Ripping CDs

Ripping is the informal name for copying a CD to a hard disk. It takes around 2-3 minutes to rip a CD on B3. This is how to do it from the front panel.


  • Insert the CD and close the drawer
  • Wait while B3 reads the table of contents and tries to identify the CD
  • Pick a matching name - turn the knob and push.
  • Check the tracks look OK and press next
  • The disk will eject when done

If you just want to play the CD you can press play any time.

If you rip the same CD again it will overwrite the first copy. You can delete CDs (albums) with the web UI or Brennan App.

How albums are stored

Music is stored in folders organised like this

Artist -> Album -> Track

So the folder “Eric Clapton” might contain albums “Greatest Hits” and “Unplugged”.
Album “Greatest Hits” might contain tracks like “Layla” and “Tears in Heaven”.

You can search the music using the front panel, web UI or app. You can rename artists, albums and tracks after they have been ripped using the web UI or App.

The music database

CDs do not usually contain any information about the artist, album or track names. That is sometimes called metadata. CDs usually just contain music.

So how does B3 know the artist, album and track names?

B3 creates a digital fingerprint from the CD track lengths and then looks for this fingerprint in a database of known CDs. The database is typically on the internet and is called Musicbrainz.

There are a few things to bear in mind.
  • Sometimes several CDs share the same fingerprint - because the pattern of track lengths generates the same fingerprint. That's why you have to choose the best match when you rip.
  • Sometimes the CD manufacturer prints the same CD at different times - with slightly different track lengths. So Musicbrainz offers a fuzzy match and that can throw up more candidates.
  • The database has been compiled by volunteers over the years. So there may be inaccuracies, misspellings and inconsistencies like using “The Beatles” or “Beatles” - B3 will treat these as different artists.
You can correct these after you have ripped the CD.

If there is no match or if you don’t like any of the matches - B3 will offer you an empty album name like Album 978. If you pick that, B3 will assign the CD to artist “Unknown” and give the tracks names “Track1”, “Track2” etc. You can rename later.

Album Art

CDs also do not contain any cover or album art. But the Musicbrainz database has links to where B3 can find suitable images.

B3 will attach these images to the album when you rip the CD

Not all albums have images though. In that case you can use the app or web UI to find art or assign art that you find yourself.


B3 rips the CD uncompressed. That means it can rip as quickly as possible and an identical copy of the audio data on the CD is stored on the B3 hard disk.

In fact the music is stored as WAV files at this stage and if you are not short of disk space you need not compress them.

B3 lets you compress these WAV files into FLAC files. FLAC files are about 60% of the size but there is no loss of information so the process is reversible. FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Compression. And Lossless refers to the fact that there is no loss of information.

[By contrast MP3 and AAC are called “lossy” because they throw away some information to save even more space.]

Compression is slow but you can do it in stages when the B3 is not otherwise in use.

Use the Compress Now function on the main menu to start compressing.

You can see how many WAV and FLAC files there are using

Settings & Tools -> Stats

Offline database

It is possible to load B3 with a copy of the CD database. This is called an offline database - as opposed to online for the internet database.

This has the advantage that you can then rip CDs without an internet connection. The offline database also contains a copy of an older database known as Freedb so you might find it can identify a CD that is not in Musicbrainz.

The offline database has two disadvantages. It does not have any album art and it does not know about recent CDs.

If you load the offline database AND have an internet connection then B3 will use both.

To use the offline database

Copy this file to a USB stick and plug it into the USB socket on the front of B3 then use:

USB Functions -> Load mydb from USB A

If you want to remove the offline database use

Settings & Tools -> Maintenance -> Advanced -> Delete Local database


Is it possible to rip single tracks?

Sorry no - we wanted to keep ripping as quick and simple as possible so it always rips the whole CD.

What happens if the CD is scratched or it cannot be read?

CD players have several layers of error detection and correction. You will sometimes hear the B3 slow down if it has difficulty reading a CD.   

If B3 cannot read a track then it will eject the CD with the message “rip incomplete”. You will see the album has fewer tracks than it should have

The tracks that are ripped will be perfect - there is no error concealment.

It's always a good idea to wash difficult CDs - use soap or detergent and warm water - but nothing abrasive. Pat dry with kitchen towel

How are Multi CD Sets handled?

There is no support for sets of CDs. B3 treats the CDs as individual albums. Here are some things to consider.

When you rip CDs in a set. Rip them in order. After each has ripped make sure the Album includes the number of the CD in the set. Edit the album name if not.

So for example if the first CD was ripped with the name “Rock Collection” change it to “Rock Collection 1”.

These CDs will play in the order they were ripped.

You can also put the CDs into a “Rock Collection” playlist and then order them as you would like.

If a CD is not in the database can I add it to the database?

I am not sure of the details but yes Musicbrainz welcomes contributions - so visit their website and use the Brennan forum if you have difficulties or to let us know.

You will probably need to know the digital fingerprint of the CD.

If you have just ripped (or attempted to rip) a CD then you can find the digital fingerprint in the debug panel of the original web UI.

Click on the Cog icon then the Wrench icon and you will see the debug panel.

Scroll up until you see some text like this

DiscID : okeWlG5Ib3oI1JFnLf38gTVGnDs-
FreeDB DiscID : 810bdf0a

The first is the Musicbrainz DiscID or fingerprint. The second is the FreeDB equivalent. You may need them to add a new entry to Musicbrainz.