The Complete Guide to CD Ripping - Part 3: Advanced Guide

Before getting stuck into CD duplication and LP and cassette ripping, we should mention a few of the great features in EAC. First, there is the browse database facility, available in the database menu. This effectively lets you browse your CD catalogue since it is compiled from all the CDs you have ripped (Fig. 1). You can also manage your database information, which is a feature available in no other ripper. Second, you can convert your MP3s back into WAV files using Decompress from the tools menu -- -B. Third, there is an ID3 editor -- -A, see Fig. 2 -- as well as file renaming based on ID3 tags, -N. Together, these allow you to enter artist and track details into the ID3 tags of a collection of MP3s, and then rename the lot based on the information you provided.

Duplicating and Recording CDs

When you rip a CD, only the audio information is extracted. To properly duplicate a CD you also need to replicate the gaps between tracks. This is especially important for live recordings, which often have no gaps whatsoever between tracks and occasionally contain some audio between tracks. When you have ripped a CD you can use to detect gaps on the CD and then write a CUE sheet with -O. A CUE sheet is a template for the CD, allowing you to duplicate not only the audio information, but the track gap information as well. Once you have a CUE sheet, you can use -W to open the Write CD windows (Fig. 3). Load up the CUE sheet and you are ready to burn a perfect copy of the original CD. Remember that if your plan is to duplicate CDs with EAC, you only need to extract WAV files, not MP3s. This will not only save you a lot of time, but will ensure top quality. Of course, there is always the Copy CD feature that will automate this entire process for you (-Y)! Another alternative - and possibly the best - is to use the "Copy image and create CUE sheet" item in the action menu, also accessible via - or the IMG button on the left. This will extract the audio and gap information from the CD into a single WAV file and compile a CUE sheet ready for CD duplication.

Glitch removal

While you're ripping a CD, EAC will display red dots when it encounters read errors and will report data and sync errors on screen (Fig. 4). At the end of the rip, you will be shown a status report for the CD that will inform you of any errors that were found during the extraction process (Fig. 5). If you click the "Possible Errors" button, you will be presented with a new window that lists all the suspicious positions and allows you to play them back (Fig. 6). Just select one of the errors and click play - you will be given two seconds of lead in. If there is a click or pop, then you can use the "Glitch Removal" button to repair it. Bear in mind that you cannot undo this process and there are no user-configurable options either (Fig. 7).

If you are uncertain about using the glitch removal here, you can save the list of errors to a log file and then use the built-in sound editor to clean up the track later, with a few configurable options. For seriously damaged files, you may need to use an external sound editor such as Cool Edit, Sound Forge or Wavelab to repair the problems.

Recording LPs, cassettes, radio et al

EAC has a simple but very convenient audio recorder built in so that you can create MP3s from audio sources other than CDs. From the tools menu you can select "Record WAV" or simply hit -R to open the record window either (Fig. 8). Click the button labelled "Select target filename" to choose a destination for your recording (Fig. 9). Next click "Start record" and play your source - be it LP, cassette, minidisk or whatever. A reasonably simple way to make sure you are getting the right levels into your sound card is to use the headphones' output from your stereo. You should then be able to control the volume to make sure the level indicators stay in the green and don't 'clip' into the red zone (Fig. 10).

When your audio has finished playing, click "Stop record" and then "OK" to return to EAC's main interface. From here you can convert your newly recorded WAV file to an MP3, Ogg Vorbis or whatever file format you like. Remember, the F11 key is the shortcut to the compression window, and then you can use -V to run the compressor.

If you are concerned about noise and clicks in your recording, you can use the simple built-in audio editor to try to repair it. This is best done prior to compression, but can be done afterwards. A normalise function and some simple effects such as equalisation can be added as well. Normalisation is used to maximises the volume of a recording, but bear in mind that amplifying the audio will also have the consequence of increasing noise levels. Generally speaking, however, normalisation is useful for boosting quiet recordings, but don't use it for live recordings as it can cause nasty volume shifts from track to track.

To bring up the audio editor, hit -E and select your WAV file (Fig. 11). Select the entire file or the problem sections and try using the "Remove glitches" item from the "Process selection" menu. You will be presented with a sensitivity parameter that you can experiment with until you get the results you're after (Fig. 12). Similarly, the "detect pops" item in the same menu will give you some sensitivity options, plus it will indicate the positions where pops were detected (Fig. 13). This function is great for removing clicks from vinyl recordings. Try the spectral view under the display menu, as well, for more visual feedback on the audio (Fig. 14). Other things you can do in the sound processor window include fade-in and fade-out, adding equalisation, reverb, and stripping silence from the start and end of the track.

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Daniel Potts

PC World
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