I have found the FLAC file format to be a wonderful standard to collect my music in and then convert to the size or quality I require for a particular device or storage format.
MP3's sound shit in comparison to FLAC's
FLAC QualityFLAC reduces bandwidth and storage requirements without sacrificing the integrity of the audio source. A digital audio recording (such as a CD track) encoded to FLAC can be decompressed into an identical copy of the audio data. Audio sources encoded to FLAC are typically reduced in size 40 to 50 percent (46% according to their own comparison).
FLAC is suitable for everyday audio playback and archival, with support for tagging, cover art and fast seeking. FLAC's free and open source royalty-free nature makes it well-supported by many software applications, but FLAC playback support in portable audio devices and dedicated audio systems is limited at this time. On January 29, 2003, Xiphophorus (now called the Xiph.Org Foundation) announced the incorporation of FLAC under their banner, alongside Vorbis, Theora, Speex, and others.
FLAC LinksFLAC Home Page
Wikipedia Flac Page
I recently purchased some decent speakers for my HTPC, the Altec Lansing MX-5021's having mainly MP3's and only one FLAC format album on my music partition, enabled me to realise that the difference between the MP3 and FLAC formats was truly amazing. MP3's lost the comparison hands down obviously! Why have a heap of CDs laying about when you have large hard drives these days, yes a FLAC ripped CD is still quite large, though it's well worth it for the CD quality you get. It's funny I don't consider myself an audiophile at all I only have essentially PC speakers albeit decent quality units, but playing poor quality MP3's through them just wasn't right ;o)
RubyRipperI use Ubuntu Linux, usually the latest version, so being new to the world of FLAC audio files, I had to learn how to rip my CD collection to FLAC using what Linux had to offer, after a bit of research and googling, I stumbled on to RubyRipper It is very similar to and inspired by EAC (Exact Audio Copy).
RubyRipper has a simple non flashy interface, which makes it very easy to understand and setup just the way you like to do your music CD ripping/converting to FLAC and other formats. I am now a Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) convert, I will never go back to MP3's again!