CDs ~ Electronic Storage/Playback Options


Who out there has ridiculous amounts of CDs in jewel cases? Who has successfully digitized most of them for easy access/use on a laptop? What hardware/software or method are you using? The only way I would guess is ripping them to external hard drives, but that seems clunky to me. I now have about 400 G storage space remaining in my newer laptop. Should I just start ripping them into my C Drive? How much space does the average CD take up? I'm guessing about 100 MB each? Does that mean I could rip several thousand CD's before running out of C Drive space? Sorry, but I'm not all that PC savvy and definitely no good at math.

Follow up question for you techies, DJ's and audiophiles...What player/access program is the best? I use iTunes but I know a lot of people don't like it (including me). What's better and why?

Your average "80 minute" CD-R is 700 Megabytes, though most store-bought audio CD's don't run a full 80 minutes. The "74 Minute" CD-R is 650 Megabytes. Just for ease of calculation, let's say each two hours of music is about one Gigabyte. One thousand CD's will be less than one thousand Gigabytes, but not a tenth, closer to two-thirds.

For extracting audio tracks from CD-R or factory audio CD, EAC or "Exact Audio Copy" is an old classic,and is 'Postcardware'. The author prefers that you send him a postcard for the use of the product.  If you look at the .txt files on a few dozen audience or soundboard live recordings, you'll see 'EAC' in the lineage where the recordist extracted tracks from a CD-R before further processing. There is a bit of a learning curve to get it set up on your PC, but there are tutorials out there. It's very German. You can alter many parameters within the software in  order to get the most accurate extraction (rip). Scratched or dirty CD/CD-R media will take longer to rip. You'll find that some burned CD-R's have errors of one sort or another, due to cheap Taiwanese CD-R drives or whatnot. I haven't heard of a version for Mac.

I use EAC for ripping audio from CD's and store all of it on a FireWire or USB hard-drive,  not the main drive on my PC or Mac. If you're going through all the trouble of ripping every CD, might as well invest in a few extra hard drives. The solid-state drives are the latest technology, no moving parts to fail.  Anyway, a friend has a ton of interesting live Dylan recordings, burned to CD-R with printed labels and in jewel-cases. So I ripped each CD-R using EAC, a laptop and external hard-drive. 90% of the discs were in great shape, no scratches or errors, about 5-7 minutes per disc to extract. One out of ten CD-R's had errors, scratches or some problem, maybe 30-40 minutes for a rip.

While you're waiting you can copy the liner notes by pen, scanner, camera, whatever. You can bake muffins or wash the windows. It takes a lot of time. Took me a couple-few days to rip 40-50 discs and hand-copy the liner notes, and put the discs back on their shelf where they came from. 

For a free and quality player, try VLC Media Player. It also plays DVD & Blu-Ray.

I second EAC to go from cd to digital file, been using it for many years.  I am a big fan of FLAC format to make your wav files much smaller without giving up any audio quality.  It's the lossless format I use for almost everything including playing music from my iPhone, I use the FLAC Player app.  

Once it is in FLAC format all my music is stored on external USB storage that can easily be plugged into any pic or laptop.  Most of the torrent music I get is already in FLAC format, easy. Never use MP3,


Thanks, guys. I guess FLAC took a giant leap forward when players like VLC started being able to play FLAC files, correct? Are WAV files bulkier than necessary for lossless playback, as compared to FLAC?


Correct on the lossless format.  Flac would be the way to go.  However I would urge you not to store that large amount of info on your system drive.  I have a pro audio background and it's just a bad idea.  Always use external hard drives for the bulk of your music.  They are way affordable these days and you can get them in terabytes.   That's 1000 gigs if you don't know.  In no way should you ever rip them into mp3s for playback in the case that your stating you want to listen.  Mp3s just rip all the low end out.  And for Phil gangsters that's just not acceptable.  Personally I don't bother with converting all of my CDs.  I like pulling the CDs from the shelf and popping them in a really nice cd drive.   It gives me a chance to take another glance at album art, liner notes, etc.  Same goes for me wanting to listen to Vinyl every now and then. Not that I haven't put a lot into my computer or on external hds as I have.  Because after all when you take your laptop somewhere you don't want to have no music.   So for me I just shuffle around a nice mix of music to be on the system drive.   Don't know if I answered anything exactly but hope some of this info is useful. 

So I knew that smarter people would chime in here, after Coffee. 

FLAC (free lossless audio codec) replaced SHN (shorten) some years back.

They both do about the same thing, data compression without audio compression.

When you expand a SHN or FLAC file, it turns into a 44.1 audio file, either WAV or AIFF if you are using Windoze or Mac.

That is the standard store-bought CD oversampling rate, 44.1 while DAT tapes are 48.

"Trader's Little Helper" is a nice software to squish or unsquish all the formats into one thing or another.

Are they commercial CD's?

One if its common music would highly suggest not digitizing it. Just download the original source then convert files. Would save you lots of time. Can go to sites and ask for hard drives of data.

Agreed with someone above you do not want to store them on C drive, use 2 externals. One for your main copy and second for the backup drive.

If you use EAC correctly it takes quite a bit of time. EAC is not easy to use and has a big learning curve to get it correct. You need a CD drive and EAC is almost in real time. You need to know the CD drive offset to put into EAC to rip the disc correctly. You tie up that computer and you hammer your CD drive. EAC has to read many blocks of data over and over again to make sure it is correct. Meaning if you have a 70 minute CD then EAC will take almost that amount of time to process it. If you have 10 - 3 disc shows that would take almost 30 hours with EAC. If you have 1000's of CD's this will take quite some time. I only use EAC if I have too...


What Patrick mentions about the time-consuming nature of EAC is somewhat determined by the user-defined parameters. One has the option to decide upon levels of "Error recovery quality" and other factors which will speed up or slow down the extraction time. If you choose the ultra-precise extraction it does take longer compared to the middle-of-the-road settings.

If you go into the parameters menus on EAC you will see what I mean.With the software running, mouse-click on 'EAC' (upper left), then 'EAC options'.

One nice thing about EAC is that it does include CD-R burning capability. ("Write CD-R" selectable in a couple of places.) If nothing else, it's a product that can teach you more then you really care to know about how CD drives work.

I spent a good part of a whole Winter ripping my Studio & Live CD collection to an external drive.
EAC to Flac is the way to go! Remember to backup your external drive to another one. You should
ALWAYS have at least 2 copies! Here is a link to help users set up EAC to Flac....

Here's an update. I still haven't switched from iTunes but now I plan to. Any suggestions are welcome:

MY (DELL) PC guru just updated my Windows 10 OS for me. That required dumping ALL my data (docs/photos/videos/music) into a new 2T HD and then wiping my old MS 10 OS clean and re-installing the newest Windows 10. This appears to have come as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I effectively have a zippy fast like-new PC, with a shit ton of storage space (1T internally and 2T on an external HD). I am a now a recovering digital pack rat (have you ever seen my desktop?) I now want to be more discretionary about what I store on my PC, so as not to slow it down with hundreds of gigs of downloaded music, which I have always done in the past. The downside of all this is that I think it will be very time consuming to reload all my desired music into a decent player/storage program.

My guru swears by Winamp, though dated (or 'old school' as he calls it), it's by far his favorite music interface. I know I've posed this question here before and never did anything about it, but now I have an opportunity to start fresh with a better program than friggin' iTunes, which I disdain...So, hopefully I can get some useful suggestions from you techie whiz kids out there, and actually put the ideas to use this go round. I am opening up the floor to any music/data storage suggestions, especially concerning media playback/playlist creation options. Sorry if this is redundant from similar past posts, but I would really love to explore new options, since I am basically needing to start from scratch, loading my music into some kind of software...

So, what program(s) rock your world? GO!!!