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Need advice on file format and free CD ripping software

Discussion in 'Music' started by grayson73, Feb 4, 2016.
  1. Grayson73
    I originally ripped my CDs to 192kb/s .mp3 years ago, but now I want to re-rip them to higher quality since disk storage is cheaper.  I'm using a PC.
    1.  What recommended format would you recommend and at what bitrate for use with my Nexus 6 android phone?
    2.  What free CD ripping software would you recommend?
    Thanks in advance.
  2. Mython Contributor
    You didn't say what platform your computer operating system is.
    If you are on Windows platform, then, without any question, the best ripper, bar none, is ExactAudioCopy (EAC) ...and, happily, it's 100% free.
    EAC is not the easiest software to use, or the most convenient (it's tagging is quite flakey). But it yields the most accurate rips.
    So, it all depends on how serious you are about your rips. If you want the best quality rips possible, then EAC is the way to go.
    I strongly recommend ripping to .flac format (here's how to setup EAC to rip directly to .flac)   (also see here, and here, for other explanations)
    You can get a nice package of .flac encoder here (this version installs the encoder executable (which EAC needs) along with a useful standalone encoding GUI, which you may sometimes need)
    Flac is a lossless format (no digital data is discarded by the compression algorithm, it is just packed more efficiently - broadly-speaking [​IMG]). This means the quality is exactly the same as CD, but with a smaller filesize (varies, but generally around 60% of the filesize of the original .wav PCM files on the CD).
    Many players now play Flac directly, and it is a free, open-standard format, too.
    Additionally, you can transcode from .flac to a lossy format (like mp3 or .m4a / .aac, for example) without causing digital artifacts that would occur if you had, say, an .mp3 rip and needed to convert it to .m4a / .aac, for some reason.
    If you don't have much patience, then you may prefer to use any one of numerous other ripping softwares, but you said you wanted quality, and if you truly mean that, and if you are on Windows, then EAC is the best, and the (generally) best, and most flexible, format to rip to is .flac.
    Even if your playback device (phone) doesn't have enough memory capacity to hold several hundred .flac files, I still strongly recommend that you create your main library (on your hard drive) in .flac format, and then transcode that to a smaller lossy format like .mp3 or .aac for your phone, whilst KEEPING the .flac untouched, on your hard drive.
  3. Pootis
    EAC is a pain so I use fre:ac.
    The format is up to you.
  4. Music Alchemist
    I recommend 256 kbps AAC for portable use.
    foobar2000 is free and can rip CDs, convert files, play audio files, and so on. I use dBpoweramp, though. EAC is good too.
    WraithApe likes this.
  5. TwinQY
    I don't think there is much else to add here. I use a script running cdparanoia, which is what fre:ac is based on, along with cdrdao to get TOC and pregap. As the above poster suggests, fre:ac does look a bit simpler. If you are on Linux, morituri runs on cdparanoia among other things, and has neat features like MusicBrainz metadata, as well as a focus on accuracy (although accuracy has never been a problem for me, at least practically).
    I used to care a lot about formats, whether it be Opus or Wavpack (Hybrid mode), or MonkeyGorilla1234, because the topic of compression and the underlying technologies was interesting - but really, any savings in file size or battery life is generally not nearly significant enough to obsess over. Although it is fun.
    For me, it is Ogg Vorbis for my Android tablet, and Opus for my Rockbox player (I believe Rockbox has improved on their Opus support well enough). No need for embedded artwork on Rockbox - I just have to name the album art file appropriately. I generally encode at 192kbps, because I find the number to be prettier than 160, although frankly I am happy with anything beyond 160kbps from a modern encoder, no matter the listening gear. Depending on how long "years ago" has been, LAME has been fairly good for quite some time, so I would think again about re-encoding your entire library since it might be as good as it can get as it is.
  6. Grayson73
    Thanks, I'm on Windows.
    Sounds like FLAC is the answer, or if I want a smaller filesize, 256 kbps AAC.  Is 256 kbps AAC better than 320 kbps MP3?
    I assume that the stock Android music player from Google Play Music can play all of these formats?
    I'll look into fre:ac.
  7. Music Alchemist
    Just make sure your player is compatible with FLAC. It's better to just convert to 256 kbps AAC for portable use since the file size is smaller but the sound quality is the same. 320 kbps MP3 should also sound the same, but would take up more space.
  8. Grayson73
    A few people said fre:ac is easier to use than EAC.  In what way?
  9. TwinQY
    I would consider doing some listening test on your own to decide where the threshold for transparency is. I will say that those are some very high bitrates, and transparency is often achieved for many at lower bitrates.
    As for the comparative quality between AAC and MP3, I would suggest looking around/asking on the Sound Science forum. I will however, link to this (if it infracts upon some rule, I am willing to remove it at the behest of the staff) - keeping in mind that these tests were done at bitrates far lower than what you are looking at.
    These are the codecs built into the Android platform. As for whether or not the stock music player can play them - I've never tried playing an AAC file through it, but MP3 and Ogg Vorbis work fine. Many of the popular players like Poweramp and Neutron support a multitude of files. Personally I swap between DeadBeef and Timber.
    UI design and the perception of it is very subjective. If one or the other look fine to you there should be no problems. There is a contingent of people who find EAC to be a bit obtuse. It really is subjective. I don't have a Windows machine handy but on Linux, the defaults and controls for Fre:ac seem reasonably sane. Both have an ample amount of features (encoding after ripping seems to be the most relevant for your case), while EAC is geared towards accuracy. Again, I would recommend reading The Art of the Rip, or this blurb on EAC.
    RRod likes this.
  10. Mython Contributor
    It seems my words are being misinterpreted.
    I didn't recommend .flac for use on the cellphone (though flac is excellent for playing directly on some players, when memory capacity, and player-capability, permits).
    I recommended .flac, first & foremost, as a (losslessly) compressed archival format, for the purposes of retaining 100% sound-quality, but which can subsequently be easily lossily-compressed to a smaller codec filesize (.mp3, .acc, etc.), without fear of unnecessary artifacts being introduced (as would happen in the event of converting from a lossy format, like .mp3, to an alternative lossy format, like .aac, or vice-versa).
    If Grayson73 already has his/her music collection ripped to 192kbps .mp3, then there is very little point in going to all the trouble of ripping the entire music collection to another lossy format. Far more logical to rip to a 100%-quality codec, such as .flac, which can subsequently be encoded to something smaller, whilst the 100%-quality .flac is still safely retained on the archival hard drive.
    Traveller likes this.
  11. TwinQY
    I had assumed that was what he was intending to do, convert to a lossy format from newly ripped FLAC files. Although he had not said so explictly, it seemed like the logical progression, which might have been too eager an assumption. If he is indeed intending to replace everything with just another lossy format, I would also like to reiterate that:
  12. RRod
    Second on this. For me Opus @ 128kbps is transparent for anything I've thrown at it, and lets me fit gobs of stuff on my old iPod Classic with Rockbox. Heady times for those of us who want either to stream or carry with minimal bandwidth/file size.
  13. TwinQY
    Opus has been performing wonderfully on Rockbox, thanks to progress on the encoder. For a while I had been worried about battery life vs. Vorbis, but benchmarks seem to show that they are performing similarly. I've been building the encoder off of the git repo and even then I've not come across any problems. During 2012-3 I had some tagging problems with some Opus files but they seemed to have stopped happening. Simply nothing to complain about usability-wise these days.

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