a decent start...Now that all the shelfspace in my room has been converted to house DVDs (228 discs at the last count, with Big Fish arriving this morning) I’ve undertaken the mammoth task of transfering my CD collection on my laptop so that I can box the old ones away. I’ve made a fairly decent start so far, although there’s still a whole boxful to get through. Musicmatch Jukebox reliably informs me that I already have over 210 hours of music on here…

Most irritating at the moment are the several discs with copy protection that prevent me from ripping them to the computer. Instead I have to hunt those songs down on the P2P networks and download them from (probably illegal) sources. When the free illegal version of the product is better than the version I paid for as an honest customer, goodwill towards record companies vanishes very swiftly. Although I was well aware of it before, having suffered now I’ll certainly think twice before ever handing over cash for a product that’s crippled with copy protection or DRM.

...but a whole boxful leftAlthough when MP3 first emerged as a format people felt that 128bps was more than enough for decent sound quality, views have changed. As harddisk sizes increased, the need for such high compression alleviated slightly so that 192bps became the “decent sound quality” benchmark. When downloading files now though, I’ve found people ripping entire songs at 256bps or even 320bps which for a fixed rate file is ridiculous.

I now encode files in VBR, or Variable Bit Rate, and would urge everyone else to as well. Encoding an entire file at 320bps wastes vasts amounts of space because it samples silence just as highly as complex musical sections. VBR uses an intelligent algorithm to adjust the bitrate depending on the intricacy of the passage (for more info with pictures read JT & HZ’s article with its “Dear world, STOP being afraid to use VBR” message). Audiograbber with the LAME codec makes this easy and extremely fast. Just set the encoding type to VBR and set the sliding scale to “3” and you’ll come out with a great sounding file without the bloated size. Please, it makes it so much easier for me to download that way!