Compact discs are past their heyday, when they reached $13 billion in sales in 2000.(opens in new window) U. S. At. First MP3 players and then streaming services took over. But we still have large collections of iridescent plastic discs, and you can still find them for sale in vintage record stores and online.
Windows 11’s new Media Player app didn’t initially include CD ripping capability, but an update in preview builds of the operating system shows it’s returning. Here we take a look at that new feature, as well as show you some ways to turn your CDs into media files on your PC.
For most readers, this section will only be of interest once CD ripping has been added to a released version of the Microsoft OS. Right now, it’s only in preview. But don’t worry: the company is committed to releasing new features to the OS when they’re ready, so you probably won’t have to wait for a major release update. For now, any Windows 11 user already can will play CDs with the Media Player application, it looks like this:
After the update, you will get a new Rip CD option:
You can load your CD, tap that button and you’re good to go. When it’s done (percent ripped displays during the process) your music files will appear in the Music folder, in a subfolder created using the artist and album name as shown below.
If you want to rip only selected tracks and not the entire album, you can select individual tracks (whose entries are highlighted in color) and use the Rip button that appears to save a copy of the music files to your drive.
Windows 11 format settings for CD ripping
The new rip tool goes beyond a simple one-click operation. You have a choice of four formats for the audio files the app can create:
AAC: Advanced Audio Coding, an extension to the MPEG-2 standard and used by Apple devices
WMA: Windows Media Audio
FLAC: Free Lossless Audio Codec
ALAC: Apple Lossless Audio Codec
MP3 is noticeably missing, which is no big loss as it offers inferior sound quality and larger than included file sizes.
For AAC (which is like MP3 and WMA, a Lossy codec), you can also choose the bit rate from 96Kbps to 320Kbps and for WMA you get options from 96Kbps to 192Kbps.
For the two lossless codecs, FLAC and ALAC, there is no such option since there is no compression. The format and bit rate you choose depends on how much disk space you want to dedicate to music files and how picky your ears are when it comes to audio fidelity. Purists prefer to use lossless formats, but if you transfer files to a smartphone, you may want to use a lossy codec like AAC to save storage space.
Even if you don’t yet have ripping capabilities in the new media player, you still have plenty of other options for ripping CDs in Windows 11. Let’s look at just three. One requires no installation, and the other is free and powerful.
Note that Apple iTunes, which you can install on your Windows 11 PC, can also rip CDs, but that program has bloated over the years, so you may want a more lightweight option. However, it has the added ability to sync ripped music with iPhone.
Use legacy Windows Media Player
While the new Media Player app is visually a million times easier and more modern than the one that’s been floating around on Windows for a couple of decades, believe me the old-school app is still available and preinstalled on Windows 11. .
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Note the Rip CD option above the track titles. With this tool, you can still rip CDs to MP3 format, so if you need it, you’ll want to use this old guy even if you have a newer media player with ripping functionality. Overall, it offers different file formats, which AAC lacks. It also includes WAV, an older, lossless format.
Use Foobar 2000
Foobar 2000(opens in new window) It is a free open source application that has been around for many years but receives frequent updates. Its interface is more bare-bones than most, but it’s highly configurable and supports more file formats for both playing and ripping, as long as you’re willing to go through more setup. For example, to rip to FLAC, you must download the FLAC executable file, although you can simultaneously download a pack of converters from the developer’s site. Supported formats include MP3, MP4/M4A, CD Audio, Vorbis, Opus, FLAC, WavPack, WAV, AIFF and Musepack. There are many plug-ins available for Foobar, so it is highly extensible for any existing audio codec.
The app also functions as a music library with custom playlists, tags, folder organization and monitoring of new music downloads and powerful search.
If you pop the CD into the drive, an option to rip the CD will appear. The app then asks if you want to download art and information about the disc from public databases.
Use EZ CD Audio Converter
A second way to rip CDs if you don’t have the built-in option in Windows 11 yet is to use EZ CD Audio Converter(opens in new window). This method is much easier but just as powerful as foobar with wider file format support. It doesn’t require any setup or knowledge of codecs, though you can adjust those settings to your heart’s content. You just pop the CD in the drive and press Rip CD—no questions asked, no separate downloads. That said, you can switch between a multitude of codecs and file formats if you choose. It automatically finds album art and tracks information from online sources. A paid version of the app ($39.99) adds support for higher-end formats like lossless and DSD.(opens in new window).
For more than music…
If you need more than just audio (such as video), check out our article on how to rip Blu-ray discs to your PC, as well as our roundup of the best free DVD rippers.
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