A Ripping Yarn, Pt. 1

Several years ago I decided to rip my CD collection to mp3 format. At the time the hardware was such that ripping a CD was a slower-than-realtime event. Typically two or three times slower than realtime. Couple that with the lack of a broadband connection so CDDB lookups were either done on dial-up, or more usually not done at all – so for most of the CDs I ended up typing in all the track details by hand. With a collection of about 250 CDs it was inevitably going to be a long and arduous process.

We had a Linux box where I worked, so I found a command-line front-end to the usual ripping and encoding tools (cdda2wav and LAME) and set about ripping a few CDs per day. By using a command-line client I could drop to a virtual terminal and start the rip going, then flick the machine back to the graphical interface so that the rest of the staff could still use the machine for their normal day-to-day tasks. Of course this meant that I could only start a rip going if nobody else was using the machine at the time: Some days I managed to rip as many as five CDs; some days none at all.

The whole process took almost a year, and yielded a collection of 128Kbps mp3 files. Reasonable quality, but not great. I knew at the time that one day I would have to rip them all again to a higher standard, but back then storage space was tight and 128Kbps files were still enough to fill my hard drive.

To be continued…