Ripping (also called digital audio extraction) is the process of copying audio data directly from a CD to your computer’s hard drive. Since ripping is a digital copying process, the speed is limited only by the performance of your CD-ROM drive, whereas recording is always a real-time process.
For example, when you record a four-minute song from a CD, it will always take at least four minutes to record, whether you use a tape recorder, sound card, or any other recording method. However, with a fast CD-ROM drive, you can rip the same song in less than 30 seconds (see Figure 11-14).
Figure 11-14. Recording versus ripping a CD
Because ripping bypasses the computer’s sound card, it usually results in a perfect digital copy with no introduction of noise or loss of fidelity. On the other hand, if you record a CD through your sound card, the digital audio is first converted to analog, then resampled and converted back to digital. While the signal is in analog form, it can pick up electrical noise from the components inside your computer. When the signal is converted back to digital, the sound card’s analog-to-digital converter will add a small amount of distortion.
This section covers the key concepts of ripping and includes some tips to help you prevent problems. If you want to create MP3 files from a CD and don’t need to edit the audio, follow the steps for creating MP3 files in Chapter ...