I'm looking for suggestions as to how to archive CD-Audio discs (i.e. Red Book CDs with PCM audio tracks, like the ones you buy in a record shop, or like iTunes would generate if you chose Audio CD).

I'm involved in a large-scale media archival project. For hybrid data discs and DVD-Video discs, we've been making ISO files. These are perfect because they are a complete encapsulation of the content of the disc, including file names and suchlike. Also, they are verifiable via checksum against the disc content.

However, it's not possible to archive CD-Audio discs to ISOs because they do not contain a computer file system.

I would like to ask for suggestions for formats and workflows for archiving CD-Audio discs, bearing in mind the following constraints:

  • We must generate one file per CD, which is a complete encapsulation of the PCM audio data, track order and track timings (so bin + cue isn't suitable in itself). This is unfortunately a restriction of our archival software.
  • The format must be non-proprietary, documented and usable on many platforms.

I've seen this question, but unfortunately the solution (while elegant) involved generating a WAV file and a cue file. This unfortunately breaks constraint #1.

Wishlist item:

  • If there were a way to verify the archival via checksum, this would be super awesome.

Many thanks in advance for any advice.


I think a FLAC archive will be suitable with a CUE sheet.
I do not understand why a CUE sheet would be a problem if it is compatible across platforms.

Suitable for archiving: FLAC is an open format, and there is no generation loss if you need to convert your data to another format in the future. In addition to the frame CRCs and MD5 signature, flac has a verify option that decodes the encoded stream in parallel with the encoding process and compares the result to the original, aborting with an error if there is a mismatch.
Convenient CD archiving: FLAC has a "cue sheet" metadata block for storing a CD table of contents and all track and index points.
For instance, you can rip a CD to a single file, then import the CD's extracted cue sheet while encoding to yield a single file representation of the entire CD. If your original CD is damaged, the cue sheet can be exported later in order to burn an exact copy.

more at the features link.

Update: I have not tried this yet (never required), but,
You could check the '--tag-from-file=FIELD=FILENAME' scheme.

Like --tag, except FILENAME is a file whose contents will be read verbatim to set the tag value. The contents will be converted to UTF-8 from the local charset.
This can be used to store a cuesheet in a tag
(e.g. --tag-from-file="CUESHEET=image.cue").
Do not try to store binary data in tag fields! Use APPLICATION blocks for that.

Some discussion on that at this hydrogenaudio forum page.

  • I think it's the 'one-file-pr-cd'-restraint that's in play. Maybe FLAC + CUE + tar could be an option? – trolle3000 Oct 15 '10 at 12:21
  • Yeah, the single file restriction is the killer here. Tarring may be an option. Perhaps running abcde would generate an embedded cue sheet in the FLAC? ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=1652627&postcount=3 – grw Oct 15 '10 at 12:32
  • FLAC with embedded cue is the way to go. Also, the correctness of the CD rip should be verified by using AccurateRip and CTDB. They only work for public CDs which are ripped by many people, so if you rip private stuff that's no option. – Josef Jan 12 '16 at 13:33

You can take the .cue file generated, and then add the contents as one or more Ogg comments in the .flac. There's currently no reader available for such a format, but one could be adapted from an existing player easily enough.

  • Thanks for your answer. I'm wondering if the combination of 'abcde' set to generate an embedded cue sheet (for archiving) and 'X Lossless Decoder' for Mac, which according to tmkk.pv.land.to/xld/index_e.html will read embedded cuesheets, would do the trick. What do you think? – grw Oct 15 '10 at 12:45
  • Looks promising. I wasn't aware of these tools before now. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 15 '10 at 17:19

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