August 18, 2011

Ripp In Peace(RIP)! More CAS Adventures.

O.K., You've decided to step in to the world of CAS(Computer Audio System). What next? You need to decide if you're gonna ripp all your CDs in to you computer or just spend $$$ buying legit hi-rez music files as source? I bet it's gonna be both very likely.

For me, since I am using the Brsyton BDP/BDA-1 digital media player/DAC combo, I won't go in to the lengths of building one's own computer for the purpose of CAS.  Instead, I'd jump right in an look in to music files and the ripp process.

There are various CODEC used for music files out there, but the most popular ones today are likely to be FLAC, WAV, AIFF & APE. So one must decide what CODEC to ripp the CDs with? The next question is which Music Converting software is best? Do they sound any different at all?

I am here to share my bit of experience here. Personally I have done ripps on all 4 of the above mention CODECs, but about 60% of my CDs are ripp with AIFF, with the remaining 40% shared amongst the other three. Amongst the 4 CODECs, I've found WAV and AIFF to sound most neutral with ruler flat frequency response. I've found FLAC to be slightly rolled off on the highs comparing against the earlier mentioned two. APE is my least favorite as it tends to sound a little noisy(hiss) in the back ground. However I am talking about high end aspirations here, meaning uncompressed 16 bit CD ripps, played back on a suitably capable and revealing enough high end system too, not your average MP3 jobs played back on ipod! I suspect that for most, it wouldn't quite matter anyway, other than us anal audiophiles!

Next, I'll go in to the Music Converting software. There's plenty available for free to down load online, including a trial version of Exact Audio Copy(EAC), which is highly recommended in the CAS forum circles, which I've tried. Then there's dbpoweramp, which was recommended by Bryston, for the BDP/BDA-1 combo users. I ripp a CD twice using WAV on both Music Converting software, but heard absolutely no difference in sound quality what so ever. However, I ended buying the dbpoweramp for one and the only reason, ease of use. The dbpoweramp automatically searches it's data base for an album cover that's been ripp. I find that for most cases(for English tittles at least), it has 80% success rate in finding the album cover. It's rather hopeless with album covers of any other language! So for all my other non-English CD covers, I'd resort to google image search, with reasonable success too. Those that I can't find? Well, there always the scanner solution, but it's another tedious round of work altogether, which I've done for a few of my CD covers by the way.

The one area that dbpoweramp is absolutely hopeless in is when inserting a Copy Right Protected CD to ripp. The ripp will never be completed as it'll always hang in the ripping process. It's nearly 8 months since I started my CAS journey. I've now nearly completed my CD ripping endeavours, only 60 out of nearly 2000 left. Mostly with the hard to find Chinese album covers! Save the best for last I guess.

Over the last few months, one area of CD ripp process that really effect the sound quality of any given CODEC music file is actually the computer power supply, and it's ancillaries, which I'll go in to on my next CAS adventures sharing. Happy Ripping!

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