I guess it'd be best to explain what I do and you can tell me if I have something I could do better. I currently use dBPowerAmp for ripping to my HD. I use WMA 9.1 VBR 98 44kHz (registers as 466 kbps, 29% compression). I've played around with lossless (ogg, ape) but I miss some of the functionality of WMP and my primary burn software(EZ CD Creator 6) won't recognize them. I'm probably pretty far behind on updates to Roxio, but I've had issues with their updates slagging CDs so I just installed the first couple of patches to allow for higher speed DVD burns. Space isn't that much of a concerrn for now, I have a 200GB data drive that's currently 2/3 full with some items that I wouldn't mind deleting or backing up. All of my DVR and DVD burns are on my primary drive (people say dual raptors in a RAID0 is a waste, but with 17 minutes DVD copies I'm really impressed with its speed), so I really don't need to keep extra space for those sorts of things. I store files mainly for playing back through my stereo and burning mixes. I find running through the external decoder with the programmed sound fields gives me the best playback. I guess I'm so self taught that I really haven't asked anyone what the best way to do it is, I was hoping someone with more experience might provide some guidance. TIA.
On a secondary note, if you don't want to mail order media what would be a good manufacturer from B&Ms like Best Buy, Circuit City, Wally World, etc?