How To: Digitise Your CD Collection - Audio Affair Blog (2023)

Posted on Mon, 09 Feb, 2015
Posted by Raven

How To: Digitise Your CD Collection - Audio Affair Blog (1)

CDs. We love them. They sound great and they areresponsible for huge shifts in both the hi-fi and the music industries. But the times they are a’changin’ and the digital revolution has been sweeping the world of music. So… what do you do to make your great sounding – and great looking – CD collection to integrate fully into your lifestyle? The answer my friend is to digitise. But how do you do that in a fuss-free and easy way without losing that ever crucial CD quality sound?

Thanks to various technological advances since their inception and eventual commercial availability in 1979, CDs are better than ever! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of ownership of your music and CD quality is often what sound – particularly digital sound – is measured against. And with the addition of a suitable DAC, you can’t go far wrong with the sound of a CD. It is understandable that some of the more hardened audiophiles may well balk at the thought of digitising their treasured collection. But as I said, the times they are a’changin’ and there are plenty of ways to prepare your collection for streaming that far outweigh the traditional method of simply ripping them to iTunes and letting them sit in your media library.

iTunes and other such media library packages is one method that you’re probably already aware of – but there are better and more efficient ways of making your CD collection accessible, all the while keeping that ever important sound quality. Sounds good right? Right.

We’ll start from iTunes and work our way up.

iTunes & Similar

You’ve all heard of it, I’m sure. But just in case you haven’t, here’s a little refresher: iTunes is a media player, media library, online radio broadcaster and mobile device management application developed by Apple Inc. I can be used to play, download, and organise digital audio and video on PCsrunning the OS X and Microsoft Windows operating systems. It’s pretty simple to use and not a bad idea if you’re happy to keep your files limited to mp3 form.

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As long as you have iTunes installed, ripping your collection isn’t hard to do. Simply place your CD into the drive and iTunes will automatically recognise it and ask if you wish to rip the CD to it. You select ‘yes’ and it will take care of the rest. Once each of the tracks has a green tick beside it, you may eject your CD and replace it with a new one. It will prompt you once again and begin the ripping process afresh.

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Every album will appear as above, with the album artwork automatically assigned as featured image. From here you can load it onto your iPod, iPad or iPhone (… et al.) and utilise the AirPlay function which some streamers and all-in-one systems are compatible with.

There are also several other similar packages which don’t require such a strong bond with Apple.Inc., which offer a greater range of audio formats. MediaMonkey and SoundTaxiare both excellent examples which work in a similar way but support a plethora of file formats, including:MP3, M4A, WMA, WAV, MP4 and AVI.

NAS Drives

Storing your music on your PC can be risky, as we’ve pointed out before. Even if your PC/laptop etc. is at a Fort Knox level of protection from the likes of viruses, a computer is still prone to crashing, freezing and all manner of nasties which could compromise your collection in all sorts of horrible ways, from corrupting the files to deleting them en mass. And even the most powerful computer in the world is still susceptible to system errors.

A way around this is investing in a NAS Drive. These are clever little devices which serve two functions: safe storage and CD ripping. Two birds, one stone. Most streamers will be compatible with a NAS drive, which means it’s a very effective way of branching into streaming without the constant need to turn your computer on and off, all-the-while knowing your music is stored safely.

NAS drives work in much the same way as ripping your CDs directly to your computer. They work as a hard drive with a dedicated CD burner. Slip your CD into the drive and they will copy the information, ready to receive another as soon as the first pops out. The better the NAS drive the quicker they will work and the higher grade the copy will be. There are several size options available, as well as additional hard drives which means your digital collection can grow just as quickly as your physical one.

The only downside is a NAS drive works solely as a ripping and storage device, and requires a streamerof some sort in order to physically play the music.

Which leads me beautifully onto…

Hard Drive Players/Servers

If you want to completely eliminate any possible fuss,there is such a thing as a NAS drive and a streamer combined! These are usually referred to as either Hard Drive Players or Servers, and funtion by ripping your CD collection, storing the data and streaming them. Each one works slightly differently to the other, but the basic principles are the same. Another upside of this is the extra features that such a system will likely bear, with some featuring internet radio, wireless streaming via Bluetooth, access to streaming sites and several other nifty features commonly associated with streaming. If you want quick and easy, this is an excellent route to go down.

Et voila! Three methods of scrapping the act of changing CDs completely. Yes, all of them will involve the physical loading of the CDs into their respective machines, but once you’ve done it once, you won’t have to do it again. And many have reported back saying it was a pretty therapeutic experience. After all, who doesn’t like an afternoon (plus!) rifling through their music collection and rediscovering old favourites and the memories that will inevitably come flooding back.

That sounds like more of a bonus than a catch, if you ask us.

  1. How To: Digitise Your CD Collection - Audio Affair Blog (8)Phil says:

    6th August 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Considering this is a site for the audiophile, the information here is VERY ‘general’. It should be mentioned that itunes stores your music as m4a files at a default setting of 128kb which is a HEAVILY compressed file and not even close to CD quality.

    Because no-one had pointed this out to me, I burned all my CDs to iTunes and got rid of the hard copies. If you care about sound quality, go into the itunes settings and set the encoding to Apple Lossless, Better still, find a player that plays FLAC files. These are high quality lossless files that are 8 or 9 times larger than the poor compressed m4a files.

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  2. How To: Digitise Your CD Collection - Audio Affair Blog (9)Christopher Hughes says:

    24th November 2017 at 8:24 pm

    I have done a few things: ripped wanted songs from cover discs (Mojo, Vintage Rock for example); downloaded albums/songs; created MP3s from vinyl all into iTunes. I’ve used an external drive to back up everything (though at 50GB it filled up and at the moment I’m backing up onto blank CDs!) I want one of those digital jukeboxes but may have to wait for a Brennan for example. All in all, having a ripping time!

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