I recently converted my 500+ CD collection to MP3s. Here’s how I did it.
I used Exact Audio Copy to rip the CDs. It was really slow in secure mode so I switched to burst mode and used copy and test which does CRC comparisons to make sure you got the same audio in two tries. The quality of the MP3s is fine and it took much less time than secure mode. My CDs are in good condition and have very few scratches, so I wasn’t as concerned about that to begin with.
If you have a CD that has scratches, you can always go to EAC -> Drive options and use Secure Mode. It will take much longer to rip the CD, but it’s more likely to avoid any problems from the scratches. I had a handful of CDs that I knew had issues but Secure Mode just got stuck and hung. The best solution I found was to fill in the scratches using a highlighter, polish the CD gently with lens cloth and use Burst mode. It worked for me.
Even after switching to burst mode, it was still slower than I had hoped. I realized I could use the compression queue to leave the conversion of wavs to mp3s to be done overnight. The way to do that in EAC is not immediately obvious, but I found a thread on a support forum that explained it concisely:
Turn off showing external compression. You can do this in EAC Options -> Tools -> Do not open external compressor window (it’s a checkbox). The last thing you need is a window popping up showing you the compression status every few minutes when you’ve queued up several hundred of them.
I used 160kbits for MP3 encoding. It’s a nice balance between size and quality, with an average song ranging from 3MB to 6MB.
After getting everything set up, my basic process for each CD was as follows
Once I was done ripping for the day I unchecked the compression sleep check box to start encoding the wav files. Make sure you have plenty of disk space for all the wavs. The next morning all the wavs had magically been converted into MP3s.
It’s also a good idea to take a second to make sure the information that you got from freedb.org is what you want. Different people have different conventions for album names or using “the” in the title. If you want all your artists to be in the same location it’s easier to do it for each CD as you rip it. Otherwise you have to go back and rename directories and change the ID3 tags, which can be tedious and cumbersome.
It took several days to rip all of my CDs, but now that it’s done I can listen to my entire CD collection without mucking around with CD trays or CDs.