Creating MP3s

There are many many ways of converting your existing CD collection to MP3s. I don’t pretend to know them all, but I can tell you what worked for me and my Windows-based PC.

I have around 50 CDs at home. With an average of a dozen songs per CD this equates to around 600 tracks. To rip the CDs and convert them to MP3s I used CDEX, which is an excellent shareware program found at:

CDEX has numerous useful options. This is what I did:

  • Normalize was turned on. Because different CDs are recorded at different levels, it’s very useful to have all of the tracks set to the same volume level. Saves you from having to keep running to the volume control.
  • Bitrate was set to 160 kb/s. I did some experiments with different bitrates and found this to offer the best audio quality / filesize tradeoff. At least for my ears.
  • File name was <artist name> – <track name>.mp3
    For example: Enya – Memory of Trees.mp3
    Then when the MP3 player displays the filename on the LCD display, it makes a lot of sense.
  • Use LAME for MP3 encoding, and use CDDB to save you from having to type in all the track names by hand. (Make sure you’re connected to the internet for CDDB accesses to work).

Then there are a few other programs I found useful.

is a program to normalize your MP3 files. It uses a fairly advanced human hearing model to calculate the volume of each track. And it’s quite fast. I ran it over my MP3 files as a “sanity check” after I was done using CDEX. It’s also a great help if you forget to turn on normalize when using CDEX.

To play MP3 files on your PC, WinAmp is justifiably popular:
These are all free or shareware programs. It’s amazing what people do.

Please note that I don’t condone illegal sharing of copyrighted music. Whilst I totally disagree with the heavy-handed tactics being used by the RIAA (slamming 12 year-old children with lawsuits is both ridiculous and offensive in my opinion) I do agree with the artists’ needs to be paid for their work. The tools I’ve suggested above will allow you to convert your own legally-puchased CDs to the MP3 format.