How to copy a music CD to your computer by converting CDA audio tracks to MP3 files
Those who loved distributed music in the 1990s and early 2000s will surely remember Audio CDs, the discs with which it was possible to listen to high quality music in the car radio or at home with a Hi-Fi system. Entire collections of discs have now ended up in the attic, with the arrival of audio on digital files (the famous MP3) and streaming services such as Spotify, which in fact have revolutionized the way we listen to music.
Those who have a large collection of Audio CDs can preserve their original quality by saving the songs from the CDs in digital files in MP3 format, so you can listen to them again at any time on smartphones, tablets and Smart TVs without having to subscribe to Spotify. Let’s see together the best programs to extract music from an Audio CD and convert it to MP3, an operation known as CD Ripping.
If your computer or Mac is not equipped with a disc reader or burner, we can quickly remedy this and burn CDs and DVDs using an external USB burner purchased on Amazon.
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Windows Media Player
Without installing anything on Windows, we can rip Audio CDs to MP3 using Windows Media Player, which can be selected by opening the Start menu and searching for the name of the player.
Although this program has not been updated for many years, it still provides an excellent ripping tool, so you can convert Audio CDs to MP3 in a few simple steps. To proceed, insert the disc in the player or burner, open Windows Media Player, click on the name of the inserted CD and click on Copy from CD Settings at the top.
In the screen that opens, set MP3 as the digital file format, confirm where necessary and press this time on Copy from CD to start the conversion. All the files will be saved in a specific folder inside the Music folder.
Apple Music (Mac)
If we are using a Mac, we can extract music from an Audio CD and convert it to MP3 using the Music app, also called iTunes on previous versions of macOS. We can find this program in the bottom dock or we can open it by opening the Launchpad and searching for the name of the player.
To quickly convert the Audio CD to MP3 we open the indicated app on the Mac, connect the external USB burner seen in the introduction, insert the disc and, as soon as the warning window appears on the Mac, press Yes and confirm the window where you are asked to import the CD into the library.
Alternatively we always open the Music program on the Mac, press on the top right on File, select the Import menu and indicate the Audio CD in the sidebar, so we can manually start the ripping operation on the Mac disk.
The Mac will save the songs in the AAC format, which is of higher quality than MP3; if we want to maintain compatibility and still aim at MP3 files we open the Music app, press on the top right on the Music item, select the Preferences menu, click on the File tab, then on Import Settings and choose MP3 encoder in the Import using window.
One of the best programs we can use for ripping music is VLC, the famous all-in-one multimedia player available for Windows, Mac and Linux and downloadable from the official website.
VLC has a good level converter with which you can rip any audio CD. To proceed, open the program, insert the CD in the player or in the burner in our possession, click on Media in the top left corner and then click on Convert/Save.
In the new window that opens, click on the Disk tab, select Audio CD as the disc type, make sure that the disc inserted in the player is selected next to the item Disc Device (otherwise click on Browse) and click on Convert / Save at the bottom.
A new window will open where you just have to choose Audio – MP3 as the profile, select the destination file at the bottom (by clicking the Browse button) and finally press Start. It will start converting the files on the CD, which will be saved to a single MP3 file with all the songs inside.
Express Rip CD Ripper Free
Another very simple program that we can download on Windows to rip Audio CDs to MP3 is Express Rip CD Ripper Free, available for free from the Microsoft Store.
This simple program allows you to view all the tracks on the audio disc, manually or automatically edit the tags of the tracks and start ripping at the touch of a button. It is currently one of the fastest and most convenient ways to rip any audio CD to MP3 and is provided free of charge from the Microsoft Store so you don’t have to search for other apps on the internet.
EAC (Exact Audio Copy)
EAC (Exact Audio Copy) is the best CD ripper, designed to extract tracks at the highest audio quality: in fact we’ll get MP3s of CD quality, without any audible difference.
EAC converts the tracks of a CD in a perfect way and lets you verify, at the end of the extraction, the quality of the same with respect to the original. Therefore, EAC is a program designed for perfectionists and quality maniacs because it offers a lot of perfection and fidelity, which makes it one of the slowest to convert (since it has to check the quality of the files obtained).
Another very good program to rip Audio CD to MP3 is CDex, considered by many the best choice for those in a hurry and want a good ripping without too many pretensions.
Compared to EAC is a program simpler and more immediate to understand, since just one key on the interface to start the conversion. In addition to simple extraction, it also allows you to edit the tags of the songs and get MP3 files of excellent quality (although not comparable to the songs you can get with EAC). If you are looking for simplicity and need to rip a lot of audio CDs, you’ll surely appreciate the speed of CDex.
How to rip protected audio CDs
Many modern audio CDs have anti-copy systems that make ripping with the programs mentioned in the first part of this guide impossible. These security systems are designed to stop piracy, but if we are making a personal copy of the tracks we are within the law and we can remove the protections using the AnyDVD program, which we can try for free for 20 days.
Although this program was created to remove protections from DVD Video and Blu-ray discs, it can also remove active protections on Audio CDs without any problem.
Using the program is really very simple: start it in the background and minimize it, insert the Audio CD in the player or USB burner in our possession and use without problems with one of the programs for ripping present in the guide. This program acts on the fly as soon as you insert a protected disc, we don’t have to press anywhere.
If you have a large collection of audio CDs, it’s a good idea to make a digital copy of the tracks or, if you really want to preserve the original disc, you can create ISO images of the entire optical disc.