Recently, I had to fix few Windows XP computers – Windows XP and Windows 7. The person for which I have to fix them a Dutch guy wanted to install him some kind of software capable of ripping his large collection of old CDs so he can later store a copies of the audio CDs in MP3 Format on his 2GB external hard drive. There is plenty of software out there that can RIP Audio CDs and CD Ripping has a long history line so it is rather easily for one to find a number of non-free software programs capable of doing Audio Music CD to Mp3 Ripping. However as a great Free Software Enthusiast and Supporter, I didn't wanted to install him a piece of non-free cracked software. Therefore I did a quick research to find out if there is an Open Source / Free Software program capable of "downloading" the AudioCDs to Mp3. I've ended up on CDEx – Open Source Digital Audio CD Extractor website. Besides being Open Source it is even free software licensed under GPLv3!
Install is pretty straight forward, here I've noticed the program installed some Windows .DLLs (ASPI – Advanced SCSI Programming Interface), it seems developers used this to be as a program backend. Here I should say I had some problems on 64 bit Windows 7 install with the program, though officially on the website it is stated the program installs and works fine with m$ Windows 7.
The program is comparatively quick in RIP-ing songs, one song is being ripped and converted saved in mp3 for about 30 secs or less, meaning a normal music CD of 10 – 12 songs is burned just for 5 minutes or so, though this might vary depending on CD-Rom Speed, CPU and HDD (you know many laptops are running HDDs with 5200 RPMs p/s).
CDEx is also equipped with some Format Converting capabilities. It supports:
Convertion of WAV files to Compressed Audio
Compressed Audio files to WAV
Adding /Removal of (RIFF) wav header to mp3s
As well as suport for recording of Audio streams from Analog Input devices (I guess this is old tapes and stuff).
Interesting soft feature is it support for CDDB (Compat Disk Database) – allowing it to get information about Audio CD performer from the Internet – It uses freedb.org's music info database. By the way using freedb is very simple, all you need is to configure email address with it.
It also supports an extensive list of Encoders including even convertion to the nowdays so popular FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), in below screenshot are supported ones:
Also it is translated to a number of languages including my own country's language Bulgarian 🙂
Configuration about where the program is supposed to store RIP-ped songs is done via:
Options -> Settings -> Directories & Files
I haven't tested it thoroughfully, but it seemed to work fine, my only remark was sometimes it makes problems if you configure as a Store Device external hard disk in program Options and later remove external Hard Disk (forget) and try extracting an Audio CD and converting to MP3, trying this will do nothing and it will stop and start without even saying a word to give you an idea that something is wrong with the Storage location, but still probably in future versions developers will solve that out.
Another great news is CDEx works even on Linux, though not all options works fine and it crashes sometimes, simple Audio CD Ripping worked pretty well on my Debian Squeeze Stable via WINE (Windows Emulator). The extracted sound quality is great as well and the program deals fine with CD Audio normalization, sound sync and stuff. As most older Audio Music CDs, does not have embedded Track information, the only option to get a good name (Instead of the standard Track1, Track2 … etc.) is to manually rename each of song names or hopefully fetch the info via FreeDB's database .