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What is the Best CD Ripper? [Audiophile Software 2021]

Audio Basis - articles about audio

CD ripper software is intended for copying CD audio content to music files on hard disc of a computer. Read below about:
sound quality,
• different ripping ways (including safe/secure and unsecure),
ripping formats and settings,
• metadata management;
Frequently Asked Questions;
• how to choose the best CD ripping software for audiophile.

Watch and share video about safe audio ripping
 

CD ripper software for audiophiles

Disclaimer: The list may contain mistakes and not be reflect the current version of a ripper software. If cell is empty, the author hasn't exact information. If you found an error contact us. We produce AuI ConevreR 48x44.

CD ripper comparison
CD ripping software Safe ripping Attempt of broken audio data restoring External checksum online database Access metadata online database Cost Operation system
AuI ConverteR 48x44 yes yes, detect and display error up to 1 sample precision no yes Free / Commercial Windows, Mac
CDex       yes Open source Windows
Cdparanoia yes       Free Windows, Mac, Linux
dBPoweramp yes   yes yes Time limited demo / Commercial Windows, Mac
EAC yes   yes yes Free Windows
foobar2000     yes yes Free Windows
iTunes     no yes Free Windows, Mac
Phile Audio       yes Commercial Mac
XLD yes   yes yes Free Mac
Windows Media Player     no yes Free Windows

More CD rippers for Ubuntu Linux

 

More about CD-ripping

Disclaimer: In this article theoretical concepts are discussed. Real software and hardware are not discussed here and may work differently. All stuff here is personal opinion of the author. And the stuff is based on the author's knowledge at the time of the article writing.


 

Common ripping issues

You can meet the topic of the article too often at the forums and articles, like: "the best cd ripping software 2021", "the best cd ripper 2021", "the best cd ripper for mac", "the best cd ripper for windows", etc. The rippers are compared by perceived sound quality, functionality, metadata (song information: track name, album, performer, etc.) abilities, ripping speed and other.

However, in the author's opinion, main feature of the best cd ripping software for audiophiles is exactness of copying CD's binary audio information to music files.

This feature is measurable. But the author doesn't know about studies, that available for public access.

A Safe CD ripper or secure CD ripper is the ripper software that has binary-content-copying exactness as aim.

Best CD ripper sound quality

Read below:

  • sound quality issues;
  • how to provide the exactness and how it linked with ripping speed;
  • damaged CD music information restoration;
  • best CD rip format and settings.

 

 

CD ripper software features

CD ripper software features
  • Copying music binary content from CD tracks to sound files
  • Copying optical disc fault detection
  • Attempt of damaged audio restoring
  • Ripping speed
  • Embedding text metadata and album artwork (auto and/or manual)
  • Resampling and bit-depth altering
  • Creating directory structure to ripped files

Read below review of audio data integrity control (quality issues), ripping speed and audio-information restoration.

 

 

CD ripper sound quality

Quality of CD ripping is a number of broken bytes in the ripped files.

CD ripping error is digital audio data difference between original record (binary audio file content that is intended for CD pressing) and audio content of a ripped file.

Original record is an audio file that is used to produce a compact disc.

Correct error detection is correct detection of real broken byte.

False (wrong) error detection is error detection for correct music information.

 

Abbreviations

ED - error detection

Correct and false (wrong) error detection in CD ripping
Correct and false (wrong) error detection in CD ripping

 

Maximal CD ripping quality is ripping without errors. I.e. binary music content of a ripped file should be fully identical to original record.

Aim of safe CD ripping software
Aim of safe CD ripping

In the first approach, CD ripping software can't improve sound of CD.

The best thing that can do the software is binary exact copy of music information from optical disc to sound file only.

However, there are some details. If computer optical drive provide lesser reading error number, than audio optical disc player, ripped sound files can be closer to original master record than digital music stream, that reading on the CD-player. It was important to remember, that hardware players have own ways of probable broken music restoration.

The word "probably" is used too often in the article, because error rising, correct or false error detection, error fixing are not events with 100% probability.

 

What cause CD ripping fault

Digital music stream faults can cause either clicks or pauses or interruptions or other audible distortions.

 

 

CD ripping fault detection

There are different ways of the ripping error detection:

  • high-level fault detection
  • checksum comparison of number identical ripped discs
  • low-level fault detection
CD ripping ways (secure / non-secure)
CD ripping ways (secure/safe and non-secure)

 

High level CD-fault detection

In this case CD, audio stream is read:

- without error flags,

- without re-readings,

- with buffering of reading information.

Audio information is corrected by optical drive anyway.

But there are some ways of additional ED are missed (read details "Low-level CD-fault detection" part).

Sometimes, optical device driver of operation system can report about fault, sometimes - not (depend on implementation driver and operation system). CD ripper doesn't obtain to error flags, generated by compact disc drive, and store music information as is into files.

 

CD checksum comparison with database

This secure way calculate ripped CD's checksum. These checksums are collected into an internet database. When you rip CD at the database compatible ripping software, your rip checksum is calculated and compared with checksums into the database.

Checksum comparison via CD-ripping checksum database
Checksum comparison CD-ripper database

But the database doesn't contain original record checksum. So ripped checksum compared with an array of uncertified checksums.

We can hope (without 100% warranty), that the majority (of similar checksums for some CD into the database) is the same checksum of the CD's original record.

But, in instance, if a serie of CD was manufactured without 100% identity to original studio files (for unknown to us reasons), then we have non-correct majority.

If a CD ripper (that is used to copying of the majority) has a non-fixed bug, the same situation may happen too.

Also, rare record or different optical disc version (pressing, mastering?) issues may be there.

 

Low-level CD-fault detection

This secure/safe way based on:

  • own abilities of CD drive
  • ripper software's statistics collecting by multiple re-readings of your optical disc.

CD-drive can correct faults and restore (with some probability) valid audio information (Reed–Solomon coding) [1][2].

So compact disc drive try to detect fault inside. If it is detected, the drive tries to restore music information. In case of unsuccessful fault elimination, error flag (C2) mark a broken byte.

The safe/secure compact disc ripper software may to apply additional fault detection and correction algorithm under data, that was before checked and corrected into CD drive.

Low-level CD-ripping fault detection
Low level CD ripping fault detection

Raw audio stream from CD-drive is read with C2 flags, re-readings and with buffering elimination of reading data.

Several re-readings of CD-drive's music data can cause different binary content for re-readings.

This difference combined with С2 flags can give new information about faults, that were probably missed into CD-drive.

One error flag control audio data integrity of 1 byte of the raw audio information. The flag is calculated by CD drive. Probably, some drives can't calculate it. But, I suppose, it is a matter of older drives.

Re-reading is repeated reading of CD track's fragment. Re-reading performed several times.

Buffering elimination is an attempt of forced cleaning of CD data buffer for each re-reading. Re-reading from music data buffer have no sense, because there is same information for each re-reading. But repeatable audio data reading from CD can cause different content in problematical places.

Further, the obtained data array is analyzed to additional ED.

This method also doesn't guarantee 100% probability of audio stream integrity.

However, there is no additional element of uncertainty like a database without original record checksum.

 

Ripping speed

CD extractor can begin to read information at maximal speed to save time. When compact disc ripper read music information and get fault (as from optical disc drive, as by the data analysis), it can reduce reading speed to safer extracting. Of course, it consumes more time.

CD rip speed vs. quality
CD rip speed vs. quality

Ripping speed depends on own CD drive's correct reading ability.

 

CD reading speed should provide maximal available safety of extracted music information.

If CD ripper use re-readings, it decreases total ripping speed anyway, even for constant rotary speed.
Because in safe/secure mode compact disc is read several times, instead one time in unsafe mode.

 

Simultaneous use of CD's checksum comparison and low-level fault detection

Correct error-detection is an event when both sources (safe CD ripper and checksum database) detected "ripped information is valid".

Warning:

"Correct error-detection" and "correct ripping" are different events.

"Correct error-detection" happens when a ripper detect errors correctly relatively binary content of source studio audio file, that is used to CD manufacturing.

"Correct ripping" happens when binary audio content of ripped file is identical to binary content of the source studio audio file.

If "correct error-detection" is happening, it means that "correct ripping" doesn't happen.

 

Total correct error-detection probability (CEDP) of the safe ripper:

  • without the checksum database: CEDPwod=CEDPcd
  • with the database:                       CEDPwd=CEDPcd * CEDPdb

 

CEDPcd is [CD drive + CD ripper] system's correct ED probability (CEDPcd <= 1.0)

CEDPdb is the dababase's correct ED probability (CEDPdb <= 1.0)

Ideal theoretical value of CEDPcd and CEDPdb is 1.0. But real values are lesser 1.0 always.

 

CD rip fault detection probability with checksum database and without
CD rip error detection probability with checksum database and without

 

Result of multiplication CEDPcd to value, that lesser 1, is lesser than CEDPcd.

Thus, CEDPwd < CEDPwod ("with database" lesser than "without").

There is no known information, what is higher: correct ED probability of [CD drive+ripper software] system or database.

Simultaneous use of both methods reduces total correct error-detection probability of CD ripping.
 

Generally, separate using only one of these two methods is recommended to decrease result uncertainty.

You can choose method, that is more suitable for you by other functionality (data restoration, in instance, or other).

Though mistake in method choice can cause lesser total correct error detection probability.

 

Attempt of CD audio data restoration

The ripper software read data array (raw audio data and error flags after several re-readings) and use it to create probable correct content at damaged places (without 100% guarantee, of course).

Some data can't be restored (fatal faults).

 

What is the best CD rip format

What best CD rip format

If your aim is binary audio data capturing as is, use any lossless PCM format (WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, APE, etc.).

If your aim is lossless file size reducing, use FLAC.

If your aim is maximal file size reducing - use mp3 or AAC format.

However, for optical discs, ripping to backups in lossless file formats (WAV, FLAC, AIFF) is recommended.
After it, you can convert these lossless backups to mp3, DSF or other format.

It allows saving time of slow audiophile ripping procedure.

Read what is the best CD ripping format >

 

What is the best CD rip settings

Most complex ripping part is safe reading from optical disc. For some discs, it may be unstable.

Generally ripping into 16 bit / 44.1 kHz PCM backup (WAV, FLAC, AIFF, etc.) without any processing is recommended.

Check your CD ripper settings to turn off any processing (resampling, dithering, gain, etc.).

These ripped backups you can use for further conversions to target musical devices (portable audio player, mobile phone, car audio, music server, etc.).

 

CD ripper quality comparison method

CD ripper quality comparison method

Fortunately, we can objectively compare CD rippers by ripping quality.

This comparison can't cover all cases. Because test result can depend on damaging kind of test CD.

 

1. Tools

1.1. CD rippers
1.2. CD-drive(s)
1.3. Test CDs with binary identical WAV files per track.
     The test CDs should have different

1.4. Tool for binary comparison of WAV files.

 

2. Testing rippers

2.1. Rip the test CDs to WAV files for different combinations:
    a) CD ripper software
    b) Compact disc drive
    c) CD ripping mode (speed, overlapping, re-reading number, recovering, etc.) if available.

Comparison CD rippers

 

2.2. Compare ripped WAV files with original files (sources of tracks of the test CDs)  via binary comparison tool (goal 1.4):
     a) Length in bytes from beginning of the track to first detected (via binary comparison) fault byte.
          Register it in results as mark of steadiness CD extractor to fault appearing.
     b) Percent of detected (via binary comparison) wrong bytes to total number of bytes in track.
         Register it in results asmark of ability CD extractor to fault avoiding.

During WAV file binary comparison need consider audio data only (pass by WAV’s header and non-audio chunks).

Recommended provide several times (10 and more) rippings in combination

{[test CD]+[CD ripper]+[CD ripping mode]+[CD drive]}

It needs to be addressed possible byte offset between original WAVs and ripped ones.
If the offset is present, superpose original and ripped WAV files.

To superpose refer to identical binary sequences of audio data. Found identical binary sequences in original and ripped WAV files and shift compared binary content to match the sequences.

As begin of track considered begin of original WAV's audio data.

 

3. Comparing results of the tests


Integral mark of the tested system [ripper + ripping mode + CD drive] is averaged by different test CDs.

Test resume makes by comparison of the integral marks of the systems.

 

 

Metadata for ripped songs

Some CD rippers are able to automatically request of track metadata (metatags): song and album name, year, performer for internet database.

Some databases contain album artworks.

When ripping is started, the ripper forms an unique ID of compact disc by its track start addresses, in instance.

Sometimes database contains several entries for a single disc (in instance, at different languages).

Some rippers enable to assign metadata and/or album artwork file manually before or after ripping.

There are databases:

Free:

www.freedb.org

www.discogs.com

 

Commercial:

www.gracenote.com

 

Frequently Asked Questions

CD-ripping Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to rip CDs?

The best way to rip CD-audio is using of a system (CD-ripper software + optical disk drive), that cause lesser reading error number. Such things as jitter, color marker pen to covering disk surface or side and other same things is not matter for you. Read details...

Read also:

What's the best ripping format...

User manual: How to rip CD...

 

How do I rip CDs in Windows 10?

Read the user manual: How to rip CD on Windows...

 

What quality should I rip CD?

First aim is exract CD content with original quality (resolution 16 bit / 44.1 kHz) without errors. If you want to optimize ripped music files to your audio system, you can resample this resolution in ripping or later. Read details...

 

Why can't I rip a CD?

There are several reasons:

  • CD is not audio;
  • [Windows only]CD contains both audio and data. And you can see the data in a Windows file manager;
  • [Windows only] you can't copy *.cda files directly. Because they are only index files, that don't contain audio data;
  • CD is damaged.

Read the user manual: How to rip CD [Mac, Windows]...

 

Does ripping music from CD damage it?

Some ways of CD ripping can cause an additional mechanical load to CD. But, the author knows nothing about CD, damaged by ripping.

Fast or express CD ripping on first speed is the same usual CD playback.

 

How do I rip high-quality CD to mp3?

Read quick start guide...

 

Is it worth ripping CD to FLAC?

Ripping to FLAC has the same quality WAV. But it allow saving hard-disk-drive space. It is especially important for mobile devices. Read quick start guide...

 

 

 

How to Choose the Best CD Ripping Software [Resume]

How to Choose the best CD ripping software for Mac OS, Windows

The main useful audio ripper feature is copying exactness of audio data from compact disc to file. In the ideal case the data should be extracted without changes.

For valid CDs it does not matter. In the first approach, all CD rippers will work identically there. Except for false error detection case.

But some CDs, especially damaged, may contain errors. And CD extractor should found the faults. It's desirable, the ripping software attempt to restore damaged data that was found.

I.e. we can choose (as the best) the ripper that makes minimal fault number in ripped data.

In the article comparison method of audio rippers is suggested.

Unfortunately, the author doesn't meet results of independent ripper quality researches in the open sources.

Using of checksum database allows comparing own ripping results with other ones, but original record checksum is unknown.

The author rather recommend to choose one of CD rippers (free or paid), that have low-level error detection with CD drive, providing C2 error flags. It enables direct control over ripping errors without referring to uncertified third-party sources.

Simultaneous use of both methods is not recommended, because case, that both methods show different results, is probable.

The simultaneous use can reduce the probability of correct error detection.

 

 

Yuri Korzunov,
Audiophile Inventory's developer
May 29, 2021 updated | since May 21, 2016

 


Read more about CD ripping

 

 


Watch: how to polish optical discs
 

 


References

  1. About error correction on CD-audio
  2. Reed-Solomon Codes
  3. Checksum calculation

 

 

Read articles
How to Improve Sound Quality
Where is the Limit of Audio Quality?
How to Choose the Best Audio Converter Software [Article]
Audiophile Safe CD Ripper [Software]
How to Convert ISO to DSF on Mac OS, Windows [Step-by-step Guide]
How to Rip CD | Mac Windows | Quality | Read Quick Guide
 

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