Basic ?s re ripping of CDs & pricing of MSD cards

  1. I’ve had a couple of prior-generation 2gb Clips for a while now, used almost exclusively for audiobooks. Just purchased an 8gb Clip+, intended for the transfer of my music CDs. I’m brand new to ripping, and want (for now, at least) to keep things as simple as possible. I’ve done six or eight so far, using WMP into MP3 at 192kbs. I expect I’ll be back looking for various kinds of help, but for now I’m asking if there are any fatal flaws in these ripping specs, or things I’ll be sorry about later, with respect to sound quality (which seems OK to me so far) and usage of disc space.

2.  As for disc space, I’ve begun trolling on-line for a 16gb MicroSD card and – although I’m hardly new to Internet gadget shopping – am a bit thrown by the wild range of pricing: e.g., Sandisk 16gb at anywhere from $25 or $30 (at Amazon,, and various Ebay vendors) to $40, $50, even $75 for what appears to be the same Class 2 card. I like the 25 better than the 75, so the question is: how afraid need I be of the low-ball prices? Are these fakes & forgeries? If so, do the forgeries work anyway, even if they’re not true-blue Sandisk? Would love to hear from a couple of you who have traveled this terrain before me.

Msny thanks.

On the card, there are counterfeits around that tell your computer they have lots of space but actually don’t. So if you really go bottom-feeding at places like eBay, you might get junk. and are pretty iffy too for other products, so personally I would not trust their cards. 

However, a card from or (good cheap electronics) should have some kind of guarantee and the seller has a reputation to protect, so you can shop by price as long as you avoid obvious sleazeballs.

You might as well get Sandisk; they make their own memory instead of buying it wholesale, like Kingston. 

Now on ripping, sit back.  First,192 kbps is very good although not fanatical sound quality. You could bump it up to 256 and then probably only your dog would hear the difference. 320 is probably overkill, especially since you’re using this as a little portable device, not feeding your $5000 speakers.

I assume these would just be portable copies of the CDs, not your only copy of the music. If you are archiving music onto a hard drive and planning to discard originals, then you should use a lossless format (.flac, Free Lossless Audio Codec).

And WMP will be fine if you want to keep using it.  It makes the ID3v2.3 ISO-8859-1 tags that Sansas prefer. (Different rippers default to different versions of tags.) But it’s one step short of ideal. 

In fact, ripping is a Hobson’s choice: You can get better sound quality, but it comes with worse tags.


The annoyance is that WMP has its own mp3 encoder that is inferior to the best mp3 encoder, LAME. (A corporate paranoid might think that WMP wants you to believe its own .wma sounds better than mp3…but anyway…)

Sound quality sticklers prefer LAME rippers such as Media Monkey. You can get the free version at and then replace MM’s file lame_enc.dll, which is only a trial version, with the permanent one from LAME.

You need to unzip the LAME download, get lame_enc.dll out of the folder, and copy it into the Program Files/Media Monkey folder to replace MM’s lame_enc.dll. 

You also need to go into Media Monkey’s settings and make sure its default is ID3v2.3 ISO-8859-1. Sansas don’t really love ID3v2.4 tags yet, and anything under ID3v2.1 is usually ignored. 

OK, that gives you improved sound quality and Media Monkey’s nice music library interface.  But…when you rip albums you are also getting Artist, Album, Song Title information online. WMP gets its tags from the big corporate official CDDB database that they have to pay for.  MMonkey has the user-generated Freedb, which is generally good but not always current–a new release won’t have tags yet–and not always exactly correct. 

So for convenience, you’ll probaby want to just stay with WMP. If sound quality matters greatly to you, you might want to check out LAME and do some tweakage. 

Everybody’s ears and needs are different.  192 is a happy balance.  Many will tell you that it is unacceptable, while others will tell you that is fine.  Let your own ears be the judge.  For me, anything past FM quality is sufficient, while others will only use FLAC.  I would rather put more media on my unit than have pristine quality; but that is me.  There are a lot of audio snobs on the internet, so you have to take everything with a grain of salt.  All you have to please is your own ears.  If 192 sounds OK to you, go for it and enjoy the music.

And buying anything from other than a trusted retailer is risky at best.  Do yourself a favor and purchase from a retailer that has a liberal return policy, in case you have problems.

Message Edited by fungazi on 07-05-2010 06:03 PM

Despite what’s written above, I’ve found and to be reliable sources for products.  As with all sources, just know what you are purchasing.  For SD cards, I think that buying from a reliable source with a good return policy (in case of problems) is a good idea. 

As to bitrates, I experimented a fair amount before I started to rip files, and found, for my listening, 192 kbps VBR (variable bit rate–I set 320 kbps as the top rate) as a good sound/size compromise.  I like VBR as it seems to make sense:  increase the bit rate if/as needed. 

I agree–VBR is the way to go.

 About and, all you have to do is search for them in these forums to find the complaints. Some people have good luck with them, and as in all forums, there are far more complaints than in the general population, but still… the stories do add up.  

The only complaints I have seen with is with refurb. Clips (which personally, I would not get).  But certainly, neither nor is a place to go to if you might need customer service (and, in fact, it is virtually non-existent at woot).