The Complete Guide to CD Ripping - Part 2: Intermediate Guide

In part one of this guide we looked at how to extract audio tracks from CDs ('ripping') and save them as MP3 files. In this part, we investigate using the same software -- EAC -- to create non-MP3 digital audio formats such as Ogg Vorbis, Windows Media Audio, and Monkey's Lossless Compression Audio files. We also take a quick look at using EAC to batch convert wave files to any of these formats.

Creating Ogg Vorbis (OGG) files

Ogg Vorbis is an open standard compression for audio that plans to one day dethrone MP3. Whether or not it succeeds, the fact remains that it is an extremely good alternative to MP3, providing better quality at lower bitrates, which means smaller files. Be warned that it is still in beta -- but it is currently reliable enough for general use.

To configure EAC to create OGG files instead of MP3, you first need to download the Ogg Vorbis compressor. This is freely available from: http://www.vorbis.com/download.psp. You will need the "vorbis tools" download (http://www.vorbis.com/files/rc3/windows/vorbis-tools-1.0rc3-win32.zip). While you are there, you may as well get the Winamp plug-in as well, so you can play the Ogg Vorbis files after you have created them! (http://www.blorp.com/~peter/zips/in_vorbis.exe). Extract the vorbis tools ZIP file into c:\program files\Ogg Vorbis and then open up EAC.

Before you change your settings to use the Ogg Vorbis encoder, you should save your current settings for the LAME MP3 encoder by pressing -F2 (or clicking the "New" button on the bottom of the screen) and naming the profile accordingly.

In EAC, hit to go to the compression settings (also available under the EAC menu -- see Fig 1). Select Ogg Vorbis from the drop-down list next to "parameter passing scheme". Browse for the Ogg Vorbis encoder, which should be at c:\program files\Ogg Vorbis\oggenc.exe. Make sure you delete all the text in the "Additional command line options" and then select a bitrate to use for your files. The recommended setting is "Variable Bitrate 192 kBits/s".

Click OK and you are ready to rip some oggs! Everything you do from this point on is the same as when you created MP3 files in part one of this guide. You simply click the MP3 button on the left and browse for a folder in which to store your ripped Ogg Vorbis files.

Creating Windows Media Audio (WMA) FilesIn order to create Windows Media Audio files, you need to install Windows Media Player (WMP) -- which is also required for playback of WMA files. WMP is available for free download from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/software/Playerv7.asp. Once WMP is installed, open EAC and go to the external compression settings with the key (see Fig 5). Deselect the "Use external program for compression option" and then change to the "Waveform" tab (see Fig 6). Select "Windows MSAudio Encoder" from the "Wave format" drop-down box. Note that you should not select Windows Media Audio here, as this is the name of the decoder! In the "Sample format" drop-down menu, you can select a bitrate to use. The "128kbps, 44,100Hz, Stereo" option is recommended. Click OK to return to the main screen and use the MP3 button to start ripping your CD directly to WMA. Because you are not using an internal codec, not an external compressor, there will be no intermediate wave files as for MP3 or Ogg Vorbis files.

Creating Monkeys' Audio Lossless Compression (APE) filesUnlike MP3, Ogg Vorbis and Windows Media Audio files, Monkey's Audio Compression (MAC) files do not discard any information when compressing audio. This makes the format perfect for sharing high quality audio over the Internet as well as for the professional quality archiving of music. Bear in mind that MAC files will be about four times the size of MP3, WMA or OGG files. To use the MAC encoder in EAC you'll first need to download the free encoder from http://www.monkeysaudio.com. After installing the software, open up EAC and hit to open the external compression options, just as you did for the Ogg Vorbis configuration (see Fig 3). Next, you'll need to select the location of the MAC.EXE file, which should be c:\program files\Monkey's Audio\MAC.exe. Finally, select an encoding option. As the result will always sound the same, the options here represent a trade-off between speed and file size. The "Normal Lossless Compression" option is probably a good compromise for most cases. Once you've selected an option, click OK and you can now rip your MAC files by clicking the MP3 button on the left. Note that MAC files have the file extension ".ape".

Batch converting wave (WAV) files

If you are uncertain which format is best for your CD ripping, you can always rip to ordinary, uncompressed wave files and then batch convert them to other formats for comparison. To rip to wave files, simply click the WAV button on the left, above the MP3 button. You will be asked for a folder in which to store the wave files. When the files have been ripped from the CD, you are ready to convert them to compressed files. Unfortunately, you can only convert to one format at a time -- but that's why you should be saving your profiles as you go. To begin, use the key (once again!) and configure the compression type you want to use. Alternatively, if you have been saving your profiles, simply use the drop menu at the bottom of the screen to select the compression profile to use. Having done this you can now hit -V or select "Compress WAVs" from the tools menu (see Fig 4). Choose the wave files you extracted and EAC will run the encoder that you have selected. When this has finished, you can select another compression profile and encode the wave files to another format.

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Daniel Potts

PC World
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