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Ripping CDs for iPod etc. - What file format do you use and why?

Old 02-23-06, 11:46 AM
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Ripping CDs for iPod etc. - What file format do you use and why?

I've recently finished* writing some Windows software to batch convert my CDs to MP3 files for my new 60Gb iPod. I spotted an article recently that suggests that due to the popularity of iTunes and a few other pay-per-song sites, the more popular formats are Apple's AAC and Windows WMA, this despite the DRM involved (that's why I use LAME).

Currently my software only rips MP3 files. I'm wondering if I should consider (re)writing my software to handle another format just so I'm not left behind.

So, what format do you prefer and why?

(sorry if this is an old topic, I did a search but didn't find anything similar)

-Gunshy

*Using it regularly so it's out of Beta but there's still enhancements to make...
Old 02-23-06, 01:55 PM
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I use AAC because...I don't know why really. I think I read something when I first got my Ipod about AAC having higher quality relative to the space used, but I still have 15 gigs on my 40 gig Ipod, so it didn't end up being a big deal.

I kind of wish I'd just used MP3, since it seems more universal. I have an Ipod now, but who knows what the future holds. I'm sure I'll be able to convert them, one way or another, but it'll be a bit of a hassle.
Old 02-23-06, 02:16 PM
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I ripped most of my collection with LAME into mp3, but now I use iTunes to rip to mp3 - I hate using multiple programs for stuff like this.

I also don't care much about audio quality, and tend to only stick to default settings.
Old 02-23-06, 02:35 PM
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I've used a ton of different stuff, but like Draven, I've come back to just using iTunes to rip my CDs to MP3. Despite everything I read, I can't tell much of a difference between using that and anything else. Besides, I have more important things to do than spend hours with different programs.

I stick with MP3 because it's more "universal." It's nice to be able to take my music and throw it onto a cheap portable MP3 player or USB drive or my cel phone and use it because it's in MP3 format.
Old 02-23-06, 04:12 PM
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WMA is out, because it isn't compatible with iPod.

MP3 is far more universal if you're going to play your music on non-Apple devices, and if you're going to use MP3 I'd recommend using EAC+LAME, rather than writing your own program.

That said, I use AAC, because it does offer better sound quality than MP3 at modest bitrates (I've been experimenting with converting at 160 and 192kbps VBR). Supposedly, MP3 offers similar quality at the higher bitrates.

DRM isn't an issue if you're ripping your own music. AAC supports DRM, but it's not on there by magic. You need to implement the DRM capability.

Also, keep in mind that what you're using in the way of ear buds or speakers matters. If you're using Apple's stock ear buds, format won't make a huge difference. But if you're using higher-end ear buds you will notice improvement with higher-quality rips. I use Shure E4c's myself, and am thinking of getting a pair of Ultimate Ear super.fi Pro 5's.
Old 02-23-06, 06:19 PM
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I ripped my cd collection with LAME as vbr MP3's. Any HQ audio I have (Flac or SHN) I convert to wav as not to lose quality.
Old 02-23-06, 06:22 PM
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LAME -alt -preset -extreme
Old 02-23-06, 06:34 PM
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I rip to MP3 at 320kbps with iTunes. After some experimenting with the Apple Lossless format, I couldn't really tell the difference between the two in my car, which is where I listen to my iPod most of the time.
Old 02-23-06, 08:17 PM
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A frined of mine likes OGG for some reason.

I do all mine as MP3s at 192 kbps. MP3 is just more universal.
Old 02-23-06, 08:33 PM
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MP3 - i prefer having a choice of playback devices.
Old 02-23-06, 08:37 PM
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MP3 at 192kbps VBR (EAC and LAME with -alt preset). Best compromise between sound quality and file size and my music works on any device I want it to. No way I restrict myself to a technology like AAC or WMA that is restricted to only certain devices.
Old 02-24-06, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by stevevt
LAME -alt -preset -extreme
That's what I've been doing. Recently though, I've also been making FLAC versions for home.
Old 02-24-06, 08:19 AM
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192 mp3 because my car CD player plays mp3 discs.
Old 02-24-06, 10:27 AM
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I run LAME at: -b 256 -m s -q 0 -k

Simply put, VBR is still not supported correctly by enough devices. Add to the fact that if for some reason the header for the VBR file is messed up, you have completely inaccurate time estimates. VBR is nice, but it's not as good as a constant bit rate.

At 256kbps, MP3 is very good quality but some people can detect differences on high-end equipment. I wouldn't use iTunes as a ripper if you plan on keeping or archiving those files. If you ever host a party and play a CD off default iTunes-ripped tracks, it will sound pretty horrid.

I'd recommend EAC using LAME as an encoder. You have one program that rips, encodes, and labels your music.
Old 02-24-06, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by The Bus
I run LAME at: -b 256 -m s -q 0 -k

Simply put, VBR is still not supported correctly by enough devices. Add to the fact that if for some reason the header for the VBR file is messed up, you have completely inaccurate time estimates. VBR is nice, but it's not as good as a constant bit rate.
I was under the impression that, despite the problems you outline, VBR produced better sounding files because the bitrate changes to better, more accurately, recreate the sound of the recording. I figure CBR was just a hold-over and not as good from a time before players (both software and portable) could handle VBR.

-Gunshy
Old 02-24-06, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Salty
WMA is out, because it isn't compatible with iPod.

MP3 is far more universal if you're going to play your music on non-Apple devices, and if you're going to use MP3 I'd recommend using EAC+LAME, rather than writing your own program.
I should have been clearer. I just simply wrote a utility to do the LAME part, so that I could rip a batch of CDs all at once and then, overnight or over a weekend, convert them all to MP3 files. It also does a lot of genre, artist, and title name cleanup, proper-casing, etc.(the results from polling FreeDb with EAC can sometimes pull up atrocious track naming conventions). Plus, the folder format I use guarantees accurate and readable IDv3 tags including: genre, artist, title, and year. Oh, and it was fun to code the whole thing

-Gunshy
Old 02-24-06, 10:34 PM
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If you have already ripped songs as AAC in iTunes, can you convert them to MP3, or do you have to re-rip the CDs again?
Old 02-24-06, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by bahgee
If you have already ripped songs as AAC in iTunes, can you convert them to MP3, or do you have to re-rip the CDs again?
You never want to recompress audio that is already compressed with a different codec. You lose a lot of sound quality. I would recommend ripping the CDs again.
Old 02-25-06, 07:23 PM
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I use mp3, simply because I can do more with it. My car plays mp3 cds. In the off chance I get something other than an ipod, I'd like to get my music on there too.

I'll also cut "hidden" songs off and turn them into their own tracks. I hate waiting for 5 min to hear them.

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