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Rippomania or how I’m digitizing my entire music collection

I’m slowly but gradually moving my life to digital. I went from film to digital photography a few years ago and never looked back. Now’s the time to do the same with my music – I’m now in the process of ripping my entire music library and making it playable through out the house.

Having to go over hundreds of CDs each time I want to listen to a specific album can really take its toll on your music listening experience, so making all your music available at your fingertips anywhere in the house is great. Beyond that, the sound quality playing well-ripped lossless sound files with good equipment should be better than with any CD player. Basically, playing music with a CD player often introduces various artifacts (such as jitter etc.) – due to mechanical moving parts and lack of good error correction. On the other hand, because while ripping the CD the software can “double-check” that it’s getting a good copy, and re-read the original CD several times if needed, the end result is often better quality music playback.


My CD ripping setup:

  1. Plextor Premium U external CD drive – this is an excellent drive for ripping music, especially because you can only use the Plextools (see below) with Plextor drives. These drives have long been discontinued, but you can still try and get one on eBay etc.
  2. Plextools software – excellent for ripping, if you have a Plextor drive. Similarly to EAC, this program allows you to rip your CDs without worrying that CD scratches or defects will produce a bad file. Basically, these programs perform some advanced verification and error correction algorithms to make sure the ripped data is exactly the same as the original one present on the disk. Make sure that you setup Plextools correctly so all of the advanced ripping algorithms I mentioned are turned on. Plextoor is reportedly faster than EAC, but both are really considered the industry standards for this sort of thing.
  3. FLAC – the lossless music format of choice, especially if you want bit-perfect copies of your music and widest possible support across various platforms. Plextools can rip to FLACs out of the box, which is great.
  4. Freedb – this service allows you to automatically get metadata about your CDs, so you don’t have to manually enter the names of your album, artist and the tracks for each ripped CD. Again, Plextool works with Freedb out of the box.
  5. MediaMonkey – an excellent media player, great for managing big music libraries. MediaMonkey has many useful features, but automatic tagging is probably one of the most useful ones. This allows you to automatically fix or complete the metadata of your songs and even find album covers.
  6. Sonos – multi-room digital music system. Basically, you setup all your music on one of your computers or a network storage device and then add a small box to any place in your home you’d like to have music at. Then you can have Sonos wirelessly play any music in your library at any location in your home, or have it synchronize all locations to play the same music. Sonos also comes with a very nice remote control to wirelessly drive the whole thing.

Guitar HeronoidSo, my ripping flow is as follows:

  1. Insert a CD, have Plextools pick it up and get the metadata from freedb
  2. Rip the CD, my file naming convention is “Artist\Album\Track # – Track name.flac”
  3. Use MediaMonkey to fix the metadata if needed, add album cover etc.
  4. Play the music on my machine with MediaMonkey, or throughout my home with Sonos
  5. Enjoy! :)

Sounds simple and easy, right? Not always. There are several problems you might encounter, some of them are:

  • Unicode problems, especially with non-English CDs
  • Damaged or scratched CDs
  • Missing or bad metadata, especially with classical CDs

I will post my solutions to these problems in the following posts.

For now, I’m off to listen to some music :)

One Response to “Rippomania or how I’m digitizing my entire music collection”

  1. dodong flores Says:

    Cool! This is what I really would like to do with my music collections in the near future…