How to Rip Music From CDs Using Windows Media Player 11

A tutorial for ripping your CD collection into MP3s and other audio formats

What to Know

  • Setup: Insert CD and open WMP. Next, select Rip > More Options > specify location and choose format.
  • Select tracks: Select Stop Rip > choose desired tracks > Start Rip.
  • Check files: Select Library > Recently Added > double-click album or individual track.

This article explains how to copy audio from CDs and convert to digital audio files using Windows Media Player 11.

Before continuing this tutorial, we strongly advise against infringing on copyrighted material. Distributing copyrighted works in the United States is against the law, and the RIAA could sue you. For other countries, please check your applicable laws. The good news is that you can usually make a copy for yourself as long as you've purchased a legitimate CD and don't distribute its contents.

Setting Up to Rip a CD

If you've amassed a collection of physical audio CDs that you want to transfer to your portable music player, you'll need to rip (extract) the audio on them to the best audio format for your device.

Windows Media Player 11 can extract the digital information from your physical CD and encode it in several digital audio formats. You can then transfer the files to your MP3 player or burn them to an MP3 CD, USB drive, or other media.

The ripping option in Windows Media Player allows you to control:

  • Where the music is stored.
  • The type of audio format.
  • What actions to take when inserting a CD.
  • What actions to take when a rip session ends.
  • Encoded audio quality settings.

To set up your Windows Media Player 11 to rip songs on CDs:

  1. Insert a CD into the CD drive and open WMP 11.

  2. Go to the Rip tab and select More Options.

    Windows Media Player 11 Rip tab selected
  3. In the Rip Music to This Location box, select Change to specify where your ripped music is stored.

  4. In the Format drop-down list, select MP3, WMA, WMA Pro, WMA VBR, WMA Lossless, or WAV audio format. If you're transferring the ripped audio to an MP3 player, check to see which formats it supports. Choose MP3 if you're unsure.

  5. Under Rip CD when inserted, select Only when in the Rip tab to rip an entire CD automatically when it's inserted into the DVD/CD drive. This is a useful setting if you have a lot of CDs to rip in succession.

  6. Choose the Eject CD when ripping is complete option in conjunction with Only when in the Rip tab if you are converting a batch of CDs. This combination is a time saver because you won't have to select Eject after every CD is processed.

Selecting CD Tracks to Rip

If you configured Windows Media Player to automatically rip audio CDs as soon as a CD is inserted, all tracks on the CD are selected.

To select only certain tracks to rip, in the lower-right corner of WMP, select Stop Rip then choose the tracks you want and select Start Rip.

In contrast, if Only when in the Rip tab is not selected under Rip CD when inserted, select the entire album or individual tracks to rip. Then choose Start Rip to begin ripping your CD.

During the ripping process, a green progress bar appears next to each track while it's being processed. Once a track in the queue finishes processing, a "ripped to library" message displays in the Rip Status column.

Checking Your Ripped Audio Files

Now it's time to verify that the files you ripped are in your Windows Media Player library, and you'll want to check their sound quality.

  1. Select the Library tab to access Media Player's library options.

    Selecting Library in Windows Media Player 11
  2. Select Recently Added in the left vertical pane.

  3. To play an entire ripped album from the start, double-click the artwork, or double-click the desired track number for a single track.

  4. If the ripped audio files don't sound great, start again and re-rip using a higher Audio quality setting.

Adjust Audio Quality

In the Rip Music tab, you can also adjust the audio quality of the output files in the Audio Quality horizontal slider bar.

There's always a trade-off between audio and file size quality when dealing with compressed (lossy) audio formats. You'll have to experiment with the Audio Quality setting to get the right balance, as it varies depending on the frequency spectrum of your audio source.

If you're encoding to a lossy WMA format, choose WMA VBR to get the best audio quality to file size ratio. Encode MP3 file formats with a bitrate of at least 128 Kbps to keep artifacts to a minimum.

Once you're happy with all of the settings, select Apply > OK to save and exit the options menu.

Benefit of Ripping Music

CD ripping allows you to listen to your music collection while keeping the original files in a safe place. Keeping your original files is helpful when CDs suffer accidental damage that renders them unplayable. In addition, from a convenience point of view, having your music collection stored as audio files enables you to enjoy your music without the hassle of wading through a stack of CDs looking for a particular album, artist, or song.

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