There are lots of CD ripper applications out there for your consideration. Even with music streaming services and digital audio now dominating the market, pushing CDs out, there are still quite a few of these tools that allow you to rip tracks from CDs using Windows Explorer or a media player. And, they’re still essential, especially for archiving older albums, EPs and singles.
Of course, not all CD rippers are the same. The quality of those ripped files will never be as good as the original discs due to errors when data is read, and compression when it’s encoded. That’s why it’s vital to use a CD ripper that keeps the audio files as close to the original CD as possible, with complete and accurate metadata, encoded in a lossless format (usually Free Lossless Audio Codec, or FLAC).
While this requires a lot of space, the plummeting price of storage has made it feasible for anyone to keep those files as a backup, and make copies for everyday use. You can also encode copies using lossy codecs for playback on devices with limited storage.
A 'secure' CD ripper ensures audio files are free from errors by reading each sector of the disc several times, and comparing the results with data collected from other users. There aren’t many of these reliable tools around, and you don’t want to use something that would render your favorite music completely unlistenable. These are the CD rippers we’d trust with our own tunes.
Are CD rippers legal?
Although every Windows PC comes with software for backing up discs, using CD rippers isn't legal everywhere. For example, in 2014, UK copyright law was changed to make legalize personal backups, but that decision was overturned by the High Court in 2015. Make sure you check out intellectual property law in your country before you start ripping.
Get 10TB of cloud storage for just $3.98 (opens in new tab)
IDrive, the cloud storage veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. 10TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched till now and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.
1. Exact Audio Copy
The best free CD ripper for Windows if you have time to invest in the setup
Usually we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to software, with dozens of programs approaching the same task from different angles. When it comes to CD rippers, however, there are only two programs we recommend – one free, and one premium (but still reasonably priced).
Exact Audio Copy (opens in new tab) is the free option, and it's so good, many audiophiles prefer it to paid-for CD rippers. It takes a while to set up, so we've put together a full guide to get you started.
EAC employs a technology called AccurateRip, which uses data from users around the world to detect whether your rips are totally free from errors. No CD or DVD drive is perfect, and many will insert periods of silence into audio tracks where errors occur, so this verification is essential for making 1:1 copies of your discs.
EAC can also find metadata for your music from four different sources (complete with album art), rename files automatically, and normalize audio as it's processed. If you have the time to invest, you couldn't wish for more in a CD ripper.
- Exact Audio Copy (opens in new tab)
A premium CD ripper that makes archiving and encoding music a breeze
dBpoweramp (opens in new tab) is a premium CD ripper (a license for a single PC costs $39/£31/AU$39), but you can try it free for 21 days to make sure it's the tool for you before buying.
dBpoweramp's main advantage over Exact Audio Copy is its clear interface, which helps simplify the process of ripping your discs. Otherwise, it’s very similar; it uses the same AccurateRip technology to ensure your files are as close as possible to the original CD, scanning and re-scanning for errors, and comparing the results with data from other users.
dBpoweramp uses all your CPU cores simultaneously for the fastest possible encoding, and can encode to multiple formats at once, saving you the effort of converting files for playback on other devices.
dBpoweramp also includes an audio converter, with batch support for encoding files en masse – very useful if you need copies in a different format for a new device, or your everyday playback files have become lost or damaged.
- dBpoweramp (opens in new tab)
- The best free DVD rippers