How to rip a CD in 2024


If you just want to know what software to use for rip a CD and convert them to mp3 or whatever format you want, I'll save your time and point you to fre:ac, it just works. If you want to learn more about my journey with music production, keep reading.

Recently I finally started to pursue a hobby that I've been flirting for quite a long time now but never really spared time to do it which is music production and DJing! Very soon I realise that one of the main tasks I have to do is organise my repertoire and create a music inventory for my references.

I started doing a bunch of research and creating playlists in a famous music streaming service but when it comes to mixing and experimenting with the songs I found myself in the need of accessing my CD collection and ripping some songs that I cannot find anywhere online with high quality. There are many streaming services focused on DJs but still some songs are hard to find.

In the era of streaming I can't help myself but to be concerned about the lack of ownership of the media content I consume. And I don't mean ownership in terms of copyright or anything like that (this is subject for another conversation), but in the most material way as possible. Not so long ago we used to buy physical media and be able to listen and watch to our favourite artists and shows as many times as we wanted without relying on an internet connection or a streaming service subscription. That's why I decided to start digitalising my physical collection and it's been a fun ride.

In this learning process I've been finding so many interesting things that I thought didn't exist anymore and I've been feeling the same excitement I used to have in my teenage years when I spent hours and hours every week in CD stores and file sharing services just to find THAT song that I would listen in a loop over and over for months. Not to mention revisiting the CD covers, reading the song credits and learning more about the artists I like.

All of this just to share that yes, it's possible and very easy to rip a CD in 2024!

First thing that is obvious but may not be for some people: you need a CD drive. The current laptops don't come with them anymore, but it's very easy and cheap to buy a new CD/DVD external drive nowadays. After a small research I ended up buying this one from a brand called Antika - it's cheap, lightweight and small. So far it's working well for what I need, it's a bit noisy but I use it just to rip the CD, I wouldn't use it as a music player, though. It worked without issues on linux and macOS, I haven't tested on Windows.

As an open source enthusiast, I didn't want to use anything that wasn't open and I ended up in this app called fre:ac. It has GPL-2.0 license and it's pretty much active despite the "vintage" look of the website, and it's been active since 2001 - kudos to the maintainers!

The usage is very intuitive, as soon as I insert a CD, it fetches the details of the songs, you select the format of the output, press play and that's it.

fre:ac ui

Songs are digital, now let me get back to what it matters, listening to music and experimenting :)

Disclaimer: I'm not encouraging piracy. This is for learning and study purposes. If you can, please consider buying your music be it physical or digital. Support your artists.