The Final Rip: Preliminaries

Since I feel like reminiscing about the CDs I’m re-ripping as I go through my collection, I figure it’s worthwhile to provide a little bit of background.

I began buying music — on cassette tape — in 1977. I remember picking up Styx‘s Cornerstone album from the local drug store. Then I joined the Columbia and/or RCA record clubs on and off over the years as a quick way to acquire more music.

In the mid-80s the Compact Disc was introduced and I was an early adopter. I rejoined all the record clubs to replace my cassettes with CDs and have been collecting ever since. I am also an avid shopper in used CD stores, always meticulously scanning through the piles of used discs, looking for a great deal or something new to try.

Over the years my tastes have wandered from American Top 40 (with Casey Kasem!) to MTV to hair metal to new wave to techno/industrial to grunge to 90s alternative to techno to now where it’s pretty much anything that strikes my fancy.

If there’s one common theme across all these genres, it’s that I particularly enjoy music that is dark, moody, epic, and/or minor. (Which contrasts nicely with my generally upbeat personality!) This is not a 100% hard and fast rule, but it is a pretty obvious thread when I step back and look at my favorites.

And so with that background out of the way, look for my next post where I’ll start in rip order (aka alphabetically) through the list….

The Final Rip: Intro & 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….