Ripping CDs well is a bit of an art, no one wants to make it easy but it CAN be done.
Onceuponatime I had very good hearing. I could hear ultrasonic detectors (ouch!) and my hearig tested to above 19KHz. I could double-blind and make the high end stereo shops cry because I could always tell which equipment
they were using.
And I used a certain "Tandberg killer" tape deck which could and did duplicate CD and "analogue master LPs" with no problem, so I really liked my music UNdistorted.
These days my hearing tests more like "FM quality", by 14KHz it is so much weaker that you can see the curve being to plummet. So the high-end stuff is not going to make any difference to me anymore, it still sounds GOOD but I know there's stuff I'm just no longer capable of hearing. And having objectively said that...
I banged my head
for months because the music collection simply HAD to go away and go digital and I was not willing to lose any more quality. I would up using Windows Media Play to make lossless WAV file copies as masters. There are major problems with WAV files, in that the music is lossless but the DATA and TAGS often are lost
and you can't edit them back in, apparently you need exotic professional broadcasting software
to even touch the data tags in a wav file, and nothing else recognizes it. So these WAV files are my lossless quality archive. I could make ISO copies of the CD's to accomplish the same thing. That's a stored backup--I don't listen to it.
Then I use a free and fairly simple program called CDEX (CD Extractor) to make the copies that I actually listen to. There are a number of other programs and most of them seem way more complex or way less configurable. For instance, the same WIndows Music Player can rip to mp3--but not with the same comtrols.
CDex allows you to tweak to quality and size in many ways, many folks would be baffled by the choices. There is a choice of "stereo" or "joint stereo". The former makes a bigger file, but a more accurate one. Then the conversion can be done by the "old" algorithm or the new one. The old algorithm is more accurate at conversions, and only a tad slower. So you start by using "stereo" and "old algorithm" when you want quality.
Then there are the MP3 files themselves. The cheap
stuff uses "CBR" constant bit rate conversion. The newer stuff uses "VBR" variable bit rate conversion, and not all of the old players can decode that. The argument is that sometimes, there's a lot of dead space or slow changes in music, and when that happens you can change the bit conversion rate without losing any quality. You just need smarter software
to decide when and how to change the conversion bitrate. Me? I use VBR because I find all the new equipment
handles it just fine, and I don't hear any difference in it.
So then I spent a couple of days with some really good headsets and some musci that really pushes highes and lows and clarity, the kind of stuff you take to test and abuse high end audio stores. I find that with my "FM" ears, I can't tell any difference between VBR-0, the top quality, and VBR-2, which is only two steps down. I had a real hard time even suspecting that I might, just might, hear some additional loss of clarity (fuzziness) if I went down to VBR-4, and that I certainly could hear some degradation at VBR-6, which is a common commercial
So I said, if VBR-6 is already degraded (not that you'd notice driving down the interstate with the windows open) and if VBR-4 makes me SUSPECT I'm missing something...I'll just stick with VBR-2, which produces a nice tight file that no one has ever complained about, certainly the quality is better than cheap
speakers or headsets can produce in any case!
So for me it is VBR-2, old algorithm, full stereo, and in a quiet room with good brand-name aerbuds or cans, it sounds just like CDs or master LPs to me.
If you're 19 years old and haven't been to too many loudspeaker towers yet...maybe you'll need better, if you do critical listening with no background noise
But yeah, it really can be that simple. Right now I've got a paltry 9500 songs
on my 64GB SDXC card and I'm waiting for 128GB cards to hit the market because there's some more stuff I've missed over the years that I'm slowly chasing down.
Gave all the CDs away to some incredibly happy friends, because these days, it ain't worth the $5 and all the time required to post and sell them. I'm still not quite sure how to explain to my nephew, who is into VINYL like so many these days, "Dude, we ditched vinyl yeas ago because every time you play it, it degrades, and it sounds like **** no matter how well you try to clean it and pamper it and you really can't a/b it apart from properly made digital stuff!" But, hey, I'm happy there's still a market for full-size album art, I really
miss that part of digital music. A little thumbnail of the album cover just doesn't cut it.
And if you're comparing anything on earbuds? $50 buys you a seat at the table, $100 buys you a room with a view. The $25 earbuds, with or without mic, are designed for telephony and those -6 AM-radio grade music. And fiddling around with different rubber tips on the earbuds makes a difference of day and nght.
Now, for the boat...There's some Bose 101's that I'm not in love with, but they were given to me, they're waterproof, what can you say. My old lab-reference Yamahoppers wouldn't fit in most cockpits, and they'd each take a half-berth in the cabin. Nuh-uh, compromise time. (G)
But feel free to PM on the digitizing. I put in a lot of time, and found out it CAN be done right.