Programs for File management - HELP

I know it is only a matter of time before my cd player becomes a thing of the past. I have ripped some of my music in a lossless format (WAV) and want to invest the time to rip the remaining music. I am actually going to selectively rip songs I love from about 1000 cd's, so you can see my concern with doing this right the first, and hopefully only time.

My frustration in my past experience with ripping discs is the organizational issues that occur with proper labels, tagging and access of the library that has been ripped. I am not an APPLE user, so Itunes is not for me.

What programs provide the best or most efficient system for ripping and tagging the music? What system/program will be best for the future as technology becomes better to access and identify this digital data?

As I am just starting to develop a plan to develop a PC based system to adjunt (Not replace) my high end source, I don't want to wait. I have purchased a few 320gig dedicated hard drives to store and backup the music I rip.

I have always found these forums to be incredibly honest and useful...please take the time to share your thoughts and advice.
I have Windows Media Center which, I feel, is excellent for ripping/cataloging your cd's. I think Windows Media Center has an excellent interface for storing/tagging/playing your music collection, it is also very simple to use. You have a choice as to what quality to rip them, (MP3, lossless, etc.) I also have just downloaded EAC (for ripping) and Foobar (for playing) but I'm not familiar enough yet to qualify for an opinion of these processes. Other Audiogoners will probably have some other suggestions that may work for you also, just check them out and see what fits your needs best.
iTunes works great on the PC! Go here:

Pick Windows, and enjoy.
You might not like this answer, but the only way to make sure you're ripping and tagging your cds right is to practice first. You should burn the same cd several different ways and then open up your interface such as iTunes, Media Monkey, Foobar, etc and see how the cd comes up. For example, is it listed in folk or jazz. Now try to have it listed as trip-hop. Once you figure out how to change the genre, you don't have to rely on the often incorrect genres automatically picked by your ripping program.

When you burn a compilation, is the artist listed under the artist section, or was it accidently listed in the album section. This is a big problem. If you come across a compilation cd that isn't recognized and the track titles are blank, type them out and see if after the cd is burned everything is listed properly. It probably won't be until you figure out how. Do you type the artist and THEN the track title? Do you separate the artist and track title with a comma or with a hyphen?

One of the biggest pitfalls is tagging the year. I have a big jazz collection and some John Coltrane, for example, was released only recently. So the automatic tag might be, say, 1998. This is bad because when i want to random play jazz from the 1960s, the title won't be in there. You need to learn how to change this before you burn the cd - perhaps you can make the change after (I don't think so) but i don't know how. Even if you can, do you want to have to go back?

A tip: You don't have to burn the entire cd to practice. Just burn a track or two so you don't have to wait to see the results.

I would suggest practicing for a while and then when you set out to burn all your cds, for the first 50 or so, after each burn, open up your interface program and check to see that the cd is tagged properly before moving on to the next cd. I can tell you from experience that this will save you a nervous breakdown, $17,000 dollars in psychiatric visits, a two month stay at bellvue and other incidentals like fixing holes in your walls and apologizing to neighbors for the late night sobbing.

Good luck my son and god bless.
I have used EAC for ripping and Foobar 2000 for playback with exelent results in a Windows XP environment. However, I was given a 30 Gig. iPod six months ago and started to use iTunes (yes, in Windows XP), ripping for loading up the iPod but also using it for playback (still using EAC and Foobar 200 too). For file mangagement, there is no question about the advantages of iTunes, it just makes everything so simple and accessible- automatically. You can call up the whole collection by artsist, albums, genre, playlists, etc. And for the most part, I see myself ripping my collection into iTunes for that very reason. And in regards to sound, I really do not hear any differences between the two, using Apple loss less file system in iTunes and Wav. in Foobar 2000. I recommend you download iTunes (it is free) and try it out, it is that good for the purpose that you have in mind, regardless whether you are an Apple user or not.
Good Luck
Thanks for the responses so far. I suspect that Kublakhan has the most realistic answer. There are no shortcuts. Practice makes perfect. Please continue contributing with ongoing advice. Thanks in advance! Gerry
With that said Kublakhan, what would you recommend for a interface. From simple...with the ability to upgrade as needs and equipment change?
In my opinion the best program is Mpeg audio collection (MAC), it is an incredible program that can do all of the organization for you, in addition it is also free, I am using it to organize my few thousand albums.

It is worth to give it a try..
Gararddunn, I'll get back to you on that question. I know an expert that I can ask. Basically you want to make sure that the ID tag info remains formulated the same in itunes as it does for foobar or media monkey, for example. if it does then the question becomes whether or not your playlists can be exported properly from one program to another. If so, then any playback program is fine because you can always switch. The only thing then to make sure of is that the cds are tagged properly when you burn them onto your hard drives.

There is a book called something like 'iPod and iTunes for dummies.' With that kind of support it's going to be hard to beat. Foobar has the most flexibility for customization but it's difficult to learn how to customize it. there are programmer sites that have screen captures of what their personal foobar interfaces look like and it's very interesting - those are the coolest looking interfaces i've seen.

Media monkey is what I am using (so is the expert I know) and it's easy to use right from the start. for now it's all I need.

But again, the question is about reading ID tags and exporting playlists. I would not want to create interesting playlists for different types of jazz and different types of rock, etc from a 1000+ cd catalogue and then have to redo it when i changed playback programs.
You truly understand my concern. Although for now, whatever program I choose will be fine, I am most concerned about the future. I guess I should stop worrying so much, and make some decisions. I will give media monkey a shot. I will let you know what my thoughts are after I get up and running. Let me know what your expert contact thinks as well. Warmest regards and have a great weekend! Gerry
G, here's the deal. There should be no reason for one player program to sound better than the next...they all access the same music file on your hard drive. You can change players any time and bring over your playlists and ID tags like genre, etc. The expert I know uses Media Monkey because it's the most convenient for him. I use it and also find it to be pretty simple.

Bottom line is that the only thing to concern yourself with is burning the cd properly. If you set up EAC correctly you're fine. So, like you said, just make a few decisions and start enjoying your music.

Good luck.
Interesting thread. It sounds like people here haven't discovered tagging software. There is never a need to rerip a disc as Kublakhan seems to be suggesting. I would suggest Tag & Rename, it supports id3, ape, flac and multiple other tagging formats. I believe it costs a few bucks, but you will likely find that you use this program frequently. It has a gentle learning curve and is frankly invaluable when it comes to maintaining a digital library.

Kublakhan is correct when he states that it really doesn't matter which playback software you use in terms of sound (asuming asio or directsound v2.5 or something similar is being used). However, not all players are created equal when it comes to leaving your tags alone. Windows Media Player and the newest version of foobar are currently the worst offenders in this category usurping itunes old spot (although itunes now has plenty of options to turn tag screwing options off). However, it's all really a matter of preference--feel free to use whatever floats your boat. Just make sure to write protect your audio files before chucking them into some player's library.

As far as ripping is concerned, EAC is your only option if you care about audio at all.

As far as a library for managing and browsing your collection is concerned. 1000 cd's isn't large enough to pose a problem for any library that I'm aware of. Eventually, as your collection grows, you'll want to find a library that doesn't search via tag (as most do) but rather cache's the database to a text file and then searches that instead. It is much much faster, but at this stage of the game, largely irrelavant. I'm currently at just over 6,000 albums in FLAC--I ended up having to write a separate program to meet my browsing needs.
Ultravoilet, I found that when I tagged a cd after I burned it the changes wouldn't show up in the actual file on my hard drive. This is why I thought you had to burn it over. FOr example, I put a Coltrane CD in my drive and brought up EAC. The track titles weren't listed and I burned it anyway. Then I opened Media Monkey, inserted the cd and tagged the cd using "tag from Amazon." The CD titles came up and everything looked good. Media Monkey shows the tracks listed each time I open up that cd, however, when I go to my hard drive and open up the cd the track titles still aren't listed.

Any advice?
Kublakhan, what format did you rip too? Some formats, like WAV, do not actually support tagging in any standardized way. In my mind, a "tag" is a data element that is actually part of the music file, hence portable as the file is copied from one place to another, and recognized as part of a the file's inherent format. There are programs that allow you to create information associated with a file, but quite often that information resides in a database file unique to the player or file manager. That is almost always the case for WAV.
Edesilva, I'm burning in FLAC. The cd file is being tagged properly. It's just that the track titles aren't being changed in the file on the hard drive. Maybe it's too much to ask for this convenience?
Well, you're talking about two different things here. You may very well have tagged them properly, however, what you see when you open a folder on your hard drive are the file names--two different things. One of the conveniences of a tagging program such as Tag & Rename is that it allows you to sync file name to tag or vice versa (if one happens to be correct and the other is not or blank). Edesilva is correct, tags are actually metadata and a part of the data file itself--a totally separate entity from the file name. Without an adequate tagging program (lots of software has POS tagging built into it--although not all are horrible) you'll need to do what you previously did in mediamonkey or whatever it is you're using, and then manually change the filename. A whole lot of work...

Even if the cd is tagged perfectly, EAC only gives you so many fields in the tags to fill out. Dedicated software gives you all sorts of options. Some are very useful, especially for classical music (e.g. composer, comments, orginal artist etc.) others... mood (in addition to genre), beats per minute etc. A few programs are starting to emerge that allow you to search and categorize based on some of these odd fields (for example, you feel like head banging and want music only >100bpm)

There are plenty of other advantages such as running macro's on your music as a whole to perform actions such as capitalize the first letter of every word. The programs take some time to learn, but are invaluable once one's collection starts to grow. Personally I use Tag & Rename. It is the easiest, IMHO, to learn--there is more more "powerful" tag editing software, but the steep learning curve and the fact that 1 out of 1000 people will require those functions causes me to recommend Tag & Rename.
Let me say once again, THANK YOU to all of you for taking the time to share. I am learning a great deal, and I am sure you have saved me hours of frustration by giving me insight on different means of setting this system up. Please, keep this going...I am absorbing all of it!
Ultravoilet, thanks for the info.
I don't own a MAC either. Yes I bought an ipod but before I got it I downloaded iTunes and was amazed at the quality of the music (you can rip to non-Apple formats), how fast it rips a CD and the dbase features.

Download the software for free and rip one CD

Try it you'll like it.