Paranoia may cause Irritability

I have a decently-sized music collection, most of which is on CD; I prefer owning the rights to a physical copy over downloading, or God forbid – streaming!,  wherever possible.  I also prefer using Linux over Windows wherever possible. So, despite CDs being nearly obsolete, I find myself going back and ripping disks from time to time – and having a slow time of it on my desktop.

Most of the Linux CD ripping software out there uses the cdparanoia software as a backend – and unfortunately many of these pieces of software have received a bad rap as extremely slow to rip a CD. For some larger disks, I have seen upwards of 30 minutes to rip to Mp3 – hardly acceptable if you have a large number of disks to digitize. I remember a few years ago someone telling me that this specific issue was the main reason he switched his primary rig back to Windows (from Fedora) – Linux was simply “too slow” at ripping his disks.

For my own needs I use ‘Audex’, which also has a cdparanoia backend, and I too noticed slow ripping speeds. I fiddled with turning off ‘Full Paranoia’ mode, where the CD tracks are read twice to prevent errors in the audio. This seemed to do the trick, and my CDs where being ripped in record time on my wee Acer c720 laptop. I did an (admittedly unscientific) timing test with the 10-track CD Introducing Elvis, using a Samsung USB CD drive:

Paranoid Mode Off – 6 mins 22 sec
Paranoid Mode On – 12 mins 36 sec

Quite a large difference! Paranoid mode is not needed for all CD rips anyway; its use diminishes largely on pristine disks with no scratches to impede reading. Paranoid mode’s real usage is for badly scratch disks. Optical disks can actually deliver bad data when scratched, when the drive fails to catch or correct bad reads, and this is where audio rips can get distorted.

It’s my recommendation that if you have a large CD collection you want to rip, or if your CDs are essentially scratch-free, disable paranoid mode in your ripping software. When you do pop in a scratched CD, all you need to do is re-enable paranoid mode for that single CD. Alternatively, if you’ve got to absolutely ensure audiofile-quality rips to FLACC or WAV, paranoid mode might be for you too.

Happy listening!

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