So, I decided it was time to banish those CD’s to the loft. I have about 1200 CD’s and started to look into getting a raspberry PI to rip the CD’s with a robot bot.
This is awesome
but time was limited and as Im easily distracted from the end result so ended up doing it as follows:
(a) Decide whether you want to convert (rip) the CD’s to FLAC or 320kbps MP3. Many sources will tell you that there is little difference sonically but that MP3 files be upto 5 times smaller than FLAC files.
I chose to rip to FLAC for the following reasons:
(i) Im only doing this once and by ripping to FLAC, I can always downconvert to MP3 at a later stage.
(ii) Its likely that I will end up with both a FLAC collection for the house and and MP3 collection for portable devices like MP3 players and car audio players.
(iii) Storage is cheap so I dont care that the files are larger. Its more data to push around the network but many of my players will be connected via cat5 rather than wifi.
(iv) Flac files are lossless compression meaning there is zero loss of quality when converting from CD.
(b) The product I chose to use was Illustrates dbpoweramp cdripper (mainly because it supports CD robots). In my case I had and old dell quad core Q9550 workstation and I connected 2 mains powered USB DVD/CD readers and the internal sata DVD drive(so 3 drives in total) and I was able to keep all 3 drives fed with CD’s using 3 running instances of the cd ripper software. Its a simple but surprisingly effective method that allowed me to convert 100’s of CD’s over an 8 hour period (it took me about 6 days in total to do the lot).
(c) I used the “normal” settings for FLAC conversion (level 5 default) and did not enable secure ripping. I did give each CD a quick wipe with isopropyl alcohol and a microfibre cloth before I put it in the drive.
(d) I selected an output location of music/dbpoweramp (ie on the local hard drive) as did not want to add more load to the USB channels while ripping from 3 DVD readers.
(e) If the dbpoweramp cdripper software could not find the album art then I ripped it anyway as I used another program to add album art (bliss). I had the bliss software working in the background monitoring the music/dbpoweramp folder and it helps you to find any missing album art based on a set of rules. Its java based and a lifetime licence is about £30. For some users this software may be overkill but I had purchased it years ago. I highly recommend it for people who have already ripped their music collections put perhaps forgot to put in the album art or want to change the size of the album art.
The things I learned over the 6 days it took to rip the CD’s are:
(a) I can understand why people pay upto £1 per CD to have others do it for them. 🙂 and if thats your preference, I came accross this website and they looked quite reasonable (although I have not used them).
(b) I was amazed by the amount of degradation on some CD’s. They are definitely “not for life”.
(c) I had a number of cases missing the CD’s and a number of CD’s missing cases (probably 50 CDs/cases fell in to this category). Of course these happened to be the ones containing the music I was particularly fond of.
(c) While I have a wide musical taste, I also recognise that I also purchased some spectacularly tacky music over the years.
(d) Not every CD should be converted – that “sounds like The Corrs tribute CD” went straight into the bin 🙂
I now have a small hard drive containing my entire CD collection in flac format (and I made sure I immediately copied that to another drive because Im not doing it again).
I consider this conversion process as the foundation to setting up my whole house audio system.