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Best Format to Rip CD Audio [Read Definitive Guide 2023]

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Audio Basis - articles about audio

Read an easy explanation by audio software developer Yuri Korzunov:
• A CD ripper software extracts audio data from compact disk to number musical formats of computer files. 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 a higher audio resolution. Does it make sense to convert CD to high resolution?
• How to choose audio format for CD ripping better way?
• Frequently Asked Questions [about ripping format]

Author: Yuri Korzunov,
Audiophile Inventory's developer with 25+ year experience in digital signal processing,
author of the articles that make audio easy for beginners



Watch and share: video about safe audio ripping
video about safe audio ripping


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What is the best quality to rip CDs?

CD ripping allows audio data extraction from a compact disk on a low level of access. These data may be extracted without losses. What means rip CD in the highest quality?

Rip CD means copy tracks from a compact disk to computer audio files.

Audio compact disc contains several tracks (songs). A ripping software can extract music from each track into individual sound files.

But ripping is not 100% safe. Wrong data reading from a compact disk is possible. The best CD-ripping software for audiophiles should detect compact disk errors as well as possible.

And, some CD-rip software can recover audio data. It allows for avoiding music interruptions, pauses, skips, clicks, that may arise.

The first aim of compact-disc ripping is maximally qualitative copying of CD-audio data to sound files. It means no altering of music binary content. In this case, target file resolution is 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (lossless CD ripping).

Further, these data may be converted to other formats and resolutions of your choice. It can be improved by sound quality in some cases...


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What is the best format to rip an audio CD?

What best CD rip format

As the best format for ripping of CDs, lossless files may be recommended:


"Lossless", "losslessly" means:

In instance, we have original digital music consists a number sequence: [1, 3, 9].

To reduce file size,we know how to write the number sequence as shorter one: [5, 6].

It allows saving computer file size where these numbers are stored.
So we have more free space on a computer hard disk (file size compression).

When we play the compressed file, we convert [5, 6] back to original sequence [1, 3, 9].

The uncompressed original sequence is sent to digital-to-analog converter device for listening.

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

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

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


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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. Contrarily, it causes some small losses (distortions; its level depends on used conversion software). But, when we consider this matter in conjunction with used equipment, we can get another result. Read details...


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

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

Dither applying can cause a higher noise level. Apply dither according to your taste.

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

Read more about dithering...


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

If referring to sound quality, any lossless audio format (lossless or not) is the same to CD's 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.

However, audio player software compatibility issues are probable:

  • file type;
  • metadata.

In instance, iTunes can't play FLAC.

Or some players can't display WAV metadata.

Watch and share: FLAC versus WAV comparison
video: FLAC versus WAV comparison

General recommendations:

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

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


iTunes compatibility


AIFF compatibility iTunes

Read more about audio formats...


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

For most compact disks, the difference is no there.

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



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When a compact disk is ripped, track metadata (song, performer name, etc.) may be queried from an Internet database. So the target format must be storing metadata capable. All formats, mentioned in the article, is capable of 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 listen to ripped files, you have many options that have no issues with metadata for WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC.

When you use WAV format, the issue with the impossibility of metadata reading 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.




Best Format to Rip CD Audio Conclusions



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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 a 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 has a lesser probability of issues with reading metadata (song, performer name, etc.). But for iTunes compatibility, AIFF and ALAC are recommended.
  4. If you prefer FLAC due to better metadata compatibility than WAV, but you don't sure that FLAC sounds better than WAV, you can choose "uncompressed FLAC".



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Frequently Asked Questions [CD ripping format]

CD rip format FAQ

F.A.Q. CD ripping common questions

What does rip CD mean?

Rip CD means reading data from compact disk and saving them into computer files. In instance, audio CD ripping produce musical file formats.


Should I rip all my CDs?

If you rip CDs properly, you get advantages:

  • simpler playback management;
  • optimization audio to your DAC via other tools in addition CD player;
  • copying ability files from your home to your mobile device;
  • backup recording to avoid losses.


Does ripping a CD ruin it?

CD ripping may cause an additional mechanical load to compact disk and CD drive in some work modes comparing ordinary reading.
However, the author has no information about CD-audio that was damaged during ripping.
In some rippers, you can set one-time reading and force 1x CD reading speed (see details).


Are CDs lossless?

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






F.A.Q. sound quality



Does ripping a CD affect quality?

CD ripping affect to errors into the ripped files. It may be audible. Read more...


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 a CD-drive device always. The quality of a CD-ripper is the ability to read sound data with minimal errors. Some CD rippers can recover damaged data. But the recovering haven't 100% guarantee.

Watch video for details...

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


What is lossless rip?

Lossless ripping is storing of original CD-audio content into a music file. The file format should be lossless.


Is ripping a CD lossless?

CD ripping is lossless in stage of reading from CD (original content). Further a ripping software can apply lossy or lossless compressing to the original ripped audio data.

However, reading errors can appears in the ripping. There are ways trying to fix it. Read more...


What the best way to rip cds lossless?

Use CD ripping software rip audio data to WAV, FLAC, AIFF, etc. If you want to keep compact-disk content, use sampling rate 44.1 kHz and bit depth 16 bit. Turn off any digital signal processing (DSP).


Is FLAC better than CD? Is FLAC CD quality?

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

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


What format should I rip my CDs?

In general case, losless formats (.flac, .wav, .aiff, etc. are recommended). Read more...


When ripping a CD What is the best format?

Losless formats (FLAC, WAV, AIFF, and others) are recommended for CD ripping. Read more...


Can a CD be ripped to FLAC?

Yes. CD can be ripped to FLAC without losses.


Should I rip CDs to FLAC?

FLAC is good choise to rip CDs, because it's lossless format and support metadata.


Should I rip CDs to MP3 or WAV?

WAV is more recommended to keep original sound quality. mp3 is more compatible by metadata displaying with audio player software and hardware.


Should I rip CDs to MP3 or WMA?

WMA can provide lossless codec. However, for better compatibility FLAC or WAV are recommended.

mp3 is lossy format, but it's very popular and compatible with wider range of music devices.


Which is better WAV or FLAC?

FLAC and WAV are the identical by sound quality. However, FLAC provides better metadata support.



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? What is the best format to convert CDs to digital?

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


What is the best quality to rip CDs?

An audio CD contains audio data, packed losslessly at 44.1kHz / 16bit. Lossless formats (WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC) are capable to store the CD's musical data "as is". Read more...

However, further, you can optimize ripped audio-file resolution to your DAC...


Should I rip CDs to WAV or FLAC?

Native audio CD format is 44.1kHz / 16bit. CDs may be copied to audio files WAV and FLAC without losses.

The audio content may be optimized for your DAC later.

Also, you can compress size more via coding to lossy files (AAC, mp3, etc.).





F.A.Q. CD-ripping and software



How can I rip a CD to my computer? How can I rip CD?

You can rip CD via computer software, that is called CD ripper.

Read step-by-step audio ripping guide...


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...


How to rip a CD?

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


How do I rip files from a CD?

You can rip files from an audio CD according to the manual...


What is the fastest way to rip CDs?

Fastest way to rip CD is reading with minimum checking of CD ripping errors. Read details...


Why is CD ripping so slow?

If CD ripping is slow, it may means, that CD reading errors are analyzed and fixed (if the CD ripper is capable to it). Read details...


How do I rip a CD in lossless format?

You can rip a CD in lossless format in Windows and Mac with this manual...


How do I rip CDs to FLAC?

CDs may be ripped to FLAC according to the 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 program for ripping CD to mp3?

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


What is the best program to rip CD?

Best CD ripper should provide minimum errors of reading of audio data from a compact disk. As rule, no public comparison by the criteria. However, you can do it right at home. Read more...


What is the best program to rip CDs?

Program to rip CDs should provide reading of an audio compact disk with minimum errors. Read details...


What is the best format to rip CDs in iTunes?

WAV, ALAC, AIFF music formats are recommended for ripping CDs in iTunes.


What is the best format to rip CD in iTunes?

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

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

ALAC has a lesser file size than AIFF.

Read an audio format review...

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


Can iTunes rip CD to FLAC?

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


What is the best format to rip CD in Windows Media Player?

Lossless formats contain music in original sound quality. Recommended formats when audio is ripped in Windows Media Player are:

  • FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec),
  • ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec),
  • Lossless WMA;
  • WAV.

FLAC and ALAC have wide support of metadata.

If you need a minimum size, use mp3 or wma (lossy).

Read more about audio formats...

Also, try to improve sound quality when audio file playback...


Is Windows Media Player good for ripping CDs?

Important options of a CD ripper are abilities:

  • detect ripping error;
  • recover ripping error.

The author doesn't know, what the ripper to do inside. However, you can rip the same CDs with different audio rippers and check the 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 CDs, ripper software does not matter. But for damaged CD, we can get different results for different CD ripper.

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


Can audacity rip CDs?

No. On the moment of the aswer to the question, Audacity can't rip CDs [latest state].



Read more CD ripping F.A.Q. >



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Read more


  1. The Best CD Ripping Software (Mac OS, Windows): How to Choose [Article] >
  2. Rip Audio CD [Frequently Asked Questions] >
  3. How to rip CDA to mp3 >
  4. CD to FLAC converter >
  5. Safe CD ripping technology >


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