Don Craine, a Paul's Post reader, asked that I spend a few minutes answering questions about preparing a CD for ripping. Is prep important, what does it buy you, and how's the best way to go about adding music to your hard drive and subsequent music library.
This is actually quite an involved subject; one perhaps we'll work on covering in subsequent posts. Its complexity involves more than just the prep of media. The type of program used to rip the music can be important as well; at least that's the general consensus among Audiophiles. To be honest, I need more investigating before I would be willing to put my thoughts on paper about it.
Personally, I rip using the built in engine of my Mac. I take the luxury of ripping at the slowest speed in the hope that this will improve quality, but truth is I don't really know. For now, call it superstitious. Many swear by DB Power amp and Exact Copy. It has never been proven to me these make a substantial improvement, but then the opposite has never been tried by my myself either.
Most of my CDs are in really good shape and require no surface prep. But I do have a few that take forever to rip, some getting sent back with errors. If a CD takes an inordinate amount of time to rip (most take less than 5 minutes) chances are good the system is struggling to read and correct for errors; a situation you'd like to avoid.
Here's the trick I have used repeatedly for problem or questionable discs. Rainex. Yup, smells awful, works like a miracle. I know, it's windshield polish you buy at an autoparts store, available also at many other venues like Target or WalMart, sometimes even the local market.
Rainex works miracles on discs that struggle to be read. One could take this approach to the limit and coat/polish every disc, but I think you'd have minimal benefits and probably make yourself sick with the fumes.
I am sure there are many other more expensive cures for poor reading discs, but any good optical polishing formula will do quite nicely.
Give it a try.