Thanks for your question.
1. Choosing the correct audio format.
The audio format that I suggest you use is the widely popular MP3
format. For these reasons:
- The MP3 audio format can compress CD-quality audio by a factor of
aprox. 1:10, while still being able to reproduce most of the original
fidelity. For example, a 25MB CD track is turned into a 2.5MB MP3
file. Or a complete Audio CD, 650MB in size will be converted into
65MB MP3 sized file/s.
- MP3 is a widely accepted format. All computers can play the MP3
format. Mostly all the home DVD players manufactured in the last 3
years can play the MP3 format (on CD media).
- The ability to decide what Bit Rate you want your original CDs to be
converted into. 128 Kbps (kilobits per second) is considered a good
quality, for both hi-fidelity and good compression ratio. But you may
decide your converted CDs sound good enough at 92kbps. Others may not
sound good at all unless you set your Bit Rate to 192kbps. Popular
Bit Rate sizes are 92, 96, 128, 192, 256 and 320 Kbps
- No copyright protection issues to deal with when you convert your
legally owned CD collection to MP3 format.
The one downside of the MP3 format is that is was developed in 1987 by
the Fraunhofer Institute and it requires a license. In other words -
it is not free to use the MP3 format. Software companies encorporating
MP3 codecs in their software need to pay royalty fees to the
Fraunhofer Institute and so - these companies are hard pressed to
'give away' any free software. More on that implication later on.
2. Choosing the correct media type.
Since you want to convert/compress your large collection of audio
music CDs to a smaller audio format and you are also interested in
being able to play them back at home on your computer (maybe also on
your living room DVD player) and in your car you have to make a
Your computer and most likely also your living room DVD player will be
able to handle CD media containing MP3 files, your computer will
recognize DVD (need a DVD drive) & CD media - your car is the problem.
Do you have a car stereo that recognizes the MP3 format?
Crutchfield.com have an excellent guide. I quote from their site:
"File Format Support: It's important to make sure the stereo will mesh
well with your digital music library and the media player you use to
encode and organize your music. Not only do you want to make sure that
the stereo will support the format(s) you use to encode your music,
but that your stereo can display the artist, album, and song
information embedded in the files. Digital music formats are changing
all the time, so it can be challenging to pick just one format to use
for all your songs. The best practice is to be sure you're using an
up-to-date digital media player that allows you to convert files into
MP3 and WMA formats and to edit ID3 tag information."
4. Decision time.
- If your car stereo is compatible with the MP3 format AND you want to
play your music collection in MP3 format in your car you must choose
CD media type.
- If your car is NOT compatible with the MP3 format AND you want to
play your music collection in MP3 format in your car you must purchase
a car stereo that is compatible with the MP3 format. And then use CD
- If you are willing to compromise about playing back MP3 files in
your car - then I most highly reccomend using DVD media. This way you
can have roughly 60-70 Complete audio CDs in MP3 format on 1 DVD disc.
Or in other words if an audio CD contains 12 tracks on average. A DVD
can contain 720 - 840 MP3 tracks or songs.
_ If you MUST play back DVD media containing MP3 files in your car
then you will be VERY hard pressed in finding a car stereo that plays
back DVD media containing MP3 files. Most DVD car stereos require MP3
files to be burned onto CD-R or CD-RW discs.
So - you have to decide what you most want at this point in time.
Regardless of which media type you choose - burning the MP3 files is
the same method for all media types.
Now we need to look at some available software.
Free CD ripping software, that will convert audio CDs to MP3 format:
- Various http://www.mp3-converter.com/mp3_converter_freeware.htm
- Windows MediaPlayer http://www.iamnotageek.com/a/77-p1.php
- Audiograbber http://www.audiograbber.com-us.net/
Commercial all-in-one software packages that will Rip and Burn to your media:
- My all time favorite, Nero: http://www.nero.com/eng/Products.html
- Roxio's Easy Media Creator: http://www.roxio.com/en/products/index.jhtml
Keep in mind that many 'freeware' software may include spyware, adware
or worse... (Remember the Fraunhofer Institute licensing fees?). if
you want to be on the safe side go with a well known commercial
product - even if it costs a few 10's of dollars.
6. Identifying MP3 songs when connected to the internet.
My favorite media players for MP3's are Winamp
(http://www.winamp.com/) or Windows MediaPlayer
Either one of them automatically (you may need to perform a one-time
enable in the player's options for this) will check with an online
database and display the MP3 file's information,stored in the MP3
file's ID3 tag. (ID3 is a tagging format for MP3 files - and other
various audio formats. It allows meta-data such as the title, artist,
album, track number, etc. to be added to the MP3 file).
Many other players are available on the web. For an example list:
7. Finding lyrics for your song.
Just browse to any one of these sites:
Winamp even has plugins that display the lyrics to the song you're listening to:
8. "Also, is there are way to identify MP3's that have not been converted
along with the necessary information that is used to know which song
Hmm.. I'm not sure what you mean? All MP3 files have been converted
from some lossless source. No recording artist uses MP3 format as the
official release or master recording.
- It goes without saying that you own or have access to a DVD or CD burner.
- When I say "CD media" I am referring to CD-R and CD-RW. You must
check what your stereo equipment supports.
- When I say "DVD-media": I am referring to DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R,
DVD-RW. You must check what your stereo equipment supports.
- I am not going into details of the various electronic adapters
available to bypass this or that restrictions with your stereo
equipment - that warrants an entire new question/answer.
- Also I do not mention DVD-Audio format: Few car DVD player/receivers
are currently capable of DVD-Audio playback, although most DVD-Audio
discs also carry Dolby Digital or stereo soundtracks for playback on
DVD players that lack DVD-Audio decoders.
- Most Burning & ripping software have 'Wizards' to easily guide you
through the process. I will be very happy to help out on any specifc
package you choose to go with.