I’ve been converting all my CDs to Apple Lossless audio files. To do this, I’ve been using EAC and iTunes encode, which have been working wonderfully good up to now.
At first, EAC was a bit daunting and somewhat difficult to use, but after a few days of experimenting with it, trying out different settings, different rips, reading some online guides and forums, I think I’ve found the “sweet spot” that works for me. The only thing I wish it was able to do is: include a field for “Album Artist”, another field for Disc Number, and finally, Album Art. But then again, nothing is perfect, and I value more the quality, accuracy and control of my rips instead of these minor details which I can control later.
I started using EAC to rip directly to WAV, since there was no built-in Apple Lossless audio codec, and I really wanted to use this to be compatible with iTunes, iPhone, and my future Apple TV (if I ever get one).
After reading some blogs online, I was glad to have found iTunesEncode. This little program allows the conversion of WAV to Apple Lossless audio files using EAC + iTunes. The combination really did it for me, and now that I look back, I have NO IDEA how long (much longer than I would have desired) it would have taken me to convert those WAV files to Apple Lossless using iTunes, then adding the tags manually.
In a nutshell, the way it works is this: Configure EAC to your desired and recommended settings by many online guides and forums, use iTunesEncode as the “External Compressor”, add the iTunesEncode options (switches), and voila. After a few minutes (depends on rip quality, disc condition, etc), you’ll have a perfectly ripped copy of your CD in Apple Lossless format! All it takes from here is adding the newly-ripped media to iTunes, getting the Album Art from the iTunes Store or anywhere else on the web, adding a disc number, album artist and DONE! The CD went from physical form to a perfectly ripped audio file, fully tagged and in my iTunes library.
I could have easily taken the CD out of its case, popped it in my computer’s CD-ROM drive, fired up iTunes and encoded away to get the “same results”, but instead, I chose the approach mentioned here. I quote the phrase same results because in the end, I’d end up having Apple Lossless audio files, but no way of really knowing (other than listening to each individual track) of its rip quality. Some CDs, no matter how much you take care of them – will develop surface scratches, or if you buy some of them used like me, although they are in “like new” or “very good” conditions, sometimes they may still have a few scratch or two, which may or may not affect playability. This happened to me when I originally ripped my CDs with iTunes a few years ago in 128 kbps; some songs had skips, some obvious, others not so – but it was, indeed, a flawed rip.
I use iTunes to store all my music, and rarely (if EVER) use the original CD after I’ve transferred it to my computer, but I still must have the physical copy somewhere. As I read in a blog somewhere – the physical copy is like my “license”, my “backup”, my “rights” to the music, plus I have access to liner notes (not that I ever read them more than once…)
In the near future, I will post the EAC guide that I’ve been using, as well as other details regarding this project.