The best CD rippers still have their place in the world. Music streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify may have taken over the world, and many of them have extensive track libraries that contain even hard to find titles. But let's be honest; no streaming service has everything.
There is a reasonable chance that you have a number of physical CDs that are simply not available to stream. And having a CD ripper is necessary to digitize your "rare" collection so you can crack it open whenever you want to listen to something that's not available on your chosen service. Because everything you love will be accessible form your computer without the need for physical media.
The best CD rippers can extract tracks from your physical collection and create a digital library. These offer a great deal of control over the ripping process, with options like automatically grabbing track data from the internet to save you having to manually name files and choosing from a variety of file formats, from the ever-popular MP3 to the lossless FLAC.
A word of caution: the legality of CD rippers varies around the world. In some countries there are no issues with creating copies of discs you own, while in others this is not permitted. Check, and processed with caution! Take a look at our picks of the best CD rippers, all tested and vetted by us.
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Are CD rippers legal?
Why you can trust TechRadar
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.
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 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.
A premium CD ripper that makes archiving and encoding music a breeze
dBpoweramp 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.
- The best free DVD rippers
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Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)