Digitizing CDs

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Physical media is bloat. Digitizing your legacy CD collection is a productive way to spend an afternoon.

whipper is a CD ripping tool and the successor to morituri. Audio extraction is handled by the excellent cdparanoia library.

You will need an optical drive if you don't already have one.

Confirm your optical drive is represented by a virtual device, commonly as /dev/sr0/, or possibly /dev/cdrom. You can also run whipper drive list. Use dmesg to read kernel logs in the event your device is not appearing. It may indicate defective hardware.

Be sure to analyze the drive's caching behavior by running whipper drive analyze. Then, have whipper find the drive offset by running whipper offset find. If everything went well you are ready to rip.

whipper-plugin-eaclogger is a plugin that mimics EAC style log reports.


Music CDs do not contain embedded metadata ([1] with exception). Ripping tools query public metadata databases such as MusicBrainz to fill out track names, artist names and other information. In the event that a CD has no pre-existing entry whipper will prompt the user to contribute one by preparing an online form that is pre-filled with the signature of the CD.

Tip: There is no good reason to embed cover art in music files. If encountered, use a tool like puddletag or exiftool for removal.

Cover art can usually be sourced online fairly easily. For a more personalized result you can scan you own, but that is beyond the scope of this guide.

Folder naming

Your folder name should contain enough information to uniquely identify the release. This is particularly important when sharing your music with other people.

An example folder name:

Artist - Album (Year) {UK LTD RE, 2007, CAT#, LABEL, CD} [FLAC]

Fields explained:

  • Year is the original year of release, not the year of re-release.
  • UK is the country code. Some albums have country specific releases.
  • LTD is shorthand for limited edition.
  • CAT% is the catalog number, usually printed on the spine.
  • LABEL is the record label, usually printed.
  • CD is the medium. Useful for telling a CD release from a vinyl.
  • FLAC is the audio format. Homemade CD rips should always be in FLAC and later transcoded to other formats, if desired.

Customize this however you please.