Ripping the tracks on your music CDs into MP3 files is easier than ever, thanks to the latest music managers and jukeboxes. That said, there are a few settings to tweak to ensure your new files are named properly, stored in the proper directory, and sound their very best. Use this tutorial to guide you through the steps of ripping MP3s. Choose either Windows Media Player or iTunes, depending on your personal preference. Required attention span: 3 to 10 minutes per CD, depending on your drive speed. Ingredients
Before you start, you'll need to gather these elements:
Audio CDs Follow these simple steps Using Windows Media Player:
Launch Windows Media Player
First, open Windows Media Player (WMP) by clicking Start > All Programs > Windows Media Player. Make sure the player window is maximized (click the blue box just to the left of the red X in the upper-right corner of the screen) so that you can access the main menu options. Next, check to see if you have the latest version of WMP: click Help, then select "Check for player updates." If an update is available, a window will appear with downloading instructions.
Tweak the encoding settings
Now let's configure WMP's MP3 encoding settings. Click Tools > Options from the main menu, then select the Rip Music tab.
- File location: Under the "Rip music to this location" heading, check the path on your local drive where WMP will save ripped music files; the default is the My Music folder in your My Documents directory. Want to change the location? If so, click the Change button and pick a new path.
You can designate where you want Windows Media Player to save your ripped files in the Options windows.
- Filename: Plan on listening to your tunes on a portable music player? If so, you'll probably want to append track numbers to your music files so that they'll play in the right order. Click the File Name button, then make sure the box next to Track Number is checked. You can also have WMP put other details in the track name and add separator characters between words.
- File format: By default, WMP rips music in the Windows Media Audio format. To switch to MP3, go to the Rip Settings heading, and select MP3 from the Format pull-down menu.
- Bit-rate setting: Just beneath the Format menu is the Audio Quality slider; click and drag the selector to pick your setting. We think 128Kbps is the best compromise between file size and sound quality, but those with sensitive ears may prefer 160Kbps or even 192Kbps.
You can adjust the bit rate for your new MP3 files by clicking the slider in the Options window.
- Finishing up: Click the OK button at the bottom of the Options window to return to the main WMP interface.
Get album and track info
Click the Rip tab at the top of the WMP interface and insert your CD into your system's CD-ROM tray; WMP will automatically scan the disc and grab album and track info from the All Music Guide and the Windows Music database. If the player finds a match, it will appear below the track list. If everything looks good, click the Finish button. If not, click the Search button to search again, or click Edit to tweak the info manually.
Windows Media Player will scan your CD and scour the Web for track and artist info. Pick your tracks
If you don't want to rip every track on your CD, go to the track list and clear the check boxes next to the tracks you want skipped. If you want WMP to rip all the tracks on the CD, just leave everything as is.
Want Windows Media Player to skip some tracks? Just clear the check boxes next to the tracks you'd rather not rip. Let 'er rip
In the top-right corner of the WMP interface, click the Rip Music button. If a pop-up window appears asking if you want your music ripped into WMA files, select the "Keep my current format settings" radio button to keep your MP3 settings intact.
Once you click Rip Music, Windows Media Player will begin encoding your music to MP3 files and save them to your local drive. Using iTunes:
Find your files
Once WMP is done ripping your files, click the Library tab, then the various All Music categories in the left-hand column; you'll find your new tracks right there.
First things first--open iTunes. If you're a Mac user, you'll find iTunes in your Applications directory; PC users who haven't yet installed iTunes can download it
. You should also make sure you have the latest version of iTunes. Mac users, select Software Update under the Apple menu; PC users can click Help, then select "Check for iTunes updates."
Configure your settings
Next, let's configure iTunes' encoding preferences. Mac users can go to the menu bar and click iTunes, then Preferences; for PC users, click Edit, then Preferences.
You can change the location of your music and tweak iTunes' MP3-encoding settings from the Preferences window.
- File location: iTunes will automatically save ripped music in your designated iTunes Music folder. If you want to change the location of the folder (which may move all your saved music if the "Keep iTunes Music folder organized" check box is selected), click the Change button to select a new path.
- File format: By default, iTunes rips music to the AAC format. To switch to the MP3 format, click the Importing tab and select MP3 Encoder under the Import Using drop-down menu.
- Bit-rate setting: Just below the Import Using settings, you'll find the Setting drop-down menu; click it and choose a bit-rate setting for your ripped files. We think 128Kbps is the best compromise between file size and sound quality, but those with sensitive ears may prefer 160Kbps or even 192Kbps.
- Add the track number: If you plan on listening to your tunes on a portable music player, you'll probably want to append track numbers to your music files so that they'll play in the right order. To do so, click the "Create filenames with track number" check box.
- Error correction: Trying to rip an older or scratched CD? If so, select the "Use error correction when reading Audio CDs" check box. The ripping process will last longer, but iTunes will stand a better chance of fixing any errors from scratches or excessive use.
- Finishing up: Click the OK button at the bottom of the Preferences menu to return to the iTunes main menu.
Get album and track info
Insert your CD into your system's CD-ROM tray; iTunes will automatically display a list of tracks and grab album and track info from the CDDB. If the track names remain blank, make sure you're connected to the Internet, click Advanced, then "Get CD track names." If you want to make changes to the track/album names, select the label you want to edit and start typing. To make albumwide changes, select all the tracks and hit Command+I (or Ctrl+I for PC users), click the Info tab, then make your changes.
Want to tweak track, artist, or album names? Just select the label you want to edit and start typing. Pick your tracks
Want to rip only some of the tracks to MP3? If so, go to the track list and clear the check boxes next to the tracks you want skipped. If you want iTunes to rip all the tracks on the CD, just leave everything as is.
If you don't want iTunes to rip every track on your CD, just clear the check boxes next to the tracks you'd rather skip.
Rip your music
You're ready to rip! Just click the Import button in the upper-right corner of the iTunes interface. To cancel ripping, click Import again.
More resources Find your new files
When iTunes is finished ripping, select Library in the left-hand column; you can then find your new tracks either by clicking Browse in the upper-right corner of the interface or by using the nearby Search box.
Once iTunes has finished ripping your music, click Library in the left-hand column to find your new files.