Ripping CD's Optimally



Hi guys, first post so be gentle with me!

I have almost 1,000 CD’s that I wish to digitize. Knowing I have many hours/days/weeks/months work ahead of me I want to squeeze as much performance out of my system as possible, but quality is important too. If you were in my shoes, what tools, both hardware and software, would you use?

I have a rather old Sony Vaio Pentium 4 1.8ghz PC, 1.25gig RAM, twin IDE hard discs on their own IDE channel and twin LG GSA-4160B optical drives on their own channel too. I have XP home loaded with the latest service packs and security updates, my drive has the latest firmware too. I’ve never touched the PC’s BIOS. I believe EAC is one of the best applications to rip CD’s with - I am not interested in encoding just yet…one step at a time!

I have considered using a ripping service for this task but the cost is excessive for the amount of discs I have. I would rather put the money to a new PC and do the job myself.

I guess raw processer power is waht is required, so is a dual Pentium the way to go? Maybe a dual XEON or what about Apple’s G5? Will 64 bit computing enhance performance even further?

Are huge amounts of memory required? Is there an ideal motherboard and chipset? I am sure one optical disc must be favoured by you guys too? Does anyone know what these CD Ripping company’s use to turn around so many discs so fast, or are they just using high spec PC’s too?

Thanks guys, shaving just two minutes off the rip time will save me over 30 hours work, so any hints, tips and suggestions will be most gratefully received.


This is such a huge subject that I won’t attempt to address all your questions at once, but rather address some of them now and maybe more of them later.

When you’re starting on a job to rip 1000 CDs, you need to realize that you will be taking an enormous risk if you intend to store the resulting files without making backups! You are also going to need a lot of diskspace if you store the ripped files in an uncompressed format such as WAV.

By using a lossless compression format such as APE (Monkey’s Audio) or FLAC, you will be able to reduce your storage requirements to roughly 50-60% of the requirements for uncompressed WAV. With the right tools you will be able to convert all your losslessly compressed files to any other format you decide on later on.

If you follow my suggestion to store your rips in a losslessly compressed format, you will probably be able to back everything up to a single external harddrive such as e.g. a 300GB Maxtor OneTouch II drive.

I know that EAC can rip and encode to APE format (my personal preference) out of the box, and it can probably also rip and convert to FLAC by configuring it in the right way - I’m not using FLAC so I haven’t tried this.

EAC is going to give you the most accurate rips if you configure it to compensate correctly for the audio read offset of your drive(s). The only other tool I know of which can do this properly is PlexTools, which only works on Plextor drives.

If you don’t care about correcting your drive’s audio read offset, which is somewhere between a few samples and hundreds of samples (out of 44.100 samples per second), then there are other tools available which are more convenient than EAC.

I can personally recommend J. River Media Center which is shareware, and which is great for ripping, converting, organizing and playing music! Ripping and converting to the lossless APE format is one of many supported formats.

If you just rip your CDs to uncompressed format, the time will be constrained only by the performance of your ripping drive(s) and the ripping program and method; having the fastest CPU in the world won’t make any difference.

If you rip and encode at the same time, or when you encode later, a fast CPU will definitely help, but depending on the encoding format it’s possible that the ripping speed of your CD/DVD drive will still be the bottleneck.

If you use J. River Media Center for ripping (and encoding), you can use it with all your CD/DVD drives simultaneously if you want, so that you can rip and encode multiple CDs in parallel. If you are encoding while ripping, having a fast CPU or multiple CPUs will make this go faster.

When you rip your music CDs to files on your computer, you will realize (if you haven’t already) that it’s import to tag the files with information about artists, track numbers, song titles and so on. Many programs, including EAC and J. River Media Center, will automate this for you by looking up the information over your Internet connection. But if you want all information to be 100% correct, you are going to have to spend some time checking and correcting this information for many albums!!!

That’s enough for now. I’ll be checking back to this thread later. :slight_smile:


This was obviously being typed at the same time as the above post from [B]DrageMester[/B].

I have no idea why anyone would want to digitize 1,000 audio CDs, but that’s a personal choice that only that person can rationalize.
Consider the hard drive space required for this and the fact that hard drive storage is not the most dependable as hard drives are prone to mechanical failure.

In any event, the final output of the rip can be based on speed or accuracy. You cannot have both. Accuracy translate into quality. Most audio rippers will offer you the choice of ripping in the burst mode (speed) or the secure mode (accuracy).

To my knowledge, processing power would have very little effect here. Results would be more dependent on hardware (optical drive), and software settings (which controls output quality).

The Plextor Premium and the Lite-On CD Writers are among the best ripping drives from a quality standpoint. They possess superior DAE (Digital Audio Extraction) capabilities.

Exact Audio Copy is revered as one of the best audio ripping software solutions available.

The invested time also has some dependency on the output format. Formats with lossless encoding are of superior quality than those with lossy compression and there are time differences in the encoding processes.

If speed is what you desire, then any optical drive would suffice, as would any software solution that employs the burst mode.
There is no substitute for quality, but this process is much slower thus requiring additional investments in time.

The links below might be of assistance…

Hydrogen Audio Forum Discussions
CDFreaks Exact Audio Copy Guide
The Coaster Factory
The ESSENTIAL Ripping Guide for EAC


Excellent replies, thanks guys.

Quality is more important than speed, I just want the best quality as fast as I can!

The reason for converting this many CD’s is because I DJ. Over here in the UK we will soon be able to purchase a Digital DJ Licence enabling us to legally record our CD’s to hard disc. Therefore, I will be able to drop five cases of CD’s in favour of a couple of external hard discs!!

Lossless is my initial target for the exact reason you state, I will be able to encode to whichever format I favour. WAV is high on the list because most software can play this format. However, it does have a downside in that I can’t store any tag information…big problem. FLAC has been suggested by some fellow DJ’s too, so I’ll defintiely give that some thought.

Naturally, after all this effort, I will be backing up to at least one other disc!

I have just tried to order two Plextor Premium 2 drive’s…my supplier is chasing stock!!

Thanks again guys.


You can try mp3pro format as well…



I couldn’t get hold of any Plextor Premium drives here in the UK, so I ordered two Plextor PX-230A’s - about the only CD-RW drive I could locate! Upon installation I loaded the Plextool Professional application, then upgraded it to the latest version before doing the same with firmware of the drives.

I have tinkered with the EAC settings to get what I believe is the best quality rip. From an audio CD with 22 tracks on it, totalling 78mins 50secs, it is taking me 2mins 39secs to rip.

When I use Plextools, it takes me 2mins 23secs.

I know I can sacrifice quality for speed, but I don’t want to. I want to know if you guys think this is the top speed I can expect or is there hardware out there that will enable me to rip a 79min music CD in less than 2 minutes using the highest quality settings?

Thanks again.


I suggest you download and install the AccurateRip extension to EAC.
That way you will have higher confidence when you’re ripping your CDs, especially if you’re not using Secure mode!

AccurateRip will not help you get a correct rip, but a signature of your rip is compared with signatures other people got when ripping th same track, and you will know whether you get the same or a different result.

I don’t know if there are any drives out there that will rip faster than what you’re already getting.