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The dBPoweramp CD ripper
This is a CD ripper application which offers a wide range of music formats for storing the ripped tracks including mp3, AAC for iPod & iTunes, known as m4a, Apple Lossless (ALAC) , FLAC, Ogg Vorbis and Windows Media Audio (WMA). For more on which format to choose, see my article at http://www.brighthub.com/electronics/home-theater/articles/36347.aspx. The application uses multiple sources of meta data to try to ensure that music is properly labeled, which is essential for easy organization of your digital music library. The publicity material claims that this is the most reliable ripper you can buy and that this is demonstrated by the AccurateRip technology. This compares the ripped audio file with a database of over 1 million discs to ensure that the ripped file is accurate.
The software is offered in three versions. The most powerful version is the Reference version. This is offered as shareware and includes mp3 encoding, simultaneous encoding for multi-CPU machines, batch ripping and other enhancements at a license fee of $36. The second version is the basic encoder with an mp3 license and enhanced access for obtaining metadata. The most basic version is free. In practice, when I downloaded the basic version the mp3 license was included as a promotion. For an initial 21-day period, the Reference version was enabled, reverting to the basic version at the end of the period. The software is available from http://www.dbpoweramp.com/
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Ease of useRating
The application is very straightforward in operation. It has limited functionality, but no more is needed. With the key operations accessible from a toolbar at the top of the screen. The main functions offered are Rip, Refresh, Eject (which also closes my CD drawer) and Meta which offers a range of options from which meta data can be obtained according to the version of the ripper installed. Under the toolbar is a track listing window which includes AccurateRip data verifying the accuracy of the ripping process.
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Speed of rippingRating
Ultimately, speed performance should be determined by the power of your PC. This is a processor-intensive data processing operation. The software performed demonstrably more quickly on my quad core desktop with 4Gb RAM than my 2GB single processor laptop and achieved ripping speeds of up to 24 x times real time.
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Reliability of the AccurateRip processRating
In general, the AccurateRip process worked well. Over 90% of disks reported as accurately ripped. Of the remainder, some were able to be accurately ripped at the second attempt. The only reservation was what to do when inaccuracies were reported which could not be corrected. In reality, these were accepted and the final quality depended upon the error correction processes in place in the replay chain.
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Linking of metadataRating
In spite of being limited to the basic version following the initial period, the metadata also achieved a high success rate, in excess of over 95%. Those failing to identify correctly could be manually corrected in most cases.
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Use with SongbirdRating
In my review of the Songbird music player at http://www.brighthub.com/electronics/home-theater/reviews/36396.aspx, I highlight its lack of a built in CD ripper. dBPoweramp fills this gap admirably and the FLAC encoded tracks play back back admirably with Songbird through my home theater system.
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dBPoweramp is an admirable CD Ripper. It is not the first application of this type I tried, but I have not had to look beyond it. As always, please ensure that your use of this software is legal and consistent with copyright rules in your jurisdiction.