by February 6, 2002 0 comments

Though familiar to music buffs who preserve and carry their music as MP3s, we’ll look at the essential steps to rip CDs to MP3s. We’ll use a free software called CD-DA X-Tractor for it. We’ve also included the software in the leisure section of this month’s CD. The software allows you to rip tracks to WAV, MP3 or OGG formats. Though ripping directly to MP3 is easier and the software will also most often allow you to specify the ID3 tag information (either manually or from CDDB), we suggest that first you rip audio CD tracks to WAV files and then encode them to MP3s. This is less taxing on your computer’s resources.

Rip to WAV
Each CD ripping software will have its own settings for ripping audio tracks. Some common settings are destination path (ensure that this is set to a hard disk/ partition with sufficiently storage space), jitter correction, track verification, read speed etc. Most often the default settings would work the best. But if your source CD is scratched or dirty, you might have problems reading it. In that case try ripping the CD at a slower speed. This might not always be possible in case you are doing a direct-to MP3 rip. You can now use a WAV-editing software for adding effects, normalizing, and fading or even add voice-overs!

Encode WAV to MP3
Loads of software is available on the Internet that lets you accomplish this. The essential difference between them would be in the user interface and the amount of codec configurability they provide. While encoding, keep certain essentials in mind. The higher the bitrate, the better the sound quality, but also the larger the file size. MP3 encoded at 128 kbps and 44 KHz is CD-quality sound. It is preferable to encode WAV files at VBR (Variable Bit Rate). This essentially adjusts the encoding bitrate dynamically so as to optimally cover the whole frequency range. However, note that VBR files might not play properly on certain software and portable MP3 players. ID3 tags are added to the tracks here.

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