Archiving CDs and MP3 settings questions

. This is my first post here, so be gentle. :slight_smile:
. I did use the Search, but obviously I don’t know enough about the lingo to know which keyword(s) to use - I either got nothing or 100’s of hits with topics that didn’t seem appropriate.
. I even tried the FAQ and scanning several different forums, but could not locate what I’m looking for.
. I know the info is on this board somewhere (there is soooooo much info here! That’s why I bothered to register and ask), I just can’t find it. If someone would point me to the right thread(s), I’d sure appreciate it. Oh, wait, as a newbie, I’m supposed to ask you to e-mail detailed instructions. :slight_smile:
. I own about 300 pressed audio CDs of which I want to make “archival quality” backups/“masters” that are smaller than the CD files. I would also use the “archives” to create “psychoacoustically accurate” MP3s for general use. Archive files should be able to re-create exact, bit-for-bit copies of the CD file (or at least very, very close). I don’t have a Golden Ear, but realize that the better the original, the better the copy. It would be nice if MP3 would work for the “archive” files, for greater player compatibilty and the tags. Or would I be better off using the native (CDDA?) files (I have 200+GB available, but would like to keep the number of DVDs required within reason)?
. My plan, at this point, is to rip the CDs to “archive” files and burn to DVD, encode “archives” to high-quality (192K?) and normal-quality (128K?) MP3s, then delete the “archives” from the HDD.
. I’m running a PentiumD/2.8GHz/2GB/250GB(SATA), WinXP Pro/SP2/current updates, so horsepower is not a problem. I’m assuming that, for my purposes, the disc reader is not terribly important (within reason) - if I’m wrong, please let me know.
. I’ve ripped a few CDs with iTunes at 128Kbps which sounds good in the car ('67 Mustang - not exactly acoustically-friendly), on the older PC, or as background music, but just doesn’t quite hack it when I really want to listen. I’ve shut that project down until I can figure out what I’m doing.
. I found out about EAC here and downloaded it, so that should take care of getting the raw data from the CD. Now I need to find out about codecs, sample rates, bitrates, &c. Right now, my biggest question is what settings are needed to make “MobileFidelitySoundlabs-quality” (or whatever the modern equiv might be) MP3s? From what I’ve read, 192Kbps seems to be a popular setting, is my friend really accomplishing anything by encoding his MP3s at 320? My calculations (44.1Ksamples/s x 12b/sample x 2 channels) say the bitrate on a CD is 1058400bps (132300Bps or 129.2KBps) - why does 128K sound so bad?.
. Any suggestions/recommendations/answers will be appreciated, but a point in the right direction is all I’m hoping for. I’m trying to be a nice Newbie.
. Oh yeah, I’m also looking for a software RIAA equalizer and impulse noise (tick & pop) filter. I have 3000+ LPs in storage and would like to digitize some of the stuff that’s not available on CD. I have a good phono pre-amp, but it doesn’t have the RIAA eq. Anyone have a URL for a LP->digital How-To site/page?


Hi, welcome :slight_smile:

My mum’s boyfriend makes his own music, and tends to save them to his PC as .wav files - but they can be very big.

I archive my CD collection too, and keep one set on DVD media (be sure to use quality discs!), but I also have them all stored on my hard drive - saves digging out the discs when I want to listen to something :wink:

The set on DVD is 320Kbps mp3, and the stuff on my HDD for general listening is average 192 kbps mp3.

People have different opinions on what bitrate and filetype to archive as, so you’ll get lots of input hopefully. The above is just what works for me.

Good call in using EAC - I was going to recommend that. However, I use CDex (it’s easier), so I can’t advise you about settings. :slight_smile:

As for the reader, some may recommend a Plextor. However, I get by just fine with a LiteOn drive (good error correction for those not-so-well kept discs).

. Will WAV work for making my archive files or just for the files I’ll actually listen to?

. I’m not too concerned about high-speed discs, but I do want something that will “keep a charge” for 5-10 years. I noticed several forums with disc info - I’ll be sure to check them out. I hadn’t really given it much thought - thanks for the heads up.

. Well, if the audiophile crowd today is anything like back in the days of vinyl, I’m sure you’re right. From what I’ve read on this board, audiophiles are much more cognizant of the fact that everyone’s ears/brain are different than they were in the '70s and '80s - as your second sentence indicates. Some of the “discussions” on Usenet and IRC were very amusing.

. LOL Not a good call, just the first one I came to that was free. I’ll have to investigate this CDex you speak of. Thanks.
. What I’m looking for in a <whatever the generic name is for the software that grabs the raw data> is accuracy, with ease-of-use a distant second. Speed is not a big concern (my CPU is the same as your’s and not much slower). I don’t know about your setup, but my 2.8GHz D puts out enough heat (Intel rates it a 93W!) that I don’t have to heat the computer room in Winter (I have BOINC running, so both procs are usually maxed out).

. Is the reader very critical? I usually use my HP dvd640c (w/LightScribe) for ripping (only because it’s in the top bay), but, according to Win DevMgr, I also have a HL-DT-ST CD-RW GCE-8487B (whatever that is - it came in the Dell). I also have a Memorex 52MAXX 3252AJ and an LG HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GSA-4163B mounted in a P3/550MHz/320MB machine. BTW, LightScribe has a high kewl factor, but for my 50yo eyes, there just ain’t enough contrast - at least with my 640c, the new ones may do better.
. Almost all my CDs are in mint condition - I keep them in my RCA CD-9500 300-disc changer with optical SPDIF (is that redundant?). If I get many more CDs, I’m gonna need another changer. IMHO, the CD-9500 is a great unit - the D-to-A system works better than my ears do and sounds great behind my 30yo BIC Venturis. The SPDIF is very handy with my portable MiniDisc unit. And it was only 320$US!

.Wav should work fine for you archive files. Anytime you want to convert them to .mp3 or whatever, CDex can do that for you. Also, any media player will play .wav files…and if you want to burn them as audio, again something like Burrrn (free) is good, it’s what I use. :slight_smile:

As for quality discs, take a look at the Blank Media section here at CDF, I hang around there a lot, and have learned loads about disc quality.

If you’re looking for accuracy, either EAC or CDex should do you well. Experiment with both, and see what you think :wink:

I’m sure your drives will be fine for ripping. The reason I mentioned LiteOn, is that it’s a very good reader, and tends to “overlook” disc errors that other drives may choke on (but it sounds like your discs are very well kept, so hopefully you won’t run into that situation. If you do, then CDex has a “paranoia” mode which will generally give a good rip even if read errors have been reported).


For archiving lossless versions of Audio tracks, WAV is certainly a possibility but it uses a lot more space than some other lossless formats because it doesn’t use any compression at all.

Many people use the FLAC format for lossless compression, but my personal favourite is Monkey’s Audio a.k.a. APE files. With either of these formats you can save almost 50% space compared to WAV files, you can compress/uncompress without any loss of information and you can even play the compressed files in some software players for Windows.

It’s possible to rip Audio CDs and simultaneously compress the tracks directly to APE format using Exact Audio Copy.

For the everyday format I would suggest using the LAME mp3 encoder and the “-preset standard” option. Many tools have integration with the LAME encoder.

. Does that mean that the WAV file will be the same size as the CD file? If so, I would rather archive in native format (I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that is). While I would like to save as much space as possible, I am more concerned with being able to re-create an exact copy of the original.
. I guess what I’m looking for is “ZIP-for-Audio.” Hmmmm … any ideas how much I might save by just ZIPping the CD files? My understanding is that music files don’t ZIP very well (most file compressors depend on repeating patterns, which audio files are lacking in), but even a 10% saving would be better than nothing.

. It’s been a few years since I read anything about FLAC, APE, et al, but isn’t lossless a misnomer? Aren’t they actually very-low-loss? I want my archive files to be 100% accurate. Or am I trying to do the impossible/impractical?

. I’m still a looonnnggg way from actually doing that, but it’s good to know it’s possible.

. Is LAME any better than the built-in encoders in iTunes, MediaMonkey, winAmp, &c?
. After going through the Blank Media forum, I’m still confused as to which DVDs have the longest shelf-life after being burnt. If I understood what I read, all DVDs start losing data within 2 years. Is there nothing that will hold up for at least 5 years (or 10)? I’d be willing to pay a buck or three for a 5-year disc - maybe even $5 for a 10-year disc. What would a museum use (other than one-off/short-run pressings)? I don’t mind backing up personal e-mail, app installers, &c to a 2-year disc - the files will be obsolete in a year or two anyway - but Led Zeppelin, Carmen McRae, Hank Williams, and family pics are never obsolete.

Wav file is practically RAW PCM … CDDA is also RAW PCM, just a slightly different format.

The only way you can store in native format is to do a complete disc image, which defeats the purpose.

Raw disk image.

Not likely if you rip the tracks off … there are offsets & errors with detecting the start of the track/etc, but you won’t notice these.

FLAC or Monkey audio as stated above.

No … they are like zip for Audio files… they actually are lossless.


Usually better, sometimes faster, somtimes slower.

Anything from Taiyo Yuden will last, and Verbatim MCC003/004 are also decent.

RIP everything to WAV or FLAC and burn to DVD Media - 2 sets - one in a firebox or safe deposit box and one to have near you to play with. :slight_smile:

Told you you’d get lots of input :bigsmile:…I could learn something myself here :wink:

Definitely agree there. :iagree:

I’ve found this page to be really helpful with LAME settings.

. I’ll have to do some searches on CDDA and PCM. Thanks for the lead. Waaayyyy back in the '70s (maybe early '80s) is saw an ad, featuring some famous musician (Stevie Wonder?), for a studio-grade PCM recorder that, IIRC, used video tape cassettes.
. Looks like I also need to know a little bit about how the data is stored on an audio CD to really understand what I’ll be doing. I’ve always assumed that audio CDs stored the tracks just like any other file system. I should be able to find what I need using what y’all have already told me, but if you have any favorite links, let me know.
. From what I’ve already read about offset errors, these are unimportant for my purposes - (on the order of 20mS/3KB) and only occur once, at the beginning of the disc. I’m visualizing it as the first frame of a movie. As long as they do not affect the rest of the data, I think I can live with 'em.
. I guess my memory isn’t what it used to be - thanks for correcting my misconception about “lossless.” Right now, I’m leaning toward FLAC for the archives, only because that is the what I’ve seen most often on the 'Net. Speed is not that important - I have a fast processor and drive (and, since I’m retired, I have plenty of time heehee). If I can manage to rip, document, and burn to DVD just 2 disc/day, I’ll be fine.
. It’s good to know that what I want to do is possible and I’m not beating my head on a rock.
. As far as LAME’s speed goes, as I said speed is not at the top of my list. From what I read on the Web last night, LAME is the way to go.
. Thanks for the recommendations on the TY and Verb (heehee see, I’m already picking up the lingo) discs. I’ll give them another look over at the Blank Media group.
. You read my mind.
. Thanks for the recommendation.
. Excellent link! I found this site on HA, but haven’t taken the time to revisit them - there is soooooo much on this site I haven’t seen, yet.
. Thank you, each and every one! Now that I’m learning a little CD/DVD-ese, my searches are much more fruitful. While cruising misc ripping/codecing/&c sites last night, I noticed that there is still a LOT of the “I’m right and you’re an idiot” attitude in the audiophile (and audiophile wannabe) community. While not totally absent here, most of what I have read here is of the “that’s what sounds good to me” type. To those ppl who think their sound is THE right sound: why do you think it’s called PSYCHOacoustics? Oops, sorry about that; now I’ll get off my soapbox.

You’re absolutely right. What sounds good to one person may not be another person’s cup of tea. There is no “right sound”, just what sounds good to your ears :wink:

. And you are obviously a very intelligent person. Very few ppl truly understand that I am Perfect. ROFLMAO

At any rate, if you are retired, I suspect that you are old enough for your hearing to have degraded slightly & so won’t hear the difference between an uncompressed format, lossless compressed, or high quality Lossy compressed lame MP3 after reconstruction :wink:

I usually just compress my CD’s to High Quality 320Kbps/128Kbps (max/min) variable bitrate mp3’s, which squeezes them down to about 1/5 of their original size.

After they are reconstructed, I cannot communicate any specific differences, except when played on high quality standalone stereo systems … which most people don’t own anyway.

. The reason for the discussion about lossless is the archives I plan to make - which I want to be as accurate, digitally, to the original as possible (100%, if possible). These will be kept off-site and would only be used to recreate my CD collection after a disaster. My first thoughts were that I would be able to extract CDDA/PCM/whatever data for each track and ZIP/RAR/FLAC/whatever it, but it doesn’t look like it will be quite that easy.
. As far as the MP3s go, you’re right about my hearing - not necessarily because of age (I’m only 50yo) but I wasn’t very kind to my ears when I was younger (thank God we didn’t have 1000W amps back then or I’d be deaf LOL). Which is why I’m trying to find out if 320K is really necessary - I guess that’s one of those things where I’ll have do some experimenting and see what works best for my ears.
. I’m beginning to think I might do best by forgetting about compression on the archives, make image files of the CDs, use FLAC for my high-quality files, and MP3 (somewhere between 192K and 320K) for the “everyday” files. I use my original discs in my home system, the FLACs I would use on the computer, and the MP3s in the car.
. Is there any disadvantage to using the FLACs to make the MP3s? Or should I use the original discs? I’m assuming that transcoding (is that the right word?) from FLAC to MP3 would be much faster than re-reading the disc (especially if the disc has scratches).

Variable bitrate MP3’s will provide excellent quality & maximum portability :wink:

FLAC’s are lossless … apart from the negligible errors in ripping, there should be no difference between encoding an MP3 direct from the CD, and encoding the MP3 from a lossless FLAC.

Encoding an MP3 from flac should be faster (and easier) than re-ripping from a CD.
Since you are ripping the CD anyway, is there any reason you don’t burn a backup of your CD for general use & then archive your original in a cool dry place?

There is no reason why you can’t Compress the entire disc image, once it’s been created, except that it will take longer to recover.
If you use the RAR format you can include a hefty recovery record, just in case your backup media doesn’t live up to expectations :wink:

. I’m still trying to figure out all this ABR, VBR, CBR, joint stereo, &c stuff. Right now, I’m leaning towards 192K ABR or 128K-320K VBR, but will probably go with a (much) lower bitrate after doing some listening tests.

. Great! That ought to save a LOT of time.

. I’m doing it backwards. I’ll be storing the copies and using the originals in my changer - safe from dust, scratches and fumbling fingers, if not disasters. A safety-deposit box for ~40 DVDs should be cheaper than one for ~300 CDs.

. Thanks for the tip. With PAR files and good media, I should have a near-bulletproof backup. My only worry there is that audio doesn’t compress very well and by the time the PAR files are added it may take up more space than the uncompressed image. Guess I’ll just have to play around with it and see.
. This should probably go in a new thread, but are ID3 tags unique to MP3, or can they be tacked onto any file, in particular FLACs? Looking at, it would seem that it can be used with almost any file.
. The more I learn, the more I realize just how ignorant I really am. sigh

I also make a digital backup of each new CD. I rip a WAV + CUE combo with EAC, compress it into a multi-volume self-extracting EXE with WinRAR, and burn it to two DVDs (along with backups of other CDs). Even with a recovery record the compression is pretty good, and if a DVD goes bad in a couple places it’s nice to know that only the volume (i.e., Van Halen (1978) - Van Halen (Remaster) [WAV+CUE].002) affected by the degradation needs to be switched out from the other DVD to extract the original album.

Really simple strategy, but it’s worked for me so far.

I would suggest using the LAME encoder and the “–preset fast standard” (equivalent to -V2 --vbr-new) option. This is the most tuned encoder and settings you will ever be able to find, and it has been designed to be indistinguishable from the original audio for most music. This is a variable bit rate setting BTW.

Thanks for the tip. With PAR files and good media, I should have a near-bulletproof backup. My only worry there is that audio doesn’t compress very well and by the time the PAR files are added it may take up more space than the uncompressed image. Guess I’ll just have to play around with it and see.
You could also take look at DVDisaster and the ECC protection feature.

This should probably go in a new thread, but are ID3 tags unique to MP3, or can they be tacked onto any file, in particular FLACs? Looking at, it would seem that it can be used with almost any file.
I don’t know about FLAC files, but you can tag APE files just like you can tag mp3 files.

If you are doing ARCHIVAL stuff, why use a lossless compression at all? I would have thought with archival backup, space savings would not be as important as preserving audio quality.