What format should I rip music into?

I am 29 years old, and I just recently aquired an iPod Video and a Creative Zen player for Christmas.

So I guess it’s time to build a digital music library by ripping my CD’s (that I’ve purchased over the last 15+ years) onto my Windows PC.

I am obviously going to have to devote a few days to this CD ripping process since I have some 300+ albums to rip.

My main concern is that I don’t want to do this process the wrong way and then realize I should have done it another way.

I know there are millions of young portable-music-player experts out there today, so I am simply going to ask for advice on what to do. Even though I do have random questions regarding this, I think it’s best if I just ask anyone reading this thread to post a reply with a straight-forward solution to my dilema.

I would like to be able to use both the iPod and the Zen if possible, and I don’t want to box myself into one product’s corner if I don’t have to. The more flexible my music library is, the better.

Thanks in advance CD Freaks!

Rip to the MP3 format with 192 Kbps bitrate - you should get near-CD quality audio with this setup.

ty sone i was wondering that myself

Use Cdex or EAC as your ripper. Both are free and very good.

I’d recommend CDex. :iagree:

MP3. Future proof

mp3 my friend. 192 bitrate

I have never used the Zen or iPod but if they support mp3 that’s your best bet b/c mp3 is the universal format. Try ripping to .ogg or .flac and see if you can play it on a car stereo for example and you’ll know what I mean.
I recommend this guide:
It will show you how to rip w/o skipping errors and uses the best quality mp3 encoder there is and it’s freeware

If you rip to WAV/CUE, then you can create a backup CD with no loss of quality, deconstruct it into tracks or encode down into whatever format you chose, but with no compression, that would probably be impractical… over 100GB for 300 discs, assuming they average half full - but if you can spare a whole hard drive for tha collection, making high quality masters means never having to repeat a rip.

Using a lossless encoder such as FLAC or APE can also serve as your “gold standard” rip, saving up to 50% of the capacity.

Using any lossy encoder, treanscoding to other encoders or compression levels compounds the losses and artefacts of the first encode.

MP3 is the most common format, but these days, one of the least space-efficient. If your target platforms support AAC (preferably HE-AAC / AAC+), then that will do higher quality , or a lower bitrate and capacity for similar quality.

192k MP3 is a reasonable compromise of space versus quality, though a VBR mode averaging around the same would be better quality, but some things don’t like VBR, giving minor issues like inaccurate track time indication, or problems playing at all if seriously incompatible with VBR.

As to programs-I use CD Ripper, which is free and offers several formats and bitrates. I RIPPED at 192 and am satisfied with that as many of my tunes are from the "Oldies era. "Very simple to use and connects to FreeDB for your tags. I might add that it is very efficient. The actual bitrate that you select is as noted above a compromise. You can create files in a “lossless” format if desired. Then you can transfer to your Zen at whatever MP3 bitrate you need (I use 128).
Enjoy your project.

If your portable Zen can handle it, I know the iPod can, rip at 192 vbr.
That gives fantastic playback.

How much storage space do you have on your PC? I’ve ripped all my CD’s to my HDD and compressed them using FLAC then I use FooBar2000 to encode them to MP3/AAC to play on my portable devices as and when I want to take them mobile.

Buy an extra HDD, use FLAC, saves any sleepless nights wondering if you’ve picked the wrong format. Lossless ftw!