How to Get The Best Rip From a Scratched Music CD in iTunes

How to enable the error correction option in iTunes to get a better rip

Scratched Compact Disc
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The Problem With Copying Scratched Music CDs

As the aging compact disc slowly declines in popularity (due mostly to the uptake in digital music) you may want to start archiving your collection of audio CDs -- if you haven't already. You might for example have rare CDs from years ago that simply aren't available to buy anymore or download from music services like the iTunes Store or Amazon MP3. However, trying to transfer songs from scratched CDs (which most collections inevitable have) doesn't always go to plan.

Depending on the severity of the scratches you may be able to use the default rip settings in iTunes to import all the tracks successfully. However, even if the iTunes software rips all the tracks without complaining there could still be problems. When you play back the digital music files you might find they are far from perfect. During playback you may hear audio errors such as pops, clicks, breaks in the songs, or other strange noise glitches. This is because the laser in your CD/DVD drive hasn't been able to correctly read all the data.

so, on the surface all can seem fine when using the default settings in iTunes to rip scratched CDs, but there's always a chance that the encoding process won't be perfect. Short of using another third party CD ripping tool, is there anything else that can be done in iTunes to get a better rip?

Using Error Correction Mode in iTunes

Normally when you rip a CD without error correction enabled, iTunes ignores the ECC codes that are encoded on the disc.

Enabling this feature uses these codes in combination with the read data to correct any errors. Processing this extra data will take longer, but your rip will be more accurate.

By default error correction is disabled in the rip settings of iTunes. This is because it can take significantly longer to copy a CD.

However, when dealing with scratched CDs this feature can mean the difference between success and failure. To enable this feature, follow the steps below:

Opening The Preferences Screen

For Microsoft Windows

On the iTunes main menu screen, click the Edit menu tab at the top of the screen and then choose Preferences.

For Mac

Click the iTunes menu tab at the top of the screen and choose the Preferences option from the drop-down menu.

Enabling Error Correction

  1. If not already in the General section in preferences, switch to this by clicking the menu tab.
  2. Click the Import Settings button.
  3. Check the box next to the Use Error Correction When Reading Audio CDs option.
  4. Click OK > OK.

Tips

  • If you are unsuccessful even when using the error correction mode, then you might find using an alternative DVD / CD drive yields better results.
  • To double-check there are no problems with your optical drive, insert a 'known-good' disc and click Help > Run Diagnostics. Un-check all the options except the CD/DVD drive tests.
  • If all else fails then a CD repair kit might be your only choice if you can't source a physical replacement or purchase a digital music version.