Call me old fashioned, but I still like buying CDs. I've bought MP3s from web stores before and its only lead to frustration so now I am all about the discs. No DRM. No misplaced files. No disappearing album art.
Just curious, but as opposed to opening up Zune and clicking start rip, are there better ways to get higher quality versions off the discs? I don't quite yet boast a massive collection, but I am a bit of an audiophile in the making. What programs would you guys recommend? Are there special considerations with encoding or decoding?
I have about 50 CDs. Something like 600 songs. I have a Windows 7 64bit PC, an HTC HD7 Windows Phone, a Zune HD 32GB, and a car with a CD player. If it helps, I listen to the music with headphones with each; save for the car. Thoughts?
Oh and uh, what formats should I keep an eye out. FLACs seem nice but I doubt they are very friendly for the devices listed above. Maybe wav files would be the way to go?
Honestly, I'd be surprised if you'd ever notice the difference between a decent 192kbps or so rip, whether in MP3 or AAC, and the original source. Most online stores are rocking something like 128kbps MP3 (or AAC in the case of iTunes), and that's pretty degraded to my ears...but I've never had a problem with 192kbps.
AAC sounds better than MP3 at the same bitrate, though again you run into playback issues (not sure if Zune plays them).
I just rip my stuff in iTunes, personally. I don't know if the Zune software has built-in ripping...I assume it does, and as long as you can get it to output 192kbps or higher MP3/AAC, I'd just use that.
If you're looking into becoming a full-fledged audiophile, you'll probably want to pick up something that can play FLAC anyway, as well as something with a decent DAC. Me, I can hardly tell the difference between a 256kbps file and a 128kbps, so I can't personally recommend anything. As mentioned, I keep the FLAC files around merely for archival purposes because hey... storage is cheap and it's always good to have a 'master' file that you can downconvert from whenever you want.
If you're really particular about your FLAC files and you use Windows, you might also want to download EAC (http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/). Again, I can't tell the difference between a FLAC ripped with EAC or a more typical ripper, but there you go.
Yes and make an archival FLAC or Apple Lossless copy just in case.
The time sink of ripping your whole cd collection is huge, might as well get it right the first time and put it in a lossless format. Storage is so ridiculously cheap now that there is very little reason not to use a lossless format.
Also Hydrogen Audio Forums are your best bet for getting knowledgable advice on anything audio codec related. They have a wiki with guides also, here is the EAC one.
It's you're interested in this stuff the first thing to understand is the difference between lossless and lossey codecs.