Taking My First Steps

Well, I have just taken delivery of my new laptop. Went with a PC for may own reasons. I want to start downloading my CD collection using Apple Lossless. Where can I learn more about what software I need and what I need to know about using it. I understand there are some nuances here that I should be aware of.


The folks here are quite knowledgeable, but I would also recommend:



Here you will get "high end" sound recommendations. The other forums may be better on the hardware aspects.
I would recommend staying away from Apple lossless and going with a more universal (and less proprietary) lossless format, FLAC or APE. WinAmp has free plugins available that will play these formats natively.

You can also playback thru your main system by using something like the LinkSys Wireless MusicBirdge. I snagged one for $55 delivered and I really enjoy the freedom of having a huge music library available at my fingertips. I run it from my laptop and send the music that's saved on my external USB drive connected to my server out to my main hi-fi.

dbPowerAmp and Exact Audio copy are very good ripping programs and both are available free, Google 'em.

In addition, most of the downloadable, free music comes in FLAC or SHN format - see

(I don't know why both these link *look* the same in this post, they go to different sites)

It's the Golden Age for free music right now, jump on the bandwagon, mate!

I think I am becoming more confused. If I avoid Apple Lossless format and use FLAC, what software should I use to burn CDs? Is Exact Audio Copy one of them? Does EAC let me compress song files into an FLAC format?

If I use the FLAC format, can these still be played using iTunes?

Also, I don't know what it means to play a format "natively".

Obviously, I only want to rip my CDs once, so I want to get it right.

Thanks in advance,

I believe there is a "plugin" or something similar for EAC.

Sorry, I set this all up before my recent computer upgrades and have to figure out how to do it again myself!

I am not sure about itunes. I use Foobar to play my stuff on my main stereo.
Do you have a specific need to use iTunes? If not, it may be best to avoid it, as it tends to be inflexible (I haven't used it much, but the one time I did, it infuriated me).

Here's some information on iTunes compatability with various formats:


Also check Ogg on Wikipedia...some interesting stuff there (although I have no experience with Ogg).

If you don't need iTunes, Foobar is a great way to go for playback on a PC. It's powerful, and open-source.

For ripping, EAC is excellent. It can be coupled with various add-ins that will convert audio files to other formats like FLAC. I don't know if it will convert to Apple Lossless.

To rip your CD once (and right), use EAC and rip to a lossless format (WAV, FLAC, etc.). Once you have the lossless file on your PC, you can find various programs to quickly convert to other formats, if needed. Some searching on the internet should yield a bunch of info on this.

As far as native goes, I'm not an expert, but I beleive it means that the audio data can be interpreted directly by the software or hardware, and doesn't need to be converted or translated in any way before playing.

So this should give you somes clues about what direction to go in on the software side; the hardware side is pretty tricky as well (assuming you've looking for high-end quality). Be patient, and spend lots of time searching on forums like these. Most of the info is there, just not all in one place.