Aaron Giles

About Me

The Final Rip Background

From March through August 2017, I decided to re-rip my massive CD collection to a lossless format (FLAC). While doing this, I thought it would be fun to talk a little about each band, both for my own edification and also in the interest of potential serendipitous discovery by others.

Below is background information on my ripping approach, plus a little historical summary of my music tastes.

Introduction & Tools

I have a massive CD collection, close to 1,500 titles, split about 70:25:5 Rock:Classical:Soundtracks (those being very broad categories).

Of course, being a good nerd, I had long ago ripped them all and stashed them up on a server for my Squeezeboxen to stream from, or to copy to USB sticks for playing the car.

Ideally I would have done all my rips losslessly at the time and been done with it, but 1TB of storage was not cheap back then (figure 1500 CDs times 60 mins/CD times ~10MB/minute), and so I went with decent quality MP3.

Fast forward to now, and 1TB ain’t no thang, so it’s time to revisit that decision and do one last rip.

Of course, the tools now are better than they were. Being a longtime adherent of EAC (Exact Audio Copy), I naturally began the process with that old beast. Super configurable, it works really well in most cases, and cross references the rips against online databases of known good tracks.

The issue is what to do when you can’t get a good read. EAC would try hard (often TOO hard in my opinion), but for some discs, it just wouldn’t happen. Later versions of the program suggest maybe trying something called CUETools to repair the damaged tracks.

Curious, I did just that. Although the repair process is implemented in a rather cryptic fashion, it does seem to work for a lot of situations. I also noticed that CUETools came with its own ripper called CUERipper.

CUERipper pales against EAC in terms of features, but its simpler interface handles the basics just fine, and it handles a few things (like multiple metadata entries) much more smoothly than EAC, so I’ve switched to that.

At the time of this post, I’ve made it alphabetically up through and including my giant Depeche Mode section and have been able to produce 100% verified copies for everything, so I think this will remain the plan for the rest.

Once ripped, I’m compressing them all with FLAC, in part because it is natively supported on the Squeezebox, and also because I like that it’s simple, open source, and independent.

Having set out on this project of course has made me nostalgic and wanting to revisit much of the collection, so I think I’ll follow this up with some random musings about what I run into....

How I Ended Up With Over 1,000 CDs

When I was 7 years old I got my first cassette player. It was a little all-in-one unit with a single mono speaker, but owning that is what encouraged me to seek out and begin buying music.

The first cassette I bought was Cornerstone by Styx, probably because I had heard a couple of songs on the radio and it was a band I recognized. I bought a few more and then eventually convinced my folks to let me join the Columbia Record Club, which is where I really started to explore music.

From there, things just exploded and ever since then I have been exploring all sorts of different subgenres of what is loosely termed as “rock” music....

My early grade school years were dominated by popular bands of the time, including Styx, Hall & Oates, Foreigner, The Police, etc. My friends were into Rush but I wasn’t digging on them just yet.

Once 1980 hit and MTV showed up, I began to expand my interests into other bands like Def Leppard, AC/DC, Genesis, Heart, etc. MTV also introduced me to other music that I enjoyed but didn’t really get into until later, like Adam Ant, Talking Heads, etc.

In junior high I was into hair metal bands like Dokken, Ratt, Poison, Mötley Crüe, even the unmasked KISS.

In high school I began to listen to electronic music and started listening to Depeche Mode, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys. This is also when CDs just started catching on, and I was a huge early adopter, replacing my cassettes with CDs as fast as possible.

Late in high school a friend introduced me to the techno/industrial offshoot of electronic music and I got into Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry.

In college I discovered alternative rock and picked up bands like They Might Be Giants. I also relented and finally recognized Rush’s awesomeness once I found out even my girlfriend was into them.

After graduation I had my grunge phase and enjoyed listening to Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden.

When we moved to the San Francisco area in 1995, we started listening to Live105 a lot, which furthered the grunge influence but also introduced us to more techno bands like Orbital, The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, as well as other alt rock like Beck, CAKE, Fiona Apple, The Offspring, Linkin Park.

Since then I’ve occasionally dabbled in a few bands in various genres that have caught my fancy, including The Faint, Kasabian, Muse, Avenged Sevenfold, That 1 Guy, etc.

These days I mostly keep up with my favorite bands and occasionally dabble in newer stuff. Plus my recent forays into classical singing and composing have led me to pick up quite a few choral and instrumental CDs to keep the collection growing!


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