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Ripping Music from a CD with Zune

The Zune desktop player wouldn't be a true, top-flight player if it couldn't rip CDs — it kind of goes with the territory. The Zune software uses WMA (Windows Media Audio) file compression as the default format to store your music — which makes ripping pretty easy.

To rip some music off a CD, just follow these steps:

1. Connect your computer to the Internet, if it's not already connected.

If you have an Internet connection, the Zune software can then download useful details, such as track names and album art, for the CD that you're ripping.

2. Insert the CD into the CD tray of your PC.

Your Zune auto-detects the CD, and an album screen appears.

3. To begin ripping the CD, click the Start Rip button in the lower-right of the window.

Zune begins to rip the CD.

In a few minutes, your music is copied to your library, and you can remove the CD from your PC. The next time you sync, the newly ripped songs get copied onto your Zune. Now you can enjoy your music anytime, whether it's on your Zune or your PC.

The default file format for ripped music is Windows Media Audio (WMA), but you can tweak the default setting in a couple of ways:

  • Windows Media Audio (WMA): WMA is the Zune default for a reason — it's actually quite good if you're looking for a good clear music format with decent compression. So, no complaints about the format, as such, but it's not quite as generic — and therefore not as universally accepted — as the MP3 format.
    The default compression for WMA in Zune is 128 bit compression, which is a trade off between space concerns and the quality of the playback. Some people are very sensitive to audio quality and insist on 192 bit compression, but others can't tell the difference between compression rates and appreciate the lower file sizes. At 128 bits per second, an average CD ripped by the Zune software to WMA comes in at about 56 megabytes, whereas it would be around 84 megabytes at 192 bits per second.
    Because the quality at 192 is so much better, it's usually best to use the highest bit rate possible, depending on how much space is on your PC.
  • Windows Media Audio Lossless: The Windows Media Audio Lossless format copies the music from your CD at full fidelity. This might make a good format if you're an audiophile and have a lot of extra disc space, but be aware that a CD ripped to WMA Lossless needs anywhere from 206 to 411 megabytes of storage space.
  • MP3: In the Zune software, the MP3 format is your final option for ripping your CDs. Default compression for the MP3 format is the same as for Windows Media Audio. The bit rate is 128 by default, and the total space that a CD takes up at this bit rate is around 57 megabytes.
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