Ripping CDs into MPC (Musepack) files using CDex

Wonder what is Musepack (also known as MPC) ? There I explain how to make nice MPC files with CDex Version anglaise uniquement, désolé. Vous pouvez utiliser le service de traduction automatique en haut de cette page.

Say NO to corrupt audio discs


  1. What is Musepack
  2. Using CDex to produce Musepack files
    1. Why CDex
    2. Why this short tutorial
    3. What you need
    4. Versioning
    5. Note on MPC tags
    6. Enough chatting
    7. What’s next
  3. Useful links
  4. Glossary
  5. Changes on this page

What is Musepack

Musepack – or mpc, or formerly mp+ – is, for many, one of the best – if not the best – lossy audio compression algorithms. In any case, for a given bitrate (i.e. size), it’s pretty much better than mp3 or WMA. If you want more info, the people at did a very good job explaining this. Moreover, Musepack is open-source.

My personal experience is the artefacts I could sometimes hear on instrumental music in 128 kb/s CBR Lame MP3 files are now gone with MPC at quality 4 (~130 kb/s VBR).

I’d say the only drawbacks in Musepack today are the lack of core development support and hardware support. More info about the former can be found on the hydrogenaudio mpc forums (e.g. on this thread).

Using CDex to produce Musepack files

Why CDex

I use CDex to rip my CDs. Why CDex, and not Exact Audio Copy (EAC), considered by many closest to perfection ? Well, several reasons :

  • quick learning curve (though EAC progressed a lot on this one) ;
  • ease of use ;
  • allows to pass to the encoder the total number of tracks for an album ;
  • open-source ;
  • does the job for me 99.9% of the time. 🙂

Those interested in producing Musepack files with EAC will find a fine tutorial made by Case.

Why this short tutorial

Well, using Musepack with CDex is nowhere explained, as far as I know, and I would have been glad to have discovered this page when I started ripping to Musepack files. 😉

What you need

  • CDex – just install it
  • MPC encoder – just unzip it wherever you want (CDex directory – “c:\program files\CDex” by default – may be a good place)


These settings were made with CDex 1.51 and mppenc.exe 1.15s alpha. Though it’s an alpha, I found it to be pretty stable, does work on the fly (which 1.14 does not), and is said to be faster.

Note on MPC tags

MPC typically uses APEv2 tags. Well, maybe you knew ID3v1, ID3v1.1, ID3V2, APEv1 ; now here’s a new species ! This table should resume some key points (like this means “best choice”) :

ID3v1.1 ID3v2 APEv2
customized fields support no yes yes
long fields support no yes yes
non-latin characters (unicode) support no yes yes
emplacement(*) end of file start of file end of file
risk of file corruption weak average weak
(*) placing a tag at the end of an audio file is better, at least for 2 reasons :

  • quicker tag updates (whereas when data needs to be inserted at the start of file, the whole needs to be rewritten) ;
  • lower risk of whole file corruption if the tag update process is interrupted for some reason.

See what’s the best ? 🙂

APEv2 may be combined with ID3v1 tags, but in any case ID3v2 should be avoided. Even so, the ID3v1 tag would be useless, being an APEv2 duplicate at best, so I advise to stick to APEv2-only MPC files. The tutorial below will produce such properly tagged files.

And don’t worry : any MPC-aware reader will read these APEv2 tags.

Enough chatting

OK, let’s go.

Go to Options > Settings
Go to the Encoder tab :

    1. Keep Thread Priority to Normal
    2. Set Encoder to External Musepack Encoder (you could as well set it to External Encoder, it just skips a few steps in the parametrizing
    3. Leave Don’t delete ripped Wav file after conversion unchecked
    4. Set Path to Musepack Encoder to the place where you unzipped mppenc.exe (e.g. C:\Program Files\CDex\mppenc.exe) with the help of the browse (…) button
    5. Now, the meat of this : set Parameter string to --quality 5 --artist "%a" --title "%t" --album "%b" --year "%y" --track "%tn/%tt" --genre "%g" %1 %2
      • --quality 5 represents the level of compression. The digit usually ranges from 4 to 7 (more would be overkill). Has a direct impact on the file size, though not predictable accurately (remember, MPC is a VBR-only compression scheme). --quality 5 is the default compression level, though my weak ears (and my hard drive) are very happy with --quality 4. More info on this topic.
      • --xlevel should always be here. Basically this prevent clipping on your tracks. Note: Starting from version 1.15s, “–xlevel” is no longer needed as it’s used by default.
      • --artist "%a" --title "%t" --album "%b" --year "%y" --track "%tn/%tt" --genre "%g" sets the album artist, track title, album name, album year, track number, album genre tags on what you’ve typed in CDex’s main screen. The %tn/%tt will label each tracks number with “01/10”, “02/10”, “03/10” etc. for a 10-track album.
      • %1 represents the incoming file. It’s a temporary wav file that CDex deletes after conversion.
      • %2 represents the mpc file. Its extension will automatically be mpc, and the filenaming scheme will follow what you set on the Filenames tab.

Parameter string explained :

  1. Leave Hide MSDOS window unchecked, at least for your first rips. You’ll then see audio high-tech in action ;), and you’ll be able to see if everything goes well while ripping and if not, it may give you a hint at what’s wrong.
  2. I recommend leaving On-the-fly encoding unchecked. Sure, it makes your rips a little bit longer, but it’s safer. I sometimes had strange artefacts while encoding on the fly, maybe due to some unrelated process starting and eating CPU / disk access.
Go to the Generic tab :

For “ID3 Tag version” field : select the option “None” in the drop-down list. We do not want nor need ID3 tags here, only APEV2, which are added by the external encoder mppenc.

What’s next

After ripping your CD, a good idea would be to replaygain it. Unfortunately, CDex does not allow for batch post-album-processing [hello there ? ;)], so you have to do this by hand. 3 ways :

For many post-processing task, I also found MP3Tag to be very useful. In spite of its name, it works fine with mpc files and Ape V2 tags. The best tag and audio file editor in my opinion.

Useful links

Musepack – Central place for Musepack

Hydrogenaudio – Where the digital audio developpers and gurus gather


(to be developped)

CBR: ConstantBitRate

kbps, kb/s: kilobits per second

Lame: considered as the best MP3 encoder around. Open-source IIRC.

MPC, Musepack: a lossy audio compression algorithm.

VBR: Variable BitRate

Changes on this page

Date Change
2005-09-? New version of rgdir
2005-03-05 Added step not to get ID3 tags
2004-12-04 Introduced rgdir
2004-10-03 Page creation

3 thoughts on “Ripping CDs into MPC (Musepack) files using CDex

  1. I love your guide to ripping MPC files! Your rgdr program works like a charm! Thank you so much for offering a complete guide on using CDex to spit out MPC files, and cutting down on steps with rgdr. You’ve made my digital music archival much easier! Thank you!

Comments are closed.