mp3 player: rip programs, best format?

Hello all. I've recently received an mp3 player, an Iriver 40gb. So far I'm enjoying it as it replaces my walkman and the need to drag cds around during commute. A few questions: what is the best format out there, and the software that does a good job of ripping the cds.
I've done some research and settled on Ogg Vorbis as it takes up less momory and sounds just as good as regular mp3. The issue I'm having is the software that I'm using, a shareware program called "Audiograbber". With regular mp3, It takes about 5 minutes. With Ogg Vorbis and the Audiograbber program, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to do one.
Is Ogg Vorbis the "best" out there in terms of format? If so, can someone recommend a program (preferabbly shareware, but not limited to) that does ripping well and fast.

I work in the IT department of a medium sized Pacific Northwest college ... I have played with compressed audio formats for about 5 years now and you are on the right track. .ogg is definitely the way to go in my opinion - not just sonically but politically. Don’t get too carried away as I did and rip everything to MP3 thinking it’s going to remain the standard. There is no standard … not just in compressed audio but in extended formats as well. I think we are at a bit of a crossroads technologically.

Honestly, I own and have used a lot of sound software: Sound forge, D.A.R.T and a few others that escape my mind but I mostly use the cheap software that came with my old Nomad Jukebox. I hear the way to go is to run Linux and use the free open-source programs that eat CD’s and spit out .ogg files as fast as you can put the CD's in.

Beware of FREEWARE programs … if you haven’t heard of “spyware” yet, you better read up on it. Look for shareware you pay for and check the forums – there are a ton of .ogg forums you can post on.

One of my geek buddies bought this program for $25 and says it’s great.

I have yet to check it out. He says there is no associated spyware agent in it but who knows. Pay particular attention to the EULA to see if there are provisions that allow the program to gather data from you OR use your internet connection. Email the author up front and ask point blank –

Part 2 :

Check you hardware – make sure you don’t have a weak link. Get a FAST CD ROM drive – I suggest a Plextor or Kenwood used to make a 72X CD player. I’d stay away for DVD drives. Make sure the CD is on it’s own IDE channel and UDMA is turned on in the BIOS if possible – Check the UDMA settings in the OS as well, stay away from external USB drives if you can help it. Use Windows 2000 or later if your on a Microsoft platform, OS X (10.3 or 10.4) if your on a Mac. Make sure you have lots of RAM … I’d get at least 1 Gig (I run 4 Gig)

I also disconnect from the net when I rip music and disable virus checking.

That’s my 2 cents … hope it helps.
I use Exact Audio Copy (EAC) to copy the piece of music to my hard drive. Even though EAC can convert to mp3, I then use Audiograbber to do the conversion, because it allows me to copy at 320-bit variable, which gives a very high quality mp3 file without the large size of the a 320-bit fixed file.

I've played these files on my Sony 775 DVD/CD/SACD player in my system and most people never realize they are listening to mp3's. (It is quite easy to tell the difference, though, if you listen. Mostly in dynamics and air, although some of the files are surprisingly close.)

Pbowne, it sounds like you're doing two steps when you only need to do one. EAC, for mp3 at least, with the lame encoder, is the best encoder around. No need to use Audiograbber. 320 kbps VBR mp3 is the alt-preset-insane setting. For what it's worth, I've never talked to anyone that could tell the difference between alt-preset-insane (API) and alt-preset-extreme (APX) setting. The difference between these and wavs is another matter however. API, in my opinion, simply leads to a bloated file with no improvement in quality over APX. Even the developer of these presets admitted that he uses APX and he only created an API setting for people that have to feel that they have the best. Now if file size or space constraints are of no concern to you, then there's no harm in sticking with API. I have nearly 4000 discs though which I've ripped so space is an important concern for me.
Thanks for the detailed responses, much appreciated. I've never noticed until recently that the DVD player rips at 16X while the regular cd drive runs at 24-32x.
I've purchased my pc not too long ago so I don't think it's a system issue. After the ripping, which is fast, the conversion from mp3 to ogg vorbis is what kills me as each track takes more than 2-3 minutes to convert.
If it's a software issue, I would have to check out that program and see if I can speed things up a little.
Sorry for taking so long to respond.

I use the 2-step process because Audiograbber is the only program I've seen that will record in 320kbps variable rate. I've found that it doesn't sound much different from the 320kbps fixed rate, but the file sizes are about half.
Pbowne, UV is right. LAME can be configured within EAC to rip with -alt preset extreme, a VBR format. EAC will call LAME as an external call, and then rip the next track. Much easier, although it still takes a long time.

BTW, 320 kpbs VBR doesn't make any sense to me. VBR="variable" bit rate. The encoding is anywhere from 16 up to 320 or maybe higher. The number only makes sense with CBR schemes.