Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How to rip an audio cd and convert WMA files to MP3 for free

One common question I get from friends and co-workers is how to take a regular audio CD and convert the tracks into MP3’s. This is actually a two-step process: ripping the music from a CD onto your computer and then converting the resulting WMA files into MP3 or iPod format. The process is actually quite simple and only requires Windows Media Player and a free audio conversion program.

To get started ripping music from an audio cd, start up Windows Media Player and insert your cd. Click on the Rip button in the top menu to begin the process:

Before you being ripping, you can change the location for the files by click on the Rip button and choosing More Options from the drop down. By default Windows Media Player rips music to the My Music folder under My Documents.

Once the files are ripped onto your computer hard drive, they can be convert to MP3 format using a free program from Jodix. The software contains no spyware or adware and runs very fast. It supports batch processing of multiple files and includes a detailed HTML help file if needed. Once installed, click on Add Files and select the files in the My Music folder that were just ripped. Note that Windows Media Player creates a folder underneath My Music and if the audio CD is foreign or something not very common, it creates the folder underneath another folder called Various Artists.

Select all the files in the directory and click OK. You’ll now be able to configure the settings for the files. First choose the destination directory for the converted file if you want it somewhere other than the current folder.

Next choose the desired bitrate for the MP3 files. You can simply leave it at 192 Kbps if you have no idea what that means! You can also leave the defaults for Sample Rate and Channel Mode unless you know what you’re doing.

Finally, you can add Meta tag information to each MP3 file if you like, including Title, Album, Artist, Genre, Year and Comments. This is useful because if you play the songs on your iPod, PSP, iTunes, etc, it will detect this extra information.

After you are finished, you will be asked whether you want the same settings to apply to all the other files. I really like that feature otherwise it would be a pain to type in all that stuff every time. Once everything is loaded in the Task List, click Start and your WMA files will be converted to MP3 very quickly!

You can click Hide to Tray if you’d like the process to run in the background while working on your computer.

This was only for Windows, but there are also many apps out there for Mac OS X. I will write up a post soon on how to do the same conversion on Mac.

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