However, the demanding music lover, the one who wants all the intel of the music and be assured that all details are accurate and correct, is not getting happy by this modus operandi. S/he wants more; and more correctness. When FreeDB or Amazon or any other information provider come up with Ludwig van Beethoven one time, the next with Beethoven, Ludwig Van and another time with Beethoven, Ludwig van, they throw a fit; not to mention the criminal cases who list Ludwig as Von Beethoven.


For them it's MusiCHI to the rescue; and of course any other serious music lover. Born from the frustrations of a group of classical music lovers each guarding collections of over 4'000 albums on physical media and finding it hard to navigate their way through, the solution was to go digital. With that decision made, they soon ran into limitations of software players and their mostly rudimental library systems. So clearly, these founding fathers of what later became the MusiCHI project are part of the demanding music lovers' guild. Fortunately the group not only consisted of musicians but also a few software programmers. These two professions became the foundation of the project. The intense musical knowledge of professional musicians could be translated into the bits and bytes which would form the MusiCHI suite to be.


And yes, MusiCHI is a suite and not just one blob of a program. Basically it consists of six parts, four software parts and two databases. Central to the suite is your own data set of music files ripped to hard disk. It can be your already ripped music or new files can be ripped using MusiCHI's ripper. Their ripper is divided into two parts, an actual ripper and a tagger. They recommend to start with the tagger part which is basically the same as the separate tagger we will cover in a moment. However, the latter is meant to be used for already ripped music. So… before ripping any new music to disk, get the necessary tag information. By default, MusiCHI offer three sources of tag data. FreeDB and Amazon provide a very good base for all your tagging information, with Amazon best at classical music. A third option uses iTunes and interfaces via cut'n'paste over the clipboard function. In all cases, when a CD loads, the tag information is picked up and placed on what MusiCHI call the Grid. Once the grid is filled, you can edit its columns to personal preferences like keeping all existing columns or just the ones you want. Fortunately their website offers video tutorials as well as PDF files you can print and use off line. The software is intuitive though very extensive so a learning curve is involved.


Once you are happy with your final tag options—and remember that with the tagger, they can always be edited—you select the file format the ripper will convert your imported music to. The format can be MP3 or FLAC. Like MusiCHI we suggest to always rip to FLAC because you can convert FLAC to MP3 but not the other way around when quality matters. Now you need to set the file name conventions. MusiCHI suggest a format but you can edit your own. This gives you the option to change the sequence of instrument, composer, artist, title and track number. The format looks like %R\%A\(%N)%T for artist – album – track # and title. Once you get the hang of it, it's simple enough. The next step is to define which folder the ripped track should land in. A drop-down menu makes that easy. Then you decide whether to embed the cover art into the audio file or as a separate file in a folder. If you don't plan to go on the road with samples of your music on a portable player, let the cover image reside in the folder. Now all things are ready to hit Rip CD. Mind, the software won't start ripping yet. It first generates the file names for a final check. Then you hit Yes to start ripping for real.