Friday, October 26, 2007

Best Free CD Ripper

My friend, Fitra, recently started the long task of ripping her 1200 CDs to her hard disk. She knew it was a huge job and one she certainly wanted to do only once. So, before I started to help her, I was determined made sure I did it right.

There are lots of rippers available. All media players including Windows Media Player can rip. There are also some great freebies plus a host of commercial rippers. Most will rip to WAV, MP3 and usually several other formats.

After a lot of experimentation I ended up with three rippers to evaluate in detail: CDEX, Exact Audio Copy and AudioGrabber. All are free. If your CDs are like mine then some will be scratched or have lots of finger-marks. These can cause pops and crackles in the ripped file. Rippers vary greatly in their ability to handle these problems. Some will simply get stuck; others will skip forward over the problem or even create a silent gap.

The best programs will try repeatedly to fix the problem with no audible effects. Of the three products I tested, one product was outstanding in its ability to handle CD imperfections. That product was Exact Audio Copy.

I'm now two thirds of the way through my ripping exercise. Of the 800 or so CDs ripped I've only had 7 tracks that EAC couldn't rip perfectly. Given the condition of some of my CDs, that's a mighty impressive performance.

EAC can rip to WAV, MP3 (using the excellent LAME encoder), OGG, FLAC, APE and more. CD rippers interact strongly with your CD hardware so it's possible EAC may not work with your particular CD drive. If that's the case, try CDEX and AudioGrabber. While their performance with scratched CDs is not as good as EAC they are both outstanding freeware products.

1 comment:

Mike Snek said...

I use Handy CD Ripper and i'm absolutely happy with it.

Try it!