To play your CDs through your PC, it's best to archive all your music to your hard disk. You also need a software to catalogue your music, you know, keep them organized.
There are many reasons why I love PC audio and this is one of them. Keeping things organized. You see, I'm a messy fella. Has always been like this. You could add "lazy" to describe me as well. And keeping things organized has never been my forte. So if I feel like showing off Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture blast some cannons on my Hedlund Horn, boy, I'll surely spend half a day searching for that darn disk. But with PC audio, those days are over!
When it comes to ripping CDs, apparently the favourite of many is Exact Audio Copy. Too bad there's no Mac version but since I'm partial towards most things Apple, my preference here is iTunes. (have no fret windoze lovers, there's an itunes version for windoze too) I use it to "rip" (archive on hard disk), categorize, and play all my music.
Err, it's best to have a separate hard disk (preferably external) just for music. You could always defrag this disk or run it with even quieter power supply, to satisfy the really-anal-in-you. I can't really say how much hard disk space you need but go as high as you are willing to spend. I bought a 160GB external hard disk (used up 90GB already) and hooked to my Mac via Firewire cable. You could use USB 2.0 as well.
Here's what my iTunes look like.
At present, it has 2292 songs in 173 albums.
I could organize them by Name, Play time, Artist, Album and Genre.
There's even a column at the right called "My Ratings" so I could organize by how I rate them as well.
Of course, there's more tabs you could add to sort by Composer, Year... say how many versions of Four Seasons you have and let's hear them one after another!
Ripping is easy. Just insert a CD and iTunes will access the Gracenotes CD database to check your CD. Here's what I got
Hey I didn't even have to type in anything! Yes! At time of writing, Gracenotes CD database has over 4 million albums so in the highly unlikely occasion where your CD can't be found, you can help everyone by adding details of your CD to this wonderful database. So far I have ripped over 170 CDs and Gracenotes detected all of them, regardless of English, Chinese, Japanese, Malay...
But before you rip, set which format you want the files ripped to. Under Preference ->> Advanced ->> Importing, choose whichever format you prefer. I use Apple Lossless format as the files are half the size of WAV files but with negligible loss of sonics. Actually some folks detected a bit of difference between the two but I haven't gone there yet. Perhaps some day I'll do a comparison.
And that's it! Once in iTunes, you can play, or convert to other formats (say MP3 to store on your MP3 player?) etc. You could create playlists as well (one to test bass from horn speakers, one to create the right mood for intimate moments...). Get the drift? It's so easy!
Some fussy folks comment that ripping many CDs take forever, but I didn't see it this way. Each time I want to listen to some music, I rip that particular CD. Over time, got hundreds done! But if you are truly lazy, some folks even offer a CD ripping service. Another business opportunity is created thanks to our lazy human nature!
Alright! Now all your music is just one click away! Search, sort, categorize, rank, label them... Do whatever you wish. Most importantly, have fun listening to music!
Just the other day, I set my Squeezebox to play all Led Zeppelin songs in my "music library". There are 13 CDs and over 100 songs. Led Zep Bonanza!