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For most people, dropping a CD into their disc drive and clicking “Import” in iTunes is good enough. For music freaks, though, it’s not—and with good reason. Here’s how to digitize your tunes, the right way.
First off, some reasons to take this road: iTunes is a decent audio encoder, and it’ll get your music from point A—the CD—to points B, C and D—your computer, your MP3 player and your backup drive—without much trouble. But it’ll do it with a less-than-great encoder, with occasionally inconsistent tagging, with album art that’ll only work on Apple devices, and without support for the best lossless audio formats and MP3 encoding options, which you probably want, whether you know it or not.
In short, the ripping process deserves a little more care than iTunes or Windows Media player can give it. You can pay people for this, which feels dumb and wasteful, or you can do it yourself. It’s not difficult, at all. Here’s what you do:
Get Your Software
Mac OS X: MaxFrom the makers:
When extracting audio from compact discs, Max offers the maximum in flexibility to ensure the true sound of your CD is faithfully extracted. For pristine discs, Max offers a high-speed ripper with no error correction. For damaged discs, Max can either use its built-in comparison ripper (for drives that cache audio) or the error-correcting power of cdparanoia.
What this translates to: Great error reduction, fantastic sound quality, and tons and tons of encoding options—not that you really need those to do a good rip, but hey, they can’t hurt. On…