I absolutely love CDs. I can’t really explain why — perhaps I’m old-fashioned, or maybe I grew up in a weird time — but I remember going to the local music store to pick up new CDs on Tuesdays, and listening to it on the car ride home, or plopping it into my Discman. (Yeah, I had one of those.)
Nostalgia or not, I think they’re still of great use: CDs are physical backups of all the music that you can’t live without. Also, they’re a source of great, high quality, lossless music. Now you’ve ripped CDs before, and they’re far from lossless. Can you make those digital files copied from your CD sound better? You bet.
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Exact Audio Copy (EAC) calls itself an “audio grabber” for audio CDs. I think that’s an accurate way description — basically, it copies (or “rips”) music from your CDs to your hard drive. Why use this over default ripping software like iTunes or Windows Media Player? Exact Audio Copy reads and copies files almost exactly perfectly. I’ve run into occasions when iTunes and Windows Media Player have failed me (apparently they have failed others as well), whereas EAC has proven to be reliable, especially when it comes to grabbing music from damaged discs.
First and foremost, EAC allows you to copy CDs either in a compressed format (.mp3) or uncompressed format (.wav). If you’re planning to import sound files and using them on your iPod, I’d stick with importing them in a .mp3 format. Naturally, uncompressed files are larger and will take longer to import; if you’re short on time (or patience), go for compressed files.
When you try to create a compressed file for the first time, EAC will ask you to find a file called lame_enc.dll. Don’t worry about this — simply follow the instructions and the link they gave you. This problem can be solved very quickly and is a one-time thing. If you’re still lost, you can find lame_enc.dll.
As you can expect, the latest version of EAC allows you to collect metatags from online databases, like freedb. This means you’re practically one-click away from getting CD information, as well as high quality image art. That said, I’d definitely prefer if EAC did this automatically, like iTunes, Windows Media Player, and Songbird are capable of doing.
There’s also a somewhat clumsy method used to collect Lyrics for the CD you’re trying to import, where you go through song by song and select the right set of lyrics. I’m not in love with this method, and would definitely prefer it if they selected one by default, and asked you to confirm with a simple yes or no.
I’ve found EAC to be really useful for testing out sound equipment, and for enjoying my fondest albums. If you’ve got the hard drive space and find that you want more high-quality music, check out Exact Audio Copy!