Getting your CD collection onto your MP3 player needn't take weeks with our exclusive quick-ripping guide.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  May 10, 2008

Getting your CD collection onto your MP3 player needn't take weeks with our exclusive quick-ripping guide.

It's a mental process most of us have probably gone through by now: 'I wish I had all my top tunes on my iPod/MP3 player, but they really will take ages to convert!'.

Not so however, as with a bit of software knowledge and - if your collection is truly massive - just a few dollars spent on a second optical drive, the process can actually be largely automated. Really.

Once we've shown you what apps to use and how to configure them, all it requires in fact is that you just swap CDs whenever you are using, or walking past, your PC. It's that imple.

Our approach here is that we've divided this workshop into different sections, based upon how many optical drives (CD or DVD drives) your machine includes (in our experience desktop PC drives are generally more reliable than laptop versions, should you have the choice), and giving you the choice of ripping your CDs using three different software apps. We'll start you off then using one CD (or DVD) drive alongside Microsoft's Windows Media Player.

One drive & Media Player


- One optical drive (a CD-ROM drive will work fine).

- Microsoft Media Player software (available from

Firstly, make sure Media Player (MP) is set as the default application for use with audio files. To do this, Open MP, hit Tools/Options, and under the File Types tab click 'Select All'.

Next, tell MP which folder to save digitised songs into. Its default setting sends them to My Music (in My Documents). In the absence of any specific hard (or external) drive location, this will do just fine.

To change it however, browse for the folder you want in the ‘Rip music to this location' section of the Rip Music tag.

Next, set the output file type to MP3. MP's default output setting is WMA (Windows Media Audio) files, but these types of files aren't as well supported as MP3s.

You can't, for instance, load WMA files onto an Apple iPod (or early Sony PSP consoles), so save yourself future converting by getting the format right the first time.

Go to MP's Tools pull-down, choose Options and then head for the Rip Music tab. Adjust the Format pull-down to choose the MP3 setting.

As far as the quality of MP3 encoding is concerned (the higher the bit-rate, the better the sound quality but the larger the resulting file), 128Kbps roughly equates to CD quality, so we suggest going for that, as you'll fit the maximum number of songs on your Pod that way.

Again in the Rip Music tab, move the Audio Quality bar all the way to the left.

(If you're not sure about your quality requirements, try ripping one CD at 128Kbps - that's 128 kilobytes of data used per second of the digital song file - then attach some headphones to your PC, head into My Music, and play your songs to gauge what you think. Better that than ripping a huge batch of tunes you don't rate the quality of!)

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