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CD to MP3?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Ronald Epstein, Dec 9, 2004.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I am surprised I don't know the answer to this
    question already, but when a co-worker asked me
    about it today I drew a complete blank.

    My co-worker's wife is constantly handling CDs
    in the car going from one song to another.

    What my co-worker would like to do is to compile
    all her CDs onto one CD in MP3 format. This way
    she has ONE CD with 60+ of her favorite songs.

    What is the best way to convert audio CDs into
    compressed MP3? What is the best software or
    procedure to use?

    Thanks in advance for the help.
     
  2. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    What you now hear is the sound of Pandora's box being opened...

    [​IMG]

    Seriously, Ron, there are several good options. I'll first mention how not to convert CD (WAV) format to mp3. Do not use the ripping/encoding features built into such programs as MusicMatch, Windows Media Player, Real Player or iTunes. These programs use inferior algorithms for mp3 encoding.

    Instead, the 2 primary options in my opinion are to use CDex or the combination of EAC and LAME. CDex is a nice, freeware program that combines the functionality of a ripper (which produces the WAV files) and an encoder (which produces the compressed, mp3 file), and it uses the LAME mp3 encoder.

    Some will argue that the combination of EAC (Exact Audio Copy, the ripper) and LAME (the encoder) as a 2-step process produces better results (particularly with hard-to-read, scratched CD's) than CDex but I have never been convinced, nor have I found difficulties ripping CD's w/ CDex. EAC/LAME requires a bit more tweaking and is, in my opinion, a bit more cumbersome to use and difficult to get running c/w CDex.

    So, in sum, I would download CDex from the CDex home page and surf to this site for instructions on how to get up and running: CDex guide. Your co-worker's wife will be producing excellent mp3's in no time.

    I continue to hope that, someday, we will have a section of HTF devoted to the discussion of audio encoding and portable digital audio devices. [​IMG]
     
  3. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    Even if the algorithms are inferior, I'm not sure the difference is appreciable, or worth any extra hassle, if any.

    For example, with iTunes (a free program that runs on both Windows and Mac), you can rip your CDs into Apple Lossless format. Pretty much just load a disc and hit a button. This squeezes the data into about half the size, without losing a single bit. (Of course, that presumes that the bits were read exactly from the CD, but again, even if a few aren't, would you care?) You now have a library of songs. At any time, you can create a new playlist -- a few different, easy ways to do that -- choose the order you want them to play (by song, album, or artist/album), and click a button to burn a new CD. You can choose the format at the time you burn: MP3, AAC, or regular CD.
     
  4. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I always stick with CDEx myself, even after using ITunes for paid downloads.

    CDEx is better for making adjustments when a particularly nasty jitter issue comes up, it is great for doing batch conversions, partial song rips (very easy), controling how files are names, where they go when ripped, etc.

    And if you just want to put in a disc and go, its maybe 3-4 quick buttons rather than auto. IMO, the ease of use and feature set centered around bottom line functionality destroy any slight advantage of "insert disc and go".


    Now Ron, there is another issue here. Once you have these MP3s ready to put on a disc, the CD player that will be playing these MP3s must be considered.

    Does the coworker/his wife have a CAR CD PLAYER that actually recognizes MP3 data CDs? You can't just convert, burn and play in any old CD player.

    If the CD player in question does have the MP3 player functionality, then the next question becomes how it likes to see the files organized and how it gets info from those files.

    I have several home DVD players and each has tolerence levels regarding file structures. Cheaper ones want you to have all the MP3 files right on top, no subdirectories. Others are better with that, but they still might not shuffle between different folders.

    In some of my examples I have the entire Queen or Led Zep catalog on one MP3 disc for traveling. I put each album in its own folder. So if I want a general "Led Zep shuffle" some players won't do it, and some won't even like there being folders on the disc at all.


    Second was the song info. Some players display info based on file, but I think most like to pull it from the MP3 tag info inside the MP3 file itself. This means that you can name a file whatever you want, but if you haven't stored the song/artist/genre info during encoding it won't be there, and vice versa.

    So a file named "Song 01 - Led Zep IV" could actually have the title "Black Dog - Led Zeppelin" in the MP3 file and ready for display by the player. But another player might display "Song 01 - Led Zep IV" as the song title.

    How a person wants to see their info (some don't care) and how a player will do that are factors you need to consider when encoding MP3 files. In CDEx you would want to make sure you have used CDDB to fill in all the info for a CD before encoding it, otherwise you will need software like ITunes that allows you to edit the MP3 tags inside the file (if the file is not write protected...like already burned to a CD - DOH!).



    Summary - CDEx is great stuff. Be careful how you name and organize your files during this process. Consider how you store them on CD, how you name folders, etc. This all depends on the player in question and how the user would like to see info and access songs.


    Other than that, being able to take 1 CD with all my Aerosmith or Queen is wonderful for travel. I don't have a MP3 player in the car, but it would be pretty nice.
     
  5. Kevin Hewell

    Kevin Hewell Cinematographer

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    Angelo, is that CDex Guide link correct? When I click on it an unkown file type tries to download to my HD.
     
  6. Greg*go

    Greg*go Supporting Actor

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    The link worked for me. A page opened up. I've been using CDex for a while now, and love it. I haven't used it as much as I used to since I got my entire CD collection on my HDD. Gotta love the CDDB option when you're doing that many CDs.

    How do you rip part of a song with CDex?
     
  7. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Like Ken said, will the inferior algorithms cause a truly noticeable drop in quality? I just switched from CDex to iTunes to make things a bit easier, and I can't hear a difference. I tried Apple Lossless, but one CD came out to be more than 400MB. I'm now ripping CDs at 192kbps MP3.
     
  8. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Well, if you can't hear a difference, then you've answered your own question. [​IMG]

    Folks debate these issues ad nauseum on sites like Hydrogenaudio. My feeling is that whatever produces acceptable results for you--whatever is most transparent when compared with the original CD--is what you ought to use.

    Personally, I like the ease of use of CDex. Plus, the LAME encoder has been "tuned" extensively and is in constant development and, to my ear, produces excellent results. I used to encode in mp3 using LAME's alt-preset-standard setting; now I use AAC at 224 kbps (encoded in iTunes). I find no difference between these encoded files.
     
  9. Jason Kirkpatri

    Jason Kirkpatri Second Unit

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    Ron, you've opened a can of worms! Over at AVS, you can read pages of this stuff.

    Personally, I do WMA losses for archiving, and then dbpoweramp for mp3 portability. 192kps for me works very well.
     
  10. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    I'm anal about this stuff I just rip my albums to WAV with EAC and keep em that way. If I ever get short on space I'll probably go APE or FLAC lossless.

    Is your co-worker's head unit an Alpine? If so they can decode WMA as well as MP3. I ripped a concert DVD into 64 songs and it fit with room to spare at around 224kbps WMA. Sounds great and full tagging is an awesome feature when searching through 60+ tracks on the same CD.

    Even still, changing CDs in the car is always a pain. This is probably the best solution:

    http://www.alpine-usa.com/products/l...h_kca-420i.htm
    http://www.alpine-usa.com/driveyouripod/ipod_demo.htm
     
  11. Greg*go

    Greg*go Supporting Actor

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    As far as quality goes, using CDex, I use the 96-320kbps VBR, quality=5, method=VBR-MTRH settings. And again, I haven't done it recently, but I tested it out and was not able to notice a difference on my stereo system when I play a CD through my PC as well. Plus the VBR lowers the size of the files.

    Now, I do have an analog connection from PC-to-Receiver, so that might help balance things out for the two qualities.
     
  12. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    The encoding makes a massive difference, especially if you're planning on listening to the encrypted files on any worthwhile sound hardware.

    That's why Lame and VBR, Variable Bit Rate, is so nice. It can keep the song size roughly around what a 192kbit CBR (Constant Bit Rate) file takes up, but can rival the sound quality of a 320kbit CBR file.

    In other words, rip to (what many consider to be) archival quality and never have to re-rip that disc again unless you decide to do a rip to a lossless format later (only 50% compression but no loss of sound data, unlike MP3 that discards info).

    There is no reason not to rip with the best stuff you can find (EAC, in my opinion) and then encode with Lame. EAC is a tad more cumbersome than some to set up, but... once that is done, it's basically just insert disc, click to do a freedb search for the song info and then click to rip/encode and a while later you'll have the album ripped to MP3.
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    This is not a high-quality listening environment and the highest quality MP3's are not needed. I'd rank "easy" over "quality" when choosing the "best" method for most people.

    For cost and simplicity, use Media Player. It's on their PC. It is trivial to use. There's no additional software to download and install. Just select the auto-rip function under in the menu section for burning CDs. Then, use whatever CD burning software came with the CD-RW and copy the MP3 files from the "My Music" folder to the CD.
     
  14. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    CDex is free and simple to use as well.
     
  15. Rob Silver

    Rob Silver Stunt Coordinator

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    The simpliest way is to use iTunes for encoding, at 128kb compression MP3, then burn the MP3s as data mode in Nero Burning ROM. I doubt your co-worker's wife will hear the difference between iTunes or LAME encoded MP3s. Note, you'll need a MP3 capable CD player to play the MP3 CD, which most cars don't have, not even the fancy luxury cars. You'll have to buy it from Good Guys, etc.
     
  16. Ken Chui

    Ken Chui Supporting Actor

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    I would like to add another music conversion program to the mix: dBpowerAMP.

    It has the following features:
    • Audio CD ripping and storage in a number of popular formats
    • Conversion from one format to another: mp3, mp4, wma, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, Monkeys Audio, FLAC, etc.
    • Fully compatible with all Windows operating systems and Linux.
    • ID tag editing
    • Recording from LPs
    • Windows Explorer integration
    • 100% freeware (no bundleware, nagging reminders, popups or spyware)
     
  17. Paul Bartlet

    Paul Bartlet Stunt Coordinator

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    I would have to 2nd Angelo's 1st post.



    This is so true, mp3s will not stand up to the quality of a proper rip/encode of quality programs (EAC, CDex).

    Should you go the EAC way, once setup it is rather easy to rip / encode. As said, I've not tried CDex, but I know for sure EAC is free.
     
  18. Rob Silver

    Rob Silver Stunt Coordinator

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    dBpowerAMP is not free. The encoding function expires after 30 days.

    If you want to do it the "hard" way, EAC + LAME is the way to go.
     
  19. AnitaPeterson

    AnitaPeterson Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, dbpoweramp is free.

    The PowerPack is not free, but you don`t actaully need it.

    You can rip a CD to .wav with CDEx and then convert the resulting files with dbpoweramp.

    Why? because sometimes, if the source is a CD-R, and the CD-ROM drive is too fast, ripping/encoding on-the-fly can lead to artifacts.

    Besides which, dbPowerAmp is a cool tool, which allows you to encode in about 15-20 different formats, at whichever parameters you chose.

    In conclusion: both CDEx and DbPowerAmp are tools to look for.
     
  20. Rob Silver

    Rob Silver Stunt Coordinator

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    Important part: dBpowerAMP's mp3 encoder (writer) is on a time limited 30 day trial license, illustrate has provided a 100% free encoder for many years, but a legal challenge (claims of patent infringement) has forced a change, the world cannot have a free mp3 encoder so it seems.

    Apparently these guys never heard of LAME.
     

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