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Old 03-14-2012, 07:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Ripping CDs: Quest for Quality

So I would like to make digital copies of my CDs. The goal here is quality, so file size is unimportant. I will be putting it all on a large external hard drive, so no worries there. I'm planning on FLAC or WAV files. Most likely WAV, as I understand they are easier to convert to other files types. My question is this: Where do I begin?

In my research, I have found that EAC (Exact Audio Copier, I think) is the best program to use. However, most of the articles I found are a few years old. Is there anything else out there now to consider, software-wise?

How about hardware? I imagine to really get a good copy of a CD, I'd need a better drive to read the CD than the stock offering of a years-old HP Pavillion. Can anyone recommend me some good tech to consider? Money is generally of no concern, but that's wihin a reasonable range. I can't afford several thousands of dollars' worth of gear right now.

Lastly, can anyone recommend a good audiophillia forum I can look into? I'm only just getting started in this world.

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Old 03-14-2012, 08:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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AKA Fan - Headphone forums and reviews for audiophiles is a great forum. Mainly headphone-centric, but an audiophile is an audiophile.
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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FLAC - Free Lossless Audio Codec
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Huh. I'm aware of FLAC files, but I never considered looking up the official site. I'll peruse that link.
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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CD ripping was an issue... in the 90's. Since then, I've found even cheap IDE drives (like, anything within the last decade probably) are capable of perfectly ripping audio CD's provided they're not too damaged, unbalanced, or have some weird book format or TOC. (I'm not up to date on the latest CD copy protection schemes however.) It's a pretty rote operation for drives to support now.

Along those lines, if you have a scuffed up CD, you will probably want one of those Disc Doctor's to polish them up; the motorized one is worth it if you have a lot of CD's.

The last time I did a batch like this, I think I loaded 4 CD drives into a machine and had them all firing at once, which is nice if you're going through hundreds of discs.

I also used Linux to do it. The defacto library that handles the DA extraction I believe is cdparanoia, which is used by numerous other front-end programs. Might be a good excuse for you to learn how to use Linux.
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Huh. I'll certainly look into that. Been curious about Linux anyway...
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Magoo, I second the Linux comment. I run Linux almost exclusively in my house and for work. I do my own development. I wrote the Linux multitouch trackpad driver for the MacBooks and - drumroll - I've contributed a few patches to RubyRipper, my CD ripper of choice.

I encode entire discs to FLAC with an accompanying CUE sheet. My patches for RR are directly related to this. I'm not sure which patches have been integrated to upstream, it's something I've been meaning to check out, but as it stands I've used it to encode my entire collection to FLAC.

I have a set of scripts I use that can read the CUE file and split the FLAC file into indvidual MP3's. That way, since it's lossless, I never have to worry about re-encoding disks to a higher bitrate MP3's as storage and whatnot becomes available. These scripts are separate from RR, but if you're willing to dive into Linux, I can provide you with a copy (though I do intend to upload them to github once they're more robust).

As to the CD ripping process, I have a few comments. Most CD-ROM's are capable of reading a perfect disk perfectly the first time. Unfortunately, we rarely have perfect disks, and there's always the chance that you don't have a perfect CD-ROM. In my case I have quite a few old discs which are scratched, which is unfortunate. RubyRipper will rip the disk multiple times and compare the two different images. If they're even one byte off it will attempt to re-read those sectors the required number of times until it comes back with a consistent read. I generally go with two reads because I'm not that paranoid, but you can put in as many as you want. EAC does the same thing, but it's not open source, so I don't support it.

Anywho, that's what I've got to say on the matter. Shoot me a PM if you're interested more and I can help you out.
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