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Ripping CDs to MP3s Using Ubuntu Linux

Update 2021. The free CDDB setup got bought by a company somehow and put behind a pay wall.   Thankfully, there is MusicBrainz that works for many CD lookups.  I also discovered another program that worked well for me called Sound Juicer that looks like it is part of the Gnome environment and it uses musicbrainz.org to complete CD lookups.

me@myhost$ sudo apt-get install sound-juicer

Since storage has become so cheap lately, I suggest you rip everything into loss-less FLAC format and use the program SoundConverter to easy batch-convert the files to the mp3 quality you are looking for the port the files around.  Hope that helps.

Original Page

Installing the Asunder Software. To install the asunder graphically, you can search in the Ubuntu Software Center application. Remarks: If you happen to have any problem with ripping a certain format of music file, consult the Ubuntu Restricted Formats Wiki page. If you are comfortable with the terminal:

me@myhost$ sudo apt-get install asunder

You can’t do much without something to rip, so put an audio CD in your drive. If you get a message to open a program other than asunder, then Cancel it out. Start Asunder by searching in the Dash if it is not “locked” to the launcher. There will be a brief delay and you may see the message “Getting disc info from the Internet” at the bottom of the window. Then interface will look something like this:

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Changes to Disc Information

This is an optional step. Most of the time the information from the CDDB lookup is acceptable “as is”. I have found two cases where I wanted to change the information, though, and here is what you do.

  • Remove Special Characters:Computers can be fussy. If you want to get rid of some special characters, like periods or slashes, then click on the name of the track you want to edit and it will become highlighted and “editable”. When done, click somewhere else or press Enter to save the change.
  • Adding Multiple Artists:Sometimes when a CD consists of multiple artists, you will find that the person who submitted the CDDB data repeated the term “Various” for the artist for each track. If you’d like more detail in your files, you can do this by unchecking the box next to “Single artist”. You will then be given a new column called “Artist” in between the “Track” and “Title” columns that you can fill in for each track.
  • Adding Genre:UPDATE: You can now specify a genre while ripping using Asunder. That is very cool. I keep the paragraph below for reference with files you may have already ripped.[I did not find a way to customize the genre “on the fly” while ripping using Asunder. My advice is to sort your ripped files into directories (folders) according to genre. When you are done, it will then be a simple matter to bulk-update the genre for all the files in a folder using easytag, or some other MP3 tag editor. Briefly, in easytag: Undo the preference about opening subfolders when browsing. Go to a folder and click the “select all” button. Type the genre you want in the genre field. Right-click and select the phrase like “apply to all items”. Save all.]

Ripping Multiple Formats At Once

This really doesn’t take that long to do. I am including all the possible changes you might want to make. So far, we have only inserted a disc and started Asunder.

I am describing a method to rip a CD at 2 different MP3 fixed bitrates with a minimal amount of effort and time. For example, to make a 256kbps and 96kbps files of the same tracks. The 256kbps files give you good sound quality with most average audio equipment. I need to use 96kbps files for an 8GB MP3 player for when I’m working, in order to get the musical variety I need.

To get started, click on the “Preferences” button. In the “Genral” tab, make sure the option “Eject disc when finished” is UNCHECKED. Then click on the “Encode” tab.

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In my example, you would check the box next to the “WAV” file format in order to speed up the step that follows this one. Make sure the “Variable bit rate” box is unchecked and set the slider to 256kbps. [If you are a real audiofile, and need an LOSSLESS copy of your music for your computer, then go ahead and great a FLAC file as well. Keep in mind the files will be huge.]

Click the “Okay” button to return to the main window and click the “Rip” button to start the ripping process. This could take several minutes for an entire album, so have some news headlines to read or something…

Ripping MP3 from existing WAV file

When the higher bitrate samples are completed, put them in separate folders (e.g., 256-rock, 256-jazz, etc.) because the next files created will have the same name and extension and you won’t be able to “see” the bitrate.

You probably don’t need to keep a copy of the WAV files, so now UNCHECK the WAV box we checked earlier. Move the MP3 slider to the lower bitrate (128kbps, 96kbps, etc.). Click “Okay” and “Rip” again. You will see a new window prompt.

Click in the “Remember” checkbox so you won’t be bothered and say “NO” to overwriting the files, so that you will not create duplicates of the same file. This time the files will be created much faster. The progress bar will start at 50% because the existing WAV files are being reused to encode the new files. When done, put them into analagous folders (096-rock, 096-jazz, etc.) for later processing of the genre tags.

This could be repeated for more bitrates, but you would NOT uncheck the WAV file creation until processing the last bitrate batch. Any changes you made to the Artist or Track names will be retained as long as you don’t eject the CD.

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