Re: Transferring CDs to MP3 vs. WMA vs. OGG ... etc....???
There is no perfect format. You should choose based on where you want to play your music and how much music you have.
First off, MP3 is definitely not the best sounding codec available. It performs terribly at low bitrates and averagely at high ones. However, I still use it for one simple reason - compatibility. Almost any portable media player will play it. If you want to use MP3, encode using LAME and use one of the --alt-preset settings. Don't use constant bitrate if you can avoid it. 128kbps is not CD quality. If you want perfect quality don't bother using 320kbps, just use a lossless codec. There are different MP3 decoders out there too, so what program or device you play your MP3 with may change the quality you hear. If you use Winamp, download and install the MAD plugin (it sounds much better than the built-in decoder).
WMA has better quality bit-for-bit than MP3, though claims that it sounds the same at 64kbps as an MP3 at 128kbps are way out of proportion. An MP3 at 128kbps will sound much better. DRM (Digital Rights Management) will disable encrypted files from playing anywhere other than on the computer you encoded on so it's probably best to make sure this is off in WMP's options. I'm not sure if it's on or off by default but I know that the first time you rip a CD with Media Player 9 it asks if you want it enabled or not.
Ogg Vorbis is probably the best format quality-wise, especially at low bitrates. It is completely free and is open source. The problem with Ogg is that it's not widely supported (not many portable players will read it).
I haven't had much experience with AAC, but it is definitely a better quality codec than MP3, it is standardized and is supported by iPods.
If you are a quality fanatic, have lots of hard drive space and don't plan to use a portable player, use a lossless codec. Lossless codecs will reduce the filesize of your audio without removing any audio data (whereas other "lossy" codecs modify the audio data to achieve smaller file sizes), so there is no difference when played from the original source. There won't be much (if any) noticeable difference between a lossless file and a lossy file encoded at a high bitrate, but where a lossy compression format will get an 8:1 compression ratio with good quality, a lossless codec will usually put out a file about half the size of the uncompressed file. There are several lossless codecs (Monkey's Audio - APE, Free Lossless Audio Codec - FLAC, Apple Lossless, WMA Lossless to name a few of the more popular ones) and the main difference between them is hardware and software support rather than file size.
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