How do you digitize your CD collection?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by ghanwani, Nov 1, 2010.

  1. ghanwani macrumors 6502a

    Dec 8, 2008
    I've been researching the issue of how to digitize my CD collection (about 150 -200 CDs) for a few weeks now. Here are my requirements:

    - I want to preserve the original CD quality music (master copy). This will most likely be stored on an external disk and/or a bunch of high-capacity SD cards.
    - I want to be able to convert to "itunes store quality" for playing on an iPod.

    The sticky part of course is the first requirement. I want it to be able to play easily on any player. In other words, even though I'm will Apple today, I might not be tomorrow.

    So the choices for the lossless copy are:
    - WAV: The problem with wav is they don't support tagging. Ordinarily I would not have thought this to be a big deal, but everyone seems to think it is. As I understand it, when ripping to something like Apple Lossless, iTunes will automatically tag the music for me which it can't do if I decide to rip to wav. The thing I like about wav is there aren't versions of it so there will likely be players that will handle it 10, 20 or whatever years down the line.
    - Apple lossless: No support in other players. Probably not the option that I want to go with for the master copy. The reason I'm hesitant to use Apple Lossless for the master is because I don't want to end up with some unsupported version sitting on my offline disks 10 years from now. For instance, I have old Word files that cannot be read by Pages...I want to avoid something like that happening with my music.
    - FLAC: No support in iTunes.

    So here's what I'm thinking of doing. I will rip using iTunes to Apple Lossless, and then convert to wav using Max and also convert to "iTunes store quality". The undesirable part is that I end up with an Apple Lossless file that I don't care for.

    A question that I have is: If I were to rip to wav and then convert to "iTunes store quality" audio, then would iTunes/Max still automatically do tagging for me for those files?

    I'm sure many of you folks have had to deal with similar requirements so I'd be grateful if you can share your stories of how you addressed them.

  2. zachcheatham macrumors regular


    Dec 7, 2009
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Wow, I just let iTunes import using the default settings. I never thought about compatibility or losing quality.
  3. marsmissions macrumors 6502


    Jan 5, 2010
    Washington, US
    If you're worried about lossless, and putting it on an external disk, or a bunch of SD cards....why not just leave them on CDs??
  4. ghanwani thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 8, 2008
    It's easily accessible on an external disk (no need to rip), and my entire collection would fit on a single external disk or 3-4 high-capacity SD cards...sure beats carrying around 160 CDs!

    I have a bit of OCD especially when it comes to archiving stuff, but the OCD also helps me "look before I leap" so I don't end up creating a mess for myself.
  5. pika2000 macrumors 601

    Jun 22, 2007
    My workflow if I bought a new CD:
    1. use XLD to securely rip the CD to WAV + cue sheet to an external drive (in my case, a drobo). This will be my master archive.
    2. Find the album's cover art (usually Amazon) and save it to the same folder as the above files.
    3. Use XLD again to encode the audio files to either MP3 (lame -V 2) or AAC true VBR, then copy them to iTunes.

    Hard drive is so cheap nowadays that I don't bother with lossless compression anymore. There's an advantage of lossless in terms of tagging, but I find a cue sheet is good enough for me. If you only use the lossless for archival, it doesn't matter which codec (flac, applelossless, etc) you use. I would probably prefer apple lossless as itunes supports it. For playback, the lossy MP3/AAC version is good enough for me.

    There are times when I'm lazy (if the music is not important enough for me) where I just use itunes' default setting (itunes plus). This is fine for most.
  6. ghanwani thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 8, 2008
    A few questions:
    - What do you mean by cue sheet?
    - Since you rip to wav, it means there's no tagging for the master copy, right?
    - Is it still possible get art work from amazon? I tried doing that for a few CDs but it didn't work.
    - When you encode the file to AAC does XLD automatically do any tagging for you?

  7. pika2000 macrumors 601

    Jun 22, 2007
    -cue sheet is a separate file generated during ripping that contains the basic track info such as track marks, album name, artist, year, and genre. Good enough for me. Itunes made it easy anyway to adjust tags later on on the lossy versions
    -yes, the wav itself has no tagging, the cue sheet file has all the info.
    -not sure what you mean, but i just right click on the album art and save it. Usually you can click through on the item's main page to get a larger album art, but a lot of times it's not as high res as what you get from purchased tracks from, let's say, iTunes
    -XLD supports getting tags from the net, and it can also read a cue sheet file. Try it out. It's a really nifty free program, and it allows you to use quicktime's true vbr mode instead of the "ABR" mode used by iTunes for AAC.
  8. ghanwani thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 8, 2008
    - Is the cue sheet in text or some other format? If some other format, how do you read it?
    - What do you mean when you say "Itunes made it easy anyway to adjust tags later on on the lossy versions"? Does that mean manually adjusting the tag? I am trying to avoid having to manually do tagging.

  9. dknightd macrumors 6502

    Mar 7, 2004
    I rip alac (apple lossless). tag it and artwork it. In the unlikely event that I give up on apple*, I'd convert it to flac (or whatever the preferred format was on the platform I wanted to use). You can go back and forth between any lossless format - and loose nothing (except for maybe tags) - that is why they are called lossless. It used to be alac supported better tagging, but I think flac has at least caught up by now. Sure, it will take CPU cycles, but they are getting cheaper and faster every year. Just make sure you have a good backup, and do the conversion before the format gets obsolete. No problem.

    *by then everybody will laugh at me for going through all the trouble, because we'll have access to all music in "lossless" format. Think about the future, but live for today.

Share This Page