If you want the absolute best sound quality from your digital music files, they need to be bit-perfect rips from CDs stored in a lossless compression format. I recommend using dBpoweramp Music Converter (dBmc) to do this. This page describes how to configure dBmc (version 12 or 13) for the most accurate bit-for-bit perfect backup of an Audio CD (compact disc).
First, you will need to install the following dBpoweramp files:
- Install dBpoweramp CD Ripper and Music Converter. You will need to use either The PowerPack Version ($24; 3-week free trial) or the Reference version ($36; 3-week free trail.) I use the PowerPack version.
- Install the dBpoweramp FLAC codec (free)
- Install the ReplayGain lossless volume normalization plugin (free)
Note: It is possible to achieve the same results using the free software Exact Audio Copy (see this post for configuration details), but I find that dBpoweramp is easier to configure, is easier to use, has a fantastic file format conversion utility, and it has access to 4 total metadata providers for accurate tag creation. If saving $24 is more important than ease-of-use and time spent retagging files, EAC may be for you. Otherwise, dBmc is the way to go.
Once you have the programs installed, follow these configuration instructions:
1. After installing dBpoweramp Music Converter, run dbPoweramp Configuration. If FLAC (or equivalent lossless codec) isn’t installed, install if from this window.
2. Open “dBpoweramp CD Ripper” and click the Options button.
3. Check the boxes for both Secure Ripping Method and AccurateRip. Then click “Secure Settings” button under Ripping Method.
4. Click Detect after the following window appears.
5. CD Optical Drive caching is being detected.
6. CD Optical Drive caching detected and configured. Click OK to continue and OK again to close the Settings/Options windows.
7. Click OK to save Options and return to dBpoweramp CD Ripper.
8. If it appears, do not check the box for Read Lead-in and Lead-Out unless you have issues with extracting the beginning of the first track of end of the last track.
9. Now instert a popular CD from your collection. You need to find one that is in the AccurateRip database, and you may have to try several.
10. When you insert a CD that is in the AccurateRip database, the following box will automatically display and AccurateRip will auto-configure.
11. Select the output file format as FLAC; compression level 8 will give smaller files but will take longer to encode on slower CPUs.
12. Download and install the ReplayGain utility (previously called DSP Effects) from http://www.dbpoweramp.com/codec-central-utility.htm
13. Select the DSP tab and then add ReplayGain as the DSP effect. Select both Track and Album gain.
14. ReplayGain should now be shown as a DSP effect.
15. I recommend the following settings for folder and file names: [IFCOMP][IFVALUE]album artist,[album artist],Various Artists\[year] – [album]\[IFMULTI] Disc [disc] – [track] – [artist] – [title][IF!COMP][IFVALUE]album artist,[album artist],[artist]\[year] – [album]\[IFMULTI] Disc [disc] – [track] – [title]
16. This how compilation CDs will be named using my settings.
17. This is how multi-CD sets will be named using my settings.
18. Done! You are now ready for bit-perfect, lossless CD ripping.
A Note on AccurateRip Confidence: After ripping a CD, you will see and AccurateRip confidence number. This number represents the number of people that extracted the exact rip as you just did. So the higher the number, the better, but a low number isn’t necessarily bad. Here are some examples:
- If all tracks on a CD give a confidence of 12, except 1 which has a confidence of 0, then there is probably a problem with that zero confidence track.
- If all tracks are 0, either the disc is heavily damaged or the CD isn’t in the AccurateRip database.