Unlocking the Tunes: How to Rip Audio CDs on Windows

These days, with so many music fans getting music from streaming services, the idea of physically touching music – of putting a music CD into a CD reader then riffling through the plastic case to find the artwork, all while listening to the music on the CD itself – seems like a bit of a throwback, and yet it can also have this special quality to it as well. And even though many people have turned to listening to music digitally, lots of us look at our music collection and the music CDs that we still have and wonder how the heck we can get those music CDs into our increasingly digital lives. Windows doesn’t have to be seen as a replacement for physical media – it can be a tool to keep your music collection from going by the wayside. We can show you how to rip music from a CD to your Windows PC. In this easy tutorial, we’ll do a walkthrough of how to rip the music on a CD so that you can make sure that it’s not going missing from your life, no matter what the future holds, or how and where you’re listening to music.

THE PRELUDE: Understanding the Necessity of a Disc Drive

Before you get started on digitising your musical heritage, it’s important to have the correct apparatus by your side. When you compare many PCs to their tinier ancestors of the past century, modern laptops are much thinner and compact from top to bottom. Many cheap PCs will omit an in-built disc drive, which of course will hinder your ability to play the music recorded on CDs and DVDs. You’ll need to sort out an external disc drive that you can connect to your PC. I recommend the ASUS ZenDrive Silver, which is compatible with all Windows-based PCs, and allows you to read and write CDs and DVDs with very little setup necessary. Make sure to get the right cables – these will be either a USB Type-A port or a USB-C port, depending on your laptop.

STEP 1: Set the Stage with Media Player

But the real action takes place back at the command centre: in the Media Player app, a standard utility that’s included with most versions of Windows 11, and can be downloaded and installed on Windows 10 for free. Opening it up from the Start Menu is about as far as you need to go; the contagion is about to spread.

Step 2: Perform the Rip

After you’ve opened Media Player and put your audio CD in the disc drive, the fun begins. The app will recognise your CD and display its track list, tantalising you with the musical feast that awaits: Are you ready to rip this CD?Go ahead and tweak the audio import settings before you rip, if you want to. You can adjust your music format and bitrate according to your preferences. Maybe you love the AAC format that Apple recommends for music in iOS. Maybe you prefer MP3 for the greatest cross-platform playback. Maybe you want the very best, and don’t care that FLAC lossy or ALAC files (Apple Lossless) won’t play everywhere: either way, Media Player has you covered.

Step 3: The Grand Finale - Ripping and Reveling

You push the ‘Rip CD’ button and let the software take over. Song by song, this code is digitised, freed from the plastic and foil of the physical disc, and stored as music files on your hard drive. As files are ripped, Media Player provides progress indicators, finally reaching a collection of your newly ripped music in the Music tab so you can listen to them. If your audio does not have the album art or metadata Music labels desire, you can use ‘Edit info’ to add the needed info and make your digital music perfect.

ENCORE: Rip a CD on Older Windows PCs

For those singing with pre-10 versions of Windows, such as Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, the tried-and-true Windows Media Player takes centre stage, with its process mirroring that of the modern version, making sure that no fan is left behind in this update.

FINALE: Preserving Your Digital Tunes

The beauty of ripped audio CDs is that they’re free. Free of digital rights management (DRM) – your music is yours and yours to move, copy, or back up as you see fit. Both new and legacy versions of Media Player tie directly into your Music folder, remaining the centre of gravity for any digital music collection.

In Summary: The Unfettered Symphony of Your Music Collection

Ripping audio CDs in Windows is the best way to resurrect your music from the past while making it a joy for the future, whether using the new Media Player or its classic predecessor. When you rip your audio CDs, you can ensure that your music collection is part of the digital world of today.

About Open: Embracing Digital Freedom

The word ‘open’ conveys access and freedom, and the great melodies that I’ve ripped from my audio CDs have passed across time in an open exchange. The experience of ripping openly and carrying a music collection freely into a new age of listening is one that I encourage everyone to seize. So, let the open rip begin!

Jun 17, 2024
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