Ripping a CD is simply copying music from a compact disc (CD) to a computer. There are various software tools that will allow a user to rip a CD in minutes. Once the music is on the computer in file form, the format can be changed to accommodate anything from creating a personal “jukebox” list, to making compilations, to transferring files to portable MP3 players.
Many people who copy music from CDs archive the files in a personal library on the hard disk. Over time, the music library grows. Keeping music in an archive provides flexibility for more listening options. Soft jukeboxes, or software designed to play music, can play the user's current favorite tunes while he or she works or plays on the computer.
Another great reason to rip a CD is to make a new CD using only the songs that the listener likes. When digital music files are copied to a disc, this is called burning a CD. In the ripping process, the computer user can choose to only copy certain songs, or he can rip the CD in full, then leave off the tunes he doesn’t want when he burns the new CD. Compilation CDs can easily be made that only feature the best songs from multiple artists in the order the person who's making the CD wants them.
There are several popular programs for ripping and burning, and some are free. Both types of programs often come bundled with the standard software included on new computers, and both shareware and freeware software can be downloaded from the Internet. If a computer user wants a more advanced program that allows files to be edited and converted to a wider variety of formats, a paid version may be needed.
Usually, when a person rips a CD, he can choose what file format he would like for the resulting music files, although some software offers only a limited number of format options. Many people find that the .WAV file format is a better archive format than the .MP3 format, as .WAS files are not compressed, offering better fidelity. If the user intends to burn his music library to CD later, it may be best to use .WAV files or a format of equal or better quality when ripping the CDs.
Someone who requires only .MP3 files can save a lot of hard disk room by archiving music files in this compressed format, but he will be sacrificing quality. Many CD players recognize discs with .MP3 files, but the loss of sound through compression becomes noticeable on a good stereo system versus a small portable MP3 player. People who are not audiophiles may not notice, but if something seems lacking, they may want to try ripping to .WAV files, then burning to CD.