etc. is contained in the fiile.
    I use CDex.
  28. wytco0

    wytco0 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Messages:
    148
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +3
    I also use and recommend Flac and I use DBPoweramp to rip. Flac is lossless i.e. you can recreate a perfect copy of the original from the rip. Flac is widely supported however if you use Apple they don't support flac (well not easily) apple lossless is also lossless (surprise !).

    I don't like manufacturers telling me what formats to use so even though I like Apple I don't use it for handling my music.
  29. larkone

    larkone Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Messages:
    2,470
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Ratings:
    +362
    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
  30. YellowSphere

    YellowSphere Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2007
    Messages:
    4,446
    Trophy Points:
    103
    Ratings:
    +487
    I rip FLACs for PC/network listening, and "iTunes plus" equivalent (224kbps VBR AAC, I think?) for using in my iTunes library (i.e. what gets sync'd to my phone/is used for AirPlay)

Share This Page