I rip music CDs to OGG files, abandoning the MP3 format in favor of an open standard that's encouraged for adoption by the Free Software Foundation. Although OGG works in fewer places than MP3 today, it's completely free for developers to support and gets music listeners away from patent attorneys, which makes it the better long-term choice.
After having some trouble finding a ripper that supports OGG, I discovered Audiograbber, a free Windows program that's unpolished but gets the job done. Audiograbber can download album data from FreeDB, save the songs with customized filenames, and create playlists.
I'm not an audiophile, so I don't know if the settings I'm using are optimal for music -- stereo, quality 5.0, 147 Kbits/second -- but I cranked it up to 11 on some new deviltry from Mudvayne, and I don't think I'm missing any subtleties.
Rogers Cadenhead listens to Mudvayne? I'm shocked.;-)
I like to use FreeRIP, it lets you adjust the settings however you want sand rips those CDs quickly (I use OGG as well). I've started ripping my whole collection to digital media and hope to be able to pile my CDs in the cellar in the future, sometime...
Is there any solution for playing OGG files on the ubiquitous iPod? That's the main / only reason I am still ripping all my CDs into patent-encumbered MP3 files.
ASTRO: I have a Sansa e200 and I just started running Rockbox on that. I haven't tried OGG yet, but I want to and it is one of the reasons I installed RB. I know Rockbox will run on iPods of various types, but you'll have to look more closely to see if your model supports OGG:
The iPod may be ubiquitous, but there are alternatives. I listen to my OGG files, ripped using oggenc under Linux, on a 2GB iRiver S10, which can handle this format without problem. The S10 attaches to your computer via a USB port and looks just like any other removable drive.
I use Exact Audio Copy, which works well with oggenc (win32 version) to compress using vorbis instead of lame. EAC appears to be the preferred choice for the wacko audiophile crowd, too (www.chrismyden.com). I can't find the spec now, but they have one and it includes recommendations for vorbis settings. I think it was Q 6 or higher.