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Cost of Riptopia’s Premium HD Service: $1.69 per disc. Finally getting your entire CD collection into iTunes: Priceless.
Count us among the many who were skeptical about CD-ripping services. The basic concept is this: Ship off your CD collection, and get it back in a few days with professionally ripped iTunes-ready digital versions. If you’re like we once were, you’re asking yourself why anyone in their right mind would pay someone to complete a task that you can do for free in iTunes.
The answer is simple: convenience. We have a few hundred CDs. And yet, despite our best intentions, we only had about 20 percent of our collection ripped. The rest sat for years, as endlessly feeding CDs into our Mac was simply too time-consuming. And then there’s the metadata. iTunes retrieves some notoriously sketchy information, while pro ripping services promise more complete and correct metadata, which includes an album or song’s title, release date, and, in most cases, album cover art.
We tested Riptopia’s HD Premium Service, which lets you choose among high bit-rate MP3s and lossless formats—we chose Apple Lossless—in addition to smaller 192 Kbps mp3 files, which are more suitable for use on an iPod or iPhone. Premium Service runs $1.69 per disc. Single-format rips only cost 99 cents each, but getting a lossless digital copy in addition to the file we can enjoy on an iPod gives us the ability to easily convert to another format in the future without having to rip discs again. Sweet!
Our original discs and ripped copies came back to us in a few days. We opted to receive our ripped files on DVDs, as a means of having a backup, but Riptopia also offers to load your files onto an external drive, which they sell at very reasonable prices. Our files sounded great and included impressively detailed metadata.
However, what Riptopia offers is a service more than a product, and there was one glaring problem that overshadowed the otherwise highly satisfactory end result. According to the company’s terms of service, your files are watermarked with “customer information,” a fact buried in the fine print that you receive only after placing your order; the single allusion to it on Riptopia’s website disappeared during the time we were reviewing this service. A look at our files with a text editor revealed a copyright notice in the file headers, but we can’t be sure that there isn’t also some embedded private information in each that we didn’t notice. Repeated requests to clarify exactly what information is included and how a consumer might verify the information went unanswered. The possibility of that mysterious “customer information” info falling into the wrong hands if our iPod is ever lost or stolen is a more than a little but nerve-wracking.We wish we could rate Riptopia’s HD Premium CD-ripping service on the end product and turnaround speed alone, but we can’t overlook the fact that the company ignored our repeated requests for more information about the “customer data” embedded in each digital sound file, especially when it involves the possibility of exposing sensitive personal info. Riptopia is a great service, but they have plenty of competitors that don’t raise privacy red flags