Creating Digital Files

Hi all,

First post in this section as I am not a streamer but I do fancy starting the long and brutal job of recording all of my CD’s to a digital format so I am ready for that time when I get a call about an ND555 at a really good price!

The questions I have are as follows

A.) Can I successfully use a software program on my Macbook to make top quality rips?
B.) Would a dedicated CD ripper be able to make higher quality rips?
C.) What software would you recommend for me to use.
D.) What format would you recommend to save the files as?

Thanks in advance as I know these questions must have been discussed some times already.

Dbpoweramp is what you need. Rip to flac.


I’m just in the middle of doing the same. Using dbpoweramp but I’ve ripped to ALAC.

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Yes XLD is free and makes perfect rips

No - you can’t get better than perfect. XLD uses the dBpoweramp accurate rip - so it compares your rip with its database of rips and lets you know how accurate it is, It also reports on errors and fixes them if it can. Moreover, it auto calibrates your CD drive.

X Lossless Decoder (XLD)

Depends what you software you are going to use to feed your ND555. I would store as FLAC and transcode to WAV on the fly as Naim streamers seem to like this. I use JRiver, but there are alternatives.

As an aside I would not buy an item such as ND555 simply because it was at a good price. I would make sure I really liked it before committing.


Dbpoweramp. It’s really good for metadata which will make all the difference to finding the particular track, album, artist or whatever later.

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Not used it but there is XLD for MacOS with other threads on here have mentioned.

If you are about to start may I suggest you decide on what you are going to use as your library if you are using iTunes or Apple Music (Catalina) then rip to ALAC as they don’t recognise FLAC files.

In DBPoweramp paid for version you can Rip to either and use the Batch converter to get the other.

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100% agree dBpoweramp, it has it all.
Rip to FLAC & transcode, that sends the data as a WAV stream.
The one remaining question is what do you intend to rip to (what are you going to store the rips on)
IMO the only answer is a NAS or a stand-alone server of some sort.
I am not a fan of Apple & iTunes, too limiting for me.


How does XLD compare to dbPoweramp for rip speed? On Windows dbPoweramp is many times quicker than the free Exact Audio Copy and if the OP has a lot if CDs to rip that could certainly be something to take in to account.

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Sorry don’t know about rip speed for XLD have just read on other threads about its availability

Have used dbpower amp and on a good CD speed is fast but if a problem CD with errors detected can be several hours per CD by time it’s re ripped by sector.

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With dBpoweramp the speed depends on what rip program you chose, AccurateRip or Ultra Secure, the read/write drive & what it’s ripping; I’ve got two drives, ones a lot faster and speed varies sometimes getting up to x48 and that gets an AccurateRip in under 2 minutes, but a damaged CD can take two or three times longer.

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A ND555 you say, I heard one for the first time in february, a very-very good choice!!

I clean all CD:s, even new ones, before rip.

Use a good quality drive, there are drives out there with bad firmware (CDROM drives are not normally used for audio so it is often not a priority). A good bet is a Pioneer Blu-ray writer. I have mine in an external box on a small isolation platform.

I prefer ALAC (Apple Lossless) to FLAC. It works with Apple devices and tend to sound better and probably has less battery drag on an iPhone.

As for software there is two ways a CDROM can read audio data. Burst-mode is fast but dont bother much with errors - instead it just guess the correct bits. Secure-mode is if you want a high quality rip.

I prefer XLD and there is a good setup guide that explains most choices on Auralic:s site. I am not sure if its o.k. to put a direct link to a competitors site here (and boost their google rating) so enter these keywords into Google and it should show up: Ripping CD by XLD 206082768

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The one thing I would advise is to check and if necessary correct the metadata as you go.

When I ripped mine I had no idea that the metadata would end up bring critical to library functions, including how an album appears on searching or browsing and even the very ability of some streamers to even show the existence of an album. CDs contain basic metadata such as genre, name of artist, name of album, track names, track numbers, date of release, and variable other information. That info is picked up by a rippers such as dB Poweramp and tagged onto each track, and all should be great.

When I ripped mine I saved to a simple logical file structure, with nested folders of genre/artist/album, each album itself being created as a folder with the tracks inside. With that I can search or browse using any computer file handler, and the first streamer I had displayed exactly like that. But unfortunately most music library/play software these days ignores file structure and goes only on metadata - and that is where anything missing, inconsistent or incorrect can cause major difficulties and frustrations.

To give a couple of very simple examples:-

Genre: I just want a small number if high level ones, such as rock, classical, opera. But the embedded genre tag for a handful of classical albums may be simply classical, or might be orchestral, symphonic, concerto, chamber, romantic etc, and different versions of the same music might be classified differently and if browsing by genre they wouldn’t appear alongside each other.

Artist: I always use surname first for people, and ignore a leading ‘The’ in some band names, but embedded data may do differently, and differ with different releases. And for classical and opera I go by composer (as opposed to performer), whereas with other music I go by performer, however the embedded tags may have just a single artist tag, or multiple tags for composer, performer, and often additional ones (e.g. classical often separately tags performance orchestra, conductor, and soloist). The problem comes when there is a lack of consistency between CDs, so how they are converted to the metadata tags attached to the ripped files can vary.

If you check either immediately after ripping up to a handful of disks it should be a simple process to correct, move or add data if necessary. But if as was my misfortune, you rip 100s of CDs and only subsequently discover you can’t see things, or they’re in the wrong place etc it is such a big job - and in my case such a PITA that I have still not done it, fearing losing the will to live if I start. (Mine is worse, however, because as well 100s of CDs I had previously ripped a similar number of LPs - and they have no metadata at all.)

So I strongly recommend that you do at the time of ripping. If you don’t have classical music then missing or inconsistent tags may well be small in number, so very little actually involved most of the time.

The same applies when you download music.

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Seconded, it makes all the difference later.
It really wasn’t obvious when I started ripping and I had to go back and re-do my first batches of CD’s.

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Third that one. I’ve just ripped over 600 CDs and now find the inconsistency of even two discs from the same album.

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Thank you to everyone who contributed here. There is a wealth of information and I am very grateful. Some replies are WAY outside what I was expecting in terms of detail and they will certainly help me make a good job of this vs the hash job I would have inevitably made if I had not asked first!!

How you organise your metadata is a matter of personal choice, but consistency is key, especially if you have a lot of classical. My suggestion, echoing @Innocent_Bystanderm, would be to rip a modest sample of your CDs and try streaming from them for a while. This should point up any major issues with the way you have done it and it should be a relatively painless exercise to go back and modify what you’ve already done before going on to the rest of your collection. The problem with doing it all in advance of the arrival of your ND555 is that if you then find you wish to change it, you’ll have lots of work to do at just the time you should be enjoying your new toy.


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Exact Audio Copy (EAC) is free and my application of choice along with mp3tag for tweaking of tags. Again free of charge and regularly updated.


But EAC is Windows only, I think, and the OP will be using a MacBook.


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Ok, so I downloaded XLD and have had a play. It seems quite simple to use. I have a few questions about the settings though.

Based on the replies above I have decided to rip to Flac.

  • what level of compression do you use? Highest is obviously a bit slower but makes a smaller file size. Is there an audible difference between levels of compression?

  • Which Ripper Mode do you suggest? I have chosen XLD Secure Ripper

Thanks again to everyone who posted above. I have read and reread your replies and all were very useful.

@Mike-B thank you for your replies, they have proved very useful. I am thinking about getting a music server of some sort. Maybe a Naim Core? With the ND555 can I just connect a server directly to it or do I need all of the switches etc for optimum sound quality. Obviously I want the best sound if I am going to change from the CD555 to an ND555!! I already have a full SL loom, Fraim and 2x 555DR so getting the server/nas bit right is of the upmost importance and is something I know nothing about really!! I am a quick learner though and am pretty IT literate!