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dBpoweramp CD Ripper Setup Guide

This setup guide is a walk through of the steps involved in obtaining the best possible results from ripping Audio CDs using dBpoweramp CD Ripper.

Secure or not Secure?

Secure Ripping is the process where a CD Ripping program does its utmost to detect and potentially recover errors when ripping audio CDs. A number of technologies are employed for this feat:
  • AccurateRip: an online database of results from other peoples ripping, using these results CD Ripper is able to know with almost certainty that a rip was error free,
  • C2 error pointers: a feature of some (not all) CD drives to report to a ripping program that the last read block contained errors,
  • Re-reading: more often than not errors will change each time they are read, then can be detected and recovered by reading multiple times.
It goes without question that this guide will detail secure ripping, rather than the non-secure ripping mode (often referred to as burst, as employed by programs such as Windows Media Player, or iTunes).


Installation

Install the latest version of dBpoweramp which contains CD Ripper & Music Converter. After installation decide which audio format is to be used, preferably a lossless audio format (lossless is an audio format which compresses and un-compresses without loss of audio quality - a file compressed with a lossless encoder will decompress 100% identical to the source file). Popular audio formats are FLAC, Apple Lossless and Windows Media Audio (WMA) Lossless. The choice of audio format depends on the programs used for playback: iTunes prefers Apple Lossless, Windows Media Player obviously is happy with WMA Lossless and practically all other programs (and non-portable hardware players) prefer FLAC. This guide will continue with FLAC as its codec of choice.

A huge range of codecs can be installed from Codec Central FLAC and Apple Lossless are installed by default.


Configuring

This is where the real 'work' begins, effort put in at this stage will ensure best possible results - we have a saying 'rip once - rip right', ripping is a time consuming process, it should be only done once and perfect, verified results can be achieved.


Configuring Audio Encoder

Start CD Ripper (Start >> Programs >> dBpoweramp Music Converter >> dBpoweramp CD Ripper) and in the lower left corner:

Change Rip To audio encoder to FLAC. Lossless audio codecs do not have many options, compression at the default level is adequate for most people, all compression modes are lossless, the higher modes require much more CPU encoding time and will only achieve an extra 1% compression. For FLAC Level 5 is a good selection (a good balance between minimal compression time and reasonable compression).

By default ripped audio files are placed in the Music folder saved under \Artist\Album\Track Number Artist - Title  this option could be changed to suit using Set next to Naming.


Configuring DSP Effects

Click the DSP tab and Add a DSP effect ReplayGain  (not ReplayGain (apply) ). This effect calculates the loudness of the audio track and writes such a value to the ID Tag. A compatible audio player can use that value to correct the volume of the track so tracks from different discs all appear with the same volume, ReplayGain does not change the audio, only contains a loudness value which a player can use. On the ReplayGain settings page:

EBU R128 is a new form of Replaygain calculation, if ripping to an Apple format enable the iTunNORM tag option to write in a format iTunes can use.

Depending upon which audio player is used, if the player can handle 24 bit audio files, then adding the DSP effect HDCD is useful, in that any HDCD audio CDs (a special encoded audio CD with 20 bits of encoded audio information) will be detected and encoded to a 24 bit audio file, non HDCDs are left at 16 bit.


Configuring Secure Ripping

Click Options Button (top toolbar) and change the Ripping Method to Secure (Recover Errors):


Looking further down the page:

[Advanced option] If your CD drive supports reading into the lead / lead out, check the option Read into Lead-in or Lead-out (most CD drives do not support this). CD drives have a fixed offset, later in this guide the offset of the drive is found, for drives with a + offset the CD drive would have to be able to read into the Lead-out, where a drive with a - offset would have to read into the Lead-in. By over-reading (if the drive is capable) the first or last few samples can be read from the CD, in most instances these samples are silence. Visit www.daefeatures.co.uk to determine the status of your CD drive.

Now is time to configure the CD drive for secure ripping, click Secure Settings next to the Secure (Recover Errors) line:

The settings for Ultra Secure depend on your CD drives ability to report C2 error pointers (C2 pointers tell CD Ripper when a section of audio has errors).

If C2 pointers are supported use this ability (in other programs the recommendation might be to always disable C2 support, this is not true in CD Ripper). Before checking C2 Error Pointers for Error Detection, it is best to actually do a test with a simulated damaged audio CD: take an audio CD which is never to be used again, with a black permanent marker pen draw a triangle onto the silver side of the CD (side which is normally placed downwards into a CD player):

Place this CD in your CD drive and click Detect c2 Support, if your drive supports C2 pointers it will detect by the end of the disc - noting if a c2 pointer error is signalled right at the start then the cd drive might not be compatible (the above black marker test would signal a c2 error about 1/4 of the way through the test).


Caching

For a secure ripper to work correctly the cache must be invalidated, this is normally done by reading an area larger than the drives cache, by default CD ripper sets a 1024KB cache. The cache can be detected (it is likely to be much much smaller than the default value). Detecting cache size is quite difficult, it is recommended that 3 or 4 different unscratched CDs are used to detect the value. A 'no brainer' and safe option is to leave the cache as 1024KB.

Clear Read Cache with FUA is an option which can quickly clear the cache, it should only be used on compatible Plextor drives (the older true Plextors), there is an option to test for this feature.

Continuing with the options, set these:

The Secure Rip Abort options will end ripping early if the disc is badly damaged, this is important as a secure ripper can sometimes try too much to recover a damaged disc, sometimes spending 2 hours on one disc, which is not overly healthy for a CD drive. A Secure Extraction Log is used to save details (to a text file) of all actions taken on a disc (which tracks had errors, where the errors were), noting that Log Filename is left as the default value. The log file is saved to the Music Folder as a text file.

Moving up the options page, to Ultra Secure:

If your drive supports C2 pointers, set as Minimum Ultra Passes: 1      Maximum Ultra Passes: 2       End After Clean Passes: 1

If your drive does not support C2 pointers, set as Minimum Ultra Passes: 2      Maximum Ultra Passes: 4       End After Clean Passes: 2

Maximum Re-Reads control how many times a 'bad' section is retried, with C2 pointer support this can be set to a higher number, such as 60. Without C2 support it is not recommended that this value be increased, as there is more of a chance of a consistent error getting through ripping.


Configuring AccurateRip

AccurateRip consists of an online database of other users ripping results, by comparing your CD rip (a small CRC of the track data) to theirs it can be known with almost certainty that the rip was free from errors. Before AccurateRip can be used it must find your drives read offset. To do so insert a popular CD, if the CD can be used AccurateRip will offer to find the offset:

Normally only 1 CD is needed, but if your CD drive does not appear in AccurateRip's main database of CD drives then 3 matching results from 3 different discs will be required. When finding the offset for your drive, it is not required to actually rip the CD. Once the offset is found it will be reported:

When AccurateRip is operating it will report a message next to a track such as 'Accurate (12)': this reports your rip matched 12 other peoples rips (the confidence number), anything above a confidence of 1 can be relied upon. On a damaged track the report might be 'Inaccurate (2)', where your rip disagrees with two other peoples Rips. If all the tracks dis-agree with AccurateRip then it is likely your CD is a different pressing to the one in AccurateRip's database.


Meta Data

Finally an important part of CD Ripping, often overlooked is Metadata, quality track details and album art are important in the 'rip one - rip right' philosophy, CD Ripper uses 5 online metadata providers, with PerfectMeta active automated metadata retrieval results are as good as possible for an automated system, occasional manual intervention might be required:

If the track names are wrong, or require correction, press ALT + M (or click Review Metadata) to activate the PerfectMeta review page, clicking on a different provider (buttons at the top) uses all the data from that provider, or clicking on a single item shown will use that item.

Missing album art can be added quickly by clicking Choose Art.

By default CD Ripper will embed album art inside each ripped audio file (audio format permitting) and also write a Folder.jpg file to the location of the album.