Ripping music II

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In yesterday's post I covered the cheapest and easiest way to rip CDs to a hard drive. iTunes. It's free, it finds the metadata nicely, it sounds good and has a ton of support. Today I want to cover another program that is not as widely known, but works on both Windows and Mac platforms and does a great job. The program is dBpoweramp and for $39, you can get great results. Some say better than iTunes. To be honest, I haven't a great deal of recent experience with the program - I've used it and benefited by it - find the interface klunkier than iTunes - but honestly, what appeals to me about dBpoweramp is the honesty of the program and the people behind it. This program is a rebel and perhaps it reminds me of us a little bit. dBpoweramp claims to have 30 million downloads, is a private company run by a fellow with the handle Spoon. I love it. They've worked hard at getting the program perfected, the sound just right and frankly, the metadata that comes out of dBpoweramp is consistently better than what comes out of iTunes. And then there's the sound. I remember some years ago when we did some A/B testing between rips. We ripped a track on dBpoweramp and another on iTunes. Both to the same hard drive. No question, the dBpoweramp rip sounded noticeably better than the iTunes rip. Hmmmm. Over time, I have moved back to good old iTunes for ripping for two reasons: recent developments in DACs and players have rendered the differences I heard almost indistinguishable. Also, I am lazy. dBpower amp takes a bit more effort than does iTunes. Had I not been using DirectStream and my Mac server or the Bridge, I would wholeheartedly recommend dBpoweramp over iTunes for ripping because of its better sound (at the time). Yes, you can use other programs to rip. JRiver, Media Monkey, Foobar, (which uses dBpoweramp), or EAC, but they all have their quirks and of the lot, I prefer dBpoweramp. But let's consider EAC for a moment. Exact Audio Copy is an interesting program for ripping. The technology is similar to what we use in the PWT memory player. Read many times, write once. It's a very slow process–sometimes maddeningly slow–checking and rechecking the data on the CD to make certain it's perfect. And EAC has its devotees, the lot of them swearing the sound is so much better than anything else. It's been too many years since I've done the comparisons and so I can't give you my honest opinion. But, the program's cheap and perhaps worth a shot. Whatever you do, ripping a library is a bit of work, but the work's well worth the effort. There's simply nothing like a ripped library to enjoy music from. Nothing.
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Paul McGowan

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