Compact discs are long past their peak, which came in 2000, when they surpassed $13 billion in sales(Opens in a new window) in the USA. The first MP3 players and then streaming services took over. But there are still those of us who have large collections of iridescent plastic records, and you can still find them for sale at vintage record stores and online.
Windows 11’s new Media Player app didn’t initially include CD ripping capability, but an update in preview builds of the OS shows it’s coming back. Here we take a look at this new feature and show you other ways to turn your CDs into media files on your PC.
For most readers, this section will only be of interest when Microsoft adds CD ripping to the released version of the operating system. For now, this is only a preview. But don’t worry: the company is committed to releasing new features to the OS when they’re ready, so you probably won’t have to wait for a major update. For now, any Windows 11 user can already to play CD with the Media Player application, which looks like this:
After the update, you get the new Rip CD choice:
You can load your CD, press this button and you are good to go. Once complete (the ripping percentage is displayed during the process), your music files will appear in the Music folder, in a subfolder created using the performer and album name, as shown below.
Note that if you want to rip only selected tracks and not the entire album, you can select individual tracks (whose entries are highlighted in color) and use the Rip button that appears to save a copy of the music files to your reader.
Windows 11 format settings for CD ripping
The new Rip tool goes beyond a simple one-click operation. There are four formats to choose from for audio files that the application can create:
AAC: Advanced Audio Coding, an extension of the MPEG-2 standard and used by Apple devices
WMA: Windows Media Audio
FLAC: free lossless audio codec
ALAC: Apple lossless audio codec
Notably missing is MP3, which isn’t a big loss as it offers lower sound quality and larger file sizes than included.
For AAC (which, like MP3 and WMA, is a lossy codec), you can also choose bitrate from 96 Kbps to 320 Kbps, and for WMA, you can choose between 96 Kbps and 192 Kbps.
For the two lossless codecs, FLAC and ALAC, this choice does not exist, because there is no compression. The format and bitrate you choose depends on how much disk space you want to devote to music files and how difficult your ears are for audio fidelity. Purists will want to use the lossless formats, but if you’re transferring the files to a smartphone, you might want to use a lossy codec like AAC to save storage space.
Even though you don’t yet have ripping capabilities in the new media player, you still have plenty of other options for ripping CDs in Windows 11. Let’s look at just three. One requires no installation and the other is free and powerful.
Note that Apple iTunes, which you can install on your Windows 11 PC, can also rip CDs, but this program has been bloated over the years, so you may prefer a lighter option. However, it has the added ability to sync ripped music to iPhone.
Use legacy Windows Media Player
Although the new Media Player app is a million times easier on the eyes and much more modern than the one that’s been hanging around Windows for a few decades, believe it or not, this old-school app is still available and pre-installed in Windows 11. .
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Note the Rip CD option above the track titles. With this tool, you can still rip CDs to MP3 format, so if you need to, you’ll want to use this old man even if you have Media Player’s new ripping feature. All in all, it offers a different set of file formats, minus AAC. It adds WAV, which is another lossless, albeit old, format.
Using Foobar 2000
Foobar 2000(Opens in a new window) is a free open source application that has been around for many years but still receives frequent updates. Its interface is simpler than most, but it’s highly configurable and supports more file formats for playback and ripping, as long as you’re willing to go through more configuration. For example, to rip to FLAC, you need to download the FLAC executable file, although you can download a converter pack all at once from the developer’s site. Supported formats include MP3, MP4/M4A, Audio CD, Vorbis, Opus, FLAC, WavPack, WAV, AIFF and Musepack. Many plug-ins are available for Foobar, so it is highly extensible to any existing audio codec.
The app doubles as a music library, with personalized playlists, tags, folder organization and monitoring of new music uploads, plus powerful search.
If you insert a CD into the drive, an option to rip the CD appears. The app then asks if you want to download artwork and information to the disc from public databases.
Use EZ CD Audio Converter
The second way to rip CDs if you don’t already have the built-in option in Windows 11 is to use EZ CD Audio Converter(Opens in a new window). This method is much simpler but almost as powerful as Foobar, with wide file format support. It does not require any configuration or knowledge of codecs, although you can change these settings to your liking. You pop a CD into the drive and press Rip CD – no questions asked, no separate downloads. That said, you can switch among a host of codecs and file formats if you wish. It automatically finds album art and track information from online sources. A paid version of the app ($39.99) adds support for lossless and premium formats like DSD(Opens in a new window).
For more than music…
If you need more than audio (like video), check out our article on how to rip Blu-ray discs on your PC, as well as our roundup of the best free DVD rippers.
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