Rip & Burn Basics

Category: Audio , Hardware , Music

I have a big music collection on CDROM discs. I'd like to get all this music on my computer and burn my own mix CDs. Can you help me get started?

compact disc rewritable

Copy Music From CD to PC, or PC to CD

Is your downloaded music piling up on your hard drive? Maybe you'd like to free some space on your hard drive space while still enjoying your favorite tunes. Or perhaps you've got a bunch of CDs with only one or two songs on each that you really like. Here's how to enjoy your favorite selections on a CD you create yourself. It takes just a few minutes to learn how to "rip" songs from a CD, and "burn" your own mix to a new disc. Read on and you'll soon have a clean hard drive and shiny new CDs with all your favorite music.

Hardware for CD Burning

Burning a CD is a term used for putting data onto a writable CDROM disc. When a blank CD-R (Compact Disk - Recordable) is put into a special type of CDROM drive, the laser in the drive will burn the inside silver disk that stores information on the CD. If you want to burn CDs, you'll need a drive that says "Compact Disc Recordable" or even better "Compact Disc Rewritable" on it.

Your computer might already have a CDROM drive capable of burning discs if it was made in the last few years. If not, you can find an internal or external drive at most computer and electronics stores for around $50. External drives are easier to install because you don't have to open the system unit and mess with wires, but they cost a little more.

You will also need blank CDs, which can be purchased at office supply stores or any place that sell computers. You will see two different kinds of blank CDs. One is the CD-R and the other is CD-RW. CD-R means that you can record on the CD just once. A CD-RW (Compact Disk - Rewriteable) allows you to add to or record over music on the disc. Either one will work, though CD-RW are suggested for people who need to record over and over again on a CD, for storing data like documents. You may not want to do this with your music files. Most people burn a music CD once and leave it alone, so it's probably better to go with the cheaper CD-R's if all you plan to do is to burn music onto CDs. (For related information, see Lifetime of a CDROM Disk.)

Next, we'll look at the software you'll need to make your first music CD...

Rip and Burn

windows media player You may already have all the software you need, if you have the latest version of Windows Media Player. If you don't already have it, this software is available for free from the Microsoft website. If you have a music CD, and you want to make a copy of it, you can start by putting the CD into your computer's CDROM drive. After loading the CD, you'll see the songs pop up in Windows Media Player. One of the buttons at the top is titled "Rip". When you press that button, it will make copies of your songs and store the music onto your computer's hard drive.

Don't worry, it won't actually rip the songs off your original CD. If you like, you can copy all of your music onto your hard drive, to make backup copies of your CD collection. Burning copies of your CDs will let you enjoy your music longer -- you won't have to worry about scratching up the original CD.

windows media player To burn a new CD, first click on the Burn button, then click Edit Playlist. You'll see a list of all the music you have on your computer, so you can drag and drop songs from your Library to the Burn List. When you have all the songs you want for the new CD, put a blank CD into the drive and hit Start Burn. Once the process is done, the CD pops out and there you have your own music CD, ready to play in your CD player.

For other software to rip, burn and manage your music library, check out Apple's iTunes, or Napster. Both iTunes and Napster are free, and allow you to buy additional music online.

If you want more control over the CD burning process, consider Nero, or Roxio. A valuable resource for information on CD burning can be found at BurnWorld. Check it out for articles and reviews on hardware and software.

Got comments about ripping or burning CDROMs? Post your thoughts below...

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Most recent comments on "Rip & Burn Basics"

(See all 28 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

28 Jul 2007

When adding music from CDs to my iTunes library, I have noticed that some of the converted tracks become slightly distorted, especially in the louder low end frequencies, and the higher high end frequencies. I have heard that this is always a problem with any conversion to a compressed audio file.

I have bumped the kbps rate up to 192 from 128 kbps, hoping the bigger file size would make for better fidelity, and I believe it does help some. I have been using the AAC encoder, but I notice there are a few other encoder choices for making the conversion. Is there a "best" choice for importing CDs to iTunes as far as fidelity goes? Any pros or cons for one encoder versus the others?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Use AAC and the highest bitrate, that should yield the best sound quality

Posted by:

11 Aug 2007

Hi Bob, I could burn on to CDR before, but now it is not. I can burn onto cd rw fine. I have tried sony and wh smith cds and it only burns 2 songs and then stops. what can it be?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'd swap out the CD burner, and see if that solves the problem.

Posted by:

11 Aug 2007

I am a dummy...............I followed your example above on rip and burn. I have the burned cd ......but it wont play in my BOSE radio cd player. It will play on my computer..........where did I go wrong.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This should help:

Posted by:

28 Jan 2008

Question: How does one convert music on vinyl albums to electronic (e.g., MP3) versions? What equipment is needed? What are the basic steps to get it done?


Posted by:

13 Feb 2008

I'm having the same problem as 'Tanz', I've tried to burn a CD but it will only copy the first two tracks. I've tried different files and even using iTunes but it doesn't like it. Help!

Posted by:

Brian Reid
19 Mar 2008

I am interested in burning DVD's, can you recommend one for me? I have Windows XP Home and am using Firefox and IE 7.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Recommend what?

Posted by:

13 Aug 2008

I ripped 4 CDs with Windows Media Player 11. The idea is to burn them all onto a DVD. This does not happen! It will not burn to a DVD. Any advice how to rip onto the computer and then burn to a DVD. It must be simple, but it beats me!!

EDITOR'S NOTE: You didn't give me a clue what the problem was... What happened when you tried to burn the DVD?

Posted by:

16 Nov 2008

One of the best file searchers and download centers is here

Find al the necessary information there!

Posted by:

09 Dec 2008

Ok, I'm a complete novice. What is the difference between ripping and burning and when should each be used? I'm afraid to even purchase an MP3 player because I won't know how to work it after spending $$$$.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Did you read the article? Ripping is taking songs OFF a CD. Burning is putting them ON a CD.

Posted by:

11 Dec 2008

my problem is my computer is only ripping 2 tracks then stopping.

Posted by:

27 Feb 2009

I have windows media player 11 and real player as well. I can rip the CD and then when i try and burn it it stops on the 2nd or third song. It will say to check the cd for damage or to make sure it is clean or try a slower recording speed. I have done both of these and it still does it. WHY? I have tried CDR an CD-RW and two different brands and i get the same message. I did have windows media player 10a dn i downloaded and updated to version 11 but that did not help. I went to real player and tried to burn and it does the same there too. please help.

Posted by:

27 Feb 2009

I had media player 10 and can rip the music but not burn it. It will stop on the 2nd song and say to check the disc for damage or choose a slower recording speed. I did change the recording speed to fast and medium and then went and bought new disks too. I have tried both cdr and cdrw and get same message. I updated to media player 11 and I still get that message. I tried to burn on Real Player and it does the same thing there too. What is wrong? Please help.

Posted by:

John R.
08 Jun 2009

I have a CD-R disc that has both audio and video on it. I can't seem to copy the info on this disc onto my computer. Windows media player does not recognize it as regular audio, and a dvd encrypter doesn't view it as video either. How can I do this?

Posted by:

21 Aug 2009

Hi, hope you advice will be of help, im trying to get into (heard of it) to download and burn some music to my media player, and just cant seem to do that, can you help? Thank you

Posted by:

wally rogers
03 Apr 2010


I want to copy my audio disk but do not want
the songs stored onto my computer's hard drive.

What way is best or what program is best?

Posted by:

14 May 2010

Here is a site CD Burning Software Review that contains 13 of the top software products for burning cd's. None of products on this site are free but the site is a good resource for product comparisons and reviews.

Posted by:

12 Dec 2010

I would like to rip AUDIO CLIPS only from DVDs. The purpose of this would be to make a playlist that would contain dialog clips from movies between audio tracks. This would then be burned to CD. Any suggestions?

Posted by:

29 Dec 2010

windows media player will not recognise that an Music/audio disk has been does recognise any standard cd.?

Posted by:

Larry Newhouse
01 Apr 2011

When I open a music CD to view it content all I see are tracks. Who do I see the title and artist.

Posted by:

07 Apr 2012

I download cd audio books onto my computer via itunes. I purchased a new computer and now about 50% of the time the last 2 tracks dont download or may take 40-60 minutes to download. I'm thinking its my new cd player on my computer but wasnt sure if there are some settings on my computer i am overlooking. Please help.

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