HOW  TO  RIP  AN  AUDIO  CD

In this section I will show you how to Rip an Audio CD using Windows Media Player 12, even though the examples and explanations could apply to other media software. Rip is a variation of the term COPY. It specifically means: Make a copy of an Audio Track (Record/Song), from an Audio CD, and then save that copied audio track as an Audio File (i.e. as an .MP3 or WMA file). The Rip function is commonly used for converting audio tracks (one CD) into MP3 files.


An audio cd has its individual audio tracks stored on the cd as CDA files, in the CDA file format, which can only be played on a hi-fi/stereo system but not on a MP3 Player. Windows Media Player 12 makes a copy of the audio tracks (rips the audio tracks) you want from the cd and then converts those copied/ripped audio tracks into the WMA file format by default, or into the .MP3 file format, before saving them as .wma files (or .mp3 files). Therefore, Windows Media Player 12 becomes a good tool if you want to convert your favourite/old Audio CDs (Audio Tracks) into MP3 files, for use with a portable Media Player for example (i.e. an MP3 Player).

SET  UP  WINDOWS  MEDIA  PLAYER  FIRST

Before I show you how to rip an audio cd (all of its tracks) you first need to set up some Windows Media Player preferences (options/settings). The first thing to do is make sure the Windows Media Player icon is on the Desktop, in the START Menu and/or on the Taskbar. This is done by going inside the WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER folder (C: >> PROGRAM FILES >> WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER) and creating a shortcut icon to the actual Windows Media Player program (executable file called wmplayer.exe).

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In the example below I am right clicking over the Windows Media Player program (wmplayer.exe file) so I have a choice of selecting the PIN TO START, PIN TO TASKBAR or SEND TO >> DESKTOP (CREATE SHORTCUT) menu-item. In other words, you could create a shortcut icon in all three places. In this example though I will use the PIN TO TASKBAR menu-item (option) only, to place a shortcut icon on the Taskbar.

Rip Music Explained

Fig 1.0 - Select PIN TO TASKBAR to continue

With the Windows Media Player shortcut icon created, on the Taskbar, click on that shortcut icon to execute (run) the wmplayer.exe file. Doing so will open (launch) the program called Windows Media Player (Fig 1.2).

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Fig 1.1 - Click on the Windows Media Player taskbar icon to continue

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Fig 1.2 - Click on the ORGANISE drop-down menu and then select the OPTIONS menu-item to continue

When the Windows Media Player program (window) has opened click on the ORGANISE drop-down menu and select the OPTIONS menu-item (above). And when the Options window appears (below) click on its RIP Tab (mini window). It will initially be on the LIBRARY Tab, by default.

Rip Music Explained

Fig 1.3 - Click on the RIP Tab to continue

The Options window has more than just RIP options on it, hence why it is called the Options window and not the Rip Options window! Changing the RIP preferences (options/settings) only needs to be done once and will allow you to set up the file options, such as saving audio tracks in the MP3 file format at a bit rate of 192bps (bits per second).

To make the ripping process save your cd audio tracks (cda files) as .mp3 files, in the mp3 file format, you need to click on the FORMAT drop-down menu and then select the MP3 menu-item (below). After doing that you can either select a new Audio Quality (Bit Rate) for the mp3 file format or you can simply leave the audio quality (bit rate) at its default setting of 128 kbps (kilobytes per second).

Rip Music Explained

Fig 1.4 - Use the FORMAT drop-down menu to change the audio format

Changing the audio quality (bit rate) is simply a case of moving (dragging) the AUDIO QUALITY Slider (Guage button) leftwards or rightwards until you are happy with the audio quality, and perhaps more importantly the amount of disk space the audio tracks (mp3 files) will use. For example: 128kbps means each audio track (mp3 file) will have an audio (sound) quality of 128kbps and the audio tracks (mp3 files) combined will use approximately 56MB of hard drive space whereas 192kbps means each audio track will have an audio (sound) quality of 192kbps and the audio tracks combined will use approximately 86MB of hard drive space. So the higher the kbps the more disk space is needed. The length of each audio track also needs to be added to the equation.

Moving (dragging) the AUDIO QUALITY Slider (Guage button) leftwards or rightwards only adjusts the format settings. It does not adjust the actual audio quality until the ripping process begins though. Therefore you will only get to hear the audio quality when the audio tracks have been ripped. So my advice is to listen to some 128kbps audio tracks and 192kbps audio tracks, from the internet, for example before ripping your audio cd. Saying this, 128kbps audio quality is a bit rubbish to put it politely! 192kbps is good for most hearing and MP3 players - Anything higher than 192kbps and you would need to be a classically trained person for example to notice the audio difference.

Rip Music Explained

Fig 1.5 - Drag the AUDIO QUALITY Slider (Guage) leftwards / rightwards

Besides setting up the audio format and audio quality you can also use Options to tell Windows Media Player what to do before and after the ripping process. For example: You can tick the EJECT CD AFTER RIPPING option to tell Windows Media Player to eject the audio cd when the ripping process has finished. And you can also switch off automatic ripping, and go into manual ripping mode, by unticking the RIP CD AUTOMATICALLY option. One thing to note with the EJECT CD AFTER RIPPING option is that; If you insert a cd that has already been ripped it will be ejected straight away by Windows Media Player. Therefore, you will not be able to play that cd while Windows Media Player is open.....because you are expected to play your mp3 files of course.


To change the RIP location (the folder/sub-folder where the ripped music will be stored) simply click on the CHANGE button (Fig 1.6 below) to bring up the BROWSE FOR FOLDER file requester (Fig 1.7). In this example I have changed the rip location (music folder) from the default rip location of MUSIC to MUSIC/MP3 Files - a sub-folder, called MP3 Files, that I created inside the MUSIC folder beforehand. I could of also used the MAKE NEW FOLDER button on the BROWSE FOR FOLDER file requester if I wanted to.

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Fig 1.6 - Click on the CHANGE button to.....

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Fig 1.7 - .....change the RIP (Music folder) location.

If you want to change File Name attributes click on the FILE NAME button, underneath the CHANGE button. FILE NAME allows you to include the Artist, Album, Track Number, Song Title, Genre and Bit Rate (kbps) in each file name, in any order by clicking on the MOVE UP and MOVE DOWN buttons (Fig 1.9 below).

Rip Music Explained

Fig 1.8 - Choose a spacing character to go in-between each file name element

Rip Music Explained

Fig 1.9 - Click on MOVE UP to move the GENRE file name element upwards

You can also select what character (Dash, Dot, Space, Underline or None/Nothing) separates each attribute simply by clicking on the SEPARATOR drop-down menu (Fig 1.8 above). In general though, keep things simple. Have file names with the Song Title and Track Number attributes in them only for example. Including all file attributes in your file names does not really make sense. Anyway, when you have finished setting up the Windows Media Player preferences (options/settings) click on the relevant OK buttons to apply the changes whereby the Options window is then closed and you are back to the main Windows Media Player window.

SHOW  THE  MENU  BAR

If you want to use the Classic Menus (Menu Bar), located just below the Title Bar, you can right click on an empty/black area of the tool bar to bring up the context (Options) menu and then select (left click on) the SHOW MENU BAR menu-item (Fig 1.10 below) to display the classic menus. Or you can use the ORGANISE menu (ORGANISE >> LAYOUT >> SHOW MENU BAR) or press the CTRL keyboard key together with the letter M; so CTRL and M. You may find the Classic Menus easier/quicker to use, as I do.

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Fig 1.10 - Right click on an empty part of the Tool Bar and then select the SHOW MENU BAR menu-item

RIP  FOR  THE  FIRST  TIME

In the example below I have inserted a CD whereby Windows Media Player has begun playing the first song (record/audio track) on it straight away simply because I did not tick the RIP CD AUTOMATICALLY option (above). If I had Windows Media Player would of started ripping the cd straight away and not played the first song at all. So in this example the first thing I need to do is stop the music (first song) playing, by clicking on the PAUSE button. Once that is done I then need to decide which songs I want to rip.

All of the songs (records/audio tracks) are selected (ticked) by default, which I will keep selected, but if I do NOT want to rip one or more songs I can simply deselect (untick) it/them. When I have made my selection (ticked the songs I want ripping) I then need to click on the RIP button. The RIP button only appears when there is a cd in the DVD RW Drive.

Rip Music Explained

Fig 1.11 - Click on the RIP CD button to begin the actual ripping process

Regardless of how you set up, or do not set up, the RIP options the following message requester will appear, once only, the first time you click on the RIP CD button. Read the message requester carefully and when you have decided which option you would prefer simply click on its radio (circle/dot) button to select it. Then put a tick next to I UNDERSTAND..... before clicking on the OK button. Basically, the two options are saying "Do you want to protect the music you rip or not?". If you do, select ADD COPY PROTECTION TO YOUR MUSIC otherwise select DO NOT ADD COPY PROTECTION TO YOUR MUSIC.

Rip Music Explained

Fig 1.12 - The RIP CD message requester - Select your option, tick I UNDERSTAND..... and then click on the OK button to continue.

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Fig 1.13 - The audio cd is being ripped (a copy of its audio tracks are being copied onto the computer as mp3 files)

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Fig 1.14 - The audio cd has been ripped - The .mp3 files are inside the MUSIC/MP3 Files sub-folder

After clicking on the RIP CD button, and taking care of the "First Time" RIP CD message requester (if need be), the audio tracks are then ripped. This means a copy of the audio tracks (cda files) on the cd are being copied into the Music Location folder specified in Fig 1.7 above (i.e. into the MUSIC/MP3 Files sub-folder) as mp3 audio files. Their file sizes will be smaller, but their quality will not be cd quality (natural hearing quality only), if you lowered the file format as stated in the above RIP Options examples. And when the ripping process has finished the cd should eject automatically, depending on how those RIP options are set up.

NO  MEDIA  INFORMATION

When the ripping process has finished, or been stopped by you for example, there might not be any or enough Media (Album) Information available - Normally due to you not being connected to the internet. If this is the case, as soon as you connect to the internet and play back the ripped audio tracks (mp3 files) Windows Media Player should begin to download, in the background, the media (album) information associated with the media (songs/mp3 files) you are playing. If this is not the case though, someone could of switched off the top two Media Info privacy settings inside the PRIVACY Tab - Simply switch them back on by ticking them. You might then need to delete your 'Unknown Artists' ripped audio tracks (mp3 files) and perform another rip of the album they were previous ripped from.

Rip Music Explained

Fig 1.15 - No Media (Album) Information is available for this ripped audio cd

When the ripping process has completed you can then copy the mp3 files onto a mp3 player, burn them onto a cd/dvd and so on (provided you are not breaking any copyright laws of course). In the above example I showcased the mp3 file format but you could of used the WMA (Windows Media Audio) file format too. WMA files play in most, if not all, mp3 players these days. And the same goes for the ripping process, generally. If Windows Media Player supports the ripping of other file formats in the future the ripping process should more or less be the same as the above ripping process.