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R. G.,

R. G. Newbury wrote:
I'm also looking for comments on the relative advantages of ripping to mp3 versus wav files and the 'best' software to play those files back from the harddrive.
It depends what you're after.  Are you looking for 100%/perfect quality 
copies of the audio on your CDs, or is a "very close" version good 
enough?  WAV files are almost never used anymore as a storage format. 
The files are huge compared to other formats available.  Consider using 
one of the following formats.  Which you choose in the end depends on 
your needs.  I've provided a very brief description on some common 
formats that are not 100% accurate, but close enough:
- the FLAC audio format provides exactly the same quality (lossless) as 
the WAV format but are only a fraction of the size.  Compatibility with 
audio applications is medium to low...but for lossless compression, it's 
worth it over WAV.
- the MP3 audio format provides a very close (but lossy) version of your 
audio.  Filesize tends to be a fair bit smaller than FLAC (maybe half 
the size with default 128k settings).  MP3 support does not work out of 
the box with Fedora due to certain patent/licensing restrictions.  MP3s 
are very compatible with portable devices and audio application on other 
operating systems (iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc).
- the OGG Vorbis audio format provides a very close (but lossy) version 
of your audio.  Some people argue that it's a little better quality than 
MP3, but they're close enough for most people.  Filesizes tend to be 
slightly smaller or about the same as MP3.  The big difference between 
the two is the OGG vorbis support is much better under Linux because it 
doesn't have any patent/licensing problems.  However, portable devices 
and audio players under other operating systems are not very compatible. 
 You'd probably need to download a special audio player or codec under 
Windows to play them for example.

Daniel Hedlund
[email protected]

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