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PC Ripping Software

Postby Minimoog2004 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:44 am

Hello Chaps,

I'm just about to start ripping my entire CD collection of 20+ years, and would like to get it right first time considering the time it will take, and was just wondering what folk would recommend for decent sound quality. I'm happy to use WAV (although there are the obvious file size issues) or MP3 (at higher bit rates), providing it produces really good quality , i.e. clear highs, minimal distortion, good rounded bass etc. (or am I kidding myelf?).

I know this is something of a subjective undertaking, but I've tried iTunes and it just seems to leave me cold (thin/brittle etc.), even at higher bit rates (no doubt due to the conversion algorithms used).

I'd ideally like to find something that's free (of course), but am willing to pay if I have to. Must ideally be adjustable (bit rates, and automatic trck numbering....and labelling if I'm lucky).

Any ideas and your experiences would be reatly appreciated.

Cheers
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby The Elf » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:12 am

If you rip to a lossy format then you're stuck with it for ever (unless you go back and re-rip it). If you rip to wav then you can compress it later with any format you like. Personally I just use Windows Media Player to rip to wav, save these to a hard drive in a cupboard, but convert to MP3 for my various players (Archos player, car audio, etc).
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Gary_W » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:17 am

Hi,

I use EAC which stands for 'exact audio copy'. http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/.

It's free and it's brilliant so ticks the boxes you require. I've found it a bit picky at tagging the tracks (i.e. once you've ripped the track to a wav file it has the ability to 'tag' each track with artist, track, album information etc). It could just be me being dippy but I do the conversion in Foobar (another free program http://www.foobar2000.org/ )

Foobar is great at tagging and it allows you to convert to pretty much anything.

If you want 'best quality but save a bit of space' then FLAC is your friend. It is loss free compression so will sound indistinguishable from the original wav file. Size is not bad but nowhere near mp3 or AAC and it won't play on some portable devices so it depends on 'why you are ripping and what you're playing through' as to whether it's a good choice or not.

Technically, AAC is superior to MP3 - so I'm told. Better compression and better sound quality. I've been re-ripping recently and converting from 320k mp3 to 320k AAC. I prefer it but what I'd say is for you to rip in EAC then use Foobar to make a FLAC, an AAC at 320k and an MP3 at 320k and see what your ears vs hard drive space calculator tells you. Once you know the answer, you can get a production line going - whilst one is ripping in EAC you can be converting another in Foobar

Or someone who has sussed it can tell you (and me!) how to do it in a single stage inside EAC
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Minimoog2004 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:24 am

Chaps (Elf and Gary)

Thank you so much for your speedy replies!

Elf - very good point. If I rip to WAV now I always preserve the quality and can always convert to another format at a later date, but not have to re-rip ever sgain in the future - great thinking...genius!

Gary, likewise, thanks for that - I'll give it at try.

Cheers guys
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby The Elf » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:32 am

Gary_W wrote:converting from 320k mp3 to 320k AAC.

I don't see why you would want to do this. You're passing a file that's been through lossy compression through yet another stage of lossy compression, and risking further degrading the audio.

Once a file has been through lossy compression I'd leave it well alone - it's suffered enough!

+1 for FLAC though - if we must perpetuate compression, then at least that format is lossless.
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby The Elf » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:39 am

Gary_W wrote:Or someone who has sussed it can tell you (and me!) how to do it in a single stage inside EAC

EAC and FLAC
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:41 am

I used EAC for a while but found it a little clumsy. In the end I reverted to iTunes and the Apple Lossless format. The reasons for arriving at this decision are:

1. Apple Lossless maintains full audio quality and can be reconstructed to bit-perfect WAVs if necessary.
2. Apple Lossless incorporates fully automatic (and accurate) metadata tagging (which WAV doesn't) for artist, track, album, cover art etc
3. iTunes database seems knows about a lot more obscure material than EAC's database options
4. Apple Lossless doubles the storage capacity compared to wav with no quality penalty.
5. Apple Lossless remains fully compatible with iPods, Sonos, etc (Flac isn't compatible with iOS devices)
6. Apple Lossless supports 'sound check' loudness normalisation.

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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby The Elf » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:48 am

But Apple lossless won't play in my car! I don't think my Archos plays Apple Lossless either.. not sure.

Actually my car won't play FLAC either.

Oh lordy for the end of compression formats!!!!!
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:49 am

Gary_W wrote:Technically, AAC is superior to MP3 - so I'm told.

It is a more sophisticated codec and does deliver better results for similar file sizes, especially at the low bit-rate end. It also preserves HF information much better than MP3.

I've been re-ripping recently and converting from 320k mp3 to 320k AAC.

Sorry to tell you... but that is entirely wasted effort which can only damage the material further. Lossy codecs throw things away and you can't ever get them back. Converting between lossy codecs -- called concatenation -- is much more damaging than single-stage conversion and leads to a reduction in quality, not the hoped-for improvement!

By all means re-rip from CD or wav to 320kbps AAC, but please don't convert from MP3 to AAC

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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:58 am

The Elf wrote:But Apple lossless won't play in my car! I don't think my Archos plays Apple Lossless either.. not sure.

Actually my car won't play FLAC either.

Oh lordy for the end of compression formats!!!!!

I don't know of any current car system that can cope natively with any loss-less formats. Most can now handle MP3 and WMA, but an increasing number have iPod options (either direct connection or via an aux jack). That's why I went down the Apple Lossless route -- it allows me to plug in the iPod. Problem solved -- lossless music in massive quantities!

The better music server systems now support Apple Lossless too... but I agree progress is slow.

Obviously, my chosen solution won't suite everyone, but it was arrived at after careful evaluation of the alternatives adn I have found it works extremely well, with all the flexibility, features and quality that I require.

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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby MonkeySpank » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:21 pm

FLAC is your best bet at the moment. BUT iPhones and iPads won't play them! What's that about??
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby The Elf » Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:07 pm

MonkeySpank wrote:FLAC is your best bet at the moment. BUT iPhones and iPads won't play them! What's that about??

But my Archos *will* play FLAC (and WAV) - and my car has a non-iPod jack. That gives me everything I need.

I've never had an iPod and likely never will - their capacity is way too small for me. My 500GB Archos is ideal.
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Gary_W » Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:12 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Gary_W wrote:Technically, AAC is superior to MP3 - so I'm told.


It is a more sophisticated codec and does deliver better results for similar file sizes, especially at the low bit-rate end. It also preserves HF information much better than MP3.

I've been re-ripping recently and converting from 320k mp3 to 320k AAC.


Sorry to tell you... but that is entirely wasted effort which can only damage the material further. Lossy codecs throw things away and you can't ever get them back. Converting between lossy codecs -- called concatenation -- is much more damaging than single-stage conversion and leads to a reduction in quality, not the hoped-for improvement!

By all means re-rip from CD or wav to 320kbps AAC, but please don't convert from MP3 to AAC

hugh


Hugh and Elf - I know that converting from one lossy format to another is silly - I should have been plainer in my writing

I'm ripping to WAV using EAC and then I am converting said WAV to 320k AAC. Then I am replacing the mp3 file in my library with the shiny new AAC. Works a treat.
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:16 pm

Ah -- yes, that makes much more sense!
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:21 pm

The Elf wrote:But my Archos *will* play FLAC (and WAV) - and my car has a non-iPod jack. That gives me everything I need.


Fair enough. FLAC won't work for me precisely because I use an iPod and iPad...

I've never had an iPod and likely never will - their capacity is way too small for me. My 500GB Archos is ideal.


Yes, 160GB max in the classic iPod is a significant limitation these days... but on the other hand, I really don't want to be able to access my entire music collection on the move -- I am quite happy with a subset of things and to ring the changes every now and again.

The whole collection is on a 2TB NAS -- 500GB wouldn't cut it there!

So each to their own. I just wanted to highlight the potential benefits of Apple Lossless which had been completely overlooked in the initial posts.

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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:24 pm

MonkeySpank wrote:FLAC is your best bet at the moment. BUT iPhones and iPads won't play them! What's that about??

It's about Apple's very typical 'do it our way or not at all" approach to everything they make and do!

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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Minimoog2004 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:10 pm

Thanks guys...

It's been good to get such great feedback and advice...and it's also been useful to see the debate about different devices open up, which I forgot to mention in my original post.

I'm kinda torn between the Apple argument and Elf's solution, but it's so darn difficult when (as you say Hugh), so very few portable audio devices cope with lossy formats. I think I'm probably swerving towards Elf's suggestion though, as I can't help but loathe Apple's controlling nature! I think I'd quite happily buy an iPod/iPad etc, as long as I could play what I want on it!

Thanks again
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby JonR » Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:21 pm

I recently finished ripping my CD's to a NAS serving a LINN digital streamer. I used the excellent dBpoweramp and ripped to FLAC.

http://www.dbpoweramp.com/

It isn't free but has some very powerful features.
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Jorge » Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:47 pm

JonR wrote:I recently finished ripping my CD's to a NAS serving a LINN digital streamer. I used the excellent dBpoweramp and ripped to FLAC.http://www.dbpoweramp.com/
It isn't free but has some very powerful features.
I had not heard of this program before, and looked at the website. It has an interesting approach to error correction, it seems to submit the entire ripped file by internet to a central database, compare it bit for bit with other rips of the same CD done by other people, and somehow decides which one is correct, then uses that one for your rip. Seems a bit cumbersome, although the big question in my mind is, how does it decide which rip is the error and which is correct? Does it just take a vote and if 3 rips have 0 for that bit and only 2 have 1, it chooses 0? Seems a strange approach to error correction, given that most people have never done a rip with enough errors in it to be noticeable.
Or it could just be a clever way for the database owner to get ripped copies of lots of CDs.

What has been your experience with it?
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:11 am

EAC also does this database comparison. The process, as I understand it, is to create a checksum from the local rip file and compare that to the reference checksum stored on the database. If its the same then you can have confidence that your rip is accurate, if not then you have some idea that there may be a problem -- which could simply be a different mastering version.

There is no exchange of actual audio with these systems, as far as I know.

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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby VOLOVIA » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:01 pm

Sorry to kind of hijack this thread for a sec, but I have built a large library in my iTunes, but now I need to play songs along Cubase as reference.
I can't run the two platforms together, and most songs are ripped to MPEG-4 (hence I can't import them...) Is there a way round? (my original CDs are far and away in storage now...).
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby ef37a » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:34 pm

bugiolacchi wrote:Sorry to kind of hijack this thread for a sec, but I have built a large library in my iTunes, but now I need to play songs along Cubase as reference.
I can't run the two platforms together, and most songs are ripped to MPEG-4 (hence I can't import them...) Is there a way round? (my original CDs are far and away in storage now...).

If I understand you correctly..Audacity will play almost anything and export it as .wav

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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:32 pm

You can convert an iTunes song to any different supported file format (and still keep the original) within iTunes itself, so the obvious solution is to use iTunes to create mp3 versions of your reference tracks -- since Cubase can import mp3s. (Note: You can’t convert iTunes Store purchases unless they’re iTunes Plus songs).

To convert a song’s file format in iTunes: Choose Edit > Preferences, click General, and click Import Settings. In the Import Using pop-up menu, choose the format you want to convert songs to, and click OK to save the settings.

Select one or more songs in your library and choose Advanced > Create Format Version.

The song in its original format and the newly converted song appear in your library.

Import mp3 version into Cubase as a reference track. Job done

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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Jorge » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:53 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:EAC also does this database comparison. The process, as I understand it, is to create a checksum from the local rip file and compare that to the reference checksum stored on the database. If its the same then you can have confidence that your rip is accurate, if not then you have some idea that there may be a problem -- which could simply be a different mastering version.
There is no exchange of actual audio with these systems, as far as I know.
hugh

That makes a lot more sense, considering bandwidth, copyright and speed of ripping issues. Reading the tech report on the dBPowerAmp website, it seems that the program is very sensitive and will pick up just about any error in ripping. The Plextor drives seemed to do the best and EAC and dBPowerAmp seemed to have similar error rates on those drives.
What is not clear to me, what do you do with tracks that are reported to have errors? Do you re-rip them and hope something changes?
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:12 pm

Jorge wrote:Reading the tech report on the dBPowerAmp website, it seems that the program is very sensitive and will pick up just about any error in ripping.

The issue is that the audio CD wasn't designed to be totally error-free. The system was designed in the expectation that some errors would slip through, but that they could be concealed inaudibly. Not all computer drives provide that concealment when necessary and not all apply the proper error correction levels either! So comparing a check-sum calculated from the ripped file with a database allows some assessment of the likely accuracy of a rip. Of course, you could spot a faulty file by listening to a replay, but comparing database records is a lot quicker!

The Plextor drives seemed to do the best and EAC and dBPowerAmp seemed to have similar error rates on those drives.

The early Plextor drives were excellent, and were the preferred choice of mastering studios around the world. Newer drives aren't quite as accomplished, sadly.

What is not clear to me, what do you do with tracks that are reported to have errors? Do you re-rip them and hope something changes?

EAC and dBPoweramp both have modes where they re-rip faulty sections repeatedly to try to average out faults, but basically if a disc is faulty you need to deal with the disc. That might mean cleaning grubby marks off the playing surface, or polishing out scratches, or finding an alternative, better quality disc.

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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby stompertje » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:47 pm

I've been using dbPoweramp as well to rip my entire collection to my NAS. Both EAC and dbPoweramp create a "checksum" from the ripped file and compare that to the rips of other people (it does not check the entire file). It then tells you how confident it is about the quality of the ripping process, by looking how many other rips of the tracks have the same checksum.

I set up the process to first rip a stack of CDs to FLAC and then batch converting it to 320bps mp3 files. I use the mp3s for playback on my devices (although some play the FLAC files fine), but keep the FLAC files archived, so I can convert to another format without the need for reripping.

So: lossless copy is archived, lossy copy is played.
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Re: PC Ripping Software

Postby James Perrett » Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:14 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
The Plextor drives seemed to do the best and EAC and dBPowerAmp seemed to have similar error rates on those drives.

The early Plextor drives were excellent, and were the preferred choice of mastering studios around the world. Newer drives aren't quite as accomplished, sadly.

If you have one of the older Plextor drives then use Plextools. There's no need to mess around with databases to tell you whether the rip has been successful as these drives output all the error codes that the software needs to tell whether there has been a problem. If there is a problem then you can choose the strategy that you want Plextools to adopt. Plextools is still available from the Plextor website.

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