Ripping Your CDs to Lossless FLAC using Exact Audio Copy

EAC Logo You probably want the best quality audio for your CD rips for playback on your Media Center setup, who wouldn’t? Ripping audio to FLAC is the preferred method for storing audio CDs without losing any of the original detail. FLAC is known as a lossless codec, meaning there is no loss in quality between the original CD and the FLAC file, unlike MP3 which can degrade the quality quite a bit.

How do we get that data off the disk and onto our drives though? Simple, a program called Exact Audio Copy. This apply named program will take the pure audio from your disk and encode it to FLAC without much hassle at all. It even includes the ability to retrieve disk information from freeDB and some fairly advanced error correction (for those less than new CDs).

Getting started is easy, just download and install Exact Audio Copy then run the program. An initial startup wizard will appear asking you to set some of the basic options. During this you should let EAC know that you’ll be encoding to FLAC not MP3. Also, entering your e-mail address is required to retrieve information about CDs from freeDB.

Set FLAC Compression in EAC

Once the initial setup has been completed insert a disk into the drive you setup as the default during configuration. After a few moments EAC should display a listing of al the tracks on the disk in the main window. You’ll notice that none of these tracks have any tag information and EAC will most likely want to process offset information on a first run. Go ahead and let that happen and any gap processing EAC would like to run.

EAC No Recording Info

Now to retrieve information for this CD automatically you can press the CD icon in the toolbar to access freeDB. As long as freeDB recognizes the disk you’ve loaded it should automatically retrieve artist, title and track information. Otherwise, you can edit basic information in the main EAC interface before ripping.

EAC Load FreeDB Information

To begin ripping the CD to separate FLAC files you just need to press the MP3 button on the left. This slight confusion in the interface can cause some trouble for new users but the button will use your default compression mode, MP3 or not. There are also options available to rip the disk to a single or multiple uncompressed WAV file(s) with or without a cue file. Unfortunately, at this time WMP and Media Center do not support cue files.

EAC FLAC Encoding

During encoding you can monitor the process through a small dialog displaying the progress of the current track, the entire disk and any problems that arise in the Status box. You will also be able to monitor any error correction taking place through the small red grid box on this window. Any error processing will appear as a progress type display in the box.

Once the encode has completed that’s all there is to getting the audio from the disk to your hard drive. You’ll need to follow the guide on Playing FLAC Files in WMP and Media Center before you will have access to them in those programs. Then just sit back and enjoy your high quality lossless encoded audio!

Get more control over audio in Media Center with this guide on Using FFDShow Audio in Media Center!

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