Audio CDs are susceptible to damage and aging, so it’s a good idea to make archival copies of your collection. We’ll show you how, using the lossless compression algorithm FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec).
A lossless encoder compresses digital audio files with absolutely no compromise in fidelity compared to the original. The only drawbacks are large file sizes (though they’re much smaller than WAV files) and scarce support among portable players. On the other hand, FLAC enjoys wide support among audio-streaming boxes.
Exact Audio Copy (EAC) will detect and attempt to auto-configure any optical drives on your system during setup. Check those you wish to use and click Next. Use the “I prefer to have accurate results” option and click Next.
Choose the option “I don’t trust these values…,” drop a clean audio CD in the drive, and click Next. It’s crucial that the drive you rip from has an “accurate stream,” meaning it does not produce “jitter” (if the drive can’t accurately seek a specific sector on the disc, ripped tracks will have audible distortion).
Remove the checkmark next to “Install and configure LAME…” and click Next. Enter an email address and click Next. Choose the Expert option at the final prompt and click Finish. Exit EAC.
Install FLAC, ignoring the Winamp and Nero messages. Leave checkmarks next to all the default options and click Install.
STEP 2: INSTALL ACCURATERIP
Using AccurateRip and EAC’s Test & Copy option will provide an added measure of assurance that your rips are precise and worthy of your archive.
Install AccurateRip and then copy the file accuraterip.dll from C:\program files\illustrate\dbpoweramp to C:\program files\exact audio copy. Put a CD in the drive and relaunch EAC. Click the Configure button and then click OK. Select all tracks and click EAC’s Action menu. Choose Copy Selected Tracks from the drop-down menu; use the uncompressed option.
AccurateRip will compare your results to a database of rips by others and report a confidence level. “Confidence 30,” for example, means your rip is identical to that of 30 other people, so there’s a high probability it’s accurate. Click OK.
STEP 3: CONFIGURE EAC
Click the EAC menu and choose EAC Options. Click the General tab. Leave these options at their defaults but place a checkmark next to “On unknown CDs” and select the option “Automatically access online freedb database.” Click the Tools tab and place checkmarks next to everything except “Create ‘.m3u’ playlist…,” “Do not open external…,” and “Activate beginner mode.”
Click the Filename tab and enter the values %A\%C\%N - %T into Naming Scheme to create a nested directory structure that follows the Artist Name\Album Title\Track Number - Track Title scheme. Check “Use various artist naming scheme” and enter the values Various Artists\%C\%N - %A %T so compilation albums are stored in a “Various Artists” folder broken up by album. Click OK.
Click the EAC menu again and choose Drive Options and Extraction Method. Make sure Secure Mode is selected, with a checkmark next to “Drive has Accurate Stream feature.” Click the Drive tab and check “Spin up drive before extraction.” Leave everything else at default and click OK.
Click the EAC menu once more, choose Compression Options and External Compression. Check “Use external program for compression.” In the drop-down menu “Parameter passing scheme,” select “User Defined Encoder.” Type .flac in the “Use file extension” box.
Click Browse, locate the FLAC executable (flac.exe), select it, and click OK. Enter these characters into “Additional command line options”: -6 -V -T “artist=%a” -T “title=%t” -T “album=%g” -T “date=%y” -T “tracknumber=%n” -T “genre=%m” -T comment=”%e” -T “comment=EAC (Secure Mode)” %s. Bitrate doesn’t matter, but check “Delete WAV after compression” and “Check for external compression return code.”
STEP 4: COMMENCE ARCHIVING
Place the audio CD you wish to archive in the drive. Click the Action menu and choose “Test and Copy Selected Tracks” using the Compressed option this time. This will perform a cyclical redundancy check (CRC) to verify the integrity of your rip. It’s another paranoid step, but we think it’s warranted when producing critical backups. An OK will appear in EAC’s CRC column if the rip was executed successfully. Repeat until you’ve backed up your entire library.