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Looking for Advice on Ripping my CD Collection (2 Viewers)

Mike Frezon

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I am getting to the point of maximum saturation in terms of media.

So I am contemplating a big project to rip my CD collection onto HDD storage. This also seems like it would be the easiest way to make my music available in my living room HT and in my car. I still buy CDs and I believe this would increase the likelihood of me actually listening more often to the music I purchase.

I have an old laptop(s) I could use for this (with optical drives). And I have empty external HDDs onto which I could organize the music.

My questions fall in these categories.

1.) How best to organize the CDs on the HDD? Should I use folders based on artist? Just assign each disc to its own folder? Genre folders? [I always find genres difficult to classify.]

2.) Software? Just use Windows Media player? I have a program called "Express Ripper." Or is there something that's WAY better and perfectly developed for this task (that you recommend)?

It's daunting. I've got hundreds and hundreds of CDs. And it's going to take a while. That's why I want to do it right from the beginning and not have to go back and do it all over.

I am looking for any and all suggestions of how to achieve the end result of porting all my music over to HDD.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Are you using a Mac or PC?

I use iTunes - which works on both platforms but I think Apple may have renamed it based on which device you’re using it on - and rip my discs using the Apple Lossless setting. You can have iTunes handle the organization of the files, which is basically:

Artist Folder > Album Subfolder > 01 Track 1

(etc)

That basic organizing style will also be recognized by most servers and databases. iTunes will also generally recognize track names but also allow you to edit them as necessary.

Your Oppo will definitely play Apple Lossless. Your car might. If it doesn’t, check to see if your car supports either FLAC, WAV or AIFF. Basically you want to be sure you’re ripping either uncompressed or lossless rather than lossy MP3 or MP4.
 

BobO'Link

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When I was faced with that challenge after purchasing a car without a CD player I researched and settled on "Exact Audio Copy":


It's an excellent program, but Windows only.

It rips to FLAC (vastly preferred as it's an exact, compressed, copy of your disk), or MP3 (with the LAME plugin added). Pulls in tracks automatically from a linked database, allows inclusion of album art either automatically or by drag/drop from local files or the internet. It excels at ripping troublesome disks (out of over 1600 discs I had only 3 absolutely fail to rip). You can customize how the tracks appear on your drive as well as the way they'll appear on a player.

It *does* take a bit of time and research and gnashing of teeth before everything gets set like you want but it's worth it.

No matter what you settle on, be sure it'll do FLAC files. MP3 files are very lossy. FLAC is lossless and can be converted to MP3 easily for those devices that don't recognize FLAC. I was quite pleased that my car will play FLAC files, although not gap less (the main failing of many players). Well programmed players will play FLAC files gap less so tracks that segue into another play without breaks as they should. I overcome that limitation by ripping those tracks in groups (something EAC does easily) as a single track for playback in the car. If my original CD ever becomes damaged or unreadable those FLAC files can be burned to a blank that will sound and play exactly like the original.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I haven’t been PC in years but I used to use EAC and can also vouch for it being a great ripping program to get a basic WAV or FLAC file.
 

jcroy

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If my original CD ever becomes damaged or unreadable those FLAC files can be burned to a blank that will sound and play exactly like the original.

I don't even do this ^ anymore.

I end up just listening to the entire album on youtube, after my cd copy dies or I gave it away (or it was stolen) or it was misplaced.
 

jcroy

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(This may sound excessive).

Nowadays I'm too lazy to search for a cd on my bookshelf, take it out of the case, and put it into a player (or computer cd/dvd drive).

Easier to just search it on youtube or a streaming service, and listen to it there. :drum:
 

Josh Steinberg

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I don’t think that’s excessive, I just don’t think it’s helpful to Mike’s question of how to rip his CDs.
 

jcroy

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If you're into the whole *.cue sheets things with a giant *.wav (or *.flac) file with an entire cd program, there are players which can play the *.cue sheets data. For example, such as foobar2000


The *.cue sheets tell you what all the tracks are, their starting positions, etc ...

EAC can generate the *.cue sheet for entire cds on the fly.
 

jcroy

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Another option if you know how to make your own mkv files, is putting an entire *.wav (or *.flac) file with the *.cue data sheet into a single mkv container.

So if a player knows how to play *.mkv files (such as vlc), it will play like a cd player such as fast forwarding to the next song, etc ... without having to guess the starting position.
 

Mike Frezon

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Wow. Excellent answers--and very helpful--so far.

I am a Windows guy.

My HT can play FLAC. I LOVE high-rez music (I have numerous SACDs, DVD-As, Blu-ray audio discs, etc. in my collection--but I'm not worried about ripping those) and I have downloaded tracks from HDTracks. My car does NOT recognize FLAC files, however. So, if I do FLACs for the HT, I will need to double up and create a prallel database of mp3 files. Or, maybe .wav files would be a reasonable middle ground? I will have to be sure the car will play .wav files (but I expect that it would).

I neglected to add that I would even consider a new piece of gear if someone developed some sort of hardware designed to do this task (as long as its not mega expensive). It seems like someone could have made a fortune simplifying this process for the masses!

As soon as I push "Post Reply" for this post I will go off and start exploring Exact Audio Copy.
 

BobO'Link

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All a FLAC file is is a compressed WAV file. EAC does those with ease so if your car plays them you could avoid the whole compression part completely and not have to double encode/convert.

I've watched the folder when a disc is ripped. EAC rips it to a WAV file and then converts, or rather compresses, it to FLAC.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Try ripping a single disc to WAV or AIFF and see if your car can play that. If so, just rip everything to that format. Much simpler than doing both WAV and MP3 versions of the same files.
 

jcroy

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I will have to be sure the car will play .wav files (but I expect that it would).

My current car stereo can play *.wav

Though this was never written in the car owner's manual. You just have to try it to know.
 

jcroy

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Try ripping a single disc to WAV or AIFF and see if your car can play that. If so, just rip everything to that format. Much simpler than doing both WAV and MP3 versions of the same files.

I don't even bother with transcoding to mp3, ogg, flac, etc .... anymore.

(The only times I ever transcode to flac, is to check whether a player is playing properly. Otherwise it is quite rare for me nowadays).
 

jcroy

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All a FLAC file is is a compressed WAV file. EAC does those with ease so if your car plays them you could avoid the whole compression part completely and not have to double encode/convert.

I've watched the folder when a disc is ripped. EAC rips it to a WAV file and then converts, or rather compresses, it to FLAC.

The times I want to covert *.wav to *.flac, I just use vlc in a "batch mode" where it only takes a minute or less to convert an entire album wav->flac
 

Nelson Au

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Hey guys, just saw this thread. I might not have much to add to Mike’s question, but I thought I’d mention something. I’m an iTunes user too. And since Josh mentioned playback on an Oppo device, I too currently stream my music collection via the Oppo blu ray player that was ripped in iTunes via external drive. (Lossless too) I realize this doesn’t apply to Mike, but I found that gapless play for iTunes tracks doesn’t work on the Oppo. Which is a pain. So the gaps will have a slight pause and then resumes with the next track. I’m actually reconsidering re-ripping once I decide how to do playback on my home system.

In the car, what I love about iTunes and being an iPhone user, I can plug my iPhone into the car’s infotainment system. My car is actually 20 years old, pre-everything! But I really love the car! I replaced the radio last year with a new double din sized unit tailor designed for my car’s dash. So now I have a new radio that has a large screen for navigation and music stuff. So using Apple Carplay, I can plug the iPhone into the car and play the music in my iPhone to the car. That works great. But again, not everyone will have or want CarPlay. They may want the android equivalent. So those are options for the car.

One last thing about home playback. I was talking to the owner of a hi-fi shop I’ve been going to for years, he recommended I look at the Bluesound Vault 2i. This is a table top box that has a CD drive and built in hard drive. You place your CDs in it and it rips and stores the music onboard. You can then stream the music to your hi-fi system or network in the house. I’m not sure I wanted to go there yet, but it’s an easy solution. I like the idea of doing it myself on my computer. But this is nice as it’s single purpose. It is expensive, $1299.00.


Good luck Mike.
 

TonyD

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Yeah, the problem with streaming services is that they don’t have everything I want.
Recently I picked up a cd of Pete Townsends Psychoderelict (music only) cd.

It doesn’t seem to be on any streamers that I have access to.

I’m probably just going to add music that doesn’t stream to my iPhone and stream it from there.
 

Jason Goodmanson

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I recently went through the same issue that Mike has - I always enjoy physical media over anything streaming - whether it's books (LOVE my analogue books!,) or CDs or DVDs/Blu-rays, but after moving two years ago, and hauling hundreds and hundreds of CDs across the country (well, halfway across the country,) I realized that all of my physical CDs weren't doing anything for me.

So I re-ripped them, and then sold the CDs. Got pennies on the pound at a used book store here, but sold quite a few of the "collections" on eBay and made quite the pretty penny back (who knew that those Castle 2-CD Iron Maiden CDs were worth so much!) There were quite a few discs I kept - especially if they came with a good DVD or maybe Blu-ray in those rare instances.

While I'm not an Apple guy (Windows all the way!) I do have everything in iTunes since I've been an iPod user since almost the beginning, so it was an easy choice to jump on the iPhone train and I use AppleTV for most of my streaming sources.

Loaded up everything into iTunes, and re-ripped as Apple Lossless and I'm good to go. I really like data, so iTunes shows me my play counts and I can create smart playlists for the gym/running to make sure I can hear songs I haven't heard in awhile.

It does take quite a bit of time to sit at my desk and rip all that music, and every now and then I have to deal with the names not matching up exactly, or being wrong. But it was worth it just from a space issue.

As I type this, I look at the hundreds and hundreds of DVDs and Blu-rays and kind of wish I had something equally as easy as I did with the CDs. Last year (maybe two-ish years ago? Time is an illusion lately . . .) I contemplated condensing the cases for my discs since there is so much wasted space, but never found something I liked.
 

Traveling Matt

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EAC is popular because of its accuracy, but with that comes the issue of time commitment. It has different Extraction Methods, which can vary the length of time it takes to rip each disc. You can use it in Burst mode, which is probably as fast as a quick rip in iTunes, or you can use Secure mode which takes longer. Secure goes over a disc twice to ensure it's ripped accurately. Burst doesn't do any error correction (I believe). Since you have hundreds of discs, you may want to determine which approach is best for you. Or maybe prioritizing your titles to use both methods would work.

Also, just as general workflow advice (since I haven't seen it put this way).... don't keep MP3s or other lossy files ONLY. If you're taking this time, save your rips as uncompressed or lossless files. Even if you use MP3s for regular listening, rip in WAV or FLAC for archival purposes. Create MP3s from those if you want.
 

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