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What programs can I use to copy CDs into my computer or create MP3s?

There are several programs that allow you to copy your CDs into your computer. In addition, some of them allow you to edit and create new CDs from those tracks:

Roxio Easy Media Creator

In addition to allowing you to rip your CDs into your computer, Easy CD & DVD Creator allows you to burn new CD mixes from those tracks. In addition to creating the CDs, the program allows you to write CD Text to the discs that can be read by compatible players. Other CD functions allow you to normalize the tracks so they play at roughly the same volume (avoiding those jumps and dips in volume between tracks from different discs).

CDs aren't the only media you can work with using this software. Easy CD & DVD creator can also tackle photos, DVDs and video CDs. Built in templates and graphics make creating navigation menus easy for novice users.

Easy CD & DVD Creator is highly useful, though pricey. It did the best job burning CDs in our tests.

Musicmatch Jukebox

Musicmatch Jukebox not only helps you rip your CDs into your computer, it also catalogs them. It allows you to sort your tracks by Artist, Album, Track and other criteria. The program lets you print list of the tracks in you music album, too. Our one nitpick: while it remembers what track you were on the last time you ran the program, it doesn't remember the spot in the track where you stopped it. This makes it annoying for listening to E-books or long Podcasts where you may not finish the program in one session. The program also loses its spot during laptop hibernation.

When ripping CDs to your hard drive, you can choose between several file formats, including WAV and MP3. The compression for MP3s is adjustable.

MusicMatch Jukebox lets you play your tracks in a variety of ways, including by the mood of the music. In addition, the program let's you burn those tracks to CD with CD Text. There is a free version available, though it offers slower burn speeds and a few small missing features.

Windows Media Player
It's a music player, a video player, a music store, a news browser, an Internet radio player, a CD burner and more. Unfortunately, it does none of these things very well.

Windows Media player concentrates too much on assuming you want your files copyright protected and not enough actually playing them. Simply put, Media Player works as its name describes in a pinch, but avoid it for anything else. Stick with just about any other piece of software over this one. The only real advantage it has is that it loads up with Windows so it pops up faster when you open it. However, this advantage is lost by its insistance on wasting system resources by showing advertising - not unlike the intrusive and screen-hogging "Today" window in AOL Instant Messenger.

We did find one thing we liked: it's free. However, so is Musicmatch Jukebox for the basic version. In the end, Windows Media Player is handy only because it doesn't require any downloads or installers to make it work. However, that's only because it can't be installed separately from Windows.

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