How to Convert CDA Files to MP3 Format

By Barbara Cannon

Digital music, a blissfully flexible medium, can be enjoyed most anywhere. In order to listen to audio CDs on an MP3 player, the tracks must first be converted to MP3 format on your computer, using ripping software like WMP---Windows Media Player (version 9 or higher). Not only does your favorite music become portable, but this technique allows you to weed out undesirable tracks. There are plenty of free or low-cost ripping programs to be found online, if you would like to try something other than WMP.

Things You'll Need

  • Music ripping software or Windows Media Player, version 9 or above
  • Music conversion programs
  • Music CDs
  • Computer

How to Convert CDA Files to MP3 Format

Step 1

Find and download reliable CD ripping software if you do not wish to use Windows Media Player. Find and download a music conversion program. Install just one program at a time, but have have both programs installed before the next step.

Step 2

Place the CD containing the music files into the CD/DVD drive. Most CDs will auto-start.

Step 3

Open Windows Media Player if the audio CD did not cause it to start. Find Windows Media Player (WMP) by clicking on the "Start" button, then "All Programs." Click "Windows Media Player."

Step 4

Click on "Rip Music" or "Rip." In WMP, all the tracks on the CD will be selected by default. Click on any checked boxes to clear selections you do not wish to rip.

Step 5

Click on "Start Rip." You will see the program progress as it moves from track to track. Unless you have specified differently, ripped files will be stored in the Music Library folder.

Step 6

Open the conversion software. Select your desired options from the software menu. You may be prompted to answer questions about format, compression, the number of files to rip, and the destination folder where the ripped files will be saved.

Step 7

Click on "Add files" or "Select files" in the conversion program, after all options are selected. Select the source folder, which is likely the Music Library folder. Select a destination folder where the converted file swill be saved.

Step 8

Click "Done", "Finish" or "Rip," according to your program, when all choices have been made. The software will then convert the ripped files to MP3 format and store them in your designated folder.

Step 9

Tips & Warnings

  • Take the time to locate a robust conversion program, especially if you have many music files to convert. Some software will rip the audio CD files and store them in CDA format on your hard drive. Other programs will continue on and convert the ripped files to MP3 format, all in one step. It is a personal decision, based on most wanted features. Some users may prefer to use a ripping program to obtain the files from the CD and a different program to convert the ripped files to MP3.
  • Purchased programs are more likely to have "batch mode," allowing multiple files to be converted with one step.
  • Ripped files can be played in your computer. The converted MP3 files can also be played on your computer, as well as in portable MP3 players.
  • If you don't want to download and install software, try one of many free online media conversion websites. Upload the desired files, which the online service converts and downloads back to you.
  • The loss of fidelity that occurs when converting CDA to MP3, imperceptible to most, is outweighed by the benefits of having your favorite sounds handy.
  • Ripping and converting music files can be a memory-intensive process. If your system hangs or freezes while attempting to convert files, make it a practice of rebooting before every ripping/converting session.
  • When installing freeware/shareware programs, read each screen carefully. Some programs will attempt to install tool bars and/or spyware. Be sure you remove checks from any checked boxes that allow unwanted items to be installed. (Sometimes purchased programs will also mimic this stealthy behavior).
  • For higher quality sound, choose the least amount of compression, when prompted by software. Compression is what causes sound quality loss.