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What is the difference between ripping and burning a CD?

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I often hear the words "rip" and "ripping" as well as the words "burn" and "burning" when it comes to CDs.

Are they the same thing? If not, what's the difference between the two?

Thanks for your answer. Your service is great, and so is your show.

-- Grabo, listening on the net via KBNP in Warsaw, Poland


Ripping a CD and burning a CD are actually the opposite of one another, but the same software is used for both processes.

Ripping a CD is the process of taking a CD that has content on it, usually a commercial music CD, inserting it into your computer, and then using software such as iTunes or Windows Media Player, converting each track on that CD into a digital file, usually an MP3 file. Your computer or portable digital audio player can then play those MP3 files at your leisure. It's called "ripping" because you "rip" through the CD, copying the files to your hard drive as you go.

By the way, as long as you don't share those MP3 files with anyone, it's perfectly legal to rip a CD for yourself.

Read on... (more ahead)

Burning a CD is just the opposite: It's assembling a number of MP3 files, converting them to WAV or AIFF files (the native format that can be written to an audio CD) and organizing them into a playlist. You then instruct the same software, iTunes or Windows Media Player, to "write" those tracks, in the order you placed them in your playlist, onto a recordable blank CD-R or CD-RW (the latter is re-useable). It's called "burning" because a laser is used to "burn" the data onto the blank CD-R or CD-RW.

You can actually learn more about this process with my 10 Quick Steps Guide to Converting LPs to CDs:

Thanks for listening, and for asking!

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