Ripping CD Audio, MP3 Encoding Related Info

Page 9 of 10

MP3 Players, Managers, & Plug-ins

Media Jukebox is a favorite MP3 manager. Matt from Monkey's Audio has this
to say about Media Jukebox <copy-n-paste>:

When it comes to playback, Media Jukebox is the only way to go.
Media Jukebox does it all, and it does it all well.  It has insanely
powerful data-basing tools that allow fancy categorization, browsing,
and searching.  

It also features the most robust playback engine available, with built
in gapless output and cross-fading.

Media Jukebox supports CD burning, and will decompress and burn .ape files
on-the-fly. So there's no need to decompress your .ape files before you want
to make a compilation CD.

EAC does not currently support decompressing .ape files on-the-fly while burning
CDs, altho Matt says he might talk to Andre (EAC), about re-implementing the

Media Jukebox is freeware, but after a 30-day trial period, premium features,
such as the ability to burn above 2X, will cost you a $25 registration fee.

Another great, free MP3 cataloging program can be found here (MPEG Audio
Collection). Many consider MAC their favorite. I like it a lot. Two that are not
free are Music Library and MP3 Manager. Both cost US$20. 

Helium2 claims to be the Ultimate MP3 Management System. Tall words. The 
Advanced version costs US$35. They offer a 30-dat free evaluation.

Some claim that this is as good as you can get - at any price. But most feel you
shouldn't have to pay for a program like this and prefer Jurgen's (freeware) MPEG
Audio Collection.

See here for a long list of more.

If you want to spice up Winamp with a hot spectrum analyzer, go here and scroll
to the bottom of the page, to where it says, Download the latest version of Sexy
Attached Analyzer

Download the file and unzip it into your /Winamp/Plugins directory/folder. Then, in
Winamp, go to Options, Preferences, Visualization, and configure it how you want
it to look. Should look something like this:

                                 (thx to Roel for the image)

You can download my favorite Winamp skin here. It looks like this:


MAD plug-in for Winamp. Many are impressed with this MP3 decoder. Many feel 
that this plug-in will give you the absolute best audio quality from your MP3s, 
particularly if your sound card supports more than 16-bits. MAD supports up to 
32-bits (I use 24-bits with
my sound card).

Many cite the MAD plug-in (thru Winamp) as the preferred MP3 decoding method.
Some users have problems
streaming MP3s with MAD. I have no such problem. If
you use the MAD plug-in, make sure you enable the auto-attenuation feature as 
here to prevent/minimize clipping.

CD-ROM drives, DAE, CD burners & Burning CDs

I heard from many sources (like
here and here) that Plextor manufactures the best 
drives for high-quality digital audio extraction (DAE, or ripping). Compare DAE specs
of different drives
here (CDSpeed).

SatCP has this to say about Plextor drives (near end of 3rd paragraph): Plextor
CD-ROMs are often seen as the reference audio extractors.

After you're done ripping & encoding, you'll probably want to burn a few CDs, containing 
your favorite songs. EAC/Lame will decode your MP3s on-the-fly.
LAME uses the MPG123 
decoder library which is pretty much the reference decoder.
Also LAME can correct its own 
encoder delay. 

Nero is probably the easiest way to make a compilation CD. You simply drag-n-drop your
MP3s into the compilation window. Nero will convert to CD audio on-the-fly. Nero is not 
free. EAC (free) will also convert your MP3s on-the-fly.

Most of the time I don't have any problems converting MP3s on-the-fly, but some say
you should always decode your MP3s to .WAVs first, before burning. I do this with special
CDs, ones that I want to ensure they turn out perfect. 

For example, if I'm making a birthday CD for a friend, I'll decode the MP3 first. I've *never* 
had a prob with a CD that I first decoded the MP3s. 

is loaded with features, tho not the easiest program you've ever used. It's worth 
taking the time to familiarize yourself with. Either way,
you'll have a custom CD in minutes.
Feurio costs US$29 to register.

You usually need an ASPI layer installed to rip & burn properly. ASPI drivers guide here.

MP3 Quality Check Program

If you have some MP3s that you're not sure about their quality, you can download a
program named EncSpot
here or here. EncSpot will check your MP3s and make an
educated guess about their quality. Keep your good wheat, delete the chaff.

MP3 File Sharing (Napster Alternatives)

See my Guide to the Best Programs & Applications for info about file-sharing 

MP3 Encoding & Windows XP

The next generation operating system from Microsoft,
Windows XP, shipped without 
MP3 support. See
here (CNET) for details. I like this idea. I'd rather configure my own 
MP3 encoding and playback system myself, rather than let MS screw it up for me.

I currently use WinXP RC2. It's an elegant and sophisticated operating system - once 
you get rid of the default lollipop interface.

Most people using Windows XP find it necessary to update their ASPI drivers. See 
Guide to ASPI drivers for info. 

Ripping CD Audio with SafeAudio

CD manufacturers have begun including a copy-protection called SafeAudio that 
produces pops & clicks when ripped. I have yet to come across any such CDs. You 
can read more about the copy-protection from Macrovision
here (CNET), and here 

I heard that you can bypass this by using Alternate CDFS.vxd (at the bottom of 
this page). It goes in your \Windows\System\IOSubSys directory (reboot). Make a 
backup of the original CDFS.vxd, just in case you have a problem. No Win2K sppt. 

Copy the *.wav to your hard drive, and encode/compress from there. No pops. 
Have not tried this myself, cuz I don't have any CDs with the protection.

The latest Michael Jackson CD, Rock Your World, modifies the standard CD format
so that it can't be read or played in a PC by a CD-ROM - only by a regular player. 
Produced by Sony, the CD uses a variant of SafeAudio. Digital rights activists are 
up in arms cuz the CD offers no warnings.

CD Labels

If you want to put a cool, custom label on your CD, check out CD Stomper, with
CD labeler. SureThing claims to be The Premiere CD Labeling Software

I've used no other CD labeling software, so I have nothing to compare with. I like 
SureThing. Make sure you use glossy labels, cuz they make a huge difference over 
non-glossy labels. I order my glossy labels

The Best CD-R Media

There's much debate over which brand of media is best. I read an article by the 
(respected) German magazine c't. They performed an in-depth study of CD-R media, 
and their conclusion was that certain types of media work best with certain types of 

For example, I recall that (they claimed) TDK media worked best with Plextor
burners. Since I have a Plextor burner (8X CD-R SCSI), this interested me most. 
And yes, TDK media has always worked flawlessly for me, after hundreds (maybe 
thousands) of burns. 

But some disagree with this notion - that certain types of media work best with 
certain types of burners. But if you read many threads on the subject, you'll find 
that, in general, most people prefer two types: Taiyo Yuden and Kodak

Taiyo Yuden
media works great for me, but I've had more trouble with Kodak media 
than any other brand (Kodak Gold, in particular). Obviously Kodak makes quality media,
or so many people wouldn't like it. But it doesn't work well for me. I have problems 
with about a third of my Kodak discs. Go figure. (I'm not saying, Don't buy Kodak.)

I must use silver media in the car (Camry) player (stock). Blue/green media skips 
(only in the car), but silver works fine. Some say this might be cuz the CD player in 
the car has a weak laser, and that discs with blue-green dye don't have sufficient 
reflectivity to read them correctly. I dunno - only that I gotta use silver media 
in the car or it's skipsville.

My suggestion is to try a variety of media from different brands (note that some 
brands use more than one manufacturer). See what works best for you (and your 
burner), and use that. Personally I prefer media from TDK and Taiyo Yuden. Kodak  
is worst for me (not necessarily anyone else).

I order all my CD supplies from the CDR Outlet (Daytona Beach). Listed under Taiyo
Yuden CD-R
here, it says this: One of the best CDR media on the market.

I heard that Taiyo Yuden made the first CD-R media, and that they made the media
used to define Orange Book standards. They also make CD-R media for Sony, JVC,
Phillips, BASF & 3M. It looks like they're currently working on 40X media. See


I have researched headphones and
these are nice (Sennheiser HD580). Many people
consider them them the best option in their price range. They feel like slippers on your 
ears. They are 'open-air', so you can hear things going on  around you. This may 
represent an advantage or disadvantage for you. 

Lots of people also like Grados, especially their
SR-80 model. Because the Grados sit 
directly on your ear, some people complain that they becomes uncomfortable after 
extended periods (1-2 hours).


You can find out all you need to know about sound cards either here (PCAVTech) or 
here (Musician's Guide to Home Recording). I've had this card (CardDeluxe, by Digital
Audio Labs) for a couple of years now, and love it. I can easily recommend it, but it's 
more than most people will want or need. 

Try to find a card that supports more than 16 bits.

For the Car

Jeff Johnson writes to say: I'm building an integrated audio system for my car. My 
Kenwood deck has rear AUX-in inputs, so hooking up any audio source is easy. The 
CUSL2-M has everything I need already on it: Audio/Video/LAN/USB for $170 shipped. 
All the prices here are after shipping & tax.

A VIA C3 CPU which doesn't need a fan, just a heatsink, and runs at 667Mhz: $49 with 
heatsink. 64MB PC133 from Crucial: $20. Maxtor 100GB ATA100 HD: $296. 150W ATX-PS: 
$49. AC inverter: $30. MatrixOrbital LCD 4x40 display: $138. That means I get over 
hours (!) of tunes in my car for $750.

I could do it for under $500 using cheaper parts, but I'd feel more comfortable with 
brand-name parts and the extra CPU power. That way I won't have a problem playing 
non-MP3 file formats like MPEG+, AAC, VQF, AC3, Ogg Vorbis, whatever. See here for 
info about how to [
Configure the Asus CUSL2 motherboard].

Before closing, I want to mention <shameless plug> a few other Radified guides
that you might find helpful. For example:

The end.

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