Sunday, August 10, 2008

Finally a good CD ripper for Linux

I had about given-up on finding a good CD-to-MP3 ripper for Ubuntu. All the 'official' programs had serious shortcomings, e.g. the included Sound Juicer didn't support MP3 out-of-the-box and even after I'd reconfigured it I somehow continued to receive OGG format instead. Very frustrating, especially considering the multiple options available under Windows. I even tried using Musicmatch Jukebox inside a Windows virtual-machine (VirtualBox) but it couldn't read the CD because Ubuntu wouldn't mount it??

One of the early recommendations had been for 'Grip' and I initially dismissed it because it seemed too clumsy to use. Eventually, I received feedback on the Ubuntu forums telling me to check all the settings again because -- clumsy though it was -- it should only be a one-time effort to configure. And they were right!

Basically, Grip seems to default to the absolute lowest-common denominator, i.e., no ID3 tags, no mixed upper/lower-case, and no spaces. But all those feature can be re-enabled and it has a very flexible naming-method with lots of variables to choose from. So, I eventually went back and was able to configure it exactly as I wanted.

I now have it configured to rip my CDs to a folder labeled as
Genre \ Artist - Disc \ Artist - Track# - Song Title

  1. go into Synaptic and install 'grip'
  2. In the 'Grip' software, under Config > CD,
    set Device = /dev/scd0
  3. (optional?) under Rip > Ripper,
    set Rip file format = /home/music/%G/%A - %d/%n.wav
  4. under Encode > Encoder
    set Encoder = lame
    set Encoder Command-line = -h -V 3 -b %b %w %m
    set Encode File Format = /home/music/%G/%A - %d/%A - %t - %n.%x
  5. under Encode > Options,
    set M3U file format = /home/music/%G/%A - %d/%A - %d.m3u
    set Encoding bitrate = 160
  6. under ID3,
    enable both "Add ID3" and "Add ID3v2"
  7. under Config > Misc,
    checkbox ('enable') both "Do not lowercase" and "Do not change spaces"
    set Characters To Not Strip = ()'-
NOTE - this Encoder Command-line uses VBR Quality = '3' (which is slightly better than the default '4') resulting in files with a bit-rate in the 180-200 kbps range, and with a minimum bitrate set by Grip (default is 160 kbps)

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