I have a CD that I wish to copy out the songs on and listen to them in an MP3 format, however, the files on the CD are in a .cda format.

I searched up several converters but there were so many programs available that I don't know which to trust. I have also heard that in order to convert the files, the program must go through a process called "ripping". I'm not sure what this does to the CD, neither does it sound like a good thing. Can anyone explain what this ripping does and possible make some recommendations for converting .cda files to .mp3?

It should run on Windows, and not cost over $20.

  • To let you rest easy, music CD's are read-only. Despite the harshness of the term "ripping", it has zero effect on the actual music CD. Apr 13, 2016 at 7:52
  • 1
    @RockPaperLizard, thanks, that's a big relief
    – Xylius
    Apr 13, 2016 at 8:18
  • Note that copying the CDA file for later ripping is not enough. The CDA file does not contain the music. It just defines the position on the CD where the music starts. Apr 25, 2016 at 22:00
  • Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll choose Moab's answer as it only requires one program, and is more comprehensive.
    – Xylius
    Apr 25, 2016 at 23:10

4 Answers 4


I have been using CDEX for many years, safe and sane software. Free also.


After install run cdex and go to settings

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Then Directories and files, set the output directory to what you want, this is where you will find the mp3's after conversion. Set the filename format as shown.

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Then go to CD drive settings and set it as shown

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Now go to Encoders, set it as shown, at least these are the settings I prefer for higher quality MP3's.

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Now go to CD DataBase>Local freedb, these settings will create a local database of your cd's you rip so you will not have to search for the song names in the internet database again for any CD'S you idnetify using cdex/

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Now go to Remote freedb and configure it as shown, you have to enter an email address of the freedb function will not work, it can be any email address you make up.

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OK settings are done and should not have to changed again, you can save the settings to a profile, on the main screen there is a floppy icon, click it when settings are done and choose a name and save it, this way you can have multiple settings if you wish.

With the CD in the drive cdex should populate the lower screen, when it does click CDDB from the toolbar and select Read Remote Freedb, this will query a music database and identify the CD and label the songs for you. Check the names, you can correct any you wish, I see one typo in my screen shot Goog should be Good in the first song.

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Once this is done, all the songs should be selected, if not select all of them press the second button down on the right hand side to rip and encode the songs to MP3's on the fly.

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When done go to your output folder you configured earlier to find your music, here is what the folder structure looks like if you configured the filename format as suggested.

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If you want a dash - (or any other character) between the track number and song name configure filename format as:



Exact Audio Copy (EAC) is my favorite CD ripping software. It works on Windows and is free.

It supports ripping to WAV format out of the box. To convert to MP3 format, you need LAME. Install that first, if possible. It will then be detected by EAC.

As you've obviously never done this before, you may want to start in simple mode. Once you know more about it, you can turn on Expert mode to get more out of the software.


I want to begin saying that, personally, I always thought Exact Audio Copy (EAC) is a bit too complex for the novices or average users. In the past I used to use Audiograbber it did quite good job for me but, just like EAC, required the user to separately download and add LAME mp3 encoding library so, even if menus/options were more comfortable than EAC, it was maybe still not indicated for the "average user". Anyway it's last release (1.83) was like ages ago (at least a decade now) so I consider it out of the game so far...

What I think could be a good choice nowadays is fre:ac (free audio converter).

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fre:ac is a free (as the name says) open source audio converter and CD ripper, it's easy to learn and use, and still offers expert options when you need them.

It is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and FreeBSD / PC-BSD OSes.

It support all main audio formats and encoders, both lossy (like MP3 and OGG) and lossless ones (like WAV and FLAC) with no need to install them on your part.

It supports CDDB/freedb online CD database. It will automatically query song information and write it to ID3v2 or other title information tags.


I already posted an answer suggesting fre:ac but there's another software I'd like to suggest here: CUETools's CUERipper, an utility for extracting digital audio from CDs.

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Just like fre:ac, CUERipper is an open-source alternative to EAC available for MS Windows OS (requires Microsoft .NET Framework and Visual C++ runtime).

It is even easier than fre:ac to use (everything is practically on a single window) and it supports even some more audio formats/encoders just out of the box.

It supports MusicBrainz and freeDB metadata databases, AccurateRip and CTDB.

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