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Best Format to Rip CD Audio [Read Definitive Guide 2020]

Audio Basis - educational articles

yuri korzunovRead easy explanation by audio software developer Yuri Korzunov:
• A CD ripper software extract compact disk audio data to number musical formats at hard disk of a computer. Some formats can cause losses of ripped information. Is it critical or not?
• CD-audio contains music in 44.1 kHz / 16 bit resolution. But available audio devices have higher audio resolution. Does it make sense convert CD in high resolution?
• How to choose audio format for CD ripping better way?
Frequently Asked Questions

Watch and share: video about safe audio ripping

CD ripping allow to extract audio data from compact disk on low level. These data may be extracted without losses.

But ripping is not 100% safe. Wrong data reading from compact disk is possible. The best CD ripping software for audiophile should detect compact disk errors as better as possible. And, if the software can, recover audio data, to avoid of music interruptions, pauses, skips, clicks, that may be there.

First aim of CD ripping is maximally qualitative CD-audio-data copy to sound file without audio processing of music.

Further these data may be converted to other formats and resolutions by your option.


Lossless files are recommended as the best format to rip CD:

What is the best audio format for sound quality? All these formats is absolutely identical by binary audio content and able to keep full CD's sound quality.

FLAC and ALAC store compressed data. And we cannot directly compare binary content WAV and FLAC, as example. But we can pack WAV1 to FLAC, unpack FLAC to WAV2 and compare binary content of WAV1 and WAV2. If a conversion software work correctly and without sound processing, the binary content will identical.

There is opinion, that lossless compression (like FLAC) can degrade sound when playback (was discussed here). For that case was implemented so-called "uncompressed FLAC". But the author still don't know about professional researches FLAC vs. "uncompressed FLAC".


Tip #1. What about sound quality improvement?

As rule, your audio system (Digital Audio Player, home audio, mobile phone, DAC or others) supports sample rates higher than 44.1 kHz / 16 bit. And you want to ask: can I get better sound quality via upsampling to maximal sample rate and bit depth of my audio system?

Theoretically, upsampling can't improve sound quality. Contrary, it cause some small losses (distortions; its level depend on used conversion software). But, when we consider this matter in conjunction with used equipment, we can get other result. Read details...


Tip #2. Does it make sense apply dithering to ripped audio files?

In general case, not. But for some recordings special dithering can reduce impact of correlated distortions, that degrade sound, theoretically.

Applying of dither can cause higher noise level. Apply dither by your taste.

NOTE: Dithering estimating on lowest loudness levels of a recording is encouraged.

Read more about dithering...


Tip #3. Which lossless audio format is the best?

If refer to sound quality, any lossless audio format (lossless or not) is the same to store 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.

However, audio player software compatibilty issues are probable:

  • file type;
  • metadata.

As example, iTunes can't play FLAC.

Or some players can't display WAV metadata.

Watch and share: FLAC versus WAV comparison

General recommendations:

  • use FLAC files;
  • if you use iTunes, convert FLAC to ALAC or AIFF;
  • if you play AIFF at iTunes, use compatible type of AIFF metadata.

NOTE: When convert to AIFF for iTunes, in AuI ConverteR in Settings > Metedata > check "Compatibility metatags with iTunes" switch.

AIFF compatibility iTunes

Read more about audio formats...


Tip #4. Is there a difference between CD rippers?

For most of compact disks, the difference is no there.

When a CD is damaged, different CD rippers (in conjunction with CD drive) can give different error number in converted audio files.



Metadata issue


When compact disk is ripped, track metadata (song, performer name, etc.) may be queried from Internet database. So target format must be storing metadata capable. All formats, mentioned in the article, is capable for metadata.

When you use iTunes on Mac, ripping to AIFF, ALAC is recommended, because both formats able to support metadata, that can be read by iTunes software.

When you use Windows or other Mac audio playback software to listening of ripped files, you have many options that have no issues with metadata for WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC.

When you use WAV format, issue with impossibility of reading metadata is more probable. As rule, more playback software/hardware have FLAC metadata compatibility. You can prefer uncompressed FLAC if you more like uncompressed storing of audio data.


Resume: What is the best way to store CDs digitally?

  1. The best way to store CDs is riping to lossless files WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC.
        CD ripping may be performed with errors. If you have ripping seance, that was performed without reported errors, it is recommended to backup the ripped files.
  2. Ripping to lossless formats is recommended for future conversion to other formats and resolutions. In the future may appear more qualitative audio converters and lossy formats.
  3. As rule FLAC have lesser probability of issues with reading metadata (song, performer name, etc.). But for iTunes compatibility AIFF and ALAC is recommended.
  4. If you prefer FLAC due better metadata compatibility, than WAV, but you don't sure that FLAC sound better, than WAV, you can choose "uncompressed FLAC".

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best quality to rip CD?

A CD ripping software is capable to extract audio data from CD-audio without altering in 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.

CD-rippers should be considered together with CD-drive device always. Quality of a CD-ripper is ability to read sound data with minimal errors. Some CD rippers can recover damaged data. But the recovering havn't 100% guarantee.

Watch video for details...

Further you can try improve playback sound quality of a ripped audio files...


Are CDs lossless?

Yes. CD-audio optical disk contains lossless PCM audio stuff.


How do I rip a CD to FLAC in Windows 10? Can you rip FLAC from a CD?

To convert CD to FLAC on Windows and Mac read step-by-step guide...


What is the best format for audio quality?

The best formats for audio quality is lossless formats. Read details...


What is the best format to rip CD?

The best formats to rip CD is lossless formats. FLAC, AIFF, ALAC are recommended due to good support of metadata (information about song). Read more...


What is the best format to rip CD in iTunes?

To keep sound quality and metadata, most recommended formats to rip audio in iTunes are:

  • ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) or
  • AIFF.

ALAC have lesser files size than AIFF.

Read an audio format review...

Further you can try improve playback sound quality of a ripped audio files...


Is FLAC better than CD? Is FLAC CD quality?

FLAC is lossless format. It's capable to keep CD-audio content without losses.

However, FLAC is capable support high resolution audio (up to 32-bit / 384 kHz), that may give sound quality advantages. Read details...


How to rip a CD?

Read CD ripping [Mac and Windows] step-by-step guide...


How do I rip a CD to mp3 in Windows 10?

To rip CD-audio to mp3 read step-by-step guide...


What is the best programm for ripping CD to mp3? What is the best program to rip CD?

Read guide how to choose the best CD ripper...


Is Windows Media Player good for ripping CDs?

Important options of a CD ripper are abilities:

  • detect ripping error;
  • recover ripping error.

The author don't know, what to do the ripper inside. However, you can rip same CDs with different audio rippers and check number of detected and recovered (if this option is available) errors. It is desirable, when CD ripper report about found errors.

NOTE: Errors may be detected but be inaudible.

For most of CDs ripper software is not matter. But for damaged CD, we can get different results for different CD ripper.

Also, your CD-drive device is matter for ripping quality.


Can iTunes rip CD to FLAC?

No. You can use alternative way under Mac OS...



Read more CD ripping F.A.Q. >


Read more articles about CD ripping




The Best Format to Rip CD Audio


Read other articles about audio and ripping

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