Like most techies, I enjoy learning how things work. The science behind ripping & encoding cd audio is no exception. But I realize everyone isn't like me.
the ready-fire-aim type, who prefers to jump right in and begin
ripping & encoding right away, a Quickstart guide
is posted at the Coaster Factory (compliments of my buddy, Sid, known around the 'Net as SatCP).
A more detailed guide can be found HERE, as previously mentioned, compliments of my Canadian buddy, Chris Myden. (Canada, by the way, has very liberal file-sharing laws.)
Or you can try searching for the terms: eac ripping guide lame mp3 encoding. I'm sure other sites have posted similar guides since I originally published this one [way back in 2001].
For those of you who (like me) prefer to delve a little deeper, .. step right this way...
Time to have fun...
Exact Audio Copy (EAC) CD Ripper
First, let's head to Germany, where we'll pay Andre
Here we'll *download* a copy of his CD ripper (digital audio extractor): Exact Audio Copy [EAC].
As the name implies, EAC copies songs (rips, extracts) from your CD [song_title.cda]
to your hard drive [song_title.wav -or- song_title.mp3], and it does this *better*
[more accurately] than any other software of its kind.
The downside of EAC is that it's not the easiest program to configure.
No need to worry, tho. I have friends who can help:
My buddy Chris claims that EAC version 0.9 beta4 is the best, even tho it's not the newest. I've had no problems with newer versions, which help you configure the program with an install wizard.
On the EAC site, you'll notice small print that says, "If you encounter problems with this version (v0.95b4) you should step back to v0.9pb11 or 0.95pb5", which I have mirrored on my downloads page.
But if you want to comply with Chris' ÜberStandard (which is worth considering) you can download that version (0.9 beta4) here.
You'll need to configure EAC only *once*. After that, you'll never need to worry about
it again. And there's no reason to be concerned about the warning: Caution! Beta
Version!. I have ripped [digitally extracted] over 500 CDs with this
so-called "beta" software .. without a single problem [after
configuring it correctly, of course].
[FYI: I rip my CDs with a Plextor
optical drive, from Windows
XP Pro, using Adaptec
ASPI layer v4.60, installed with ForceASPI,
on an Intel-based
The feature that makes EAC the world's *best* CD audio
ripper is its secure mode. Far as I know [FAIK], EAC is the *only*
ripper that offers a secure ripping mode.
If you deposit your money
into a "secure" bank, you're confident it will be there when
you return to make a withdrawl. Likewise, a secure-mode ripper gives
you the confidence that the bits and bytes stored on your CDs [representing
the songs stored there] are *accurately* transferred to your hard drive.
To use another metaphor, the "secure" bit of this is similar the confidence in a reliable site booking for Chicago hotels, that it will be there when you arrive, just like all of your cds information will be there in "secure" mode."
EAC does this in a variety of methods, depending on the capabilities
[features] of your particular optical drive. As you might expect, the
process of ripping songs (CD audio) in secure-mode takes longer
than does a normal single-pass ripper.
Single-pass rippers operate on
the philosophy: We'll give it a shot, mate. If we get it right,
great. If not, oh well, we tried.
If there's a problem with your disc [scratch, etc.], EAC will *return* to the area in question, and painstakingly re-survey the damaged sectors, so it can reproduce
the audio information contained on your CD as accurately as possible onto your hard drive.
of times EAC returns to the problem area [scratch] depends on how you
configure the setting for "error recovery / correction quality" [low, medium or high]. In other words, you can specify how many times
EAC will attempt to re-read the data (audio information) stored on your CD before giving up and moving on.
Most people who are concerned with audio fidelity (such as myself, Chris, Sid, and the folks who frequent Hydrogenaudio) don't mind spending
the extra time it takes to ensure the most accurate audio extraction
possible. Of course, you can help speed the process by caring for your discs properly.
Never lend the original. Always make a back-up copy soon as you get home
from the store. Keep the original stashed away in a safe place. This way, if something happens to the copy in use, you
can simply burn another from the original, which remains in pristine
EAC will rip a CD in good condition fairly quickly. It's only when
the CD is battered that it takes a long time. But this is where EAC really
shines .. with CDs in poor condition. Even people who prefer to use other rippers for their ease-of-use will break out EAC to rip their damaged CDs.
Speaking of "other rippers,"
is another popular CD audio ripper. Many enthusiats consider it the next best alternative to EAC. It is very popular, as is dBpowerAMP, for that matter.
CDex offers what is/are known as Paranoia
settings. Paranoia is not secure-mode ripping. You can read
A comparison of the top rippers is posted
here [<-conclusion: EAC is the best .. something we already know].
You should download
a copy of CDex just for the heck of it. [It won't cost
you anything, except the time it takes to download.]
Its primary strength
is that it's easier to configure than EAC. Many people
use CDex as their primary ripper for this very reason. Personally, I
keep both handy.
EAC can [miraculously] extract songs from badly
scratched CDs .. songs no single-pass ripper can extract. I've seen
it take up to an hour to extract a single song, but the result is always
a file that sounds flawless, even when errors and "suspicious locations"
NOTE: "Suspicious location" is EAC's way of saying,
"I think there's something wrong here, hoss. Do me a favor
and listen to this section to see what you think. Here's where to look:"
Whenever a CD has a problem [usually due to scratches], EAC identifies
the *exact* location, so you can listen for yourself, and determine
if you're able to hear any artifacts. [Artifact is a term that
means, "I can hear something wrong here." It usually indicates
a minor problem, one you need good-quality headphones to hear.
For the record, I've never been able to hear any problems with songs
ripped by EAC, even when the program indicates errors while extracting
media from the disc. In fact, I have yet to find a single CD that EAC
is unable to extract. And some of my CDs look like somebody ate pizza
off of them.
This is what Matt [who develops Monkey's
Audio lossless audio compressor] has to say about EAC:
Ripping: Everything starts with copying your
CD's to your computer using a ripper. If perfect quality is what you
want, use EAC. It's an amazing program, a must have
for anyone serious about audio quality.
It does a lot of great stuff that other rippers don't, ensuring a
perfect copy. Instead of ineptly attempting to tell you why EAC
rules, just try it yourself.
There's also a program called AccurateRip, which I've never used, but it sounds a lot like Secure mode, doesn't it? It's compatible with both dBpowerAMP and EAC.
Next, let's take a quick look at some *alternative* digital audio extractors, and some powerful CD "back-up" (copying) software programs. A master craftsman will always have more than one tool in toolbag. Same goes for the digital craftman.