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Exact Audio Copy Installation and Configuration




The writing on the wall has been clear for several years now. The audio CD is steadily losing market share to downloads and sales slip every year. However that doesn't mean most people don't have music on CD. And where there's music on CD there's a need to rip CDs to a computer.

There are obvious reasons to rip CDs such as encoding music to more efficient formats like MP3 and AAC for portable media players or simply storing it on a desktop or laptop computer, or even a media center of some kind. There are also some basic reliability issues that make backing up your audio CD collection desirable.

Audio CD Error Correction


The Audio CD, while revolutionary for its time, doesn't achieve the standards most people have come to expect from digital storage. This allows Audio CDs to hold more music than you can burn as computer data to a CD. Over time CDs usually get handled enough to get scratches that don't prevent playback on your stereo, but may result in some change from the original. By archiving your CDs as computer data you can ensure the ability to create a new copy that sounds exactly like the original if you should ever need to.

Exact Audio Copy


Over the last few years Exact Audio Copy has distinguished itself as a high quality tool for ripping audio CDs. Ripping is the process of copying songs or entire CDs to computer data. EAC uses something called secure extraction. This basically amounts to reading the same data multiple times to verify its accuracy. This can make it slow compared to other software, but it makes the results more reliable.

Unfortunately EAC can be pretty intimidating when you first start using it. There are many different options for both reading CDs and the output files produced. As you'll see in this guide it's actually much simpler than it looks.





Required Software

Exact Audio Copy (EAC)

Exact Audio Copy, more commonly known as just EAC, is a free tool for archiving and format shifting audio CDs. It uses advanced techniques like multi-reading and AccurateRip to ensure you get the most accurate copy of your CD possible. It can also be used to encode music into such popular formats as MP3, FLAC, and AAC.

Optional Software

LAME

LAME is one of the best, if not the absolute best MP3 encoder available. Since it's a command line tool most people prefer to use a third party GUI, like EAC, to run it. EAC can encode to MP3 for you immediately after ripping a CD to your hard drive.

If you're not creating MP3 files you can skip this software.

Nero Digital AAC Encoder

Nero's free AAC audio encoder is capable of producing high quality MPEG-4 or MPEG-2 AAC files either by itself, or more commonly through a third party GUI. EAC includes the capability to run third party command-line tools like the Nero encoder.

AAC is primarily found in MP4 files like those sold by iTunes and created by the iTunes software. If you're not creating AAC files you can skip this software.




Installation


Installation is very straight forward. When you get to the point of selecting components it's best to leave everything checked with the possible exception of the eBay Icon which is there to help support the project, but won't affect the program's operation.




The Configuration Wizard


When you run EAC you'll have the chance to let the program do most of the configuration for you. Even if you're comfortable tweaking all the settings manually it's best to let this continue to reduce the amount of time required to get it setup exactly the way you want it.



Select Drives


The first part of the wizard is designed to autoconfigure EAC for your CD-ROM or CD-R/RW drive. This generally involves the program checking your drive against a fairly complete master list that gives a large amount of technical information. EAC will automatically try to configure itself for both real and virtual drives. If you run a program that creates another CD-ROM drive in Windows, such as Nero's ImageDrive, you should uncheck them.






Unless you're copying discs with a fair amount of damage (such as scratches) you should always select accurate results to ensure the highest quality CD rips.






Drive Features


Exact Audio Copy can most likely tell you what features your drive has. There are three important features that it looks for. Accurate Stream may be the most important as it allows the drive to find the exact bit of audio requested. Audio Cache may sound like an equally desireable feature, but in reality it's best if your drive doesn't have this for the highest quality in your backups. Finally C2 Information sounds important - and actually it is - but it's also the easiest of the three to misunderstand and set incorrectly later.
EAC's wizard is generally right about these features, but if you suspect one or more is wrong, or you just want to double check, you can tell it you don't trust these values and let it take a closer look.




Manual Configuration


After your drive has been tested the results will be used to configure EAC for your drive. As you'll see laters you can adjust this manually as well.







After it configures your drive(s) EAC will attempt to tell you which one is best suited for ripping audio CDs. It's frequently wrong and you should only pay attention to this if you don't have any other reliable source of information about your CD drives.






Encoder Selection


After drive setup has completed you'll be asked what format you want your music files in. We're going to cover MP3, FLAC, and AAC later in this guide. You can leave this set to nothing right now and manually enter the compression settings later.






freedb Configuration


freedb is a service for getting album, artist, and song information. Using it requires that you enter an email address, but that address doesn't have to be real. There's no "activation" or anything similar. Just make sure EAC has an email address to submit and you can use it.






Filename Configuration


Finally you need to tell EAC what convention you want to use for naming files. Since this is a wizard it gives a large number of preconfigured choices.






Finishing the Wizard


If you want to change, or even look at a lot of the settings used in EAC you'll want to make sure it's not set to beginner mode.






Configure AccurateRip


AccurateRip is a third party service that keeps information about how different models of CD drive read audio CDs. This information is used by EAC to compensate for drives that start reading right before or after the point where they're supposed to so that copies remain as perfect as possible. If the AccurateRip service can't find information about your drive you'll be asked if you want to test it and submit the results. This can be done with any number of CDs, and the wizard will tell you when the CD you have in the drive can be used for this operation.





Continued On Page 2



Next we'll look at how to enable FLAC compression. FLAC is a lossless format, meaning the resulting file sounds identical to the original.

Page 2 - Basic Ripping and Naming Options



Exact Audio Copy Installation and ConfigurationYou are viewing Page 1 of NumPage -- Go to page 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5

Written by: Rich Fiscus
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