Ripping the tracks on your music CDs into MP3 files is easier than ever, thanks to the latest music managers and jukeboxes. That said, there are a few settings to tweak to ensure your new files are named properly, stored in the proper directory, and sound their very best. Use this tutorial to guide you through the steps of ripping MP3s. Choose either Windows Media Player or iTunes, depending on your personal preference.
Required attention span: 3 to 10 minutes per CD, depending on your drive speed.
Before you start, you'll need to gather these elements:
Using Windows Media Player:
Follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Launch Windows Media Player
First, open Windows Media Player (WMP) by clicking Start > All Programs > Windows Media Player. Make sure the player window is maximised (click the blue box just to the left of the red X in the upper-right corner of the screen) so that you can access the main menu options. Next, check to see if you have the latest version of WMP: click Help, then select "Check for player updates." If an update is available, a window will appear with downloading instructions.
Step 2: Tweak the encoding settings
Now let's configure WMP's MP3 encoding settings. Click Tools > Options from the main menu, then select the Rip Music tab.
File location: Under the "Rip music to this location" heading, check the path on your local drive where WMP will save ripped music files; the default is the My Music folder in your My Documents directory. Want to change the location? If so, click the Change button and pick a new path.
File format: By default, WMP rips music in the Windows Media Audio format. To switch to MP3, go to the Rip Settings heading, and select MP3 from the Format pull-down menu.
Bit-rate setting: Just beneath the Format menu is the Audio Quality slider; click and drag the selector to pick your setting. We think 128Kbps is the best compromise between file size and sound quality, but those with sensitive ears may prefer 160Kbps or even 192Kbps.
Step 3: Get album and track info
Click the Rip tab at the top of the WMP interface and insert your CD into your system's CD-ROM tray; WMP will automatically scan the disc and grab album and track info from the All Music Guide and the Windows Music database. If the player finds a match, it will appear below the track list. If everything looks good, click the Finish button. If not, click the Search button to search again, or click Edit to tweak the info manually.
Step 4: Pick your tracks
If you don't want to rip every track on your CD, go to the track list and clear the check boxes next to the tracks you want skipped. If you want WMP to rip all the tracks on the CD, just leave everything as is.
Step 5: Let 'er rip
In the top-right corner of the WMP interface, click the Rip Music button. If a pop-up window appears asking if you want your music ripped into WMA files, select the "Keep my current format settings" radio button to keep your MP3 settings intact.
Step 6: Find your files
Once WMP is done ripping your files, click the Library tab, then the various All Music categories in the left-hand column; you'll find your new tracks right there.