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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 a 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 a higher audio resolution. Does it make sense to 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 allows to extract audio data from compact disk on a low level of access. 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 music interruptions, pauses, skips, clicks, that may be there.

The 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 best CD rip format

What is the best audio format for sound quality? All these formats are 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 an 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 doesn'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 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.

Applying of dither can cause a higher noise level. Apply dither by 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 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 compatibility 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 the compatible type of AIFF metadata.

NOTE: When convert to AIFF for iTunes, in AuI ConverteR in Settings > Metadata > 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 numbers in converted audio files.



Metadata issue


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.


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

The Best Format to Rip CD Audio


  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 have 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 sound better than WAV, you can choose "uncompressed FLAC".

Frequently Asked Questions

CD rip format FAQ

What does rip CD mean?

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


Does ripping a CD ruin it?

CD ripping may cause 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 damaged during ripping.
In some rippers, you can set one-time reading and force 1x CD reading speed (see details).


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 a ripped audio files...


How can I rip a CD to my computer?

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


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 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 minimum size, use mp3 or wma (lossy).

Read more about audio formats...

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


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 has lesser file size than AIFF.

Read an audio format review...

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


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...


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 program 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 doesn't know, what to do the ripper 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 for ripping quality.


Can iTunes rip CD to FLAC?

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



Read more CD ripping F.A.Q. >


Read more articles about CD ripping




Read other articles about audio and ripping
The Best Software for Ripping CDs: How to Choose
Best Audio File Format [Explanation, Infographic]
What is Hi-Res Audio? | Whe<wbr />re are Free Down<wbr />loads?
How to Improve Sound Quality
How to Choose the Best Audio Converter Software
Audio Converter List [2018] | Read Comparison

June 29, 2020 updated | since September 25, 2017

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