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If you’re coming from iTunes on a Mac or PC, you may be looking for some additional features that are only available in premium software tools. I personally wanted to have a choice of multiple target file formats – not just Apple Lossless. For instance, music playback software can deal much better with Flac or MP3 although I don’t use lossy formats for critical listening. It’s also a pain to deal with cover art. And then as an audiophile, you want to make sure your precious CDs get ripped with 100% accuracy.
Of course this can be accomplished for free with Exact Audio Copy on a Windows PC but it takes dozens of plugins, especially AccurateRip. I tried to install EAC using WINE which is a Windows emulator and was able to get it working on the Mac. However, the performance was sluggish and EAC tends to crash once in a while.
Fortunately, there’s an excellent alternative known as dbpoweramp which in my opinion not only rivals iTunes but also trumps EAC in certain ways. dbpoweramp has been around for over a decade because I heard about this in forums years ago. Somehow I never took a closer look until recently.
Here’s what the main window looks like on my Mac:
Essentially, it does everything I need such as extracting CDs, getting meta information from multiple sources, meta editing capabilities and it even extracts gorgeous cover art. What else could you ask for? I’m happy. Unfortunately, it’s not free and I paid about 39 Euros including VAT (your cost may differ depending where you live). I have my rips sent straight to my NAS for convenience. I will usually listen to new CDs first and then “archive” them that way.
dbpoweramp is also available for Windows but honestly – if I had a PC, I might have a hard time shelling out big money for a tool versus just getting EAC which is free.
Sound quality-wise I cannot tell the difference to my iTunes rips (haven’t done a full comparison of course), so dbpoweramp doesn’t add some magic, it just makes my life easier. Haven’t tried their DSP functions yet because I like to keep my digital data unchanged. What it does to do very well, however is its ability to deal with scratched CDs as it re-reads those bits until it has a reasonably accurate copy of your music. For example, dbpoweramp kind of rescued my badly scratched up copy of Harry James Big Band (a Sheffield Labs CD).
If you want to learn more about dbpoweramp, check them out at https://www.dbpoweramp.com/cd-ripper.htm. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, just my personal experience.