Rippin' CD's: What affects sound quality?

What affects the sound quality of CD's ripped to hard drive?

Also, is WAV the highest fidelity method of converting CDs into hard drive files? How does the sound quality of a WAV compare to the original CD?

Thanks in advance!
Everything you want to know (and more):
just make sure when you rip the CDs to WAV files that you only compress them with a lossless compression algorithm such as APE ( or SHN. i use APE myself.

to the best of my knowledge, a WAV file is an exact, uncompressed copy of the source on the CD.
The quality of the WAV file will depend on the program used to rip the CD. The one regarded by live concert traders to be the best is Exact Audio Copy, also called EAC. And it happens to be a freebie, though the author does have a "wish list" of items from Amazon that he'd be happy to get from anyone who can afford to compensate him for his efforts. For info go to

I did compare WAV's from a few different rippers a few years ago, and EAC was the best.