How to create mp3 from your Music CD
What is mp3?
Your music cd contains songs that playback when you insert it into a cd player. Those songs are stored on the cd in a format called audio. You can store the same songs on cd in a different format, called mp3.
Note: Read about WMA file format at the bottom of this page.
Why store music in mp3 format instead of audio format?
Music in mp3 format is about ten times smaller in size, compared to audio format. Hence, in mp3 format, you can store about ten times as many songs on a cd. If your normal cd will normally hold 15 songs, it means that the same cd can contain about 150 mp3 songs. Therefore, instead of carrying 60 regular audio cd's on a trip, you could simply convert the songs into mp3 and fit them on 4 cd's. Wow, what a space saver!
Another reason for creating mp3 files is for streaming on the Internet. mp3 is small enough to download, or stream on slow Internet connections.
What is the sound quality of mp3, compared to audio?
You can encode (create) mp3 files that sound as good as their audio counterparts.
Why is mp3 so small?
mp3 is a newer technology that allows audio files to be compressed to much smaller size, while still maintaining very high sound quality.
Can I play mp3 in my current cd player?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. To play mp3, you will need to purchase a separate mp3 player. New breeds of cd players are coming out now that play both audio, mp3, as well as other formats such as wma. These currently carry a price tag of about $110+. If you have a computer however, you can install a free software like Winamp for playing mp3 songs.
Can I play mp3 in my car?
Yes. If you have an mp3 player, you can connect it to your car stereo. To do this, your mp3 player must have the car accessory.
How much does it cost to convert audio to mp3
Apart from the cost of your computer, which you may already own, there is no other cost involved. All the softwares you need to make mp3 can be download free from the Internet.
What is required to create mp3 from audio cd?
- A computer with a cdrom drive
- CD Ripper.
- mp3 encoder.
- winzip, or any other program for a zip file.
- CD burner
- Internet connection.
Let's look at the above step-by-step
- You should have a relatively fast computer, 75MHz pentium or better.
- Hard Drive. Your computer should have a hard drive that has at least 100 MB free space. Audio files are relatively large in size. The audio files will first be stored on your hard drive, before they are converted to mp3. Hard drives are dirt cheap now, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting a bigger hard drive if you need to.
The cdrom drive should have a speed of about about 20x. Any cdrom drive will do, but the slower drives will take longer to complete the process.
- A CD Ripper is a program you install on your computer that will read the data on your audio cd, and convert that data to a format called wave. This format has the extension of .wav.
- The mp3 encoder then takes the .wav file and converts it to an mp3 file.
The final step in creating your mp3 CD is to burn the mp3 files onto a blank cdr disk. This step is optional, since you can leave the mp3 songs on your computer and play them from the hard drive.
What do we need Internet connection for? We need it, so we can access online CDDB. This is a database that contains information about albums, such as artist name, album title, track list, genre, etc. Rather than type all that information manually for every cd, you simply click on Freedb to get it.
Ripper. Because of the popularity of mp3, you can find hundreds of CD rippers online. The one I've used for years is Audiograbber. It is fast, stable, rich in features, and does mp3 encoding.
- Go to http://www.download.com, and search for audiograbber.
- Download the shareware version (1.4MB). This version does not expire. The only snag is that it only randomly selects half of the songs on a cd per run. To get the other half, just close the program and re-open it. If this is a hassle, the $20 price tag on the full version is well worth it. Feel free to search for a totally free ripper, and apply the configuration instructions given in this tutorial to try to get it working.
Update: Audiograbber used to be shareware but in February 9, 2004 it was released as freeware! Get it from: http://www.audiograbber.com-us.net/download.html
MP3 Encoder. Before you can create mp3, you need an mp3 encoder. The cd ripper we've chosen above will also do mp3 encoding. However, we need to add the encoder before it can do that. Adding the encoder is easy, so let's download one called LameEnc. This encoder is totally free to use. Get it from one of these places: http://mitiok.free.fr/, http://www.citay.de/lame-3.91.zip or http://www.sysdesk.de/download/encoders. If these links are dead, just search on the web for the keyword lameenc.
- Double click on Audiograbber to begin installation.
- Click Next.
- Accept default installtion directory, or change it to a different directory of your choice.
- Click Next, Next, Finish.
I'll assume you installed audiograbber in C:\audiograbber.
- Double click on the encoder. It's a zip file.
- Unzip it to C:\audiograbber. If you installed audiograbber anywhere else, just unzip it into that directory. For example, if you installed audiograbber in C:\program files\audiograbber, you would unzip lame into C:\program files\audiograbber.
- Insert your audio cd into the cdrom drive.
- Click on Start/Programs/Audiograbber. Click on Audiograbber to start the program.
- Click on OK to exit "Tip of the day".
- On the toolbar, click on Settings, then General settings....
- Under Directory to store files in, leave it as it is, or change it to any directory where your mp3 should be stored. In my case, I created a new directory C:\audiograbber\mp3. You can change the directory by clicking the Browse... button.
- Click on Naming tab, check Advanced.
- Type in: %3 - %1 - %2 - %4
- This produces a title for your songs like: 03 - Heinz Affolter - Acoustic Adventure - Basia.mp3. You can customize how your songs are titled. For more info, click on Info button next to Advanced.
- Under sub-directories, check: Artist as directory, Album as directory. This
will sort out artist and albums neatly into their own sub-directories.
- Click on ASPI tab, check Rip as much as possible to RAM. If you have a lot of memory on your computer, increase the Max value. The higher the max value, the faster your mp3 would be created.
- Under CD-ROM unit, select the CD-ROM drive that contains your audio cd.
- These are the essential options in this window. Take a look at the other tabs to see if you find something of interest.
- Click OK.
I like to use normalization when ripping, so that I get a consistent volume level for all my mp3 songs. Naturally, songs from different CDs may have different volume levels. If you use normalization while ripping, all your mp3 files will have a regular volume level.
- Click on Norm. button.
- Check Use Normalizing..., and leave the level at 98%.
- Click OK.
Settings for mp3 files
- Click on MP3 button.
- Under Grab to, choose MP3 file via intermediate wav file. Delete the wav file. This will make audiograbber create mp3 files directly from your audio cd.
- Check Use ID3v1 Tag. Also check Append ID3 info to wav file (for future use). Learn more about ID3 tags at http://www.id3.org.
- What you do under Rip all tracks before encoding will depend on how much hard drive space you have. When audiograbber creates mp3 files, it first rips songs from the cd to wav format. The latter is then encoded to mp3. Since each wav file is about 60MB in size, it means that ripping 10 songs at once will occupy about 600MB on your hard drive. But if you choose not to rip all tracks before encoding, audiograbber will complete the creation of each mp3 file, then delete the wav file, before starting the next song. It all boils down to a question of speed. There's some lag between switching from ripping to encoding, which is eliminated if you rip all tracks before encoding.
As I mentioned earlier, Audiograbber can take external mp3 encoders. In our case, we have chosen LameEnc, because it's open source freeware. Now we need to tell audiograbber to use LameEnc, and also where lame.exe is located. Since we're using a separate encoder, it is considered an external encoder.
- Click on External Encoder.
- Under External mp3 program name, click Browse... button.
- Browse to C:\audiograbber, and select lame.exe.
- Click on Open.
- Under Predefined arguments, choose Lame 128 Kbit/s Joint Stereo.
- Under Arguments, you should see something like %s %d -b 128. This setting should produce a high quality mp3 file. The -b means 'set bitrate.' You can use a different bitrate than 128. But note that higher bitrates will increase the file size. On the other hand, if you're planning to stream your mp3 files over the web, it may be advantageous to encode them at a lower bitrate, e.g. 24 kbit/s. But how do you encode at a different bitrate than 128? Here's how...
Experiment here and compare file sizes, to see what works best for you. When choosing your own custom bitrate, use steps of 8, e.g. 16, 24, 32, etc. Bitrates can range from 8 kbps to 640 kbps. See links section below for more info.
- Under Predefined arguments, choose User Defined.
- Under Arguments, type in the bitrate you want, e.g. %s %d -b 24 will produce mp3 files very small in size that will stream easily over the web. I did an experiment on bitrate/size...
- A 4 minute, 35 sec file encoded at 128 kb/s came out as 4.4 MB in size.
- Same file encoded at 8 Kb/s was only 271 K, or only about 6 percent of its 128 kb/s counterpart.
- Click on OK.
- Put a check mark in MP3 button. This tells audiograbber to create mp3 directly from audio cd.
CDDB stands for CD Database. A CDDB contains information about your albums. Audiograbber can log onto these database servers and retrieve such information for you. That saves you the headache of endless typing.
To use CDDB, you need to be connected to the Internet.
- Connect to the Internet if you're not already online.
- On the menu bar, Click on Settings, then Freedb settings...
- Under Freedb server, click on Get list. Moments later, you will get a list of available servers.
- Click on a server that is closest to where you live. In my case, I decided to choose Random freedb server. That way, if audiograbber connects to a server that is down, a different server can be tried.
- Under Connect via, since you're online, leave it as Direct TCP/IP.
- Under Look for tracknames..., put a check mark in the first four boxes. Also, if you want information automatically retrieved each time you insert an audio cd, check Auto-query freedb.
- It's good to save all cd info, so that you won't have to query cddb everytime. So leave a check mark in Autosave freedb queries.
All album titles, etc, that are retrieved from cddb will automatically be saved in C:\windows\cdplayer.ini. The same file can be used by other cdplayers on your computer to get info about a cd you're playing. In addition to cdplayer.ini, if you also want the info stored locally by audiograbber, under Path to local freedb queries, click Browse... button, and choose a directory for it. You may want to just use your audiograbber installation directory. The file will be called discs.txt.
- Click OK.
From this point on, whenever you need to rip a cd to mp3, just pop the cd in the cdrom drive, and fire up audiograbber. Click on Freedb to get the titles. Uncheck any songs you don't want ripped, then click on Grab!.
MP3 format is popular, but microsoft has a competing format called WMA (Windows Media Audio). Many mp3 players also play .wma music format, so check before you purchase a player. You need to install support for WMA to create wma files with Audiograbber. You can use either Sonique or Winamp to play WMA files so get the latest version of one of them and at the same time get the WMA encoder that works in Audiograbber. (A full installation of Sonique or Winamp also installs the WMA encoder).
If you want to know more about bitrates, stereo types, cdrom issues, etc, this is good reading.
- Under your audiograbber installation directory, click on a folder called HTML. Double click on INDEX.HTML and read the documentation.
Copyright © 2000-2002
Richie's Tutorials All rights reserved.