How to Rip a CD with iTunes & Import MP3s on Mac & Windows
Do you have some audio CDs laying around that you’d like to digitize and convert to mp3? Ripping a CD and turning the audio into MP3 or M4A tracks is remarkably simple with iTunes, and the process its he same on both a Mac and Windows PC.
This is a great approach if you want to digitize a CD music collection to bring onto a computer for archival purposes, listening through iTunes, or even for later copying to an iPhone or iPad.
Now I know what you’re thinking, not many modern Macs and PCs have CD or DVD drives anymore, right? But that shouldn’t stop you from ripping a CD if your really want to, because you can use any external CD / DVD drive, a SuperDrive (you can also use an Apple SuperDrive with Windows), or even use Remote Disc to share a CD/DVD drive from another Mac.
To use this tutorial to convert a regular audio CD into MP3s, you will need the following:
Assuming you meet those simple requirements, you’re ready to convert the audio CD into MP3 files on the computer. Let’s get started.
How to Rip a CD with iTunes
The process of ripping a CD and turning the audio into MP3 files is the same whether iTunes is on a Mac or Windows, here’s how it works:
- Open iTunes on the computer you want to import the songs to
- Insert the CD you want to rip and turn into MP3s
- When iTunes recognizes the disc and shows the “Audio CD” screen, click on the “Import CD” button
- A progress bar will appear in the top of the iTunes screen, just wait for this to finish after iTunes is finished importing the CD
When completed, the progress bar will vanish from iTunes and the audio tracks will have a little green checkmark next to them in iTunes.
You’re done, you now have MP3s of your songs from the CD! Now you can eject the CD from iTunes and you’ll find the mp3 tracks in your regular iTunes music library. If you’re ripping a large collection of CDs repeatedly, once you’re done you might want to get album art for iTunes too so that the iTunes library looks like it’s supposed to.
As a quick side note, iTunes will default to import an audio CD using an MP3 encoder with high quality settings at 160 kbps. Those iTunes import settings can be changed if necessary, to either raise or lower the quality and bitrate, or to change the import format from MP3 to M4A if desired.
Once the songs are stored in your iTunes library, you can do whatever you want with them. Listen and enjoy, copy them to your iPhone or iPad, make them into ringtones for an iPhone (just remember that copying iTunes to an iPhone has changed in new iTunes versions and it’s a little different), whatever you want.
Enjoy your freshly ripped music! And if you have any questions or comments about using iTunes to rip CDs into mp3 format, let us know in the comments below.
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From disc to drive: The best way to digitise your CD collection
There are plenty of reasons to digitise your old CDs. You might miss a particular album you won't find online or just the supreme audio quality of CD. — dpa
Your CD collection may once have been a treasured possession. But in the era of online streaming services and music played on phones, it's likely just gathering dust.
So what to do with your obsolete CDs? The answer is digitisation – transfer your music from your CDs to your computer. Fortunately, it's not a difficult process.
"Basically, digitising CDs has not been rocket science for a long time and can be done easily," says tech reporter Hartmut Gieselmann. But "for larger CD collections, it can be time-consuming."
PC expert Matthias Metzler recommends the free program Exact Audio Copy (EAC). "Thanks to a special selection process, EAC can create very high-quality copies of music CDs," he says.
The tracks are losslessly digitised from the CD and EAC reads the audio several times. "This ensures that dust or other flaws on the CD don't lead to bits being misread," Gieselmann says. Alternatives are the Media Player that comes with Windows or iTunes for Mac users.
No matter which program you use, the settings will be decisive. "If the audio data of the CD is read in directly, the software saves it as a WAV file with a sampling frequency of 44.1 kilohertz and 16-bit word width. A complete CD then takes up about 500 to 700 megabytes on the hard disk," Gieselmann says.
You'll also want to think about what file format you use. Audiophiles are advised to use the FLAC audio compression method, which is supported by many hi-fi audio players, smartphones and other devices.
FLAC is a "lossless" form of audio compression, meaning there is no loss in sound quality. These high-quality files can easily be converted into other formats such as MP3.
MP3, though a lossy format, also produces high quality audio and at a smaller file size than FLAC. Many listeners will need good-quality loudspeakers and a quiet environment to notice the difference. Along with AAC it's the format most commonly used on mobile devices.
When digitising your music collection it's important to preserve the track's metadata such as the artist, the track title and the album. EAC connects to a free online database where this information is stored. However, the data isn't always completely accurate so you might need to add some of it by hand. – dpa
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How I digitized my CD collection with open source tools | Opensource.com
The restrictions on getting out and about during the pandemic occasionally remind me that time is slipping by—although some days, "slipping" doesn't quite feel like the right word. But it also reminds me there are more than a few tasks around the house that can be great for restoring the sense of accomplishment that so many of us have missed.One such task, in my home anyway, is converting our CD collection to FLACand storing the files on our music server's hard drive. Considering we don't have a huge collection (at least, by some people's standards), I'm surprised we still have so many CDs awaiting conversion—even excluding all the ones that fail to impress and therefore don't merit the effort.
As for that ticking clock—who knows how much longer the CD player will continue working or the CD-ROM drive in the old computer will remain in service? Plus, I'd rather have the CDs shelved in the basement storage instead of cluttering up the family room.
So, here I sit on a rainy Sunday afternoon with a pile of classical music CDs, ready to go…
I like using the open source Asunder CD ripper. It's a simple and straightforward tool that uses the cdparanoia tool to handle the conversion chores. This image shows it working away on an album.
When I fired up Asunder, I was surprised that its Compact Disc Database (CDDB) lookup feature didn't seem to find any matching info. A quick online search led me to a Linux Mint forum discussion that offered alternatives for the freedb.freedb.org online service, which apparently is no longer working. I first tried using gnudb.gnudb.org with no appreciably better result; plus, the suggested link to gnudb.org/howto.php upset Firefox due to an expired certificate.
Next, I tried the freedb.freac.org service (note that it is on port 80, not 8880, as was freedb.freedb.org), which worked well for me… with one notable exception: The contributed database entries don't seem to understand the difference between "artist" (or "performer") and "composer." This isn't a huge problem for popular music, but having JS Bach as the "artist" seems a bit incongruous since he never made it to a recording studio, as far as I know.
Quite a few of the tracks I converted identified the composer in the track title, but if there's one thing I've learned, your metadata can never be too correct. This leads me to the issue of tag editing, or curating the collection.
Oh wait, there's another reason for tag editing, too, at least when using Asunder to rip: getting the albums' cover images.
Editing tags and curating the collection
My open source go-to tool for music tag editing continues to be EasyTag. I use it a lot, both for downloads I purchase (it's amazing how messed up their tags can be, and some download services offer untagged WAV format files) and for tidying up the CDs I rip.
Take a look at what Asunder has (and hasn't) accomplished from EasyTag's perspective. One of the CDs I ripped included Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé Suites 1 and 2 and Strauss' Don Quixote. The freedb.freac.org database seemed to think that the composers Maurice Ravel and Richard Strauss were the artists performing the work, but the artist on this album is the wonderful London Symphony Orchestra led by André Previn. In Asunder, I clicked the "single artist" checkbox and changed the artist name to the LSO. Here's what it looks like in EasyTag:
It's not quite there! But in EasyTag, I can select the first six tracks, tagging the composer on all the files by clicking on that little "A" icon on the right of the Composer field:
I can set the remaining 13 similarly, then select the whole lot and set the Album Artist as well. Finally, I can flip to the Images tab and find and set the album cover image.
Speaking of images, I've found it wise to always name the image "cover.jpg" and make sure it's in the directory with the FLAC files… some players aren't happy with PNG files, some want the file in the same directory, and some are just plain difficult to get along with, as far as images go.
What is your favorite open source CD ripping tool? How about the open source tool you like to use to fix your metadata? Let me know in the comments below!
And speaking of music…
I haven't been as regular with my music and open source column over the past year as I was in previous years. Although I didn't acquire a lot of new music in 2020 and 2021, a few jewels still came my way…
As always, Erased Tapes continues to develop an amazing collection of hmmm… what would you call it, anyway? The site uses the terms "genre-defying" and "avant-garde," which don't seem overblown for once. A recent favorite is Rival Consoles' Night Melody Articulation, guaranteed to transport me from the day-to-day grind to somewhere else.
I've been a huge fan of Gustavo Santaolalla since I first heard his music on a road trip from Coyhaique to La Tapera in Chile's Aysén Region. You might be familiar with his film scores to Motorcycle Diaries or Brokeback Mountain. I recently picked up Qhapaq Ñan, music about the Inca Trail, on the Linux-friendly music site 7digital, which has a good selection of his work.
Finally, and continuing with the Latin American theme, The Queen's Six recording Journeys to the New World is not to be missed. It is available in FLAC format (including high-resolution versions) from the Linux-friendly Signum Classics site.
What to do with all those old CDs collecting dust?
You can’t play them in newer cars. You can’t use them with most laptop computers. And unless you own a Sony Discman that somehow still works — and you don’t mind getting strange looks in public — you can’t go for a walk or run with them nowadays.
It’s a conundrum many music fans are facing as they clean house while under coronavirus stay-at-home orders: What should I do with these boxes/crates/shelves of old CDs that I haven’t listened to in years?
Those old compact discs you loaded up on at $15 a pop are now worth pennies on the Clinton administration dollar, thanks to a double-whammy change in consumers’ listening habits.
First, advances in MP3s and now music-streaming services such as Spotify made it possible to carry tens of thousands of albums in the palm of your hand. Conversely, many fans have reverted back to vinyl as their preferred format for “physical” music.
Sales of new CDs have plummeted by about 90% over the past decade. Last year saw a particularly sharp decline, with a drop of more than 25% from 2018 — about the same increase that streaming numbers saw in the same time frame.
Even those of us who’ve stuck up for CDs in the past have to admit that the thousands in our basement have grown superfluous. And cumbersome. Why dig for that Alanis Morissette or House of Pain CD when you can easily find it on your phone?
It’s always possible to rip your CDs onto a hard drive to save them in MP3 format before you get rid of them, but that also seems to be an increasingly outdated mode of listening. So here are some options for paring back the old collection.
Sell them to stores
Surprisingly, many record shops still buy and sell used CDs, as do some used-book stores. Bob Fuchs, general manager of The Electric Fetus in Minneapolis, said used sales have held strong even while new CDs have tanked because “they’re so cheap now, you can go home with four or five new albums for about $20.”
Still, Fuchs acknowledged that his store only pays about 25 cents per disc (“up to $1 for something really good”), and given the datedness of many people’s CD collections, the staff is very choosy about the shape they’re in.
“They can’t look like you’ve been eating off them for 20 years,” he said.
Sell them in bulk online
Linda and Bill Wareham of St. Paul recently came up with a rather tedious but ultimately worthwhile solution: After selling some discs in person at a used-record store, they sold more of their CDs in bulk to the website Decluttr.com. The site, which resells via Amazon, requires you to scan or type in the bar code of each CD but pays about $1 to $2 per disc (and takes DVDs too).
“To be honest, I don’t feel like I was cheated,” Bill Wareham said. “They were out of my house and I was making a little money off them.”
If you have a particularly deep and rarefied collection, it may be worth seeking out a collector online or going to eBay to try to sell them.
Sell them one by one
If you really have time on your hands and like visiting the post office, you could try selling them yourself via Discogs, Musicstack or eBay, which could amount to a few bucks per CD; for the ones that do sell, that is. Of course, once stay-at-home orders lift, a good ol’ garage sale could work — but even your aunt who goes out “saling” every Saturday has probably turned to streaming her Streisand albums.
Goodwill still sells CDs and DVDs and collects them at its drop-off locations. Many libraries also take them and will either stock them for checkout or sell them at sales or their used stores.
Aside from the paper-sleeve inserts, plastic CD cases and the discs themselves aren’t permitted in conventional curbside recycling, only out-of-the-way “technology recycling” sites. The website Greendesk.com offers packing and shipping options, but it’s pricey (about $15 plus shipping for a 25-pound package).
One free recycling option: Use the shiny discs for arts-and-craft projects, such as mobiles or collages.
Hang onto them
You never know, there could be a resurgence in popularity for CDs in the coming decade or two like there was for vinyl. There’s even been a niche market for cassettes among hipster kids in recent years.
Also, given the fight for better royalty payments to artists from Spotify and other streaming services, there could be a time when music is not as widely available or affordable on streaming sites. But for now all signs point otherwise.
Collection cd digitize 2018 large
The best CD ripper 2021: back up your CD collection
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By Cat Ellis
CD rippers to make perfect 1:1 copies of your discs
There are lots of CD ripper applications out there for your consideration. Even with music streaming services and digital audio now dominating the market, pushing CDs out, there are still quite a few of these tools that allow you to rip tracks from CDs using Windows Explorer or a media player. And, they’re still essential, especially for archiving older albums, EPs and singles.
Of course, not all CD rippers are the same. The quality of those ripped files will never be as good as the original discs due to errors when data is read, and compression when it’s encoded. That’s why it’s vital to use a CD ripper that keeps the audio files as close to the original CD as possible, with complete and accurate metadata, encoded in a lossless format (usually Free Lossless Audio Codec, or FLAC).
While this requires a lot of space, the plummeting price of storage has made it feasible for anyone to keep those files as a backup, and make copies for everyday use. You can also encode copies using lossy codecs for playback on devices with limited storage.
A 'secure' CD ripper ensures audio files are free from errors by reading each sector of the disc several times, and comparing the results with data collected from other users. There aren’t many of these reliable tools around, and you don’t want to use something that would render your favorite music completely unlistenable. These are the CD rippers we’d trust with our own tunes.
Are CD rippers legal?
Although every Windows PC comes with software for backing up discs, using CD rippers isn't legal everywhere. For example, in 2014, UK copyright law was changed to make legalize personal backups, but that decision was overturned by the High Court in 2015. Make sure you check out intellectual property law in your country before you start ripping.
1. Exact Audio Copy
The best free CD ripper for Windows if you have time to invest in the setup
Usually we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to software, with dozens of programs approaching the same task from different angles. When it comes to CD rippers, however, there are only two programs we recommend – one free, and one premium (but still reasonably priced).
Exact Audio Copy is the free option, and it's so good, many audiophiles prefer it to paid-for CD rippers. It takes a while to set up, so we've put together a full guide to get you started.
EAC employs a technology called AccurateRip, which uses data from users around the world to detect whether your rips are totally free from errors. No CD or DVD drive is perfect, and many will insert periods of silence into audio tracks where errors occur, so this verification is essential for making 1:1 copies of your discs.
EAC can also find metadata for your music from four different sources (complete with album art), rename files automatically, and normalize audio as it's processed. If you have the time to invest, you couldn't wish for more in a CD ripper.
A premium CD ripper that makes archiving and encoding music a breeze
dBpoweramp is a premium CD ripper (a license for a single PC costs $39/£31/AU$39), but you can try it free for 21 days to make sure it's the tool for you before buying.
dBpoweramp's main advantage over Exact Audio Copy is its clear interface, which helps simplify the process of ripping your discs. Otherwise, it’s very similar; it uses the same AccurateRip technology to ensure your files are as close as possible to the original CD, scanning and re-scanning for errors, and comparing the results with data from other users.
dBpoweramp uses all your CPU cores simultaneously for the fastest possible encoding, and can encode to multiple formats at once, saving you the effort of converting files for playback on other devices.
dBpoweramp also includes an audio converter, with batch support for encoding files en masse – very useful if you need copies in a different format for a new device, or your everyday playback files have become lost or damaged.
Cat Ellis is the fitness and wellbeing editor at TechRadar. She's been a technology journalist for 11 years, and cut her teeth on magazines including PC Plus and PC Format before joining TechRadar. She's a trained run leader, and enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the pavement. If you have a story about fitness trackers, treadmills, running shoes, e-bikes, or any other fitness tech, drop her a line at [email protected]
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