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Ripping CD's in mac mini.


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I just received my 2010 mac mini. I am about to rip my CD collection, but not sure how. I have not downloaded a music playback software program as of yet, such as Amarra, not sure this is required for ripping, or if there is another ripping software I have to have installed. I would like to store them in FLAC because it seems the most future proof without taking up too much space and this way I'm not married to apple.


1. Do I download a music playback program first then download it into it?


2. DO I use itunes and download it into WAV then use the music software program to convert it to FLAC?


3. I have an external hard drive. Do I have to download the music to the computer first them transfer the files to the hard drive or can it go straight to the hard drive?


Sorry for the lame questions. I want to dp this correct so I only do this once.



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The way I do it is the simple way:


Open iTunes, and set it to rip lossless ALAC. (You can choose whatever option/format you wish, but lossless is normally what people here want.) Once you have it in one lossless format, you can convert to any of the others. I use ALAC because it is lossless and compressed. AIFF is lossless but uncompressed and takes more space, and I am not one who can detect any difference. Wav is another option, and some here suggests they can hear a difference between wav and the others. You should check this for yourself.


If I have a CD where I might worry about the rip quality (bad scratches, for example), or you want to rip directly to FLAC, XLD (which is free) gives more feedback on the rip. I never actually do anything about the warnings, so I decided it wasn't worth the trouble. But I use XLD to convert from FLAC to ALAC, for example.


If you use iTunes, you can set the library and everything else to be on the external hard drive.


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(1) Since you are on a Mini, let me suggest storing your music into iTunes. Most of the high end players can use iTunes as a database, and you will probably find you want one anyway.


(2) When you rip your CD, I recommend using XLD, though iTunes will rip them for you just as well. XLD gives you the opportunity to edit the metatdata before you rip the files, meaning you can get the album artwork and such right the first time. Also artists, titles, etc.


(3) You may rip straight to your final destination.


(4) I suggest ripping your CD's to ALAC or AIFF instead of FLAC format. Once you have your files in a lossless or uncompressed format, they are trivially easy to convert around to another format.


If you decide to do that, talk to us first, as there are a dozen or so settings to get right before you start ripping. Makes you life a lot easier.


If you are absolutely determined to rip to FLAC, then let me suggest you use the Squeezebox Server software as a library manager. Since these are all CD's, you can use "Squeezeplay" as your player, and everything will work pretty well. It is limited to CD quality however. You can rip the files directly to FLAC with XLD, and still maintain the benefit of being able to easily correct any bad metatdata.





Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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In addition to the other useful posts,

I got my 2010 Mac-mini last year & it was my 1st Mac. So whilst I am still a bit of a newbie to Macs I have found them to be prety easy & intuitive to use.

I use Pure Music, in conjunction with itunes & am really happy with it.

Progs such as PM only deal with play back of music, not the ripping, storing or archiving, so you rip into itunes.

Going onto the "preferences" page of itunes & then the "general preferences" page allows you to select options for the "when you insert a cd".

I have it set to "import & eject automatically" & in the "import settings" section I use AIFF, as I have a 1tb external HD.

On the advanced page of preferences you can control where you want your music library stored, eg on your external HD.

I also have another external HD which is used as a back-up.

FLAC is not compatible with itunes, so AIFF or apple lossless are the best options.

As I say, I'm certainly no expert & will happily bow to others more extensive knowledge!

Hope that helps a bit



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Great information. Thanks so much. I guess I'll abandon FLAC and go for one of the Apple formats. I will do an A or B test today to see if I can notice a difference, but AIFF will probably win due to space. Although I do have a 750GB HDD.


DANG, no worries on the hijack. I was going to ask the same question.


Matt, do you find Pure Music relatively easy to use and the sound better than itunes?


Thanks again for all the great comments.


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Aiff and wav are usually the uncompressed, space-wasting options, and ALAC and FLAC are both compressed, lossless options. I would suggest one of the compressed options unless you have a compelling reason to do otherwise (keeping in mind that any one of these will allow you to generate any or all of the other three without having to re-rip anything).


There are many options in XLD that you can set, but I think the defaults are a reasonable place to start.


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Hi again,

Yes, I find PM easy to use & very beneficial to the sound quality.

I have set iTunes & PM to automatically launch whenever I start the Mac mini up.

I use an iPad as a glorified remote control & although the Mac is connected to a tv in my listening room, I only use it when I am updating to a newer version of iTunes or PM & updating artwork for newly ripped CD's. The rest of the time it's "headless".

PM runs alongside/ in conjunction with iTunes, so once you've installed it, it just runs automatically. Selecting tracks, play, ffwd,pause etc can all be done using the iTunes buttons.

There is a free 15 day trial period for PM & I guess other similar progs will also offer similar trial periods. a

Amarra is more expensive than PM, but there are other progs which are cheaper as well. I guess all of them have + & -'s, it's just that I'm happy with PM & feel no need to change.



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Sure, though realize this should, at most, be used as a starting point for your own personal setup. You may want to do things differently. Also, I am typing this in real time so excuse typos. :)


(1) Decide where you want to store your music. And external disk is usually a good solution for this. I personally install MacOS on the external drives if I use them with a Mac, and format them to use MacOS.


(2) Decide how you want to store your music. I use the following "formula" which is slightly different from iTunes default setup. I force iTunes to accede to my format, but not everyone wants or should do that. On the disk, there is a top level folder called "Music", and under that a series of other folders.


Music -> [Album Artist] -> [Album Title] -> Track# Track Name


(iTunes will natively try to use [Artist] instead of [Album Artist], and in my world that causes untold grief with classical albums. )


You can pick any setup you want for this, just be consistent. It will payoff later, I promise.


Once you have that decided, you can then setup XLD and iTunes to work well with your ripping workflow.


If you are using iTunes - setup the location of your media files and be sure to uncheck the options mentioned below, or iTunes will go and attempt to rearrange your disk for you, spoiling all that planning and careful work. :)


In iTunes -> Preferences -> Advanced:


Set the "iTunes Media Folder Location" to the "Music" folder on your external drive.

Uncheck "Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized"

Uncheck "Copy Files to iTunes Media Folder When Adding to Library"


in iTunes -> Preferences -> General


Set the "When you insert a CD" dropbox to "Show CD"





In Preferences -> General


Set Output Format drop down box to ALAC or AIFF

Set Output Format Options -> Sample Rate to "same as original"

Set Output Directory -> specify to the "Music" folder on your external drive

Set Format of filename -> to Specify. For my particular format the format string to use is "%A/%T/%n %t"

Check Correct "30 samples moved offset problem"

Check Add encoded files to iTunes if possible

Select "Library" as the destination

Check Prepend Byte Order Mark (BOM) when saving cue sheet

I also check "Automatically check for updates" but that is just me. :)


In Preferences -> Batch

Uncheck Preserve Directory Structure

Uncheck Delete original files after successful conversion


In Preferences -> Metadata

Check Automatically Add Tags if Possible

Check Edit Tags before Convert

Check Embed cover art into files

Check Load following files in the same folder as cover art

(I use "cover.jpg folder.jpg front.jpg" in the format field)

Check Don't overwrite already embedded images

Check Set the compilation flag automatically

Check Preserve unknown metadata if possible



In Preferences -> CD RIP

Set Ripper Mode to "XLD Secure Ripper"

Check "Use C2 Error Pointers (drive support is required)"

Set Max Retry Count to 10

Set Read samples offset correction value to 102

Check "Set automatically if possible"

Check "Query AccurateRip database to check integrity"

Check "verify suspicious sectors"

Check "Eject disk when done" (optional)


Well, that was more than a half dozen settings I suppose, and there are plenty of optional settings in there too. This is pretty much what I use.


The end result of this is you can rip a CD, and have it automatically appear in your iTunes database with all the metadata set correctly, and with the physical files in a well known easily maintained (and backed up!) location.


You can also prove this to yourself. You can mark and delete every entry in your iTunes database - being very careful to NOT DELETE THE FILES - and recreate your iTunes database perfectly, with full metadata, all the album covers, etc., in just a very few minutes.


You can also copy the entire media library and use it safely in other programs, such as JRMC under Windows. Or you can convert it to a different format, such as FLAC, to use with Squeezebox systems.


The choices are of course, yours.





Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Thanks for your detailed response, Paul. I also do not like how iTunes messes up by default with [Artist] vs [Album Artist], especially for classical CDs.


One more thing: Currently, I have all my CDs as MP3s (including cover art) on my macbook pro - I know it's embarrassing, sorry for that. My plan is to slowly replace the MP3 with ALAC.


Is there anything I should take care for in this situation?

Before ripping lossless, shall I delete the corresponding mp3 directory?

Or is it better to only delete the mp3 files and thereby keep the existing cover art files?


Thanks again :)


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We all have this issue.


When I re-rip a CD with iTunes and save to ALAC, I found it will usually inherit the same metadata that I have on the mp3, so I do that first, and then delete. At the very least, having the data in the GUI can make cutting and pasting and editing the metadata go faster.


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Nothing embarrassing about MP3s. I think of them like a "starter house" - great place to start, comfortable, besides, they work just about everywhere.


ALAC/AIFF is a step up. I think you would find consensus on that, should you ask about.


With XLD, you will be able to see it retrieve the artwork before you rip them, and you can load the artwork from XLD's search, or from artwork you find in a browser. (I have to do that occasionally with some of the less mainstream disks we find...)


I think I would create a brand new space for your new RIPS and just start filling it up. Then create a new iTunes library and point it to your media space. That is much harder to type than to do, and the library itself is tiny compared to the size of the media files.


That also gives you a chance to just rip a few, test them, and be sure you like the results. You may want to make some changes to better fit the way you want to do things.





Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Thanks for your recommendations on the settings. I am having difficulty using XLD. I downloaded it but am having a hard time finding it and launching it on my Mac mini. I am making the change over from a PC so it may be me not knowing what to look for. But, I cannot get it to load and place an icon anywhere. I WAS able to launch it once and made the settings changes you suggested.

I ripped one song, however it was almost real time. It took me 4:37 seconds, almost the exact length of the song. Is this because it is copying to itunes as well?

Are there huge benefits to using XLD. Because I may just stick with downloading it to itunes. It seems so much easier and faster. Unless I am doing something wrong.




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Well, a lot of people use iTunes to RIP and are happy. Heck, *I* was happy with it until songs started getting lost. ;)


When you install an application on the Mac, it puts it in the "Applications" folder. Essentially, you just need to open up the "Applications" folder and XLD will be in it, usually in alphabetical order.


Here is what I suggest, and yep - it takes a lot longer to type or read than to actually do it....


Click on the finder icon. It is the funny looking blue face on the dock at the bottom of your screen. You might have to run the mouse down there to get the dock to show. Usually the finder icon is the leftmost icon.


When you do that a window will open, on the left hand side you should see a list. One of the items in the list is "Applications" - just click on that. The list on the right should change and display a list of the applications installed on your Mac. Scroll down to the bottom, and you should find XLD at or very near the bottom of the list.


(So Far, you have done the equivalent of hitting the Start menu and opening the All Programs folder...)


Click and hold on the XLD icon (you don't want to run it yet...), and after two or three seconds, while still keeing the mouse button depressed, drag the icon down to the Dock. Wheverever you point the icon stif should "move aside" to allow you to put the icon there. Once you are happy with the location in the dock, release the Mouse button and the icon for XLD should settle in.


From now on you can run XLD with a single clic, on the icon in the Doc.


This second part is the equivalent of putting an icon in the launch bar under Windows.


As for the slow part - adding the file directly to the iTunes library makes it a little slower, but not that slow. You are not, by any chance, reading from a NTFS formatted volume that is write enabled to the Mac are you?


That can give a whole new meaning to the word "slow."






Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Got it worked out.

For some reason it still is taking way too long to rip a song in XLD. It almost takes as long as the song. I tried one in itunes as a test and it took 24 seconds vs. 3:58 in XLD. I don't why.

I think I will use itunes due to time savings as I have about 1000 CD's to rip this week.


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That will work. :)


Just a couple quick questions - do you have test before RIP checked in the CD RIP preferences?

The only other thing would be if the mini is having trouble accessing the internet for some reason (when it goes to look up tracks, check accuraterip, and graph cover art. )




Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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No, test before copy is not checked.

I could get the metadata but in order to get the cover art it said "CANNOT SEARCH COVER ART" "YOU HAVE TO ENABLE AMAZON WEB SERVICES AND SET UP ACCESS KEYS TO USE THIS FEATURE"

Could that be the problem?


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Sounds suspicious to me - that kind of timing difference has to be some kind of timeout. XLD RIPS as quickly as iTunes here, no significant difference.


Try unchecking the "Use Amazon" services checkbox under CDDB and see if makes a difference.







Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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"Is there a reason it is suggested that I use an external drive for ripping rather than the internal "superdrive" in the mac mini?"


I'm late to the party, but see that question wasn't answered. And point 2 below could possibly explain your excruciatingly slow ripping with XLD.


There's two very good reasons to use another optical drive when you have a 1000 CDs to rip:


1. The "Superdrive" firmware deliberately handicaps the drive when ripping audio CDs, making the drive super slow. An external (not the Apple external), preferably containing a 5.25 inch form factor drive, can be up to 10 times as fast.


2. The "Superdrive" can have a very short life span, becoming increasingly unreliable until completely failing to read discs. This can severely slow ripping with XLD because XLD will repeatedly try to get an accurate rip from a disc (there's a preference for maximum number of retries) whereas iTunes may simply proceed with a bad rip and give no hint of uncorrectable errors having occurred. Note that it is normal for XLD to be slower than iTunes at ripping, but it certainly shouldn't be taking nearly the real time of the audio.




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My own 2 cents:

I currrently have three drives that I have use on my 2010 Mac Mini. To my surprise one really stands out and sounds clearly better, the  Oyen Digital MiniPro 1TB External 2.5-in FireWire 800/400, USB 5400 rpm  with the Oxford 943 chipset. This drive is bus powered from the firewire meaning there is no out board power supply. The other two drives are only used as back up.


I just finished (thank god) ripping 1550 CDs via ITunes AIFF with the error correction box checked. I use Pure Music for play back but Rob at Pure Music recommended that I do not ripp music while Pure Music is booted up, so just have I tunes on for ripping.


Even after ripping 1550 CDs in AIFF I still have plenty of room left on my 1TB drives. I like the sound of the AIFF files. When your done your ripping make sure you copy the files to at least one more drive for back up.

Best of luck.


TP-LInk 1200 WiFi router>Transparent Audio ethernet cable>Synergistic Research Switch>Transparent Audio ethernet cable>Innuos Pulsar> Sablon EVO USB cable>Innuos Phoenix>Sablon EVO USB cable>T+A DAC 2000 >Enleum AMP-23r>Audience SX speaker cables>Raidho X1t or HiFiMan HE-1000se headphones. Synergistic Research Atmosphere Excite powers cords>Puritan Audio 156 pwr conditioner.

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I have now been using XLD for re-ripping my CD collection into my MacBook pro in FLAC format. It's a great program, especially since you can obtain Accurate rips.


One thing I noticed though is that in some cases where CD reading incurs Jitter errors, iTunes avoids the sound artifacts associated with the jittering. I guess that for CDs in good condition, XLD gives more accurate rips, whereas iTunes is more robust and thereby may be more suited for CDs which are in worse conditions.


Has anybody else experienced this as well?


Can XLD by set so that, if jitter or reading errors occur, then it moves to "Robust mode"?



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