Rip MP3s Using iTunes

How to rip MP3s to create your MP3

Entering the world of digital media means learning a new language. Ripping and burning are just a couple of terms that are used in association with this new technology to digitize your music collection and manage it in a library. The first order of business is the ripping of your existing CDs. Burning simply refers to transferring those files onto writable media such as a CDR. You have to rip before you can burn.

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Ripping is the conversion of any disc-based media into a file on your computer. You can rip DVDs as well as CDs but this is a grey market; it's not exactly legal but not illegal if you're only using the ripped media as a backup for your own purposes and not distributing it. It's only natural that anyone who owns an MP3 player such as an iPod would want to rip their music into file so they can use the device. Included with your iPod is a program called iTunes that makes a very good digital music library manager (with only a few quirks) if you set it up correctly.

If you're using iTunes it makes an excellent CD ripper. It's very fast at performing the rip of your digital music but there are a few things you'll want to do with your iTunes default install before you get working on CDs.

The first order of business is going into the preferences. Edit-Preferences is a common system used in most Library management (CD ripping) software.

iTunes

There are important decisions to be made in this screen. Go to Advanced tab to edit your encoder. You can set the bit-rate by selecting Custom and rip at the maximum "Stereo Bit Rate" which is 320 kbps in iTunes. This should give you near CD quality. While the iPod is connected via USB you'll have access to the iPod tab in this Preferences control. This is where you turn off any automatic settings. Naturally iTunes wants to take control of all media on your desktop and this annoying tendency must be turned off. Do so or else you'll find your library synchronizing automatically with your iPod every time you connect it. This is not a good idea mainly because iTunes is liable only to work in conjunction with other software to manage your music library.

The biggest drawback to iTunes is its inability to send music from the iPod to the music library or your hard drive. There are a variety of third party applications that will allow you to download MP3s from the iPod to your computer. A good free one is Winamp. Winamp has a free iPod plug-in that works well. However using Winamp to rip your MP3s requires Winamp Pro which is not free.

Now that you have a CD in the drive and CDDB has automatically identified the CD and entitled the track names with correct metadata (you'll appreciate CDDB auto-detection if you ever have to edit metadata manually). For more info on your MP3's meta-data read here

iTunes Manager

Highlight your selected music and tell it to convert selection. The conversion will use the codec you have selected and your music will land in the path you selected in Preferences. Easy! Now you're on your way to managing your own music library.