Best way to convert and backup audio CDs?

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
18,106
18,583
The Misty Mountains
Sorry this is a newb question. I have have some old Nature Company Nature Sound CDs from the 1990s that I would like to backup, and convert to something that plays on my iPad. I figure I can just rip these CDs, but is there a format best suited to carry this music into the future with wide acceptance? What is the best format for iPad?

I’d also like to keep copies of these files independent of iTunes, but I don’t mind them also being in iTunes.

Just looking for advice on the best approach and any gotchas?
Thanks!
 

macaronie

macrumors member
Jan 10, 2009
63
5
Try wav or aiff files if you want the music to be cd quality, otherwise convert them as 320 kbps mp3 in itunes.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Huntn

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
18,106
18,583
The Misty Mountains
Convert them to high-bitrate mp3 files.

I'd suggest 256 bit encoding.
Try wav or aiff files if you want the music to be cd quality, otherwise convert them as 320 kbps mp3 in itunes.
I convert mine to ALAC and store it in the cloud (OneDrive 1TB) and external HDD.
Thanks for Answering!
Is there any danger of audio CDs ceasing to work by virtue of age, not being damaged, or being outpaced by technology? Many of mine are about 20-30 years old, just sitting in their cases. I found these articles:

https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/burning_music_files_to_a_cd.html
Audio CDs always contain uncompressed PCM stereo audio at 44100 Hz sample rate, 16-bit sample format. So to burn an audio CD, export the file(s) you want to burn as a 44100 Hz 16-bit stereo WAV or AIFF file

https://www.freestockmusic.com/audio-formats/
AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) In terms of file size and quality, AIFF and WAVformats are fairly interchangeable. For you techno-junkies, the AIFF format results in an uncompressed PCM (pulse-code modulation) file meaning it still has relatively large file sizes, but maintains a higher quality of sound.Sep 20, 2011



https://www.lifewire.com/best-codecs-for-ripping-and-preserving-audio-cds-2438765
ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec)
Apple initially developed their ALAC format as a proprietary project, but since 2011 has made it open source. Audio is encoded using a lossless algorithm which is stored in an MP4 container. Incidentally, ALAC files have the same .m4a file extension as AAC, so this naming convention can lead to confusion.

ALAC isn't as popular as FLAC but could be the ideal choice if your preferred software media player is iTunes and you use Apple hardware such as the iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc. More ».


So my first step is to burn these CDs.
  • Wave or AIFF, any substantial difference?
  • I’ll assume that CD-R is a better format for long term than CD-RW?
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/all-about-cd-r-and-cd-rw/

Then for my iPad, I’m leaning towards ALAC for digital because it is a lossless format. My understanding is that this format is substantially larger than MP3.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: macaronie

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
18,106
18,583
The Misty Mountains
BTW, sometimes I think I've lost my mind, but I'm trying to burn one of the CDs I previously mentioned, by placing it in my single external disk drive (late 2016 MBP), I right click on it and say I want to burn it, and my MacOS tells me I have to insert a blank disk, but I'm running into an issue, that the only button on this pop up window is cancel. So far I've not figured out a way to eject this disk, to put in a blank disk to be recorded. I thought on the top menu bar, that the right button (shutdown button) would eject the disk, but it just force shuts down my Mac.

Is the only way to record this CD is to make a disk image first? Thanks.
 

cbautis2

macrumors 6502a
Aug 17, 2013
720
583
Thanks for Answering!
Is there any danger of audio CDs ceasing to work by virtue of age, not being damaged, or being outpaced by technology? Many of mine are about 20-30 years old, just sitting in their cases. I found these articles:

https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/burning_music_files_to_a_cd.html
Audio CDs always contain uncompressed PCM stereo audio at 44100 Hz sample rate, 16-bit sample format. So to burn an audio CD, export the file(s) you want to burn as a 44100 Hz 16-bit stereo WAV or AIFF file

https://www.freestockmusic.com/audio-formats/
AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) In terms of file size and quality, AIFF and WAVformats are fairly interchangeable. For you techno-junkies, the AIFF format results in an uncompressed PCM (pulse-code modulation) file meaning it still has relatively large file sizes, but maintains a higher quality of sound.Sep 20, 2011



https://www.lifewire.com/best-codecs-for-ripping-and-preserving-audio-cds-2438765
ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec)
Apple initially developed their ALAC format as a proprietary project, but since 2011 has made it open source. Audio is encoded using a lossless algorithm which is stored in an MP4 container. Incidentally, ALAC files have the same .m4a file extension as AAC, so this naming convention can lead to confusion.

ALAC isn't as popular as FLAC but could be the ideal choice if your preferred software media player is iTunes and you use Apple hardware such as the iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc. More ».


So my first step is to burn these CDs.
  • Wave or AIFF, any substantial difference?
  • I’ll assume that CD-R is a better format for long term than CD-RW?
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/all-about-cd-r-and-cd-rw/

Then for my iPad, I’m leaning towards ALAC for digital because it is a lossless format. My understanding is that this format is substantially larger than MP3.
I would never trust CD-Rs for archiving as their dye degrades over time (weathering effect). It's better to store the WAV/AIFF files on a HDD as the disk is actually in a vacuum environment. The only issue with WAV/AIFF is that tagging support is very limited. ALAC would be able to keep all metadata including cover art and CD art.

Regarding ALAC and AIFF, there isn't a difference in quality due to both being lossless. ALAC is typically 3/4 of AIFF/WAV or more.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Huntn

BODYBUILDERPAUL

macrumors 68000
Feb 9, 2009
1,745
1,399
Barcelona
I would never trust CD-Rs for archiving as their dye degrades over time (weathering effect). It's better to store the WAV/AIFF files on a HDD as the disk is actually in a vacuum environment. The only issue with WAV/AIFF is that tagging support is very limited. ALAC would be able to keep all metadata including cover art and CD art.

Regarding ALAC and AIFF, there isn't a difference in quality due to both being lossless. ALAC is typically 3/4 of AIFF/WAV or more.
Truly agree. CD-R are so delicate - as my experience in the late 1990s proved :(

When I rip a CD to iTunes I always rip it in Apple Lossless and then I rip it in AAC 320 which is what I listen to it in. My Apple Lossless copy is simply there for the future I guess as I can't hear any difference between a 320 AAC and a lossless.

When I worked in radio, it was the industry standard to rip everything & record everything as a WAV file.

No harm in ripping your CDs in a few formats for the future - Apple Lossless, WAV, AIFF and 320AAC.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Huntn

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
18,106
18,583
The Misty Mountains
I watched this video about using a flash drive to play music in your car.

So I assume I don’t really need an iPod for this purpose?

My current ITunes folder is about 17 GBs and growing, however it would fit easily on a 32GB thumb drive. If I want to export my library over to a thumb drive, do I select everything I want to export iand select mp3? I’ll see if I have a working copy of Toast, or I’ll try to use Burn for this task.
Thanks!
 

HDFan

macrumors 68000
Jun 30, 2007
1,912
452
Is there any danger of audio CDs ceasing to work by virtue of age, not being damaged, or being outpaced by technology?
Yes. Pretty much inevitable over a really long (like decades) time frame. As mentioned above

their dye degrades over time (weathering effect).
and this from the RIAA:

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 22.09.38.png

Formats come and go.

watched this video about using a flash drive to play music in your car.
If you car supports playing from files loaded from a USB drive, or plays from a USB drive, be sure to check which audio codecs are supported. Normally they are very limited.

All of my CD's are ripped to ALAC. I would hope that when that codec goes away (the way HEVC is replacing jpeg for the Apple Camera) there would be enough warning to convert to the replacement codec.
 

Attachments

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
18,106
18,583
The Misty Mountains
Yes. Pretty much inevitable over a really long (like decades) time frame. As mentioned above



and this from the RIAA:

View attachment 776398

Formats come and go.



If you car supports playing from files loaded from a USB drive, or plays from a USB drive, be sure to check which audio codecs are supported. Normally they are very limited.

All of my CD's are ripped to ALAC. I would hope that when that codec goes away (the way HEVC is replacing jpeg for the Apple Camera) there would be enough warning to convert to the replacement codec.
Not disputing your comment to me, but I have CD-Rs most likely in the 10 to 20 year old range that still work, some have clear or silver, some are purple.
 

macaronie

macrumors member
Jan 10, 2009
63
5
My feeling is always to rip or create audio files in the highest uncompressed format, i.e., wav, aiff, alac, flac, so that I will always have the file uncompressed in the future, and digital storage is less compromisable than cds.

The difference between file formats is that with some such as wav and flac, it is difficult or not possible to add metadata such as album art. Others such as alac were proprietary, but they are all uncompressed. If I'm off, someone will correct me.
 

Ulenspiegel

macrumors 68040
Nov 8, 2014
3,142
2,404
Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
I watched this video about using a flash drive to play music in your car.
So I assume I don’t really need an iPod for this purpose?...
No, Hunt, you don't. Though most probably your car radio/CD Player would cope with your iPod connected (through AUX 3.5 mm) as well.
But the best variant would be to convert your songs to high-bitrate mp3 (256) or FLAC. The latter though will be much bigger in size. And finally copy your converted songs to a USB drive that can be connected to your car radio/CD Player.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Huntn

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
18,106
18,583
The Misty Mountains
No, Hunt, you don't. Though most probably your car radio/CD Player would cope with your iPod connected (through AUX 3.5 mm) as well.
But the best variant would be to convert your songs to high-bitrate mp3 (256) or FLAC. The latter though will be much bigger in size. And finally copy your converted songs to a USB drive that can be connected to your car radio/CD Player.[/QUOTE
Thank you. That’s my plan. I need to look at the best way to achieve this. I don’t know yet what export capabilities iTunes has, but since most of my music is already consolidated there, this would be my first choice. Select a bunch of songs, convert and send them to a folder or directly to a thumb drive.

One clarification is that I sound like a digital music newb because I’ve not messed with iTunes for music in a decade. Of the CDs I have, they are all 70-90s music.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ulenspiegel

Ulenspiegel

macrumors 68040
Nov 8, 2014
3,142
2,404
Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
Thank you. That’s my plan. I need to look at the best way to achieve this. I don’t know yet what export capabilities iTunes has, but since most of my music is already consolidated there, this would be my first choice. Select a bunch of songs, convert and send them to a folder or directly to a thumb drive.

One clarification is that I sound like a digital music newb because I’ve not messed with iTunes for music in a decade. Of the CDs I have, they are all 70-90s music.
Before buying the USB drive please check the manual of your car radio/CD Player for maximum size it is compatible with.
The 70s-90s music, oh my... good ole times :cool:
 
  • Like
Reactions: Huntn

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
18,106
18,583
The Misty Mountains
Here's an article that discusses longevity, ranging from 25 to 200 years:

https://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub121/sec4/
From you article:

  • Among the manufacturers that have done testing, there is consensus that, under recommended storage conditions, CD-R, DVD-R, and DVD+R discs should have a life expectancy of 100 to 200 years or more;
  • Manufacturers claim that CD-R and DVD-R discs have a shelf life of 5 to 10 years before recording,
Of note, when I was initially having issues with burning a CD-R it was with disks that could have been more than 10 years old.
 

HDFan

macrumors 68000
Jun 30, 2007
1,912
452
I lost several laser disks to laser rot which were less than 10 years old. The technology has obviously improved a lot since then, but the underlying weakness is there. Just be aware.
 

artnoi

macrumors member
Sep 11, 2018
30
10
Bangkok
I'd say ALWAYS ARCHIVE IN FLAC for its MD5 checksum capability so that you can always be sure that every byte in your file and every bit in your audio remains unaltered forever. Isn't that the point of ripping and storing dim CDs on a computer in the first place?

I myself have 2 separate types of music libraries, the first one is my archive encoded in FLAC on external HDD containing all the hi-res masters and CD rips, the second one is my iTunes libraries on various locations and storage, containing ALAC or AAC encoded files (depending on locations) with maximum of 44.1 or 48KHz sample rate.

So although sometimes I have some hi-res purchases from the net, I only convert them down to 44.1 or 48KHz and play them on iTunes using BitPerfect plug-in to automatically setup the correct sample rate setting on macOS before sending the signal thru USB.
 
  • Like
Reactions: pmore

rhett7660

macrumors G5
Jan 9, 2008
12,427
2,393
Sunny, Southern California
If you are so inclined, I would rip the original CD at a lossless format, i.e. flac or alac. Keep those in a separate location. Then for those you want to rip on to the thumbdrive in a compressed format, I would use a copy of the lossless files and compress those. This way if you ever decide to have a streaming player in the living room connected to a nice set of speakers, you have a copy of the CD that isn't compressed. Of course like others have mentioned you might or might not hear a difference in the files.

Just a thought.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
25,801
8,870
Detroit
I rip my CD's to FLAC and store the files on my main PC, which I backup to an internal, separate SSD. The main SSD also gets backed up to my FreeNAS server via SyncThing. Plus I make an additional copy of my music folder and copy it over the network to another SSD connected to a Raspberry Pi for listening in another room. Then, sheesh, I have another copy of my music folder on a thumb drive which I keep plugged into my car for listening on the road.
 

rhett7660

macrumors G5
Jan 9, 2008
12,427
2,393
Sunny, Southern California
I rip my CD's to FLAC and store the files on my main PC, which I backup to an internal, separate SSD. The main SSD also gets backed up to my FreeNAS server via SyncThing. Plus I make an additional copy of my music folder and copy it over the network to another SSD connected to a Raspberry Pi for listening in another room. Then, sheesh, I have another copy of my music folder on a thumb drive which I keep plugged into my car for listening on the road.
I have two copies of my files as I don't want to have to go through and re-rip them all! I also have them on two seperate NAS devices that I back them up to also.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SandboxGeneral