Ripping - Signal levels are being clipped

Hello all,

I have searched all over the net for an answer to my problem and came up with nothing. So here I am hoping for an answer. I posted it first in the newbie section before I found this forum. I apologize for the duplicate post.

Frequently when I rip a music CD (using my Samsung or Memorex DVD drives), when I look at the waveform, the music levels are heavily clipped.

I have Windows XP, SP2. Memorex 4X DVD burner, Samsung cd-rom/burner, Sound Forge 7.0, Windows Media Player 10. Sound Blaster Live.

I have ripped using SoundForge 7.0, Windows Media Player 10, and a couple of other programs, all with the same result. I have reduced all recording levels on the sound card and in the ripping programs to almost zero (even though I know it’s not going through the sound card at this stage), same result.

Reducing volume levels or normalizing or anything else after the ripping operation does not, of course, eliminate the original clipped peaks.

I cannot find a way to attenuate the data amplitude level coming out of the cd rom drive so that the signal levels are not clipped, other than doing a real-time analog recording and having control over the recording level that way.

How can the digital signal’s amplitude be reduced coming out of the cd-rom drive?

Thank you for any guidance on this.

Digital Dog

I think your “problem” can be explained by how poorly Audio CDs have been mastered for the last 10-20 years. This has gotten progressively worse to the point where there is almost no dynamic range in most modern albums.

This is also known as the Loudness War.

Thank you for the reply. I guess this “loudness war” that is killing the quality of the music is similar to the good high end stereo equipment manufacturers going for the cheap, fast buck route (like Sansui of 25 years ago) and killing the quality of the hardware. It looks like the bean counters are just going for the WalMart crowd.

As per my mistake of cross posting, I apologize. What did the other persons reply mean by get better drives and software? Would a “better” drive or ripping program help with the clipping being reproduced?


If what you are experiencing is just the badly mastered discs that are the result of squashing dynamic range to make everything sound “louder” (i.e. the Loudness War), then all the drives and software in the world won’t help you.

But it is possible of course, that you’re ripping with software that is setup to increase volume which is already maxed out, or that you are ripping in analog form in real-time with the recording level set too high.

I very much doubt this is the right explanation however, since you have tried multiple ripping programs, and since “ripping” in analog time means that it would take e.g. an hour to “rip” (actually it would be “record”) an CD that is one hour long.

I fully agree with your first sentence. Once the deed is done when the cd is made, nothing will undo it. None of my programs have any parameters to set prior to the ripping operation. (Yes, the ripping is being done digitally, not real time analog)

It’s hard to believe that some of my old LP’s, when played on my still working 1977 Sansui integrated amp and direct drive turntable sound better than the CD version.

It’s not just wishfull nostalgia, even my 16 year old son can hear the difference.

What a shame that quality is being forsaken by crappy technology…

I may be mistaken, but I think some compression methods toy with what data is stored in the compressed form, which, to me, means that there is some clipping… Does this problem occur when you are ripping to uncompressed WAV files too? Or directly in a compressed format? If the latter, the setup of the compression method may have some positive effect on the ripping.
My $0.02… sorry if the comment is irrelevant.

Thanks for your input. I havn’t tried ripping to WAV yet.

I may be mistaken but with all the different formats, hoops to jump through to play your music, and all the counterproductive DRM being forced down our throats - it seemed so much simpler when all you needed was a turntable and a cassette deck.

My 2 cents

If you want to rip to MP3, the best way to do it is with EAC and LAME, and then you can use Foobar2000 (the audio player) to apply replaygain information to the files and this will scale their volume to prevent the clipping you speak of.