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Best Free CD Ripper

 

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In a Hurry?

  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 

Introduction

There are lots of rippers available. All media players including Windows Media Player can rip. There are also some great freebies plus a host of commercial rippers. Most will rip to WAV, MP3 and usually several other formats.

If your CDs are like mine then some are scratched or have lots of finger-marks. These can cause pops and crackles in the ripped file.  Rippers vary greatly in their ability to handle these problems. Some will simply get stuck while others will skip forward over the problem or even create a silent gap. The best programs will try repeatedly to fix the problem with no audible effects.

After a lot of experimentation, I ended up with five free CD rippers that were impressive with their features.

 

Discussion

Fairstars CD Ripper is the best ripper on our list. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

Fairstars CD Ripper is an excellent utility to rip audio from a music CD in a variety of formats including WMA, MP3, FLAC, OGG, APE, WAV and the not so common VQF.

In contrast iTunes wouldn't allow support for open source codecs such as OGG.

What pleasantly surprised me was that Fairstars CD Ripper doesn't feature an autorun option. This means that you can pop in an audio CD and expect to rip without launching the program directly. Although this can be a short toe, it wouldn't really bother the average user who would have a handy desktop shortcut.

The program doesn't allow a user to tweak the settings for an output format on the same pane; you have to click on options and then browse down to the required format in the tree and adjust settings there.

It allows you to query for info. The button is nicely placed. This can be a life saver! It also allows you to enable ID3 tags in options.

Let me now go into the details of my extraction. I have a Realtek HD sound card... not very high end and ripped at 320kbps in MP3 format, Constant Bit Rate, 44khz sampling rate. Again the extract button is nicely placed and follows up in a nice order to the buttons from the left.

There's an 'output file name preview' if you're interested.

My desktop has a Core i7 processor and I was done with ripping in around 3 minutes, which is a good speed. I used the encode with high speed option under options. Turned out to be pretty nippy. Thank you!

Another very amusing fact is that it chose to rip into a separate 'My Music' folder in my 'Local' drive rather than the regular 'My Music' folder in 'My Documents'. This can be a good thing. I can always check on the quality of the ripped music before I finally move everything into my 'My Music' folder to sync with my iPod. Most CD rippers do this anyway.

The quality of the extracted music is very good and up to what is expected. The music sounds natural; there are no alterations. The volume level can be adjusted again in options, although I didn't find it necessary for the CD I was ripping.

If you're unhappy with the the extraction you could always do this again and if the files exist it will automatically rename the files.

I reran the program. It is very light and doesn't crash or freeze... far from it.

 


Exact Audio CopyThough the other products reviewed here were capable, Exact Audio Copy (EAC) was outstanding in its ability to handle CD imperfections.

If you head over to any audio forum one of the most common tools discussed among experts would be EAC. There are so many options for editing from the command line, the list is virtually endless. If you are an audiophile, this is the ripper for you. At the same time, beginners would want to stick with some of the other rippers mentioned in this list which includes our top pick, Fairstars CD Ripper.

I recently started the long task of ripping my 1200 CDs to my hard disk. I'm now two thirds of the way through my ripping exercise. Of the 800 or so CDs ripped I've only had 7 tracks that EAC couldn't rip perfectly. Given the condition of some of my CDs, that's a mighty impressive performance.

EAC can rip to WAV, MP3 (using the LAME encoder), OGG, FLAC, APE and more. You could add any custom encoder from the Add encoder dialog in the Compression Options window.

This is one piece of software that may not require as many updates as it encourages the use of third party tools.

 


The interface for Fre:ac is a bit too plain. You can see it all too clearly in our screenshot. But that said, it allows a lot of tweaking for each encoder. You can also find files matching by patterns. That's why it's up here in our list.

I tried the rip at 320 kbps and much to my surprise the output is clear and well rounded.

This is a portable application so you can install to a usb stick and take it with you. Fre:ac comes in 38 languages. Check to see if yours is included.

Comes with support for Lame, OGG Vorbis, FAAC, FLAC, and Bonk Encoders. An encoder for VQF format is available at the Fre:ac website: www.freac.org

Fre:ac can use Winamp 2 input plugins to support more file formats. Copy the in_*.dll files to the Fre:ac directory to enable Fre:ac to read these formats. You can also submit freedb entries that include Unicode characters.

Of course there is jitter correction that can be enabled in the configurations dialog. In addition to which, there is a special paranoia mode. Doesn't have support for APE which is a little sad though Monkeys Audio is a format that has been sadly overlooked.

The same goes for the Fre:ac ripper. This great opensource project has somehow been overlooked.

 


Free Rip Mp3 is another really cool CD ripper. It extracts audio tracks from CD to MP3, WAV, WMA, FLAC and OGG Vorbis.

What's more? If you really need the feature, it can extract more than one track into a single audio file.

I used the same PC I used for Fairstars to perform the extraction again. Before that a quick word about the interface. To start with it is a little difficult to locate the encoding options: not just because of where its positioned but because of the layout. It just seems a bit cramped.

That said the program makes a clear distinction of whether you would like to go with a ripper, a converter or a tagger. Of course I chose the ripper and ended up with this screen.

As always I chose 44khz MP3, encoding at 320kbps. It's all in the same pane, so if you want to opt for OGG or FLAC, you can do it in a jiffy.

This took me a little longer than Fairstars CD Ripper to accomplish the rip. A note on the sound quality: I found it to be a little closed as compared to the earlier rips but the vocals sound even more natural. It is quite as sharp as I would want it to be.

Apart from being a ripper, it is also a converter and a tagger which ought to enhance its usefulness, but haven't we seen all these features already? This still ranks number 4 though.

And no crashes at all in reruns.

 


CDex

CD rippers interact strongly with your CD hardware and so it's possible EAC or the above mentioned others may not work with your particular CD drive. If that's the case, take a look at CDex. While its performance with scratched CDs is not as good as EAC, it's still an outstanding and capable free product.

It can convert to WAV, MP3 (using the LAME Encoder) OGG, APE, and more.

An especially nice feature of CDex is the ability to transcode one compressed file format to another, while EAC does not have this option. It also has the feature of recording straight from analog in.

 


Audiograbber is the last CD Ripper on our list but be sure not to ignore this one bit. It is a nifty good piece of software and the developer has taken it up to put in multi-language help files that are accurate and user friendly. Now how does the ripper itself work? Getting to that in just a bit.

The website says that it can actually read many different cd drives… So I put a  CD ROM drive from way back in 1998 to the test and to my amazement it read it quite well. I wouldn’t comment on the speed of ripping though. Now I did try two other external DVD –RW drives as well (recent ones of course) and it read the CDs quite well. In addition to its other features, it would commonly share with other CD Rippers on our list. It has Line-in sampling as well. This is a wonderful little CD Ripper delightfully made by its creator that offers up almost any option you could ask for.

Why is it here on our list then, well shouldn’t it be higher up? It should be and it would have been right there at the top had it not been for the Funmoods search settings that it installs and a tab to go along with it. I think that changing my search settings can be a real bother and I am sure quite a few of you out there would share the same feeling. So here it is Audiograbber. If you are willing to put up with the fact that it hasn’t been updated in quite a while and the Funmoods tab, then this might be the CD Ripper for you.

 

Related Products and Links

 

Quick Selection Guide

Fairstars CD Ripper
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
ID3 tags in options. It allows you to query for info . The button is nicely placed. The quality of the extracted music is very good and is sharp. if the files exist it will automatically rename the files. lightweaight and no crashes or freezes fastest in our tests.
doesn't feature an auto-run option The program doesn't allow a user to tweak the settings for an output format on the same pane, you've to click on options and then browse down to the required format in the tree and adjust settings there
http://www.fairstars.com/cdripper
1.7
3.3 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/2008/7/8, 32bit or 64bit.
Exact-Audio-Copy
5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Handles CD imperfections and scratches with ease
Requieres LAME Encoder to encode MP3's
http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/
V1.0 Beta 3
4.2 MB
Free for private use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 95/98/ME/XP/Vista

Additional software required: LAME Encoder - available here.

Fre:ac
5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
support for nearly 38 languages advanced jitter correction files searchable by patterns
user interface is a but too plain. No wizard mode.
http://www.freac.org
1.0.21a
7.7 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
This product is portable.
Windows 98/Me/XP/Vista/Windows 7
CDex
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Capable of transcoding one file format to another
Requires LAME Encoder to encode MP3's
http://cdexos.sourceforge.net/
1.70 Beta 4
1.91 MB
Open source freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 95/7

Additional software required: LAME Encoder - available here.
Non-English languages supported: many available here.

Free Rip Mp3
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
The program makes a clear distinction between whether you would like to go with a ripper, a converter or a tagger. vocals sound even more natural though it sounds a bit closed
To start with it is a little difficult to locate the encoding options. This took me a little longer than Fairstars Cd Ripper to accomplish the same rip. Caution! uses a wrapped installer! - see information panel below
http://www.freerip.com/
4.3
3.33 MB
32 bit only
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Compatible with all versions of Windows, including Windows 7

Uses the Offercast APN Install Manager to install additional software you may not want. Users may wish to consider blocking this program with their firewall as it will attempt to connect to the internet when the installer is first run.

Audiograbber
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
nice clean interface easy to use and portable has just about ever feature you could ask for along with line in sampling
installs a third party search tool and alters browser settings badly in need of an update
http://www.audiograbber.org/
1.83
4.3MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP SP3

 

Editor

This software review is copy-edited by Ian Richards. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

 

Tags

cd ripper, audio ripper, ripping software, free ripper, free cd ripper

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Comments

by robbo1802 on 16. June 2014 - 8:20  (116785)

I would recommend CueRipper. It is an open source alternate to EAC. For most people it will do everything that EAC does but with a much simpler interface. It supports MusicBrainz and freeDB metadata databases, AccurateRip and CTDB.

For those who do not know, AccurateRip and CTDB are online databases that check the integrity of the rips against rips performed by other users. As well, CTDB keeps a recovery record for many ripped disks, this provides a further level of error correction (Reed-Solomon)that allows corrections of small error bursts using a downloaded recovery record - you must use Cuetools to fix the rip - prerequisites apply.

CueRipper is included in the Cuetools download. Cuetools is a powerful little toolbox with IMO a rather confused UI. I used cuetools to convert my 1Tb collection of Apes to Flac while verifying the rips (and correcting some), tagging, integrating Cuesheets, integrating logs, etc - all unattended (okay, I did have to write a batch file to do some work >>;->> ).

Regards,
Bob

by MidnightCowboy on 16. June 2014 - 9:05  (116786)

Thank you for the suggestion robbo1802.:)

This review category is currently without an editor. Maybe you fancy taking it over? If so, please contact me by clicking my username. MC - Site Manager.

by Ole20Gunnar on 15. January 2013 - 22:39  (104506)

I tried Fairstars once. It ignored lots of tags. Never again.

by quick-sand on 13. January 2013 - 23:43  (104459)

Fairstars CD Ripper is the only ripper I have tried which totally fails to read the contents of the CD.

Bit of a waste of time really.....

by Dave Faulkner (not verified) on 27. November 2012 - 23:58  (102995)

Any recommendations for ripping copy-protected CDs? I have in the past used [commercial reference removed], but I found one CD in my collection that seems impervious to that, namely an early pressing of The Blue Nile's 'High', which apparently was mistakenly released with copy protection. Only too late did I find that the record company offered an exchange scheme for it. If there were a free application that saved me having to pay a second time, namely for an iTunes or Amazon download, that would be great.

Thanks in advance for any help anyone can give.

by Ken Gash (not verified) on 27. November 2012 - 6:39  (102961)

Using FairStars CD ripper, I ripped songs from CD to USB stick which I then tried to play in my car. Songs play but the titles of the songs are all in Chinese. They don't appear that way on the computer and other CD rippers do not produce this strange mistake.

It appears to be a great program but I cannot use it as it is since I don't read Chinese.

by rajeevisonline on 27. November 2012 - 16:27  (102984)

I am sorry I havent experienced the problem you're experiencing. Have you tried a different CD? Or maybe try ripping it to your PC first? Did you find the same Chinese characters when you ripped to PC? If you still do, I urge you try other rippers on our list like fre:ac or EAC.

by J.D. (not verified) on 22. November 2012 - 7:13  (102725)

For those interested, there was a good article in the June, 2011 edition of APC entitled: "The best way to archive audio".

Also this article refers to the May, 2011 edition which discussed using EAC.

by MidnightCowboy on 22. November 2012 - 7:34  (102727)

Links would be helpful. MC - Site Manager.

by steves36043 (not verified) on 22. November 2012 - 1:57  (102715)

(I'm comparing everything to the ol' CDex)
Fairstars CD Ripper seems ok.
It is portable via UniExtractor.
One prob: I had 50% tracks from my sample that were nothing but junk noise with the volume normalize box checked in 'options'.
Prolly best to use MP3Gain for normalizing anyway;)

by YossiD on 6. January 2014 - 12:57  (113419)

Hello steves36043

Tried UniExtract (ver 1.6.1) to extract FairStars CD Ripper (ver 1.60) as portable, but it failed. How did you do it?

by rajeevisonline on 6. January 2014 - 15:50  (113425)

Hello Yossi,

Steve is right. If you are still having a problem try Cameyo. worked for me with the latest version.

by steves36043 on 6. January 2014 - 15:45  (113424)

I confirmed that version 1.60 does not extract using uniextract, while the version reviewed on this page did extract as I mentioned.
Interesting I found your comment in my email at the same time as Gizmo's latest email alert ... reviewing UniExtractor. Viola!, the "unofficial" update referenced in the article (http://www.neowin.net/news/universal-extractor-17893-unofficial) does extract the current ver of FSCDR. Cheers!

by YossiD on 6. January 2014 - 16:57  (113426)

I also tried the "unofficial" update to UniExtractor mentioned in today's Gizmo email and found that it successfully extracted the latest FSCDR. Interesting coincidence to happen on the same day.

Anyway, thanks for your reply.

by rajeevisonline on 22. November 2012 - 17:42  (102743)

Please use audacity to normalize volume if you encounter this issue

http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Amplify_and_Normalize

In most cases the CD that you purchase will already come volume normalized. But you can employ the above tchnique if you feel a difference in volume levels for the final backup

by John at the falls (not verified) on 21. November 2012 - 18:16  (102685)

For my last ripping project I found

AudioGrabber

http://www.audiograbber.org/

It is a very simple program to use with a nice interface.

From Wikipedia:
Audiograbber is able to rip CDs, or record audio coming in via mic jack, or capture audio playing on the computer but not from the internet, into several formats, including WAV, MP3 and others. It performs the conversions entirely digitally, bypassing the system sound card, enabling accurate digital conversion.

Version 1.83 from the developer site comes bundled with Funmoods Toolbar.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audiograbber

I believe I was able to not select the toolbar but I have no problem with any tool bars.

by bwoods on 22. November 2012 - 21:59  (102750)

I have also been using Audiograbber for several years. Great interface. Efficient. Fast. Superb option settings available. Freedb ID of CD tracks. I love it.

by rajeevisonline on 21. November 2012 - 19:29  (102692)

I tried Audiograbber way back in 2006 when it was still relatively new.

I strongly feel that the website needs an update. Somebody please take over. It is a good piece of software with a nice set of features.

by Mike V (not verified) on 21. November 2012 - 14:23  (102676)

Question for you.

We have an older model(2003 Toyota) car and also a older cd player in our Stereo System.

We recently bought a new laptop with Windows 7 and whenever we burn a CD, it won't play in either the car CD player or the stereo. It will play on our newer (2007 Toyota) car's cd player. The original CD will also play, but a burned copy won't.

I've tried converting the audio files to WMA format before burning them but that didn't work either.

Is there a program out here that will make exact copies of the format on the CD and then burn it out to disk? Or am I just missing something?

Thanks for any advice you can give.

by hegggy (not verified) on 22. November 2012 - 1:02  (102712)

Try burning disc at a slower speed.3rd party burners give better options than WMP would recommend Cdburnerxp the default speed is set for maximum, change it to eg. 8x. Hope it helps.

by Vic (not verified) on 21. November 2012 - 19:46  (102693)

Maybe the problem is that the original CDs were 74 min and the new ones are 80 min.

by Mike V (not verified) on 22. November 2012 - 16:06  (102738)

Thanks for your input. Guess I wasn't clear about my issue. I'm mostly talking about ripping and burning the original audio CDs so I don't think the 74 vs. 80 minute length comes into play but, again, thanks for your help.

by rajeevisonline on 21. November 2012 - 15:21  (102679)

If you want to make an exact copy of your audio cd what you need is a CD/DVD burner. Please check this list for options

http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-cd-dvd-burning-software.htm

I recommend Imgburn

http://www.imgburn.com/

by Mike V (not verified) on 22. November 2012 - 16:20  (102740)

Will try imgburn. Have used CDBurnerXP and Ashampoo Burning Studio but have encountered my issue with both of them. The original audio CD works in the car and on the stereo but an exact copy made with either of the two aforementioned programs will not play.

Didn't have this issue with my last PC. Wish now that I could remember the old program's name and or still had the PC so I could use it and/or copy the program to the new laptop. Would be interesting to see whether the issue might be caused by win7 vs. the old xp operating system. Logic tells me no, but then logic doesn't always prevail with computers, does it?

Thanks for your help and for all the great work you do for techsupport.

by rajeevisonline on 22. November 2012 - 17:29  (102742)

Imgburn is very very good. I recommend you also try daemon tools lite to rule out any strange copy protection on your original cd...which might also be a problem

http://www.daemon-tools.cc/eng/products/dtLite

Remember its ad supported so as a last resort..if it comes to that

by Mike V (not verified) on 23. November 2012 - 14:25  (102789)

Thanks again

by Anonymous47 (not verified) on 21. November 2012 - 10:41  (102668)

I suspect your sound card has nothing to do with ripping CDs. It's been years and years since the last CD reader came out that couldn't process direct digital read commands.

That little wire between your CD reader and your sound card is from the days when you could push a "play" button on the CD reader to listen while your computer did other things than run a player program. Remember when PCs only ran 1 application at a time? Yah, that old.

by lmail (not verified) on 19. November 2012 - 23:49  (102585)

Nice reviews rajeevisonline, thanks.

by rajeevisonline on 20. November 2012 - 11:21  (102608)

You're welcome..thank you

by ClasyGeek (not verified) on 5. August 2012 - 23:28  (97256)

Seriously - trying to load EAC and all I get is 20+ add on SW's that I do not want or need. Some, but not all, you can decline and after going through the whole mess still cannot find the sw, looks like it never loaded.

I will look for something that does not DUMP on me.