Audio CD Preservation

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Audio CD Preservation

Detailed description

A large collection of, predominantly audio, CDs needs preserving. The CD's initially need stabilising onto magnetic storage medium to prevent preservation issues relating to disc-rot. The content of these disc images then needs to be extracted and catalogued. The following discusses a number of tools to tackle the first part - disc stabilisation.

Imaging Tools

The following two tools provided the ability to create a disc image (.bin/.iso with .cue track listings file) of an audio CD with mechanisms to extract tracks to WAV files.

cdrdao (Linux)

One solution on Linux/Ubuntu was to read a binary from the CD using cdrdao using the following command from the mounted cdrom device (here /dev/cdrom):

In order to verify if it is possible to extract wav files from the binary file, the table of contents (source.toc) was first converted to a cue file using toc2cue (included in the cdrdao package):

and the cue file was then used together with the binary file to extract wav files using bchunk:

ISOBuster (Windows)

  • GUI based tool (although I believe it can be used as a command line tool also)
  • Successfully creates .iso/.cue combination of audio CD
  • ISOBuster can open the .cue file, display track listing and extract .wav files for each audio tracks
  • Commercial product
    • There are 3 versions with different levels of functionality (free; personal - US$40 and professional - US$60)
    • From what I can gather from the above link, the free version can be used anywhere, even for commercial purposes.

.cue file - metadata
ISOBuster generates a .iso/.cue file pair as a audio CD disc image. Here is the contents of the .cue file generated for a 4-track audio CD (note there is no descriptive metadata about the tracks or the disc itself):

Other Imaging Tools

Other tools that were considered and/or tested


  • Installed self-booting image onto USB drive
  • Rebooted laptop and booted from USB drive
  • OSFClone tool cannot "see" CD drive (on laptop)
    • It could see USB drives and hard drives, just not the CD drive
    • Could try a USB CD drive?

aimage (Ubuntu linux - live disk via bootable USB)

  • Install via afflib-tools package (sudo apt-get)
  • Tool can create AFF files
  • Used this tool to create an AFF image from a Data CD; the image is mountable (and accessible) via OSFMount
  • No successful creation of an audio CD AFF image
    • I suspect the linux device (/dev/loop) I thought was the CD device was actually pointing to something else


  • Installed on a Ubuntu live disk via bootable USB
  • Creates AFF, EWF and DD image files
  • A scan of drives would show the CD drive, however when trying to capture an image, the tool reports errors (bad sectors, I think).


Virtual Box Issues
Whilst it is possible to use the laptop's CD drive with a data CD in a Linux VM image (Ubuntu 12.04), it seems that VirtualBox cannot "passthrough" audio CD's from the host CD drive to the VM guest. This essentially prevents any use/testing of linux disk imaging tools via a VM image using VirtualBox (for audio CDs).

Solution Champion

Carl Wilson / Peter May / Sven Schlarb

Corresponding Issue(s)
A list of hyperlinks to the Issues to which this provides a Solution.

At risk and decaying audio data on CDs

Tool/code link
A link to code on Git hub or a corresponding myExperiment if applicable

Tool Registry Link
Add an entry to the OPF Tool Registry, and provide a link to it here.

Any notes or links on how the solution performed.

spruce_london_2 spruce_london_2 Delete
solution solution Delete
data_capture data_capture Delete
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