The Best Way, Other Than iTunes, to Rip CDs to the AAC File Format

Breeze_23 asks:

What is a great program that rips your Compact Discs (CDs) into Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) files instead of the MP3 files? I know iTunes can do this, but I’d rather not use iTunes if that’s possible.

FFmpeg is the Best Way, Other Than iTunes, to Rip Cds to the AAC File FormatHave you ever heard the saying “There’s more than one way to skin a cat?” As with converting a feline’s coat into a handbag — an action which I do not condone in any way — converting your CDs into AAC files can be accomplished in a variety of ways. As you already mentioned, iTunes is the most common way, since the Apple application popularized the file format more than any other application. And to be perfectly honest with you, as much as I gripe about the iTunes application’s faults, I still find it to be the easiest program to use to rip a CD to the AAC file format. That said, I’ll show you how to rip to AAC using another method.

Since you didn’t mention which platform you’ll be working on, I’ll offer a solution that is cross-platform. It just so happens that this method is also the best alternative method to iTunes for ripping to AAC, regardless of it being cross-platform. There is a free software program called FFmpeg. Now, if you’ve never used a command line interface (CLI) before, using FFmpeg for the first time may seem a fairly daunting task (and you’ll understand right away why it’s so much easier to simply continue using iTunes to rip CDs to AAC). But there are some ways to make FFmpeg more familiar for those of us who prefer to use a graphical user interface (GUI). Since FFmpeg is an open source project, there are a great number of projects that will place a “face” on FFmpeg to make it easier to use. Just take a look this list of FFmpeg-based projects.

Usually, all you have to do is install one of these applications, and it’ll be obvious enough how to rip your CD to AAC. Honestly, though, if you really want to make it easiest on yourself, learn how to use the command line version or stick to iTunes for ripping your CDs to AAC files. If there’s enough interest in a tutorial on how to use FFmpeg, I’ll be perfectly happy to rip one out for you (pun intended). Once you learn how to use even one program on the command line, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment — plus, you’ll be using far less of your computer’s resources than you will opening the bloated monstrosity that is the iTunes application. (Sorry, Apple, but it’s the truth.)

Would anyone like to see a tutorial on how to use FFmpeg? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image from Wikimedia Commons

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.