Exact Audio Copy

This article was modified on 2012-10-05 15:48:41

This is a quick introduction to Exact Audio Copy. It covers five areas:
(1) A quick review
(2) How to install Exact Audio Copy (setup guide)
(3) How to configure Exact Audio Copy.
(4) How to add LAME encoder to EAC.
(5) How to grab audio files (WAV) from a CD and convert them to MP3 format.
Because of size of this article (34 screenshots) I can't say that this is a user’s guide. You can consider this a short tutorial of EAC or better said an introduction without a complete review of his features. Finally, you decide over which section you're interested. I have added numbers and highlighted each section. Also, inside this article I will use EAC as a shortcut for the name of this program - Exact Audio Copy.
(1) A quick review
EAC (shortcut to Exact Audio Copy) is a free audio grabber (for personal use - not commercial) or better said a CD/DVD ripping program for Microsoft Windows. It was created back in 1998 by Andre Wiethoff and since then he released new and improved versions. EAC can convert tracks from standard CDs to other formats. In this article, I converted a couple of tracks from a CD in WAV format directly to MP3. However, you can use it for many others too such as AAC, Ogg Vorbis or even for losless formats (FLAC, ALAC and others with the proper external encoders). The main difference between EAC and other similar tools is the high accuracy when it comes down to rip/grabb content from damaged CDs or DVDs. An example was given in this article (see section 5). When EAC encounters a section of a CD that cannot be ripped due to physical damage, it allows you to skip that portion and jump to the other one. It has his own technology such as multi-reading verification and AccurateRip that does a great job, surpassing many commercial alternatives.
(2) How to install Exact Audio Copy (setup guide).
If you're looking for an Exact Audio Copy setup guide, this part should help you. Please note that adding a Lame encoder is also related to this setup but I have gave it a different name. The following installation is on a PC running Windows 7 Ultimate. First, you need to download Exact Audio Copy from official website. Once you have the setup file, open it. The first window will prompt you with this message: "This wizard will guide you through installation of Exact Audio Copy version X."
Exact Audio Copy Setup Wizard
The second window is with another standard message about the usage terms: "Please review the license terms before installing Exact Audio Copy version nr X." Make sure that you read those terms and hit "I Agree".
EAC License Agreement
Select the installation folder. By default, the setup wizard will install the application in "Program Files" and it will create a folder named "Exact Audio Copy". You can choose a different folder if you wish but I recommend you to leave the default setup as it is unless you have a good reason to change it. Click "Next" to continue.
Choose Install Folder
Choose a Start Menu folder for the Exact Audio Copy version shortcuts. Again, unless you have a good reason to change this, leave it as it is. Choose "Next" to continue.
Choose Start menu folder
Choose which features of Exact Audio Copy you want to install. The standard installation will automatically install freedb, GD3 Metadata Plugin plus CDRDAO, FLAC, AccurateRip except CTDB Plugin. I recommend you to leave them as they are, do not customize this and choose "Install".
Select components to install
If you can see the following window "Completing the Exact Audio Copy Setup Wizard" it means the program was installed successfully but there's still the configuration part. Choose "Finish" and let the "Run Exact Audio Copy" option checked.
Close Wizard
Right-after you will see the main program interface behind a small pop-up window. Don't think about it yet, there are still several steps to complete and in the end you will be able to use the program. The first pop-up window will come up with this message "The test version of the GD3 metadata provider was installed with EAC. Do you want to use the 10 album lookups test version as the current metadata provider?" You can choose "Yes". That's were the setup, installation has ended. You can cancel this wizard at any time, and no changes will take effect. However, if you do this you will need to manually configure the options. I recommend you to move on.
Information window for metadata provider
(3) How to configure Exact Audio Copy.
As I said, that's the second part of the setup. From this part you can configure your CD readers preferences such as: secure extractions (slower) or unverified (faster). All necessary options needed for installing your drives and compressors can be set up according to your preferences. After we finish the configuration part we will move on to setup of external compressors and we will cover LAME extraction and use with this application. Choose "Next" to continue with the wizard.
EAC configuration setup wizard
In this step, EAC will detect what optical unit you use (CD or DVD). If you have more than one, it will detect them. In this screenshot, you can see that it detected the only one from my laptop.
CD-ROM Selection
EAC configure detected drive. In this image, it will configure my optical drive detected on my laptop. There is also an important message regarding several modes that EAC will provide. You can choose speed or accuracy. Please keep in mind that error detection and correction with verified results are available only for accurate secure mode. In this example I chosen accurate results.
Configure CD drive
This program has his own driver database and my drive was found there. He automatically selected the configuration data for this drive. You can see the drive and the following values. Again, I let the default mode: "Use these values to configure this drive".
Feature database
Theoretically, the configuration is now ready but there are several messages that you should read. One will display important information about compress formats and the other one will allow you to select between four compression schemes. Once again, it will display the drives that EAC automatically selected. I have only one, if you have more than one you will probably see all of them.
Drive rating
You might be tempted to hit the "Next" button but please don't rush. The following window is an "Encoder Introduction" and you should read the entire information. The author (developer of EAC - Andre Wiethoff) was kind enough to take the time to explain what is all about, so please make sure that you read this, it's important so that you can take advantage of EAC features:
Important: Depending on your needs you can either extract the CD tracks completely uncompressed into so-called WAV files, which need around 10 MB/minute storage space. Or you can compress the tracks e.g. to the well known MP3 files for your portable music player (around 1.5 MB /minute). For that, EAC can use various externally provided encoders, e.g. MP3, WMA, Ogg Vorbis are so called lossy formats, they can bring down the file size to small amounts, but there is some loss in sound quality included in this process. Other compression formats like e.g. FLAC, WMA Lossless, Monkeys Audio or Shorten have no loss in audio quality, but usually use up to around 6 MB /minute storage space. They are often used to store CDs on hard disk drives for archival purposes, as they allow bit-correct reproduction of a CD, even though they reduce the size of the file to around half the size of an uncompressed WAV file. In the next step you can select between the four most often used compression schemes: MP3 and WMA (for lossy compression) and FLAC and WMA Lossless (for lossless compression). Of course you are additionally able to extract to uncompressed WAV, this does not depend on the selected compression scheme. Also you can choose a different encoder manually in the compression options.
Encoder Introduction
As I said a little earlier, EAC will allow you to choose between several compression schemes. To be more specific, there are 4 schemes. If you need to transfer CDs to music that can be copied on an audio player, probably MP3 is the best choice. If you intend to create an archive with your CDs without loosing their quality choose FLAC or WMA Lossless. The difference between them is smaller size and poor quality vs. bigger size and same quality from CDs. The following window will allow you to choose the desired scheme. I have opted for MP3 (first scheme) but you can choose another one if you wish or configure this later manually (advanced users only - not covered in this article).
Encoder selection
To understand better what is all about, the EAC configuration guide ends here and returns in the next section, especially in the end. To keep things simple, I have separated this part from the next. The entire article has a continuous flow that starts with the setup kit and ends with extraction of audio files from a CD in wanted format.
Make sure that you read this information before you continue:
To compress audio files to the MP3 format, an MP3 encoder program is needed. Due to licensing and patent issues, it is not possible to include such a MP3 encoder in the EAC installer package. One of such a MP3 encoder program is called LAME, which is freely available on the internet. Please note that the algorithms behind MP3 might be patented in your country, which would make it necessary to obtain a license for such a MP3 encoder (see http://mp3licensing.com].
Note: The LAME executable can be downloaded from various sites, e.g. try the webpage mentioned below. For this configuration wizard it is assumed that you use at least the stable version of 3.90 of LAME, or any newer version. Download the file now and install it on your computer, if you haven't already done this. If the LAME download is just a ZIP archive, open it and copy all files into same directory where you did install EAC.
http: //www. rarewares. org/
Please note that I distance myself from the content of the pages I list here. The content may be illegal or contain patented algorithms depending on the country you live in.
Lame Download advice
(4) How to add LAME encoder to EAC.
If you read all the information, you already know what is all about with LAME MP3 encoder and why do you need it. The main issue is that if you decide to download LAME from original website you have to compile the encoder to be able to use it. It's not an easy task. Fortunately, the developer gave an address of a website that contains the compiled version. It's not necessary to download compiled LAME from RAREWARES here. You can use any other clean and trusted website, just make sure that those files are not infected with malware. In this example I downloaded LAME from RareWares website. Look for LAME and see where it says "Bundle compiled with". I have made a small screenshot with that area.
Download Lame compiled
The compiled version will usually come in an archive. From this website I have obtained an archive in .zip format. It looks like this and you need to extract his contents inside a folder.
Lame archive
I repeated the same message but I wanted to make sure that you don't forget to extract the content of that archive. In this example, I have extracted all files and it made a folder with the same name.
Extract Lame Archive
The folder name was "lame-3.99.5", where numbers represents the version of the program. What I just did was to rename the folder from "lame-3.99.5" to "Lame". Last, I copied folder "Lame" to the folder where I installed Exact Audio Copy. I used my mouse: Copy and Paste. The following image explains the same thing.
Copy Lame encoder inside EAC
Back to main wizard window (were still at configuration but it's about integrating Lame inside EAC), there is a small window that will automatically search for LAME.EXE. Unless you already installed a version of Lame encoder choose "Cancel" so we can manually select it.
Automatic search for Lame.exe file
There are several instructions provided in the following window. However, since you already downloaded, extracted and copied the folder that contains a compiled version of LAME click "Browse" button.
Lame configuration
Go to the folder where you installed EAC (usually on C: partition, Program Files folder and select - Exact Audio Copy). Go to "Lame" folder - the one that you just copied before after extraction and inside, located and open "Lame.exe".
Lame.exe file
If you selected "Lame.exe" you should see the same window (Lame Configuration). Choose "Next" to continue. That was all about adding Lame encoder to EAC, the following windows are not that important.
Lame.exe added to EAC
This application allows you to setup freedb access, an Internet service providing album info for CD and track names. EAC will automatically retrieve this information for inserted CD. I didn't needed this feature so I moved on.
freedb configuration
You can select a naming scheme from the following list. This window has a better explanation for this process. I was not interested in this feature so I let the default value: "Leave naming scheme unchanged".
Select naming scheme
If you see the following window, the entire configuration is ready (including LAME encoder). You can also choose between two modes: beginner and expert. I recommend you to select beginner and you can switch later to expert.
EAC beginner configuration selected
(5) How to grab audio files (WAV) from a CD and convert them to MP3 format.
I am not sure the title of this section is perfect. However, considering the features that I have selected (all of them were by default) that's what I am going to do. Right-after the configuration setup wizard will end, you should be able to see the main program interface:
Exact Audio Copy
I didn't take a picture with how I took a CD that contains several songs (in WAV format) and how I inserted that in my CD/DVD-ROM unit. That's exactly what I did while EAC interface was open. Right-after, all the tracks appeared inside program interface (I resized the main window for a smaller screenshot).
That's how you can grab or rip the content of a CD (tracks) on your computer with Exact Audio Copy. I went to "Copy Selected Tracks" and choose "Compressed".
Copy tracks in compressed mode
The program asked for a folder on my computer. I went to a folder that I just created. You can create your own folder anywhere on your PC. I have chosen one from my Desktop.
Browse for folder
Once I did this, EAC started to extract audio data. It took every track from my CD, copied, compressed each track and save it in the folder that I previously selected. When I wrote this tutorial I met such a track but I didn't made a screenshot with it. For more information on what to do when this happens read the following note.
Note: If there's a damaged portion on your CD and a track can't be copied, choose "Skip Track" and it will jump over that damaged track. You can usually tell this when you can read "Error" inside that log files, the program doesn't move on and the time is increasing instead of decreasing.
Extracting Audio Data
When the entire audio extraction will end, you should see that time shows 0:00:00, total progress is up to 100% and there's a message that says "Audio Extraction Complete".
Audio Extraction complete
When you hit "OK" button, a new window will open with the status and error messages. From here you can "Create a log" or just hit once again the "OK" button. That's it, the entire process has finished and you should check extracted files.
Status and error messages
As a double confirmation, you can check the folder that contains the tracks now compressed in a different format. As you can see in this example, they were converted to MP3 format. The track 10 had an error, I chosed to skip that track and that's why it's in original format (WAV).
Extracted tracks in MP3 format
This was a basic tutorial for beginners. It assumes you never used this or a similar program before. Exact Audio Copy is one of the best audio tools from CD ripper category with many other features. For more resources I recommend you to read the general questions category FAQ or access his forum.

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