Ripping CD's to hard drive

What is the highest quality way to rip a collection of CD's to a hard drive?  Does it require a high-end transport and DAC of some sort?  How have others gone about this when loading their Lumin, Aurender, etc components? 


Use dBPoweramp on an inexpensive cd drive and it will make sure that your rips are bit perfect.  I ripped all of my CDs directly to my NAS and upon purchasing the Aurender N20, copied files to Aurender’s SSD, which shows up on my network like any other attached device.

What I use:

Express Rip

by NCH software. It’s guaranteed to be bit-perfect to kbs (killobytes).

Strangely, the same original CD-Rs ripped using Windows Media Player long ago resulted in less kbs. (overall file size) and there was a haze (almost like noise) over some tracks; whereas Express Rip was just perfect. Brand new CD-Rs were used.

Also invest in a standalone external drive or a server-grade optical drive if you’re using a desktop computer. A SSD solid state drive would be best for music. SATA III is fine, but there is even better/faster available. Hard Drives make noise. Nobody uses them anymore.


My suggestion would be to pick up a used Bluesound Vault 2 which will serve as CD ripper, storage and streamer/DAC. One box, that does it all. And choose .wav format to rip your CD’s. How many CD’s are you looking to rip? Vault has 2TB storage which can store roughly 2856 CDs.

I owned Vault 2 for 5 years before moving on to Aurender ACS100, which offers much superior App interface to curate, metadata edits and access to my CD collection, all from iPad. 

I should back up...newbie question...what type of CD drive is necessary/sufficient?  Right now I've got a Cambridge CXC transport running into an integrated with a built in DAC.  I'm guessing the CXC won't be useful in this situation.  I should have prefaced the original question that I'm completely new to this and want to know what the complete chain looks like (hardware that reads/exports data to hardware that decodes and stores it).  Any input is appreciated.

“what type of CD drive is necessary/sufficient”

The one that is designed to rip CD’s. As suggested above, connect a Vault 2 via SPDIF (digital coax) cable into your Integrated DAC input. Once you finish ripping your CD’s sit back and enjoy your ripped CD’s or browse / listen thousands of songs through cloud based providers like Tidal or Qobuz.

If you want a primer on how to connect Vault to your network, search streaming in the forums. Lots of great info here.

If it consummates, the "quality" of rip doesn’t matter, only the quality of playback. Ripping usually repeats until it is "right." PB only gets one shot at it. I’ve had good success with a Pioneer BD External drive.


Anything at or above 192kbps MP3 is fine.

Below 192kbps it's fairly easy to hear sonic degradation on anything other than speech only/ simple recordings.

FLAC now seems to gradually be taking over from MP3 as the preferred file medium of storage but I can't say I hear any improvements with it.

I'll only use FLAC to rip the rarest or most important of recordings.


Giving each disc a quick cleaning wipe before ripping won't hurt either. I usually breathe on the disc first and then wipe it off using a clean cotton T shirt.

Some say that you should use 8x or 10x ripping speed and switch off error correction, but I can't say I've noticed any difference here either.

Therefore I tend to leave error correction on.

+1 for Exact Audio Copy, +1 for dbpoweramp (which can do more if you want). These two are really all you need. Almost any computer grade drive can work. This is OLD technology now. Even a $30 computer optical drive is up to the task on clean, relatively unscratched discs. Bypassing crappy Windows though is key, hence the use of those two programs noted above.

Storage is cheap these days. If you are going to all the trouble to rip your discs, at least do them in FLAC so you’ll be "one and done" and not come back next year and wish you hadn’t ripped them to a lossy format.

Some even argue that it is better to rip to wav files, but wav offers no easy way of adding metadata or easy database sorting while FLAC does. If you don’t care about making the file size smaller say using FLAC level 8 (the best), you could always rip to FLAC level 0, which has no compression at all, but retains the ability to hold metadata. I guess ALAC isn’t bad either.

Various programs can help you with importing the metadata. I use mp3tag (which despite its name, also works for FLAC and ALAC). It can often find and import the album information and cover art from various online repositories like Discogs. (Don't trust iTunes. It sucks at this and often misidentifies CDs). 

My nephew paid his then 13-year-old kid a dollar for every 10 CDs he ripped. Best bargain he ever got. The kid got wise later and wanted $30 for mowing the yard.

I chose the Innuos Zen Mk3 Streamer because I saw it as well designed 

three box solution. Streams, Rips, Stores. Had it now for 3 years and still

love it. Their CS is exceptional too. About $3,200 now I think.

Use a computer application to rip from an attached cd drive to a storage drive. Do you have a computer? What kind? No need to worry about fancy equipment on front end for ripping.

It requires a decent machine (cheap if refurbished), foobar2000 (free), and the drive to learn how to use it (also free). That’s it. Then you can rip away into any format, bit depth or sample rate you want.

ps don't rip to an HD; use a fast SSD, M2 if possible. If you can't boot M2, mount one on a caddy and put it on the PCIE bus for music storage. The fast access will leave more time for your music processing. And foobar2000 has a ramdisk component so you can put your tracks into RAM for even faster access.

I agree with the recommendation  to use dbPowerAmp.   It uses AccurateRip that checks against a reference database to ensure what's ripped is exactly what's on the CD, even for different pressings of the disc.  So if the software says it's perfect when it's done you have a bit-perfect representation.  The other goodness of using AccurateRIp is that it doesn't matter which optical drive you use to rip, it will be the same.

As to format, just rip to FLAC;  it's a non-lossy format so you know the bits fed to your streamer will be exactly the same as you pulled from the CD.   Yes, it's a few bytes more than MP3, but the big deal ripping your CD collection is the time that it takes, not the bytes it takes up.  A 12 TB hard drive is about $240 these days, so cost isn't the issue

dbPoweramp will also put the right metadata automatically in your rips, so your streamer/amp will show information about the track on the display, which is very handy.

Finally make backups of your collection so you don't lose all that work.   Costco sells a nice 5TB USB portable drive for $100; it works well for this purpose.  Backups also help if you accidentally delete stuff as you're tweaking your collection.

Foobar as mentioned does a decent job ripping, and it's free.   It can do some amazing things with plugs-ins including SACD's rip files which I just learned about last weekend.  But it doesn't do AccurateRip, and it's ability to pull Metadata from the internet is limited.

Finally, you don't need a fast computer to do any of this.  The size of the files is so small that as long as your PC was built this century it will have the horsepower to do what you need.

Take any PC, plug in any cd-rom drive. Download dbpoweramp onto your pc. This is an external program that costs a small amount. Plug in a usb hard drive into the pc. Tell dbpoweramp to rip to FLAC standard. Tell dbpoweramp where to store the ripped files (to the usb hard drive you just inserted). Put the cd into the cd drive. Dbpoweramp will identify the album and rip it. 
It is so easy. 

I can’t believe that some are talking about ripping to mp3!? I don’t even rip to FLAC, I choose AIFF or WAV. I mean, storage is not a problem, so why bother with FLAC. If you can’t hear the difference between mp3 and a lossless file type, you need your ears tested. 

Exact Audio Copy works for me. Any CDR. Rip to harddrive (select lossless/no compression, evn so I have not been able to find difference between FLAC and lossless). Once on harddrive, move/copy to any player (network drive, external USB3 harddrive, USB drive, etc should NOT matter). 

From there, feed your DAC. I currently run LONG USB3 cable from computer to DAC and keep the DAC close the the analog parts of the system, based on the assumption that digital signal is less degrading over distance compared to analog. Altenrative would be short USB to DAC, then LONG analog cable to pre amp/integrated amp. 


I have been ripping to WAV using dBpoweramp but wanted to change to FLAC because I read that it is less susceptible to being corrupted when played. When I rip a CD, however, I run the rip through TT-DR Offline, which adds the dynamic range analysis to the rip folder. I found that TT-DR Offline will accept WAV but not FLAC. So back to WAV.

Fubar 2000 - It's freeware and works fine.

Just use any PC with an optical drive.  Store them on your computer, NAS, portable SS drive, etc.

I have used:

1) itunes to both a computer and external HD with an Apple Optical reade

2) dbPoweramp with same Optical ripper

3) Bluesound Vault

4) Melco ripper with Melco server


Truthfully, at least decent results with all.  The best is the Melco.  Not only do the rips sound great when replayed on the Melco but on other servers as well.  Detail, open sounding, and a perfect rip every time

.  The Vault would get the bottom score as occasional rip will have several seconds of error and there is a general lack of bloom and air around the instruments 

  I tunes sounded decent but was also error prone.  dbPoweramp with an Apple ripper was an eye opener as the errors were eliminated and everything sounded more incisive.  It is the best value for a tight budget.  But man, that Melco…


Exact Audio Copy does flac as well, but you have to get a plug in.  All my older “mono” rips are in flac.

Never rip to anything less than flac or aiff. Disk is so cheap and getting cheaper every day. 

I just used my PC CD player and FreeRIP to make 16/44 flac files.  There is no advantage to upsampling. I tried EAC. It's very slow and I could not hear any difference. "Bit perfect" is a bit of a fools errand. Even the factory CDs and players are not bit perfect and 99 times out of a 100 the dropouts are too small to be audible. Every part of the reproduction chain can have drop outs. There is no retry strategy or error correction  built into USB, SPDIF, AES etc nor I2S, only ethernet.

Another mention for Innuos. The Zen Mini S is more affordable than the Zen but also acts as a CD ripper, NAS and streamer. Its a good solution if you don't already have those components. For clarity, it is not a DAC so it needs a DAC connected to play music.

I’ve used JRiver to easily rip thousands of CD’s flawlessly to FLAC with excellent metadata results. I’ve tried Exact Audio Copy but it didn’t get the metadata correct, but maybe I didn’t have the settings correct because EAC wasn't very intuitive for me. 

Someone here said 192kbps MP3 is all you need, but that is laughable in this day and age. It’s highly recommended for you to use FLAC or better.

Do the speed settings for flac in dbpoweramp matter much if it still gets reported as an accurate rip?



I can’t believe that some are talking about ripping to mp3!? I don’t even rip to FLAC, I choose AIFF or WAV. I mean, storage is not a problem, so why bother with FLAC. If you can’t hear the difference between mp3 and a lossless file type, you need your ears tested


Ah, that old chestnut, MP3 v higher bitrates?

Well, I’d defy you, or anyone else, to tell the difference between MP3 192kbps and anything higher.

Unsighted of course.

As far as I’m aware, no human being reliably can.

It’s hard enough distinguishing 128kbps from 192kbps.

So enough with yet more misleading MP3 bashing.


Let’s not also forget that MP3 still remains the most compatible file format in the world even today.

You can play back MP3s on virtually anything, add album art and metadata with ease, normalise tracks or albums with MP3 Gain and edit to your heart’s desire on software like Audacity if you so wish.


That said, as an archival format, FLAC is to be recommended and it does gradually seems to be replacing MP3.

No doubt in time it will become equally as compatible and versatile as MP3 is right now, but some of us resent having to wait.

Well, whether CDs are ripped to mp3 or 44/16 matters to me. I have a range of CD rips which I’ve put into a NAS library, including a number of old CD rips. 

I have since been listening to all of these files being played back on a highly resolving system. Occasionally I have been listening and then thinking a particular file being played is not right, the reproduced quality was just not quite right. Sure enough, when I checked the rip, it was actually a file ripped inadvertently years ago to mp3. This happened two or three times until I decided to check all of the rips and found a few more mp3 files. They have now all been re-ripped to AIFF, my file type of choice. Much better.

+1 Dbpoweramp suite.

I did ~3000 cds, and very happy with the results. FLAC for sure, external reader to Synology NAS w/ 2 SSDs.  Whoever said "One and Done" before got it right. Def not a project I ever want to repeat. =:0)

I used Exact Audio Copy on a Dell laptop to copy my collection to both Flac and Wav formats onto an 4TB external solid state hard drive. The hard drive feeds a Bluesound 2I and an external Dac.

What I didn't expect was that I could hear a difference between Flac and Wav playback. I don't have "golden ears" but could still hear a difference. I prefer Wav, but that's just me.

Jim S.

Perhaps we should also mention that ripping to an SSD or a USB instead of a traditional HD will not only be faster but should be more reliable in the long term?

SSDs now also come in a similar form as RAM sticks (the ultra fast NVMe PCIe 3.0/4.0) and USB is up to version 3.

Surprisingly there’s also some evidence that SSDs in order to function optimally need at least as much free space as traditional hard drives do (10%).

USB sticks are generally reliable and I’ve haven't experienced any problems with them apart from a couple of cheap ones off eBay I was using in the car and carelessly removed before turning the media player off.

In both cases the USB stick was left totally unresponsive. It wasn’t too big a deal because they were both backed up at least twice.

All good solutions.

+1 Exact Audio Copy & +1 dbpoweramp on my HP notebook with a cd drive.

Store them on an SSD from Crucial Technology in a plastic drive case from Amazon.

Linked via USB cable - PC to cd drive to rip.

Linked via USB cable - SSD to Streamer / Player.

Several SSD’s for backup.

Permits using any streamer / player and DAC.

Very simple, inexpensive, reliable and flexible.


A bit off topic....

As a tech novice, I'd like to find an easy was to rip my SACD discs and get the DSD layer to my Server/PC.

It appears the "easiest" is finding an old OPPO and using complex software & networking techniques. 

Is there a 1-stop solution - i.e. insert the SACD disk and directly send DSD layer to a PC?


I'm using DB Poweramp for ripping on a PC now, and the bitperfect feature is reassuring. I have already ripped my entire library on lesser software and going back to re-rip some due to some found errors. I was troubleshooting what I was hearing as a gap in the music upon playback and it actually came down to the VLC player software on the Macbook, and not a problem with the rip. The same music CD ripped on two different softwares were exhibiting the gap/pop and it was consistently at the same exact timing spot on the recording when playing in VLC Player, but a different timing spot on rip versions depending on what software ripped the song. In the end, the rips were all good, but there was something left in the original rips that VLC player had issues with, even though it's all ones and zeros! Now using different player software(s) there is no issue with the rips/recordings at all. I was surprised that the error was in playback software. That said, DB Poweramp seems to be a great rip solution even with the free version.


@kota1 Thank you for the Sony suggestion. I just started re-ripping my CD’s to new 1TB Samsung SS drive ($64 on Amazon) into my my Bluesound Node 2i. The Sony rips FLAC @950kbps constant rate and halves the file size.

I stupidly downloaded and and then paid $8 for the cover art database for EAC (Exact Audio Copy). While I agree, it’s a very powerful yet complicated program to run IMHO.

Then I saw your Sony post the same day. And it’s all FREE with cover art database included !!


I had no clue and I’m a Sony Fanboy.

Thanks, man !


+1 for dbpoweramp. Also @tmhaudio do a Google search on SACD ripping and you’ll find the forums (lots of helpful folks) that talk about the process and steer you to download the necessary files. Unfortunately it’s not a one step deal, but once your set up it’s an easy process. Good luck. 

@m_j_s - totally agree; I can certainly tell the difference between an .mp3 and a ripped CD, and it's a big difference, at least on my system. 

I have ripped my CD's to AIFF files using iTunes on my iMac.  I have done that partly because I am lazy and partly because iTunes allows me to automatically have my ripped music collection automatically synched to my iPhone as lower resolution files for use in listening to music on my car.

In some instances, I have purchased FLAC downloads of some of the same albums that I have ripped.  In most cases there are minimal if any differences in sound quality between the AIFF files and the higher resolution FLAC files.  When there are differences in sound quality, it appears to be due to the source being remastered versions of older albums.


In some instances, I have purchased FLAC downloads of some of the same albums that I have ripped. In most cases there are minimal if any differences in sound quality between the AIFF files and the higher resolution FLAC files. When there are differences in sound quality, it appears to be due to the source being remastered versions of older albums.


Yes, different mastering is usually the biggest difference.

On sites like Amazon Music you can compare different masterings, and hardly any of them sound the same.

What bothers me is that some of them can initially sound better on less ambitious speaker systems, and then worse on more revealing full scale ones.


I spent some time comparing the remastered Beach Boys 1993 Good Vibrations box set with their remastered 1999 Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: 20 Good Vibrations after reading about both on the Steve Hoffman music forum.

The former sounded better on the better system.

Listening to them on headphones was something different yet again.


Without a reliable reference source of material (or playback equipment), it is tricky to come to any worthwhile lasting conclusions.

In comparison, the difference in bitrate is usually insignificant.


I have ripped my entire CD collection of over 4000 discs so speed and convenience were of paramount importance. It took me over two years to do it. Here are the tools I used and why:

Laptop PC and External Drive - I ripped the files to an external 4 TB SATA drive. It's important that the PC and the drive both have SATA 3 interfaces. This isn't because it affects the ripping speed but it is critical when backing up that drive to other external drives. I have the original drive and two backups. If I ever lose this data I will have to call the suicide hotline.

Plextor Plexwriter PX-891SAF-PLUS-R Burner Drive - When I started my project I was using the internal drive of my ASUS ROG gaming laptop. It was painfully slow and I read that using a Plextor external CD drive would be much faster. OMG! - it is faster by a factor of 3 or 4. The speed difference is huge depending on the CD. If you have a lot of discs to rip this is an absolute requirement. Best 45 bucks I ever spent.

OWC Pro 5.25" Drive Enclosure - Because this was such a big project I bought the best hardware I could find. This is an excellent durable enclosure and costs about 60 bucks. That's more than the stupid drive but I'm a big spender.

dB Poweramp - After a considerable amount of research I settled on dB Poweramp. It has several features that I felt were critical: 1) It has the option of ripping an uncompressed FLAC file. Even though FLAC is a lossless codec I didn't want to take any chances on quality. By ripping uncompressed files the CPU of the playback device doesn't have to work as hard. Drive space is cheap and I ain't takin' any chances. 2) It compares your rip to a database to insure that it is completely accurate. 3) It fetches the metadata from the internet so you have the album info and the artwork all together in one folder. 4) It recognizes HDCD discs (you have to enable this feature) and rips them at 20 bits to take advantage of their higher dynamic range. I have several hundred HDCDs and this feature was critical to me. 5) It's easy to use.

I still have my CDs and I have compared at least a couple dozen of them to the ripped files using the same DAC. I'm using a PSA PerfectWave Mk II DAC and a PerfectWave transport. I haven't been able to hear any difference between the original CD and the FLAC file.

If you only have a few CDs to rip then it doesn't matter as much what you use but if you have a large CD collection putting together a good ripping rig will save you countless hours of tedium.

+1 for EAC.  Used it for my entire collection of over 500 CD's.  It's sometimes a bit wonky on tagging (to identify album and track info) so I 'scrubbed' with MediaMonkey, but any other decent tagging program will do.

I would recommend ripping only to FLAC, hard drive space is pretty cheap today.... Exact Audio Copy is good, but I found it a bit clunky to use. I have had very good results with Fairstars CD Ripper too. Fairstars is very good at tagging except for more obscure titles.  Oh yes, MP3 Tag is great for cleaning up your library

Agree - FLAC is the way to go - I use twinned 3 Tb NAS drives. The images take up a fair bit of space on top of the music. I am also a dBPoweramp user.

I gave up on ripping to a hard drive back at the beginning of the century. It was not a good enough sound quality for me. My ears told me the sound was not the same as on the original CD.