Copying Music CDs Using RealPlayer 11

1
Introduction

RealPlayer 11 - Visualization
Image © 2008 Mark Harris - Licensed to About.com, Inc.

If you've got an MP3 player and want to convert your purchased music CDs to a digital music format, then media playing software like RealPlayer 11 will help you do this easily. Even if you haven't got an MP3 player, then you might want to consider ripping your CDs anyway to keep your expensive music collection safe from accidental damage. You can also burn digital audio files onto recordable CD (CD-R) if you wish for added security - incidentally, a standard recordable CD (700Mb) can hold approximately 10 albums of MP3 music! RealPlayer 11 is an often overlooked piece of software that is feature-rich and can extract the digital information on your physical CDs and encode it to several digital audio formats; MP3, WMA, AAC, RM, and WAV. From a convenience point of view, having your music collection stored in this way enables you to enjoy all your music without having to sort through a stack of CDs looking for a particular album, artist, or song.

Legal Notice: Before continuing this tutorial, it is imperative that you do not infringe on copyrighted material. The good news is that you can usually make a backup for yourself as long as you have purchased a legitimate CD and don't distribute any files; read the Dos and Don'ts of CD ripping for more information. Distributing copyrighted works in the United States via file sharing, or by any other means, is against the law and you could face being sued by the RIAA; for other countries please check your applicable laws.

The latest version of RealPlayer can be downloaded from RealNetwork's website. After installation, check on any available updates by clicking Tools > Check For Update. When you are ready to begin this tutorial, click on the My Library tab which is situated at the top of the screen.

2
Configuring RealPlayer to Rip a CD

RealPlayer - Preferences
Image © 2008 Mark Harris - Licensed to About.com, Inc.

To access the CD ripping settings in RealPlayer, click the Tools menu at the top of the screen and then select Preferences from the pop-up menu. On the preferences screen that appears, click on the CD menu item in the left pane. The Select a Format section gives you the following digital format options:

If you are transferring the ripped audio to an MP3 player then check to see what formats it supports; keep the default MP3 setting if unsure.

 

Audio Quality Level: In this section, you will see a variety of predefined bitrates that you can choose depending on what format you have previously selected. If you do change the default quality setting, then please keep in mind that there is always a trade off between the quality of a digital audio file and its size; this is applicable to compressed (lossy) audio formats. You will have to experiment with this setting to get the balance right because different types of music contain variable frequency ranges. If the Use Variable Bitrate option is available, then choose this to give you the best audio quality versus file size ratio. The MP3 file format should be encoded with a bitrate of at least 128 kbps to ensure artefacts are kept to a minimum.

As always, if you aren't comfortable in doing this then keep with the default bitrate settings. Once you are happy with all of the settings you can click the OK button to save your settings and exit the preferences menu.

3
Ripping a Music CD

RealPlayer - Ripping a CD
Image © 2008 Mark Harris - Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Insert a music CD into your CD/DVD drive. When you do this, RealPlayer will automatically switch to the CD/DVD screen which can also be accessed in the left pane. The audio CD will also start to play automatically unless you have turned this option off in the preferences (Additional CD Options menu). Under the tasks menu, select Save Tracks to begin selecting songs to rip. A screen will be displayed where you can choose what CD tracks you want to rip by using the check boxes - all tracks are selected by default. If at this stage you decide that you want to change the digital audio format then click on the Change Settings button. There's an option (set by default) to play the CD during the ripping process but it tends to slow encoding down. If you've got several CDs to rip then de-select the Play CD While Saving option and then click OK to begin.

During the ripping process you will see a blue progress bar appear next to each track as it is being processed. Once a track in the queue has been processed, a Saved message will be displayed in the Status column.

4
Checking your ripped audio files

RealPlayer - My Library
Image © 2008 Mark Harris - Licensed to About.com, Inc.

The last part of this tutorial is concerned with verifying that the digital audio files are in your library, are playable, and are of good quality.

While still on the My Library tab, click on the Music menu item in the left pane to display the Organizer window (middle pane). Choose a menu item underneath All Music to navigate to where your ripped tracks are - check that they are all present.

Finally, to play an entire ripped album from the start, double-click on the first track in the list. If you find that your ripped audio files don't sound great then you can always repeat the steps in this tutorial and use a higher bitrate setting.