Doodleboy (and anybody else that may be able to provide some input),
Audio equipment prices, on the high end, are insane so I have stopped upgrading... for now at least. hehehe...
Going back to recording, I myself am learning a lot more from this site and others. Now, I am in the process of reevaluating my procedures and gear.
Some have suggested using EAC for ripping. Since it is free (well, the writer of the program is asking for a postcard or better yet, a donation - seems like a swell guy), I installed it and I have been experimenting with it. What is interesting about EAC's method is that it reads tracks several times to ensure that it's ripped right. It sort of reminds me of Meridian CD players. Meridian players are known for great performance but slow startup because the player reads the tracks several times to make sure it's done as accurately as possible, reducing the amount of error correction needed. However, I am not certain if my analogy is correct.
EAC also has a feature where you can compare two wave files if they are exactly the same. This prompted me to experiment with ripping procedures.
For the source CD, I chose Sade's "The Best of Sade" (it's about 74minutes long) - While not an audiophile CD, I find the vocals good, the songs are easy to listen to, and there are some tracks that present a great sense of spaciousness. My original Sade CD has no major scratches but it does have some shallow ones. One part of the CD also had some small imperfections on the playing side.
Here are the rips that I tried:
Rip A: EAC (secure) with Yamaha.
Rip B: iTunes (w/ error correction) with Yamaha.
Rip C: iTunes (no error correction) with Yamaha.
Rip D: EAC (secure) with Liteon.
Rip E: iTunes (w/ error correction) with Liteon.
Rip F: iTunes (no error correction) with Liteon.
Here are the results of the wave file comparisons:
Rips A,B,and C are completely identical. Rips D,E, and F are also completely identical. However, the first 3 rips are different from the last 3 with exactly the same kind of discrepancies for each track (same number of missing or repeated samples).
Ripping with EAC using the Liteon was the slowest. It would rip at 2.5x but remember that EAC essentially performs the rips twice (almost like a real-time rip). This is just too slow for me.
Ripping with iTunes with error correction disabled was naturally fastest and was drive speed dependent. Liteon being 52x was fastest.
All other rips would range from 5-11x which I can live with.
Note that my rip speeds are just estimates (looking at what's displayed on the status screens) and based on what I can remember. But I am very certain about the EAC-Liteon combo being the absolute slowest.
In retrospect, I should have used a CD with more scratches just too see how the error correction of iTunes compares with EAC, and to see how each drive would perform under harsher conditions. Maybe I'll try that next.
Anyway, what really caught my attention was:
1. the exactness of rips A, B, and C
2. the exactness of rips D, E, and F
3. the differences between the Yamaha and Liteon rips being consistent.
I am guessing that the difference between the Yamaha and Liteon rips are due to offset differences between the two drives. Offset differences are mentioned and discussed in the EAC and related sites.
Assuming that my procedures are not that flawed (I'm new to testing), I am inclined to believe that it is best to rip with the drive that you will burn with, at least for the sake of uniformity (another audiophile rule
Regarding software to use for ripping, in the meantime, I would use EAC (limiting me to using the Yamaha because the EAC+Liteon was just too slow) because of to the many praises about it and the manner at which it does the job. I will have a more definitive opinion when I compare iTunes and EAC rips using other CDs (more scratches).
Regarding SCSI vs ATAPI (thats what you were refering to right?), I have no clue as to whether one has a a significant advantage over the other, at least for my purposes. Back then (many years ago), SCSI components had a huge performance advantage but I'm not sure if that is still the case today. Others here would know more so I hope thay can share their inputs.