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Converting CD Tracks to WAV, MP3 and WMA using Windows Media Player

Convert CD tracks to WMA, MP3 and WAV files using Windows' built-in Media Player.


In this tutorial, we'll show you how you can convert audio CD tracks to WAV, MP3, and WMA files using nothing apart from the free copy of Windows Media Player that's included with every copy of Windows XP and Vista.

There are several versions of Windows Media Player available, and the most common these days are versions 9, 10, and 11. Unless you have a reason for not doing so, we strongly encourage you to upgrade to the latest version of Windows Media Player. This tutorial is based on Windows Media Player 11.

  1. Launch Windows Media Player by clicking its shortcut in the Windows Start Menu.
  2. If you cannot see the menu bar in Windows Media Player, hover over the top area of the interface to access the menu bar. Now choose Tools | Options to bring up the Options dialog box that you can see in Figure 1.
  3. Choose the ripping format
    Figure 1: Choose the ripping format
  4. Select the Rip Music tab (refer to Figure 1 above). Here, you will find all the relevant options.
  5. Click the Change button to bring up a familiar dialog box that allows you to select an output folder.
  6. Click the Format dropdown list to choose from either WAV, MP3 or Windows Media Audio (WMA) formats. You can also drag the Audio quality slider to balance between smaller file size and higher sound quality, as required.
  7. Click on OK to apply these changes and get back to your Windows Media Player. These are your default settings and Windows Media Player will remember them the next time you want to rip (convert) CD audio tracks.
  8. The next time you place an audio CD in your CD (or optical) drive, you'll be presented with the dialog box that you can see in Figure 2.
  9. One click to rip nirvana!
    Figure 2: One click to rip nirvana!
  10. Just choose the Rip music from CD option to automatically convert all your tracks to the selected output format in the selected folder.
  11. Even if you don't see this dialog box, just launch Windows Media Player, make sure that the CD tracks are visible, and click the prominent Rip Music icon/button.

Ripping is a time-consuming process. It might help if you leave your computer unattended for a while.

Note for users of older versions of Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player 9 can only output to WMA -- if you have Microsoft Plus!, an ad-on to Windows XP installed, then you will also be able to rip to the MP3 format. Also, the Rip Music tab explained in the tutorial above is called the Copy Music tab in Windows Media Player 9.

Windows Media Player 10 works in the same way as Windows Media Player 11.

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