Digitizing CD Collection for audio system playback

CD collection getting too big to store in the house. What do I use to put on digital storage and playback on high end audio equipment?

If you want to have the CD’s stored on your computer with the best playback quality-then ‘rip’ them using FLAC or WAV. The files will be fairly large compared to MP3, but they will retain most of the original quality. You will also need to have the best possible sound card to send the output to your stereo.
Programs for ‘ripping’ are varied in quality. I use the FREE CD Rippre from Koyotesoft. Some will suggest that you use EAC (ExactAudioCopy), which is excellent as well.

Rip with EAC or dBpoweramp with accurate rip to FLAC (lossless)…Providing all goes well with the rip, you’ll have exact file(s) as original wav(s) or CDs…Both EAC and dBpoweramp will indicate any errors if any when ripping…Not only is Flac easier to tag, but the compressed file size is smaller…Just b/c it’s compressed doesn’t mean the quality degrades…Decode a flac back to wav,and you have an identical file as the original…
It’s great for archiving (with no need to re-rip CDs) and can be used later for lossy encoding (i.e MP3, AAC etc…

How you procede depends largely on a few factors.

First, are you planning on Keeping the original CD’s
but storing them where they aren’t “out” and taking
up living space?

Because that by itself determins a lot of what follows…

IF you are NOT going to kepe them you need a far more elaborate
"defense in depth" backup system.

I Must say I STRONGLY RECOMMEND keeping them because as good as computer storage is it all fails eventually, no matter how carefully you back it up.

Second, what quality level do you need?

To be honest mp3 is very compact and takes a lot less HDD space, the highest standard bitrate is generally indestinguishable from the original source but takes up 22.5% as much space. (a compression rate of 4.5:1)

FLAC saves space 30-40%, but the TIME you’d take to make the FLAC files is better spend doing something else and simply getting Hard drives that much bigger and archive storing the files as wav, simply because wav can be converted to ANYTHING without any intermediate steps.

If you REALLY want Lossless I say get a Bigger HDD and store as WAV. (Yes, I’m repeating myself, giving my message that many more chances to sink in)

With HDD space being <$0.20/Gb it’s hardly worth worrying
about …

Yeah ripping to flac takes very little additional time,
but multiply that by 1000CD’s…

I’ve made enough posts about breaking the process into an “assembly line” so that I won’t labor over describing my methods.

you take 10 or 20 or 50 discs (how ever many you want to deal with
at one sitting) and you JUST rip them to an essentially empty HDD
You then as a seperate step create the compressed files of your chosen bitrate, then you do your tag editing (show me a ripping or compression program that does the tags perfectly… and I’ll show you missing tag data)

THEN you move the music to the drive(s) you intend to play it back from… I say drive(s) “s” because only an idiot puts their created data in only one place, so you don’t need a drive that’ll hold all your music in your chosen codec and compression rate you need atleast TWO drives, one to use one to leave wrapped in a anti-static bag
wrapped in foam and stored in your bottom desk drawer.

The basic premise here is that HDD’s fail.
and it’s easier to back up your data than recreate it.

I’ll admit to having my wav’s on only one HDD, but I have all my original CD’s and having them on the HDD is a convenience
(it saves me ~90second per album if I need create an mp3 file)

my mp3’s are dupicated three times on active drives and several more times on “archive” HDDs as well as DVD+R backups

I avoid the inability to “tag” wavs by creating a directory structure to organize my files, an Artist/album/track heirarchy, so a file is identified in detail by it’s location.

this division makes it FAST to find a particular track.
If I want AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” I can find it PDQ.


@ OP, if ripping and saving to wav, makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, do so…However I see no reason not to use flac or any other lossless format for archiving…Yes it “really” is LOSSLESS…Some just don’t like their music compressed…Some claim the the quality is not the same as original…Nonsense…Not everybody can go out and buy HDD, just b/c they’re cheap…I do care about file size, as I think most people do…
At ~65% of an original wav, saving flac files on a 1.5TB HDD will save you ~500Gb…If that’s “hardly worth worrying about”, then save needlessly to wav format…JMHO!
To each his own…

The only issue I have with FLAC is that I am restricted by what audio program I must burn with because not all of my audio software deals with FLAC.

mp3 and wav are “universal”

ANY audio software will deal with them.

I’ll bet anything that 50 years from now mp3 & wav files will
still be in use, wma? mabey.

I’m sure there’ll be other stuff but I doubt that many will remember what a FLAC or APE file is.

It’s popular now, but with still growing HDD capacity the point of “lossless compression” is shrinking exponentially

Saving HDD storage has less of a point now with $0.20/gb HDD volume than it did with $20/GB volume.

Shit, how many people here know what an ATRAC3 file is?

I’m certain three or four besides myself do but anyone proving they do does nothing to the point I’m trying to make that the bulk of people here will need to look it up on wikipedia.

and ATRAC3 is a codec from this decade…


Thanks to everyone for the ripping ideas. Now - how do I playback through my stereo with my 1.5TB drive?

Some examples:

Low end without CD drive

  • Teac WAP-8500

High End with CD drive

  • Olive Symphony
  • Cambridge Audio azur 640H-S
  • Arcus DAR300

Here you can find a (german) list of Audio Servers/Network Players with Low- and High-End products
for which you can do some research.

Do you already have a good D/A converter in your equipment ?

I do not have a D/A converter. I looked briefly at the suggestions and like the idea of wirelessly playing from a large external drive. Does it have to use the computer or can it read from the drive alone?

Does it have to use the computer or can it read from the drive alone?

Unless your external HDD has built in wi-fi…

I occasionally will connect my external HDD to my laptop, then stream (wireless) to the PS3 which is hooked up to my receiver via optical…Works great for me…

Just to avoid any misunderstanding:
you have no digital inputs at your (Pre-)Amp/Receiver at all ?

I’m asking because i don’t know how much “purist” you are, and using an analog connection could entail some quality loss - at least when choosing some low-end product with the rest of your system being [I]really[/I] high-end.

It’s not that i recommend the TEAC (i never used/heard it); just for better illustration an image from the TEAC site:

Personally i’d prefer a device that can be used with any external HDD (also for backups of an internal one if present)
and which has an adequate remote control.