Command Line Basics: Ripping Audio CD’s, Part 1

September 5, 2010 by
Filed under: command line, HowTo, linux, Ubuntu 

There are many GUI based CD rippers available for the Linux desktop. While many of these applications do a great job of ripping, I like to understand the underlying technology. For that reason, I decided to figure out how to rip CD's from the command line.

There is one command line CD ripper that is include by default in most Linux distributions: cdparanoia. cdparanoia can rip audio tracks from a CD and output them in WAV, AIFF, AIFF-C or raw format. In this first part of the tutorial, I'll show you how to rip audio tracks from a CD and save them to a WAV file.

First off, open a terminal window and create a directory to rip the music into and then cd into that directory.

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mkdir rip
cd rip

Now grab your favorite audio CD and put it into your computer's CD drive. If your hardware and system setup are typical, cdparanoia should have no problem detecting your CD drive.

I'll show the easiest way to use cdparanoia first. We're just going to rip the entire CD into separate files called track01.cdda.wav, track02cdda.wav, etc. To do this, we'll run cdparanoia in batch mode. Go back to your terminal window and enter

cdparanoia -B

Now, if you just want to see a track listing for your CD, you can use

cdparanoia -Q

You don't have to rip the entire CD if you don't want to. You can tell cdparanoia to only rip certain tracks, but unfortuanately, cdparanoia only rips audio in continuous spans. So if you want to rip tracks 1-3 and 6-9 you'll need to run the command twice. You can however put both commands on the same line separated by a semicolon.

cdparanoia -B 1-3; cdparanoia B 6-9

So those are the basics for ripping audio with cdparanoia. In the next part of this series I'll show how to convert the WAV files to Ogg Vorbis audio files.

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