Convert Audio CD’s to MP3 with free CD Ripper

Summary: How to rip an audio CD to an MP3 file for your iPod, iPhone, or MP3 player.  Use Freeware CD rip program to convert audio CD to MP3 in 3 minutes   How to rip non-DRM MP3 files from audio CD (Compact Discs).

Do you have a stack of audio CD’s that you want to convert to MP3 files so that you can listen to them on your MP3 player or iPhone or personal entertainment device?   It’s easier than you think to rip audio CD’s to MP3 files using free Cdex software and your computer’s CD or DVD drive.   Freeware Cdex software has been downloaded more than 38-million times since 1998.   CDex uses the MusicBrainz online database to automatically name the MP3 song files when you rip an audio CD.  In this quick tutorial, I’ll cut through the clutter to give you just a few easy steps so you can quickly convert your CD’s to MP3 files.

Dear ChuckEgg, Can you tell me how to rip an audio CD to MP3 files for my iPhone?

“Ripping” is the process of copying audio or video from one media form to another, such as copying a compact disc (CD) or Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) to a digital file on your hard drive.   “Ripping” a CD to an MP3 file is easy after you’ve installed the free software.

In the steps below, I’ll describe how you can  make the best sounding MP3 files possible.   In two different articles, I’ll describe why you may want to use different MP3 settings for audiobooks than the MP3 settings you use when ripping music CD’s.

When you rip CD’s, you can choose if you want the best sound quality possible, or if you want to sacrifice a bit of sound quality for smaller MP3 files – so that you can fit more songs on your MP3 player.   If you’re ripping Audiobook CD’s, you can select options that will still make good sounding files, but they’ll be a fraction of the size of your music MP3 files.

Tips for Ripping Music CD’s to MP3

  • Most CD’s downloaded from  iTunes and popular music services have a “bitrate” 192kbps
  • Music streamed from the services Pandora and slacker are 192kbps
  • The typical sample rate 44.1khz (or  44100)
  • You should always begin MP3 file names with the album track number.  This is because some MP3 players ignore MP3 track information and will only play MP3 files in alphabetical order.   If you name your MP3 files beginning with album track numbers, your music can always be played in correct track order.


Operating Systems: Windows Nt/2k/XP/Vista

Difficulty: Easy

Time: About 3 minutes to rip average CD

Things you’ll Need


How to Rip an Audio Music CD to an MP3

To start CD Extractor, select Start > Programs > CDex > CDex


From the CDex menu, select:  Options > Settings  > Filenames [tab]

See the image below.  The “Filenames Format” textbox describes how the MP3 files will be named and saved to the target folder.   When converting MUSIC CD’s to MP3 files, I recommend the following identifier string:

%1\%Y %2~%1\%7 %4~%1

My recommended string for MP3 Music files does the following

  • ARTIST FOLDER ->  %1\Creates a folder using the Artist’s name. For example “C:\Elvis Presley”  Any albums ripped for this artist will land in this artist’s folder on the disc, at this moment and for any discs ripped in the future.
  • ALBUM FOLDER ->  %Y %2~%1\ creates a subfolder (under the artist name) that contains first the album year, then the Album name, a tilde (~) and the artist name.  For example:  \1956    The reason for including the album year first is so that Albums  are listed chronologically in the artist’s folder instead of being listed alphabetically by album name.
  • SONG TITLES -> %7-%4~%1Creates a track name that is the two-digit track number with a leading zero,  a dash, the track name, a tilde character (`) and the artist’s name.  The reason for beginning the file name with the track number so that MP3 players that play file names in alphabetical order will play tracks in the correct order.   For example:   04-Blueberry Hill~Louis Armstrong.

The following identifiers are available to dynamically create MP3 filenames:

  • %1 Artist information
  • %2 Album information
  • %3 Track number
  • %4 Track name
  • %5 CD Volume ID
  • %6 CDDB ID
  • %7 Track number with leading zero
  • %8 Total number of tracks on the album
  • %G ID3 Genre tag
  • %Y ID3 Year tag
  • %A Artist name, not affected by the Track/Artist split setting
  • l, u and c prequalifier, which will format the strings to lower case, upper case and  upper case of first character of every word
  • The backslash (\) can be used to indicate what part will be used as a directory name. Beware that you shouldn’t have a backslash at the beginning or end of the filename option field. Nor should you specify the extension of the file.

WAV -> MP3 describes where the temporary WAV files will be stored.  Use the same folder as “Recorded Tracks, ” below.

Recorded Tracks describes the target folder where the final MP3 files will be written. Filename format: %1\%Y %2~%1\%7 %4~%1

See the identifiers in the section above for an explanation of why to use this particular string.

You only need to complete the Filenames information once and it will be saved in the CDex program.


From the CDex menu, select:  Options > Settings  > Encoder [tab]

For Music CDs, use settings below:

Select Encoder: Lame

Bitrate: 192 kbps

Mode: Stereo

Samplerate: 44100

You only need to do this once and your information will be saved in the CDex program.

Step 1:

Insert the audio CD and wait for the track list to populate.

Step 2:

Get Album and Song informationFrom the menu, select: CDDB > Read from MusicBrainz

The CDex program will attempt to get the album information and song names from the MusicBrainz  online Internet database.

Step 3:

(OPTIONAL)  If CDDB/MusicBrainz didn’t find album information, then you’ll have to type it in.  complete the information about the album, then move the cursor to the main window and press [F2] to edit the song titles.

Step 4:

To begin the “Extraction” of CD to MP3, select: Edit > Select All or press [Ctrl]+A to select all tracks.

Then press [F9] to begin the Extraction (rip).  Alternatively, you can select: Convert > Extract CD from the menu, or click the second button in the right column menu.

Step 5:

It takes about 3 minutes to rip a typical audio CD to MP3 files.   When the extraction is complete, you can check the rightmost column to confirm that each track extracted correctly.

Photo Credit

images captures and photos by Chuck Eglinton

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