Bulk CD ripping service.
January 11, 2004 9:16 AM   Subscribe

RipDigital converts your entire CD collection to 224kbs MP3s for about a $1 per CD. Send them your CD library and they'll ship your library back, organized by artist and album with enhanced song information, as either 50 converted CDs per DVD and for $99 more on a portable hard drive. If only they offered the same service for cassettes. [via jkottke & waxpancake]
posted by riffola (47 comments total)
From their about page: RipDigital actively encourages responsible use of digital music by including unique and traceable information on each file that identifies the music as yours.
posted by riffola at 9:17 AM on January 11, 2004

Is ripping all that of a hassle to require a service like this? I mean I wish 'em luck and all but I just don't see them lasting a long time.
posted by PenDevil at 9:57 AM on January 11, 2004

I can't believe a service like this exists. If I send them bread and peanut butter will they send me back sandwiches? Who would use such a thing?
posted by dobbs at 10:00 AM on January 11, 2004

Is ripping all that of a hassle to require a service like this?

How much is your time worth to you?
posted by machaus at 10:11 AM on January 11, 2004

Actually my wife and I are quite excited about this. With two small children and work, time is an absolute premium.

Here are the questions I emailed them:
Can you send me a sample MP3 that shows what kind of ID3 info you use and the sound quality?

Also, what filename and folder structure do you use?

Lastly, please explain a little more about "unique and traceable information". Is this a form of copy protection, or simply a field in the ID3 tag?

Hopefully the answers shoudl be favorable. I wish they had a FAQ that answered them already.
posted by Argyle at 10:16 AM on January 11, 2004

Well if ripping was a job where you had to focus all your energy 100% on doing and it was a total pain in the ass then sure it might be worth it.

But all it really entails is popping a CD in the drive, clicking a button and then going back to web surfing/watching TV/making peanut butter sandwiches. When ripping is finished insert another CD and repeat.
posted by PenDevil at 10:19 AM on January 11, 2004

I could totally see using this if I hadn't already ripped all my CDs. The math works out for anybody making almost any wage.

Ripping one CD- get the CD, take out of case, put in computer, use ripping program, take out CD, repeat- this process could use up perhaps 5 minutes of your time. At 5min/CD you could do 12CDs/hour. So, even if you are paid only $12/hour, your ripping costs you $1.00 per CD.

Not only do the rip, they put everything together nicely and conveniently for you.

If you are paid more than $12/hour, you're a fool not to use this service.
posted by crazy finger at 10:37 AM on January 11, 2004

It's a good idea, and there are plenty of people who don't want to waste time ripping their own...is it entirely legal tho? I know we're allowed to make personal copies, but are they allowed to do it?
posted by amberglow at 10:51 AM on January 11, 2004

Everyone saying this is a brain-dead simple company isn't in the target market.

I know there are nice ripper programs for both the mac and PC, but I find it a pain to rip more than a handful of disks. I couldn't imagine sitting around for an entire weekend ripping my whole collection, I'd go batshit insane from having to reshuffle CDs every 3 minutes. Ripping one CD isn't a hassle, but ripping 500 certainly is, though personally I wouldn't pay someone a buck per disk to do it, I can see a market for people that would, definitely.

Argyle, please post what their response is. I'm going to guess 192kbps, standard CDDB tags, artist folder\album title\ organization, and I bet the "Tracking ID" is a hash in the ID3's comment field.
posted by mathowie at 10:55 AM on January 11, 2004

Most people don't rip like that though crazy finger. I've got a few thousand CDs. I don't know what percentage of them have been ripped but when I listen to something I rip it if it hasn't already been ripped. I don't see the utility at all unless I decided that I wanted to rip my entire CD collection in one shot. I'm not saying you're a fool if you think of using this service but I do think that saying somebodies a fool for not using it is overstating it's utility.
posted by substrate at 10:56 AM on January 11, 2004

crazy finger, I happen to be ripping some CDs right now. I read your post and decided to time the process. A CD had just finished ripping so I popped it out, put it away, and opened a diff CD, put it in my laptop, it searched the cddb and matched the songs, I pushed the import button. The whole time I was counting (a thousand-one, a thousand-two, etc.) and was by no means "rushing the process"'. I then went about my business--in this case took the dog for a short walk. Total time elapsed spent solely burning a cd? Seventeen seconds.

I suppose if one's got money to burn it's a great service. But declaring anyone who makes more than $12/hour that doesn't use this service a "fool" is a stretch, to say the least.

I guess I don't understand... are you people who plan to use the service sitting in front of the computer watching your CDs rip or something? Isn't that like watching your clothes spin around in the washing machine?
posted by dobbs at 10:57 AM on January 11, 2004

is it entirely legal tho? I know we're allowed to make personal copies, but are they allowed to do it?

This is just like every 16mm-home-movie-to-VHS service and every VHS-to-DVD service out there. I don't see why automated format conversion would be illegal for copyrighted stuff when you own personal copies of the CDs.

Of course, the record companies might try and bring a suit against them if they simply build up a catalog of every CD sold in America, and basically just give you a previous copy of someone else's ripped disc, so they don't have pull MP3s off the 1,340th Hootie and the Blowfish CD. I know companies have run afoul of media companies when their services didn't involve 1-to-1 conversions (like the DVD dubbing by that mormon company that takes out the bad scenes and language).

Actually, this would be a hilarious scam if someone merely wanted their own music store and created the company to get it. Eventually, this company will have copies of almost every song ever as an mp3. Whether they make money charging a dollar per or not, in six months the people that own and operate the company will never have to buy a personal CD again.
posted by mathowie at 11:01 AM on January 11, 2004

Substrate- you are a FOOL!

You could rip all your un-ripped CD's in one shot for CHEAP. Plus, think about the number of your CDs you're not listening to lately that you've forgotten. So now you take your unripped-and-unlistened-to CD collection of, say 2000 CDs- rips them:

average of 60 minutes of music * 2000 CDs =
120000 minutes of music =
2000 hours of music =
83 days of 24/7 listening

Dobbs- you are a FOOL!

Do you expect somebody like Substrate to walk his dog 24/7 2000 times in a week? Even somebody with a small collection of 200 CDs can't walk their dog 200 times in one day!

Mathowie- you're giving the game away!

Keep it on the down-low and you can expect to receive about 2000 CD's worth of music in the mail.
posted by crazy finger at 11:09 AM on January 11, 2004

To equate this to your hourly wage is just silly. I have a pile of audio CD's by my Mac, and whenever I see the CD tray ejected I just stick another CD in. It imports silently and ejects. Takes about 9 seconds of my time and I go off and do other things... it's not like I even have to sit there at the computer while it rips. So yes, I can work at my "real" job in the meantime, and make my wage.

I've submitted to the fact that I won't finish for a few weeks, but who needs their entire music library digitized immediately?

Not to mention, do you *trust* this company with your entire music collection? How would you feel if you found out it was run by a bunch of 16 year olds, who've just hatched the master plan to amass "the hugest mp3 collection in the world, and to get paid doing it! Muwaaahaaahaaahaaaaa!"
posted by Fofer at 11:15 AM on January 11, 2004

Total time elapsed spent solely burning a cd? Seventeen seconds.

Seventeen seconds to import and rip an entire hour-long CD full of music? That's insane. On my 1.8Ghz Athlon PC it takes a couple minutes, likewise with iTunes on my 867Mhz G4. About five minutes per CD sounds about right, with shuffling and automatic CDDB lookup (so you don't have to interact with anything).
posted by mathowie at 11:19 AM on January 11, 2004

crazy finger - you do realize, that with your example of 2000 cd's, that it would cost $2000 for RipDigital's services?

There's a point of diminishing returns here. As long as I have 5-6 hours of music to listen to on a daily basis, there's no reason to pay more than $20.
posted by Fofer at 11:20 AM on January 11, 2004

mathowie: the delta here is in the time that *you* are doing work, versus the time the *computer* is doing work. The ripping process doesn't monopolize your time -- after you insert the CD (17 seconds) you can go off and do other things. If you happen to work at the computer, of course it'll be more efficient, as the swapping/ripping will get done quicker.

IMHO that's what a computer's all about, it does the mundane, repetitive tasks so humans can go off and be creative.
posted by Fofer at 11:23 AM on January 11, 2004

Of course, the record companies might try and bring a suit against them if they simply build up a catalog of every CD sold in America, and basically just give you a previous copy of someone else's ripped disc, so they don't have pull MP3s off the 1,340th Hootie and the Blowfish CD.
Business and laborwise, I think that's the way to do it and make money (but that makes it illegal, altho there's no way to know how they really do it).
posted by amberglow at 11:27 AM on January 11, 2004

yeah, dobbs, please post that system config ;)
posted by scarabic at 11:33 AM on January 11, 2004

after you insert the CD (17 seconds) you can go off and do other things

ah, so I see the figure quoted was misleading on purpose. By this line of reasoning, I can bake a 12 layer wedding cake in only 15 minutes, since that is all it takes to prepare the batter and put it in a pan. New math!
posted by mathowie at 11:36 AM on January 11, 2004

mathowie, seems like a fair estimate to me since you and your computer can be doing other things while the cake is baking. And please send me a piece. Is it chocolate???
posted by billsaysthis at 11:47 AM on January 11, 2004

Actually, Matt, I think both ways of looking at it are valid (total time and human interaction time).

I don't think we're going to resolve the question "is this a good value?" with a single answer. It will be for some people and not for others.
posted by pmurray63 at 11:48 AM on January 11, 2004

Here's how I think they do it.
For each physical CD received:
   Scan UPC on CD
   If UPC not seen before by service then
      Rip CD and store in library at service
   Lookup CD in library using UPC and write to output
They will not need to take the CD out of the jewel case for the bulk of the CD's received using this method.
posted by bravada at 12:04 PM on January 11, 2004

Matt, a cake is quite different. I have to be there to make sure things are done at certain intervals. I hardly see that as a useful analogy.

Look at it this way: when I use a dishwasher, it takes me 10 minutes to do the dishes. Half of that is spent loading it and half is spent unloading it. Though yes, the machine takes 60 minutes to clean them, it's not "coming out of my pocket," so to speak, unless I sit in front of the machine waiting for it to do its job. I'm guessing that you wouldn't do that with the dishwasher. Why would you do it with your cd burner?
posted by dobbs at 12:08 PM on January 11, 2004

crazy finger, see, I think you're playing the fool or are at least being disingenuous. Burning a CD doesn't occupy my time any longer than it takes to insert the CD and start the ripping program. Hell, with iTunes I can even tell it to automatically rip it so it would take zero additional time. While it's ripping I can work, listen to music, watch TV, read a book or whatever. Having all of my music on mp3 doesn't really mean that I'll hear long lost albums either. If I don't listen to something on CD then chances are I won't listen to something after it's been ripped to MP3 either.

I look at it this way. I could spend money to rip my few thousand CDs in one fell swoop and not really save any time or I could spend that few thousand dollars on a vacation, more CDs, stick it in the bank, blow it on the ponies or whatever. Of course if I really wanted to save time I'd also hire somebody to go on that vacation for me.
posted by substrate at 12:31 PM on January 11, 2004

yeah, but you really couldn't say with a straight face ripping 100 cd's on a saturday is <30min of your time? (100 X 17sec)
posted by imaswinger at 12:44 PM on January 11, 2004

The MP3s are encoded at 224kbps as I mentioned in the post. So you have to factor that in too, MP3s at higher encoding take longer to encode.

I think this service's target audience are the people who want their CDs as MP3s for their new iPods, but don't have the time nor want to spend the effort it takes to convert their entire collection. This especially holds true for people starting with very few MP3s, if any at all. If I had not already converted a chunk of my CDs to MP3s, I would seriously consider looking into this, although since I am in New York, I'd try and see if they'd charge me less if I dropped off and picked up the CDs off in person.

I am guessing they must check the CDDB/FreeDB info for each CD, just like you and I have to. Both DBs have way too many errors, so it's not really a case of pop it in, press a button, wait for the CD to pop out. Also I'd hope RipDigital has some policy in place regarding CDs that skip, MP3s that skip, etc.
posted by riffola at 12:53 PM on January 11, 2004

Considering the fate of some past dot.com ventures, wouldn't you be a little uncomfortable boxing up your entire CD collection and sending it off to New York?
I speak from bitter experience; I'll spare you the details.
posted by 2sheets at 12:56 PM on January 11, 2004

I'm not saying you should burn 2000 CDs at once, anything over 250 with this company is $1/CD, but I think that it would be well worth it to spend $250 a few times a year to get tons of music automatically ripped. Sure you don't have to sit there the entire 5 minutes to burn a CD, but if you want to burn a bunch of them fast, you could never do it even close to as quickly as this company will do it for you.

Furthermore, you claim that you won't hear long-lost music that you've forgotten about. I doubt that, unless you listen to a new CD for a week and then never listen to it again. If you have more than a hundred CDs, I would bet there is at least some music that you haven't listened to in a long time that you'd like to hear but that never crosses your mind. This company will make it easier for you to be pleasantly surprised with old music that you love- it's an added value to you because you're reclaiming that old music. Imagine having a DVD with, at least, several hundred songs on it playing on random.
posted by crazy finger at 12:59 PM on January 11, 2004

I meant to say "couldn't ever do it" rather than "could never do it."

Case of half-assed editing.
posted by crazy finger at 1:00 PM on January 11, 2004

I'm probably the target demographic for this. I'm young, I listen to a lot of music, I'm moderately tech-savvy, I've got the cash to pay for the service, and I work 60-80 hours a week. (Hell, I'm at work right now.) Unfortunately for them, their pitch runs into one snag: I could have my project assistant do it for free. ;)
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:00 PM on January 11, 2004

Everyone box up and send me your CDs. I'll rip them for you.

Oh, you want them back?

I'm not sure why anyone would consider shipping thousands of dollars worth of music off to some random company that doesn't seem to have been around very long.

I've ripped my entire collection of CDs, and while it took me far longer than 17 seconds per CD, it really wasn't a time-consuming process. I tackled about 10-15 per day, cleaning my apartment or doing laundry or watching TV or doing whatever while the computer churned through. It wasn't a huge problem to stop what I was doing every now and then to pop in another disc, and I wasn't under a deadline so I didn't exactly make sure to be there standing in front of the computer when it was ready for another disc. Now that I'm caught up, whenever I buy a new CD I immediately rip it.
posted by emelenjr at 1:14 PM on January 11, 2004

Don't you realize, with 1000 CDs at 10-15 per day, it would be at least 2 months before you finished burning.

So you spent months cleaning your room and watching TV all day? Call me old fashioned, sir, but I work for a living!
posted by crazy finger at 1:18 PM on January 11, 2004

crazy finger, do you own stock in this company or something? No offence, but you've made your point and now you're sounding like an overly solicitous salesman.
posted by pitchblende at 1:32 PM on January 11, 2004

No, I'm wasting time online while my CDs burn.
posted by crazy finger at 1:47 PM on January 11, 2004

This sounds kinda nifty, but it's way too expensive. Especially if they're only ripping into 224kbs using some unspecified ripper/encoder combo.

I'd consider it, if it were something more along the lines of 5000 CDs for 500$, but at their going rates, my music collection would cost more than a new car.
posted by Jairus at 2:10 PM on January 11, 2004

I haven't decided whether this is a stupid idea or not, but that naked guy on the home page kind of creeps me out.
posted by majcher at 2:14 PM on January 11, 2004

crazy finger, why are you talking about burning? This is about ripping...
posted by Orange Goblin at 3:50 PM on January 11, 2004

crazy finger said: Imagine having a DVD with, at least, several hundred songs on it playing on random.

You're esposuing the virtues of the MP3 format, and MP3 players now. I've been listening to my music on random for quite a few years now (well, ever since SoundJam was out for the Mac.) If you're looking to sell us on "instant variety," then why not just talk about 100-disc changers?

This company hasn't invented anything new, they're just counting on people being stupid and/or lazy, and chances are they'll make lots of money with that bet.
posted by Fofer at 4:42 PM on January 11, 2004

oh yeah, and crazy finger also said: Don't you realize, with 1000 CDs at 10-15 per day, it would be at least 2 months before you finished burning?

Yeah, so? I've got my $1000 still in my pocket. And somehow, I've lived for 30+ years without my entire music library encoded... what's another two months?

I have a job too. So I'm not here during the day. Therefore I'm probably only able to pop in only 4-5 a day. Yet strangely enough this pace is fine for me. Why, all of a sudden, is there a need to have everything saved to a PC immediately, regardless of means or cost?
posted by Fofer at 4:48 PM on January 11, 2004

$1 a cd sounds steep for me, though I wouldn't be surprised in a few years if I saw flyers around my neighbourhood saying "We'll move your cd collection onto your iPod, 10ยข a cd".

But if I needed to encode a thousand cds maybe I should just build a cd changer like this guy did.
posted by bobo123 at 5:31 PM on January 11, 2004

One thing to consider is that you do also get the files back on DVDs. I don't have a DVD burner, but I believe DVDRs go for something like at least 50 cents a piece. So for someone, like myself, who keeps the MP3s on external hard drives, but plans to back all those up on DVD, there is some value. True, they are already "backed up" on the original CDs - but obviously that's not the same - if I lost a drive I would have to go through and manually re-rip everything, which = time+media cost.

Backing up on CD isn't too practical for me right now. My CD burner is antique (4X write speed) - plus - I own about 200 Gigs of music.

I would also be interested in what you hear back Argyle regarding the "traceable" bit. An ID3 tag comment I can delete or change in masse. But something actually embedded in the file would be a deal-breaker for me.
Personally, my money will probably be better spent on a new and speedy USB 2.0 DVD writer. I have about 1500 CDs. My collection is already mostly ripped and organised, and I have some music from, ahem, other sources than the original CD.

I imagine that for a lot of people out there who may have a few hundred CDs, are pressed for time, use an iPod, and have a decent amount of expendable income, this could be a very useful service.
posted by sixdifferentways at 5:57 PM on January 11, 2004

If you really want to convert tapes, buy a Plusdeck 2:


I've got one installed in my PC and it works great. One click converts both sides of a tape to an MP3 then a little bit of time with MP3DirectCut produces a set of tracks for subsequent loading onto an iPod or whatever.
posted by krisjohn at 10:54 PM on January 11, 2004

To me, it's the "box my whole CD collection up and ship it off" part that kills the whole idea.

The other thing is that I can choose how certain songs get ripped when doing it myself. iTunes has a "join tracks together" setting so that songs which run together, and which I wouldn't want to hear separately, can be ripped as one track.
posted by dnash at 8:07 AM on January 12, 2004

mp3 at higher bitrates take longer to encode...

not on my computer! if I use the lame encoder (which is the only one worth a damn in my book,) the lower the bitrate the longer it takes. mp3 encoding is a reduction process, where data is removed from each frame... the more data you have the remove the more analyses it takes to find the removable data.

Anyway. I'd love to do this. I have 875 CDs, but they are not in jewel cases, so I guess I can't use this service?

Also about 200 of them are mixes and/or music that I have made... do they only process commercial CDs?

I'm asking because the site is down right now.
posted by n9 at 8:26 AM on January 12, 2004

Back in the day I converted a few hundred CDs in a couple weeks by buiding a CD ripper machine:

2 IDE CDROM drives +
6 SCSI CDROM drives +
linux on a pc (with a scsi card) +
grip +
the lame encoder

I ran 8 instances of grip, each configured to access a different CD device. Grip can be configured to batch encode... when the cd is done it ejects it.

So every time I'd think to I'd go down and put a new disc in all the open trays. And that was on a pentium 200 -- I'd be really interested in what a modern CPU could do. I bet you could encode 100cds in one day that way for an outlay of <$1000 for the machine.

I've set up similar systems for backing things like mp3s up to cd.... set up a system that ejects the disk when it wants a new one and you can just pop a blank in every time you go by the machine. Linux is really good for things like that if you know a thing or two about perl scripting.
posted by n9 at 8:32 AM on January 12, 2004

Thinking this through this might be have good use as a promotional tool say for a company like Apple to use: "Buy the 40Gig iPod and we will rip all your CD's and put it on your iPod for you ready to sync with iTunes!". But that's about all I can really see it being used for.

Apple have done kinda similar things like this, but in reverse with iPhoto. You send them your digital pics and they send you a hardback album.
posted by PenDevil at 9:47 AM on January 12, 2004

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