The ultimate dBpoweramp CD ripping guide

How to Rip your CD collection to FLAC and MP3 using dBpoweramp

First, test, test, test before embarking on a big rip.

Don’t bother trying to create MP3s at the same time as creating the FLACs, it just complicates matters and it is easy to do after ripping using either dbPowerAmp itself or a perl script.

dbPoweramp really is the best tool for the job if you care about quality rips and ease of use (though it does require just as much setup as Exact Audio Copy). And FLAC is the best target file format (except for people who live purely in Apple land).

To set up dBpoweramp, install and fire up the applicaiton, then follow the below steps:

Click SET, next to Naming at the bottom, and use this:

[IFCOMP][IFVALUE]album artist,[album artist],Various Artists[]\[album]\[track] [artist][][IF!COMP][IFVALUE]album artist,[album artist],[artist][]\[album]\[artist] – [track][] – [title]

So test your file naming with a selection of CDs, including range of complications and multi disc sets to make sure you are getting the folder/files you want.

Make sure you enable ReplayGain. It is done as a DSP action, make sure you check “Calculate Album Gain” as well.

In the meta options you almost certainly want “Force date to year” checked.

Before doing any real ripping, you need to get AccurateRip setup. This involves feeding dBpoweramp a “key disc” or two. Pick some popular CDs, pop them in and it will tell you whether or not it is a key disc and announce when it is happy with AccurateRip being setup.

When that is done, rip one of the key discs. It should rip with “AccurateRip confidence (x)” next to each track, where the x is the number of other people who got the exact same rip as you.

In the options you want to make sure you turn on Secure ripping. I also turn on Ultra Secure.

FUA settings right. These are in the Secure Ripping section of the settings. Click on the “Test FUA Support”.

You also want to get your C2 and – needs a badly scratched disc (scratch an unwanted one if need be), pop it in and click on the “Detect C2 Support”.

Also check “Mark track as error if insecure”.

With all that lot setup, the ripping will go like this:

– if a disc is in the AccurateRip database it will rip each track once, if all the tracks match the database then it is done
– if a track didn’t match or if the CD wasn’t in the database then it moves onto Ultra Secure ripping
– it rips each track three times and if all three rips get the same CRC it is done
– if it detects errors goes back and retries a lot

– if one or more tracks can’t be ripped securely it flags an error

With that all working, on my Dell desktop it rips most discs in under 3 minutes.


For each disc I am doing the following:

– insert disc, wait for metadata to load
– hit alt-M to bring up metadata edit
– clean up metadata, if required remove trailing “disc x” stuff from multi disc albums
– close metadata, check it looks ok
– check album art is showing, if not download an image or make a mental note to put it in the “needs album art pile”
– hit alt-R
– when the CD ejects, look to see if any errors were reported, if so put it on the “re-rip later” pile

If a CD is taking a long time to rip I cancel it and put it on the “re-rip later” pile as well. I have less than a dozen discs on the pile after 280+ rips.

Reripping insecure tracks
If I get a disc where there are just a couple of dodgy tracks, I’ll re-rip straight away. I drop the rip speed down to the slowest it will go and re-rip the insecure tracks (right click on the track list to re-rip just the dodgy ones).

Often the slower speed is enough to get a good rip.

On the little drop down next to the Options button, make sure that you have After Ripping->Display Error Log checked. Also, make sure in the Ultra Secure Ripping that you have “Mark Track as Error if insecure”.
That way you’ll see a list of bad tracks, I also have mine set to eject at end of rip.

With thanks to Mardibloke and AndyNormanCX

Watch catch-up TV on your MediaCenter

A friend pointed me in the direction of TunerFree MCE which is a great Vista MediaCenter plug-in that allows you to watch streaming watch-again TV shows from all the BBC iPlayer channels as well as all the ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 watch again stations. It also shows live streaming of BBC and ITV channels if you don’t have a TV card in your MediaPC.

TunerFree MCE

It only works if you are running a Vista (there is no XP version sadly), and you need to have Microsoft Net Framework 3.5 installed. Oh, and it only works if you are in the UK

It’s fairly seamlessly integrates with MediaCenter and the menu appears next to the other TV viewing options.

I had a bit of trouble getting the BBC and Channel 4 channels working so asked the developer and he replied straight away saying I probably didn’t have the latest version of Flash installed under Internet Explorer. This turned out to be the case – I normally use Firefox where iPlayer was working fine, but when I tried to use it in IE it advised me to upgrade Flash. Once done, the application worked great.

The quality of the images on my 37″ LCD telly are pretty good for streamed content, although it’s obviously not as sharp as broadcast telly.

Getting a MediaCenter PC to go to sleep

I’ve got a nice little MediaPC that I bought from these guys which is running MediaCenter under Vista Home Premium and is turned on 24×7

In these days of Climate Change economic doom and gloom it thought I would look into getting it to standby when not in use, but come back to life when I needed to use it, or it needed to record something off the telly for me.

Setting the power settings in Vista didn’t work so I googled for some answers and found this little application, the MCE Standby Tool which promises to “make all the required power management settings, even some which are normally inaccessible” and make my machine sleep soundly.

It’s a small nifty looking app and seems well written:

 

It didn’t seem to work at first but with a bit of tinkering I discovered that the LogMeIn client was causing the machine to come out of standby as soon as it activated.

And then I remembered that the PC runs SqueezeCentre that my Squeezebox Boom connects to. So the next thing to test is getting Wake on LAN to work…