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Stack Of CDsI love my audio CD collection. I really do. But carrying a hundred CDs with me on a vacation just so that I can listen to that one song when I have to, isn’t exactly my idea of fun.

On the other hand, my iPod lets me take more than a hundred CDs worth of songs and is perfectly at peace sitting in a corner of my backpack.

So is there even a choice here ?

For folks like me who have a small fortune invested in CDs of their favorite artists, the best option is to convert all those CD tracks to MP3 format and that is what this post is about. A list of 5 tools that’ll help you convert your CD’s to an MP3 collection.

iTunes

iTunes is one of those software that almost everyone has on their computer – either because they own an iPod or because, well, they like it. It is a resource hog, I’ll admit, but is also a very capable media player.

What many people don’t know is that iTunes is also a very good software to convert a CD to MP3 format, and the process really couldn’t have been simpler.

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iTunes, by default, saves songs imported from CDs in the AAC format. To change the default to MP3, open the Preferences Window (Edit->Preferences) and click the Import Settings button.

convert cd to mp3 format itunes


Select the MP3 Encoder option from the drop down and Click OK.

Now all you have to do is insert the audio CD in the computer and as soon as iTunes detects it, it will pop-up a dialogue box asking for your permission to “import” the CD to it’s Library. Click Import and let iTunes do its job.

FreeRIP

One of the reasons that I like FreeRIP is its support for the lossless FLAC file format but FLAC is not the only format FreeRIP rips to and it is equally at home with the MP3 format also.

If you’re ripping songs to put on your iPod, MP3 is what you want to stick to. Just insert the audio CD in the CD tray and select the Rip Selected Tracks to MP3 option from the Rip menu.

convert cd to mp3 format

BonkEnc

BonkEnc is another easy to use free and open source CD ripping tool that can also be used as an audio converter for converting audio files into different formats.

The process of encoding is as easy as it can be. Insert the CD in the drive tray, press the CTRL+E key combination and grab yourself a cup of coffee.

convert cd to mp3 format

You can also download a portable version.

CDex

We’ve written How to Rip a CD to MP3 & Auto-Name Files Correctly How to Rip a CD to MP3 & Auto-Name Files Correctly Read More about CDex earlier The Mark Pack - The Essentials On My Computer - Part Two The Mark Pack - The Essentials On My Computer - Part Two Read More and it’s managed to make this list too. Says a lot about the tool that I personally swear by. Download and install it if you need a simple no nonsense tool.

convert cd to mp3

To convert CD tracks to mp3 format, insert the CD, select the tracks that you want converted and hit the F9 button. It really is as easy as it sounds.

You can also download a portable version.

Exact Audio Copy

Exact Audio Copy or EAC claims to read audio CDs “almost perfectly” and it even tries and correct errors that it finds. The downside is that it doesn’t ship with a built-in MP3 encoder. But, EAC works with the excellent open source MP3 encoder, LAME.

LAME is one of the best MP3 encoders around and a number of commercial programs also use it and you’ll have to download the LAME library on your computer for the encoding functions of EAC to work.

When you run EAC for the first time, it takes you through a wizard which, among other things, asks for the location of the lame.exe file that you downloaded.

convert cd to mp3

That is just about the only configuration you’ll need to perform with EAC. Insert an audio CD, click on the MP3 icon in the sidebar and sit back and relax.

convert cd to mp3

What tools do you swear by for ripping CD’s? One of the above or something totally different? Let us know about it in the comments.

  1. rchard2scout
    November 28, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    What's wrong with windows media player?

  2. Pierre O
    November 28, 2009 at 4:17 am

    Media Monkey free version offers ripping to MP3 OGG FLAC WMA It also offers a music manager, all significant audio formats player, tag editor, Ipod and MP3 player synchronization. I've been using it for more than a year now and I am fully satisfied. It should be a strong contender in the category (seems to me) since it is a all-in-one solution.

    Look at the features ...
    http://www.mediamonkey.com/download/

    Pierre O.

  3. cr0ft
    November 27, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    EAC is easy to configure, but to get the most out of it one should really take the time to do the extra details. There are good links on advanced configuration on the website for the program. EAC plus Lame is unbeatable when it comes to combining quality with reasonable file size, using the VBR option for Lame.

    Unfortunately it doesn't stop there, to really do a good job you have to first rip with EAC and create the MP3 files; after that is done, the files should be processed through MP3Gain to get their perceived volume to a proper 89 or 90Db - that avoids clipping as well, which improves sound. Unfortunately, every new CD made now is compressed and made way way too loud (wikipedia has good info on that, under "loudness war")... nothing one can do after that is done but process the files and lower the volume so one doesn't have to constantly keep leaping for the volume control when tracks change.

    As for tagging and cover art - well, Tag&Rename is brilliant at getting that information from Amazon. It's the only part of this whole setup that isn't free, but it's worth the registration cost.

    So, for perfect rips, you wind up with a three-step process.

  4. joe
    November 27, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    im currently ripping my 1000+ cd's to FLAC using EAC. the ripping process is easy with all of these.

    the problem i'm having is that the titles DB is totally inconsistent. either i use musicbrainz, which gives me better quality artist/track names (the beatles is always the beatles, not Beatles or Beatles, The) but doesn't give me genre. or i can use freedb which fills in genre but isn't consistent with artist names.

    and that's just rock music. classical is a total mess. let's say i have an album of arturo toscanini conducting the new york philharmonic performing beethoven's 9th symphony.

    for artist i might have toscanini, or NY philharmonic, or beethoven. for cd title i might have any combination of those.

    and then there are lots of classical cd's with more than one composer, e.g. grieg + strauss. then it's pretty much random what will appear - one composer, both, the conductor, the actual piece, etc.

    i REALLY wish there was a better DB to use. i'm dreading the clean up im going to have to do when i'm done ripping.

    • Sharninder
      November 27, 2009 at 11:10 pm

      Well, this is true. I find tagging music a pain myself. Most online databases aren't accurate and if they are then they have inconsistencies like the ones you've mentioned. Guess, we can't really help it.

  5. thomas williams
    November 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Windows Media Player rips to MP3 192 Bit Rate. I did mt 1000
    CD collection twice once with an XP system and again with my
    Vista machine. When I got my 120 GB Zune it converted to Zune
    software, no problem

    • Ibrahim
      November 27, 2009 at 9:39 pm

      So does (the free but proprietary) RealPlayer -- both ways ripping cd's and putting/burning mp3 files as playable audio files on cd's.

  6. Bill
    November 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    How about Audiograbber? I've used it for years. It's a bit cumbersome to setup the LAME MP3 codec, but it does the job none the less.

    • Sharninder
      November 27, 2009 at 11:09 pm

      Audiograbber is pretty nice too but the software is a little dated now and didn't work on my Windows 7 system. I used to use it with WinXP quite often but since it also uses the LAME library, the quality is similar to EAC.

  7. Eric
    November 27, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Exact Audio Copy.. the best recomended

  8. Ben
    November 27, 2009 at 10:59 am

    FYI

    It's not called "Extract Audio Copy". It's called "Exact Audio Copy" :)

    And I highly recommend it!

    • Sharninder
      November 27, 2009 at 11:12 pm

      Apologies for the type, The error has been corrected now.

  9. Deepak
    November 27, 2009 at 10:57 am

    How abt for Linux??

  10. DarkMan72
    November 27, 2009 at 9:18 am

    The last program you describe - and the best of them all - is called EXACT Audio Copy. ;-) HTH.

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