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Published on 05.01.07 by Brent Trahan

Rip a CD in Windows Media Player

Learn how to copy (or rip) a CD to your computer in Windows Media Player.


This guide explains how to rip (or copy) a CD to your computer using Windows Media Player.

Which Format and Compression

When you rip a CD to your computer Windows Media Player compresses the music into a much smaller format. If you didn’t compress a CD it would take up about 700MB per CD!

When you compress music your computer removes sound humans usually don’t hear from the music. Removing this extra information from the music reduces the file size.

In each format you can set the amount of compression (or quality) of the music you’re ripping. The higher the compression the more detail is removed from the music. Ripping music at 48Kbps will only take up about 22MB per CD but the quality will not be that good. Ripping a CD at 320Kbps will take about 144MB per CD but the audio quality will be near perfect to a human ear. You have to decide if quality or size is important when ripping your CDs. Try ripping your favorite CD in a few different formats and varying compressions to see what you like best.

Windows Media Player can rip CDs in a variety of formats. Below is a list of each format and a little about them.

  • Windows Media Audio: The default and my choice format for ripping music in WMP. You can rip from as low as 48Kbps to 192Kbps. If you want to rip at 320Kbps in WMA format check out this guide. Ratings, album art, lyrics, and much more can be embedded inside these files also.
  • Windows Media Audio Pro: I’m not clear on exactly what is special about this format. All I know is its new and meant for devices with limited storage.
  • Windows Media Audio (Variable bit rate): This format’s bit rate constantly changes based on the frequencies of the song. It’s good for good quality sound at a high compression. Each CD will be around 40MB.
  • Windows Media Audio (Lossless): This is Microsoft’s (mathematically) lossless though still compressed version of WMA. It’s theoretically near perfect. Each CD will be around 400MB.
  • MP3: The original compressed audio format and universally used on most devices. Its compression can be from 128Kbps to 320Kbps.
  • WAV (Lossless): Ripping in WAV format is like making an exact copy of the CD to your computer. It’s uncompressed and takes around 700MB per CD.

Set the Format and Compression

  1. Open Windows Media Player.
  2. Right-click to the left of Now Playing, point to Tools, and then click Options.
  3. Select the Rip Music tab.
  4. Choose the format you want to rip the CDs in by selecting it from the drop down box under Format.


  5. Choose the compression (or quality) by sliding the Audio Quality setting left or right.

These settings are used from now on when ripping CDs. You can change them at any time.

Rip a CD

  1. Open Windows Media Player.
  2. Click the Rip tab located at the top.
  3. Insert the CD you want to rip.
  4. Check every song you want to rip from that CD. By default every song is automatically checked for you.
  5. Click the Start Rip button on the lower right corner of Windows Media Player to start the rip.

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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