Firstly a big thank you to Steven for Max and Play and for those who have contributed to this forum, it brought me up to speed with the complexities of ripping and implementing my own Mac-based audio system with an external DAC since my CD player became too hard to fix.
I was using the Superdrive in my PowerBook G4 and it does a reasonable, if spotty, job of extracting audio for conversion to FLAC. I borrowed a LaCie Firewire CD-RW 8x drive and it was much better at this task than the Superdrive and it was with this that I successfully ripped my CD collection using full paranoia.
It's interesting that the conjunction of CDs created by different companies, pressed by different plants but to the same red book specs, combined with the characteristics of drives with their jitter, head positioning, caches and firmware can result in quite variable behaviour. Having several drives is the only way to guarantee that a disc will be read with the most stringent extraction settings.
I think that my particular Superdrive has difficulties aligning accurately on audio tracks at the outer margins of the disc as nearly all the failures have occurred there. To see tracks get to 96-98% in this region then stick was getting to be a very familiar experience. The LaCie tends to have (very few) problems with the first few tracks. So between the two drives all CDs were digested.
This shows that where optical peripherals are concerned, variety can be the solution. Keeping an eye on a system supervisor like X Resource Graph while Max is ripping is also very instructive!
From my experience so far, ripping success has very little to do with the age or the physical condition of the CD. Scratched and pristine discs have nearly equal chances of ripping - as one would expect.
My appreciation for the qualities of the CD audio encoding scheme has been heightened following my researches, despite the problems it gives us when ripping because it did what it set out to do so well given the context and environment in which it was expected to work. A good rip yields a great sounding piece of music.
Having said that it's clear that continued attempts to build audiophile CD players are basically silly - they should use their clever transports only for ripping and their superior DACs for reproduction of lossless data files. The DAC should clearly be the focus of audiophile attention.
I look forward to the day when music distribution is entirely by means of FLAC-like files on a disc or online, as some are already doing. The CD is now just the delivery medium.
Max and Play have boosted me into a better world of audio - thanks.
Discuss Max, an open source CD audio extractor and audio converter.
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