Archiving your CD collection as FLAC

I used to make a physical copy of all the audio CDs I buy to CD-R. Then I’d only listen to the CD-R, in fear of breaking my original discs.

Maybe you think this is madness, but I do own CDs that I’ve been listening to every month since 1989. I don’t want them to break, since they are irreplaceable. Sure, newer versions of the same albums sometimes exist, but they are usually mastered in a very bad way to turn up the loudness to all hell, so all detail that was present in the music is gone. The original CDs from the 80s and early 90s don’t have this problem, they offer much more fidelity. If you’re interested in this crazy loudness competition between studios, it’s sometimes called the Loudness Wars.

But to make the long story short: Copying to CD-R is stupid and annoying, and lossless compressed formats such as FLAC have arrived. Also, terabytes of disk space are cheap. So now I can rip the CD to FLAC and stick it on my RAID NAS, which I backup from time to time. If I ever need a physical CD copy of the music, to play on my reasonable-quality CD player, for example, I can just burn from those FLAC files as they contain pristine versions of the audio. If you use a proper audio player, you can also listen to FLAC files directly on the go, and of course on your computer or network audio player. In case you need to save space or don’t need the quality, you can encode the FLAC to Ogg or MP3 and listen to that copy on the road. All much easier than with CD-R copies!

Here’s how easy it is to rip to FLAC in any decent Linux distribution, in this example using Sound Juicer:


One click, and it rips, encodes and copies to my NAS for safekeeping.

I still have to buy the original disc and have it shipped to me, but that’s okay, I like to have a physical thing from a band in my hands, something I can hide in my sad and sunless CD archive to preserve things until the fall of mankind.

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