most people do not hear the difference between mp3s and the cd.
but mp3 is a lossy format. by that, it means that some of the bits are forever lost.
if you convert to a lossless format, that means that the format can be re-converted back to the cd format, if desired.
you can simply convert your cd to a wav file. but then that takes the same amount of room as the cd.
however, in that format, just about any reader play it.
the other 2 main lossless formats of which i am aware are wavpack and flac. i chose wavpack to store my files.
the advantage to wv and flac over wav is that info about the music (artist, title, etc.) can be embedded in the wv or flac file.
the other question that you need to ask yourself is if you are gonna keep your cds or sell them ?
if you are gonna sell them, i would convert the files to some sort of lossless format.
in other words, i would not save the music exclusively in mp3 format.
if you are talking portability, then mp3 is the only way to go. the other formats take up too much room on the ipod. and you may run into compatibility problems trying to play them.
so just think ipod and mp3 as a marriage partner.
foobar is what most people use to play their wv and flac files on their computer. and i am pretty sure that foobar will convert a wv file to flac, and vice versa.
i am converting all my cds to wv, and storing it on terrabyte drives. and of course, i have a backup for it, as well. the terrabyte drives are no longer that expensive.