insane mp3 music cd backups

You'll have a hard time backing this up.Do you remember when they introduced the CD and where trying to convince people to that those shiny round pieces of plastic where so awesomely pawning that obsolete black vinyl when it came down to durability?
Well, you’ve probably figured out that was a loud of BS as well by now, after you noticed some of you favourite CDs are scratched beyond repair, making some track unplayable, or even the whole bloody CD.

So what do IT geeks do in this case? Take backups of course! We start ripping all those CDs to a digital format so we can always burn ourselves a copy after your dogs decides to use that Fergie album as a chew toy. Oh wait. On second thought, that wouldn’t be that bad. Anyway, the question now is: in what format do we rip so we don’t spend all our diskspace on it, and are still able to get some serious audio quality from it.

Yes, the idea of loosing audio info when ripping to mp3, ogg, or any kind of lossy audio format gives me sleepless nights. That and that recent picture of skinny assed Renee Zelweger. Go get a burger girl, you need some animal fats in your system pronto. To solve at least one of those issues, I started evaluating some audio formats before I started ripping away:

  • WAV has 100% of the quality, but no compression at all. This simply takes too much space, thus isn’t an option.
  • MP3 is lossy, which is a pity, but even when sampling at high ratios disk space usage is good. Most important of all, everything can handle mp3s. Car stereos, mp3 players (that’s why they are called mp3 players after all), DVD players, that crappy media player installed by default on your Windows machine. Anything.
  • OGG is the open source mp3 competitor. Yay! Open source! It rawks! Too bad it doesn’t work on anything but your PC though. The chances you’ll get your OGGs to play in your mp3 player, DVD or car stereo are as slim as you getting a threesome with the Olson Twins. God that would be great. OGGs on your car stereo. Hot!
  • FLAC has potential. It’s lossless, which means it’s an audiophile’s wet dream (that and the Olson Twins thing), and it compresses quite nicely compared to other lossless formats. Oh, and it’s opens source again. Yay! Open Source! But when it comes to being compatible with players it’s the same old story again. Not a lot is going to play this out of the box, so you’ll either have to rip them a second time, or convert them to mp3s, which means more disk space requirements, which is sucky sucky.
  • AAC. I heard this was a good lossy format again, kicking the mp3 codecs ass apparently. It also seems to be playing on more players, but it’s a bitch to find any tools to encode to AAC. After a few web searches and trying to find some tools to do this easily, I gave up and didn’t bother with it. It’s used on the iPod I read, with DRM of course.

In the end I decided to try and squeeze the maximum quality possible out of the well known and super-compatible mp3 format, making life easy for myself. Which is how I like it really. It turns out bleep.com, Warp’s online music store, also uses mp3s so I guess my decision isn’t that half-assed after all. From their site I also learned they are using the “insane preset” on the Lame mp3 encoder to make sure the sound quality is optimal. I’m doing exactly the same. Insane sounds quite right to me really, when it comes to sound quality.

If you are using CDex for your ripping pleasures, you can select this insane setting in the Encoder tab in the settings (F4). There’s a drop down box labelled “Quality” there, which is a dead give-away isn’t it. Set that one to “preset insane” and you’ll be able to rest on both ears, knowing your CD collection is safely stored on your hard drive, at a pretty damn good quality. Make sure you get a fresh copy of CDex as well, as it’s bound to be bundled with a recent version of Lame, the mp3 encoder.

Now we just have to backup those mp3s somewhere, in case our HDD decides to crap out on us.
Damn computers.

12 thoughts on “insane mp3 music cd backups

  1. Pingback: n3wjack’s blog » how to resize or reallocate space on disk partitions

  2. n3wjack Post author

    Personally I find WinAmp the bomb. It’s slick, fast, has great themes, a lot of plugins to extend it with, and it’s free. Media Player does the trick too though, so it’s a matter of preference. I just never liked it in the past (it sorta sucked then), but now it does pretty much all it needs to do.

    What makes WinAmp rock for me right now is the search in the music library, the fact that you can minimize it to a tray icon and a very slim bar that sits at the bottom of your screen or wherever you put it (screenshot), and it’s hotkeys.
    You can read about those hotkeys right here

  3. n3wjack Post author

    Personally I find WinAmp the bomb. It’s slick, fast, has great themes, a lot of plugins to extend it with, and it’s free. Media Player does the trick too though, so it’s a matter of preference. I just never liked it in the past (it sorta sucked then), but now it does pretty much all it needs to do.

    What makes WinAmp rock for me right now is the search in the music library, the fact that you can minimize it to a tray icon and a very slim bar that sits at the bottom of your screen or wherever you put it (screenshot), and it’s hotkeys.
    You can read about those hotkeys right here

  4. Dallas

    I’ve been ripping my CDs to wma, which is lossy. I’m not an audiophile of any sort, so I probably can’t tell the difference in quality between that and mp3. I use Windows Media Player 11 because of its style and because I’m familiar with it. Are there any better media players out there?

    I have a Best Buy notebook with 80 GB and a 160 GB Wal-Mart external hard drive I use for backups. Let’s hope they last.

  5. Dallas

    I’ve been ripping my CDs to wma, which is lossy. I’m not an audiophile of any sort, so I probably can’t tell the difference in quality between that and mp3. I use Windows Media Player 11 because of its style and because I’m familiar with it. Are there any better media players out there?

    I have a Best Buy notebook with 80 GB and a 160 GB Wal-Mart external hard drive I use for backups. Let’s hope they last.

  6. n3wjack Post author

    Yes yes, I’m definitely going to back up all those files somehow.
    I still have some older hard drives around from now obsolete computers, so I’m thinking of simply using those as additional storage by turning them into a removable USB device oslt.

    2000 CDs btw? No wonder you need an expensive RAID system to store all that.
    If I calculate your storage needs using the figures from my own HD I say you need a good 280 gigs for all that, give or take a few.
    Sick! :)

  7. n3wjack Post author

    Yes yes, I’m definitely going to back up all those files somehow.
    I still have some older hard drives around from now obsolete computers, so I’m thinking of simply using those as additional storage by turning them into a removable USB device oslt.

    2000 CDs btw? No wonder you need an expensive RAID system to store all that.
    If I calculate your storage needs using the figures from my own HD I say you need a good 280 gigs for all that, give or take a few.
    Sick! :)

  8. StaticBeats

    Word man. I came to the very same conclusion – MP3 LAME Insane. Other formats exist but none as ubiquitous. One note – I highly recommend a redundant backup system to accompany this process. I’ve spent months and ripped over 2000 CDs (scanned the covers too!) and would all but faint if a hard drive died. I got a very serious (+$1500) raid but the peace of mind it gives me is worth every penny.

Leave a Reply