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back to article Congrats on MP3ing your music... but WHY bother? Time for my ripping yarn

Good news. A year on from the ICT debacle at my son’s school, he has ditched the joint and found another place where his skills are more appreciated. Faithful readers may remember - as for all you unfaithful readers, I understand the political parlance is to call you "sluts" - that a couple of days before he was due to embark …

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CD's are nothing

I've wasted 3 weeks trying to rip, err archive my 1980's tape collection and all I have to show for it is 1/2 a Thomas Dolby and Best of Madness at 2/3rd time. At least Cd's are digital

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Missing the point

This article made me chuckle, inspired comedy and tech rolled into one.

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Facepalm

Re: CD's are nothing

Me and my ever so patient wife spent the best part of 2 months working through our CD collection, in the end we got a grand total of around 45,000 MP3s in two libraries, hers ( all Coldplay, Micheal Bolton and Mel & Kim ) and mine ( Iron Maiden, Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel )!

We also spent 5 months ripping our DVD collection too ( inlcuding all out youngun's DVDs too ). I spent a week with dozens of Handbrake command line options finding a suitable format that would work on Mac, PC, Apple TV, iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android tablets and phones! We ended up around 7TB of movies and TV shows stored across 2 mirrored NAS boxes. You know what? I sit down on a Saturday evening flick through the library and invariably give up and utter the acursed phrase, "I can't find anything to watch love!".

Once you commit you just have to see it through to the bitter end! It's way better now, the house has no physical media on show as it's all piled 7ft high in lots of teetering towers in the spare room. Out of sight, out of mind!

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Well yes... I guess

I convert mine to FLAC first and then MP3 when required, since I don't necessarily want to listen to every CD I own, but on the commute I would like to have a good selection, and MP3 is fine for that.

At home I can 'party mode' my FLACs, or MP3s come to that, or choose to spend 5 mins trying to find that one CD I really want to listen to (or 20 seconds to find it in my collection).

Having just moved at least my CD collection is back into order on my bookshelves - which I prefer to use rather than a CD a rack because it's a lot less hassle to insert a new CD if I should ever buy one.

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Re: Well yes... I guess

Do I really need instant access to everything?

Not really. But a physical CD & CD player might be more "instant" than some mp3 solutions out there. Boxee et al want us to think that listening to MP3s requires turning the whole loft into an always-on datacentre. Just getting a quick blast of Pink Floyd is like upgrading an Oracle cluster FPS. You lose heart while the remote control is still booting.

Bring back the fun with a cheap MP3 player + 1 cable + Rockbox. "All off" to "music audible" in 1 second.

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Re: Well yes... I guess

I spent a year ripping my CDs.

One. Whole. Year.

Was it worth it? Totally. My entire collection is now on one 3TB drive, with another as backup. Instant access to everything. If I move, which I do a lot, I can pick it up and throw it in a bag. Half of the old frisbees have been sold on Amazon, so I'm not out of pocket.

The files are organised in folders by genre, sub-genre (...), and artist. I don't use a library, and it's all accessible from anywhere in the house on PC, Mac, and assorted audio boxen.

I still miss 12" vinyl album art. But these days we have Wikipedia, which is often far more informative about an album, if not as pretty.

Downside? It took some time, doing a few CDs every evening. Otherwise - none.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Well yes... I guess

"Half of the old frisbees have been sold on Amazon"

I suspect the RIAA will be ringing you up shortly. Once you relenquished possesion of the physical media, you no longer have the right to have a "archive copy".

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Linux

Vortexbox

There's an excellent solution to this problem in the Vortexbox appliance. Download the free-as-in-beer ISO (based on Fedora Linux), and install it on an old PC or VM on your network. Once installed you can manage it from a browser. It rips CDs to FLAC, tags them, downloads the artwork, and makes copies to MP3 or AAC for the portable. You can do the ripping while watching TV etc. It's DNLA compliant. It plays nicely with Mac & PC. It just works.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well yes... I guess

Exactly what I did; they are all sitting on my FreeNAS box, accessible via a MiniDNLA plugin server, via a 2nd NIC, which indexes the files every which way.

I used a fast DVD burner (very fast at reading CDs), and CDEx and foobar2000, on a fast Windows system to rip my many CDs direct to Flac files.

The author keeps makes a storm in a teacup for loads of technical stuff, which is frankly P'easy for someone technical; you just have to make the effort, and time, and get it done; he is probably a lot younger than I am, so his excuses are hilariously lame; I'd call him a Big Girls Blouse, but that would not be fair to geek girls :-P

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Linux

Re: Well yes... I guess

> Boxee et al want us to think that listening to MP3s requires turning the whole loft into an always-on datacentre.

Keep the PC on. Share your files using that thing that moves the "big letter I" around the screen. Done.

Not rocket surgery, even if you are using the NAS approach.

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Re: Well yes... I guess

I am still ripping all of mine. Rock music is the easiest to do to make a library and a catalogue (oh, for that I use Excel and VBA to build a spreadsheet containing all of the albums and tracks; try doing that in OpenOffice) and that's great.

The problem with classical music is that logical file storage is tricky as very little of it is recorded by the artist. So a Beethoven's Ninth may have to be stored by 'song title' and then under that all of the different composers.

Ripping classical is fast enough (and only FLAC is good enough as I have A Pair of Ears) but the cataloguing is the pain.

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Re: Well yes... I guess

"The files are organised in folders by genre, sub-genre (...),"

I salute your dedication sir - this can be a difficult job. I know this, having just finished populating my "Pop Music/Acoustic/Solo/Female/World Music/Eastern Hemisphere/Tropical/Pacific/Easter Island" genre.

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Re: Well yes... I guess

Shurely everything can be categorised as Progressive Rock?

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Re: Well yes... I guess

Perhaps a 'depth-first' approach wasn't the most suitable, in this case?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well yes... I guess

"Half of the old frisbees have been sold on Amazon, so I'm not out of pocket"

Doesn't this make you a 'Dirty Stinking Pirate?' - if not, why not?

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Re: Well yes... I guess

Yes, I'm looking forward to seeing the Coldplay concert with Cradle Of Filth as support...

For most people they tend to like a particular genre (be it viking metal, black metal, hard rock or whatever) and then throw a few Iron Maiden albums in for good measure. My personal collection is exceptionally large due to actually liking an extremely wide range of music. I have everything from medieval folk music through to black metal. When you have that range you need to know your genres and sub-genres...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well yes... I guess

Downvoted because you categorise primarily by genre... eew...

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Wrong Again Mr Dabbs

The process is simple: want music, get music, put music in magic box, listen. Why mess about with that?

You try getting hold of Radio gnome by gong - oh damn, just googled and it appears quite easy....well it won't have weasel ripped my flesh my Zappa - oh for gods sake, it appears that you can get that too. Seems you can even buy Monolith by Amebix....

So why do I still have my massive LP collection of rare oddities.

Apologies Mr Dabbs.....seems you could be right (let the downvotes begin)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong Again Mr Dabbs

Calm down Mr. Gnome.

I'd have a cup of Tea if I were you ;-)

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Roo
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Pass the tea cosy (Re: Wrong Again Mr Dabbs)

I wondered if you had the odd Gong album ukgnome, I always have time for Radio Gnome. :)

I tend to get stuff on CD, and rip it as FLACs onto my hard drive as soon as I next pass by the computer, then place the CD in the bookshelves (where it gathers dust). The thing is that about 20% of the CDs I buy (brand new still in their poxy thrice damned cellophane) are broken before I've even ripped or played them...

It gets really --ing boring returning 1 in 3 CDs, and for some CDs I have been unable to source a defect-free copy. It would be nice if the funts who run the Music industry got off their overpaid arses with a view to shipping working CDs so that the punter has a chance of getting hold of a defect free recording legitimately at the agreed price.

I am fairly sure I'm not alone on this one, although I may be one of the few who care enough to spend 10 minutes articulating the problem rather than spending 2 minutes downloading a working pirated copy.

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Re: Wrong Again Mr Dabbs

Radio Gnome? Mine is only on vinyl on my Steve Hillage signed copy.

Have a cup of tea. Have another one...

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Re: Pass the tea cosy (Wrong Again Mr Dabbs)

[Roo] That's Radio Gnome *Invisible*!

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@ Stevie, Roo and Bongojoe

Fellow audiophiles I salute you!

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Re: Pass the tea cosy (Wrong Again Mr Dabbs)

[Stevie] Ahem, I think you'll find that's Radio-o G'nome *In-viz-ee-bla-hah*

Pronunciation is everything.

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Stars to stars

> forced a youthful Stephen Hawking out of Physics and into Tap-Dancing classes

You never know, it could have freed up the position of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics thus giving someone otherwise doomed to appearing on X-Factor something to aspire to.

Though we might have ended up with A Brief History of Time being written in txt spk. Would smileys have made it easier to understand?

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Holmes

And "What if Richard Dawkins had been bumped off the zoology course"?

The world would be in a slightly better place.

Scientifically it would be in the same place; atheism would need a different figurehead (and statistically, it would be better one); and that's about it.

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And "What if Bill Gates had left school at 16 to get a labouring job on a road-digging crew?"

Isn't that what actually happened? More or less.

-A.

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Roo
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Re: And "What if Bill Gates had left school at 16 to get a labouring job on a road-digging crew?"

Well, he did do the flunk school bit, but unfortunately Bill decided to ply his trade in computing (and his parents chipped in a hell of a lot of money to get him started).

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Want music, get music, put music in magic box

and magic box automatically rips as you listen?

There *must* be an application out there that does that...

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Re: Want music, get music, put music in magic box

Yeah, it's called a "CD Player"

What? You want to KEEP the rips afterward? Oh, then never mind.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Want music, get music, put music in magic box

"magic box automatically rips as you listen?

There *must* be an application out there that does that..."

Didn't RealPlayer do that back in 1873 or so?

Apparently it's still around.

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grip on Linux does a nice job

I used grip on Linux myself to rip hundreds of my CDs - the config options are nice on it (e.g. I like my file naming layout (no spaces for easy wildcarding/copying!) to be Artist_Name/Album_Title/01-First_Track_Title.mp3 - I suspect not many ripping progs will be that flexible).

Worst thing is that the online track DB it uses often has wrong spellings, so I have to correct those. But when the track names are right, it's literally feed in, wait a few mins, auto-eject, feed in next one etc.

There's always Amazon with its Autorip - I got 39 CDs downloaded (had to use a Windows client to do them in bulk, WTF!) without having to put a CD anywhere near the PC.

I was hoping that Google Play Music would be a nice place to upload the ripped MP3s (20,000 tracks for free), but it was painful to get a CentOS Google Play Manager client working (had to use an old version) and it really screwed up pretty well all my Greatest Hits CDs by merging multiple GH CDs into one tree (arrgh!) - and yes, all my MP3s are properly tagged and in separate artist/album dirs. It couldn't even separate the excellent "Bedtime Stories" (David Baerwald) album from the not-so-good Madonna equivalent - both ended up in the same online directory :-(

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Anonymous Coward

Re: grip on Linux does a nice job

When it works Google Play Music is fantastic.

I had to copy my whole music collection and run it through winamp's tagging thingy to get everything consistent. Then it worked fine all ~70gb of it.

It's great because I can listen to anything I own at work without having to lug hard drives around or re-sync them. It also works on my phone and the signal is good enough to allow (medicore quality) streaming between work and home.

Also, the instant mix feature is fantastic, you just pick a track and hit a button and you've got a 20-track playlist of similar stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: grip on Linux does a nice job

"Artist_Name/Album_Title/01-First_Track_Title.mp3 - I suspect not many ripping progs will be that flexible"

Presuming that the first two are folder names, then, for those few of us Windows users out there, Windows Media Player does that no problem. If they are part of the filename, then you only get one choice of separator.

Still, if I ever do dabble in linux, I know there's something that does what I need it to. Cheers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: grip on Linux does a nice job

There is a nice tutorial on how to do this with a Debian install here :

http://forums.openmediavault.org/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1113

I did this, it works nicely. Even allows my wife to just wander up to the machine, open the tray, insert a disc, close the tray, and wait till it pops out again. Music added to library and available to the house and all gadgets!

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Re: grip on Linux does a nice job

feed in, wait a few mins, auto-eject, feed in next one

Anyone old enough (and stupid enough) to have backed up a Windows 3.x system to floppy disks can tell you what's wrong with this. I stopped doing this when the disk count reached 40.

The interval between "feed" and "feed in next one" is too short to fill with any useful activity, but long enough to be very boring.

I have an old 10-disk CD changer that used to live in the boot of my car. This has got me wondering whether it could feasibly be converted into a multi-ripper.

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Re: grip on Linux does a nice job

If you have a laptop, this becomes less of an issue, just leave the laptop soemwhere near, and just occasionally pplug in the next CD when the drive door opens. If your work involves working with/near/at a computer, again it becomes less of an issue

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Re: grip on Linux does a nice job

I like abcde.

It's a dream for the bulk ripper.

Setup your config file then start inserting CDs.

It spits them out when it's done, move onto the next one.

It really doesn't come any more bullet proof.

Also the names easy to remember.

You can even auto load it when you insert an audio CD with a bit of work.

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Pint

Re: grip on Linux does a nice job

@RoboJ1M

Perhaps worth mentioning abcde's setting to rip an entire CD to a single mp3 file.

Essential for listening to classical music on a phone. No gaps between tracks.

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Linux

Re: grip on Linux does a nice job

Ripping CDs is easy. There was as perfectly n00b friendly ripper (ripperX) on Linux back in the dawn of days. This is not and never has never been a hard problem.

It's just data. There's no DRM or DMCA hurdles involved. Anyone and their mother's cat is free to create a suitable and LEGAL CD ripping program.

DVDs and BDs are a little more interesting because of the DMCA but still not rocket surgery.

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Linux

Re: grip on Linux does a nice job

> The interval between "feed" and "feed in next one" is too short to fill with any useful activity, but long enough to be very boring.

The interval can be as long as you like. You don't need to chain yourself to the desk during this process.

The computer is more than capable of going about it's business without you. Let it.

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Anonymous Coward

Just torrent them with a clear conscience?

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I have no issue with torrenting stuff I can't buy, say old Stones bootleg albums and similar.

But...most of them are in low quality MP3 format, like 128kbit, and that is often noticeable even on the lowish quality of most bootlegs.

So you are much better to rip to lossless flac format, and then convert to MP3 copies in another directory (or whatever format your portable player or car accepts). Oh, and make sure you have a backup copy! An external couple of TB disk is not that expensive and could save a lot of tears later!

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For me, my music collection is what's on the CDs. I rip only those that I want to listen to on the go but don't delete the ripped files, so they gradually accumulate over the years. As I only use MP3s for listening on my way to/from the office etc. I rip to 128kbps only. I don't consider MP3s as "archive" or "backup" and almost never buy or D/L them.

Thankfully, "party mode" does not concern me as I don't have "party music" in my collection.

Long time ago I had a carousel 5-CD changer. It was convenient but non-essential and I never considered buying one again.

The real problem with CDs is the space they require for storage...

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Facepalm

The Manhattan blues...

> The real problem with CDs is the space they require for storage...

Not really. Not unless you live in some place like Manhattan where real estate is priced by the square centimeter rather than by the acre.

CDs are not large and need not take up any more space than the media itself, especially if you don't have to keep the media in any sort of "ready to use" setup.

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Re: The Manhattan blues...

>> The real problem with CDs is the space they require for storage...

>. Not really. Not unless you live in some place like Manhattan where real estate is priced by the square

> centimeter rather than by the acre.

When you have a LOT of CDs it becomes a serious problem, unless you live in a palace.

I found the CD sleeves offered by Discsox allowed me to keep all of the component parts of a CD package (booklet, discs, back cover) without folding, cutting or removing anything, in an archival quality lined plastic sleeve that takes up about a third of the space of a CD case.

This more than doubled the number of discs I could store on my shelves, and should I decide to sell any of them I can put them back into CD cases and they are good as new.

As far as ripping CDs go, I use dbPoweramp which not only rips accurately or tells you when it doesn't (unlike iTunes) but is multi- threaded so can rip up to 4 tracks at once on my i5 PC. It even lets you program custom ways of defining where/how it puts and titles the ripped files according to things such as is it a multi-disc set, is it a compilation album etc.

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Time for HRT?

A Home RIpping Tower? cd drives are cheap, a bog standard tower is cheap. WOuld be great to get a tower with room for 5 plus cd drives and a few handy scripts. In fact, a distro like a knoppix setup, with all the tools to setup the source and destination drives then let rip, (ahem):

So we have:

Gracenote Lookup (or whatever database)

Rip into artist/album/track.flac

Sure, some of the rarer discs may have a problem resolving the names, but they can be flagged to be sorted.

Alternately, send me a an external hard drive, the entire collection and pay me a quid a disc and return postage and I will do it for you.

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Anonymous Coward

Procrastination - for other things, though

Your article struck a chord with me.

Ripping CDs would be something I do to avoid doing something much more important. It's a form of procrastination.

It's on a similar line to the "tidying my room" concept whereby one does everything but the task needed doing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Procrastination - for other things, though

That or something to do whilst "working from home".

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I don't think I will ever .....

..... lose my love of physical media, simply because of the memories that can become attached to it. Queuing up outside HMV on the day GnR released the illusion albums, the first time my crappy little stereo was pushed to its limits by having When The Worm Turns by FNM played loud and often, and even recently the 20th anniversary box set of RATM first album box set was just like buying it again for the first time (it also cost more than I earned in a week when I first bought it).

Music has been a big part of my life and listening brings up the bad memories as well as good. Even though my life has involved numerous house moves, a divorce and all the other crap that life throws at you I still have all of my vinyl, a box of cassettes and numerous cd's. It has been the one constant in my life. Discovering music before the online age was a totally different beast, it actually required time and effort so seemed to be savored more.

It just makes me sad that my son won't experience it the same way I did.

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