If someone is interested in archiving your audio CD collection in a really save manner to get rid of them after the encoding, or I should say transcoding process you might want to have a look at Neil Popham’s guide. Neil Popham, by the way, wrote some features for the APEv2 tagging tool wapet. His guide utilizes Windows batch scripts, adds tags and employs PAR2 for parity information. The later is needed to overcome seldom yet possible bit failures which would compromise an ape file. The ripping is done with EAC, the meanwhile well-known audio CD accurate ripping tool by Andre Wiethoff.
Using one single image file per CD has the benefit over multiple files to include, among others, audio information from before the first track, lead-in silence and TOC information. On the other hand, for audio library handling and daily playback where tagging plays a more important role, one file per track is much more comfy. That way all tags can be written directly to the audio file. This, however is resolutely limited with cue sheets. For example, with foobar2000 it’s transparent whether you have your playlist made up from an ape image with cue sheet or from multiple audio files with tags. It’s all the same with randomizing the list, seeking forward and backwards and the like. But once it comes to playback statistics or ReplayGain this will not be written to any file besides fb2k’s library database.
For my daily usage I copied the file MAC.exe (the actual encoder) from the Monkey’s Audio directory to foobar2000’s one and set up an encoding preset in it’s converter preferences using one of the following parameter taken from hydrogenaudio:
|-c1000||Fast / large file|
|-c3000||High / medium file|
|-c5000||Insane / small file|
Prefixed by the source and destination file variables %s %d. I mainly chose ape over flac because of ape’s flexible tagging feature and neglected the in terms of encoding far better codec OptimFROG because this one needs heaps of CPU usage for decoding (while listening). When CPU power is not a constraint any longer I will most likely switch to ofg (if at that time it still has the best compression around). Don’t forget to enable the secure mode for your CD drive in fb2k under file -> open audio cd… -> select your drive and than drive settings. You can also access the rip wizard from there. Or go via “add to playlist” and convert the tracks manually.
Update: I have found out about WavPack which IMHO is a much better choice to MAC (APE) and FLAC because of better support, tagging and hybrid mode.