How to extract and convert the audio from a DVD using OS X

by Ross McKillop on September 9, 2006

iPod Mac

This tutorial will guide you in extracting the audio from a DVD and then converting it into an .mp3 for use w/ your iPod or MP3 player. All of the software used in this tutorial is free.

NOTE(s):

1. Please make sure that you’re allowed (legally) to extract the audio from your DVD before completing the steps in this tutorial.
2. I make no claims that this is the “best” way to convert the audio or music on a DVD into mp3. What I will claim is that this method has worked for me time and time again, it’s not very hard, and the resulting mp3s sound great.


First you’ll need to download and install MacTheRipper and ffmpegX. Both of these programs are free (ffmpegX is fully functional shareware).

MacTheRipper is a very straight-forward installation – just drag MacTheRipper from the .dmg to your Applications folder. ffmpegX is a bit more tricky (but certainly not hard) – just follow the instructions at http://ffmpegx.com/download.html carefully.

Extracting audio from a DVD using MacTheRipper

  1. Insert the DVD you wish to extract the audio from, and close iDVD (or any other program that may have started when you put in the DVD). Launch MacTheRipper

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  3. Select the Mode tab and then choose Title – Chapter Extraction from the drop-down list

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  5. From the second drop-down list you’ll have to select the “title” you wish to extract the audio from. If the audio you’re going for is somewhere in the “main feature” of the DVD (ie. it’s not in the ‘bonus material’ or ‘extras’ on the DVD), select the title that ends with (MF). If the audio you’re trying to extract is in the bonus features or extras, you’ll need to figure out which “title” to choose. The length of each title (in hours:minutes:seconds) can be very helpful in determining which is the one you want.

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  7. Select the chapter you wish to extract the audio from. You can choose multiple chapters, but they must be sequential (choose a start and end chapter). The more chapters you choose, the longer (and larger) the resulting file will be.

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  9. Now click the D button, and then the Streams button. Remove the check marks from any of the Video Streams (since we’re going for the audio, we don’t need to extract any video). Each DVD will differ on the number and types of Audio Streams available. Remove the check marks from all of the Audio Streams except one – ideally the AC3 6Ch. Make sure none of the Subtitle Streams are checked and then click GO!.

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  11. If this is the first time you’ve used MacTheRipper, you’ll be prompted to save the file somewhere. Choose your Desktop (it doesn’t matter, just remember where you saved the file).
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  13. When the extraction is complete, MacTheRipper will let you know
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Converting the DVD audio to MP3

  1. If you happen to have a media player installed that can play .ac3 files (eg. VLC) you can use it to listen to the file (to make sure you extracted the right one etc).

    Now we’ll turn the .ac3 into an .mp3, using ffmpegX.

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  3. Open ffmpegX and drag the .ac3 file into the Drop file here window.

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  5. In the Target Format column, select the small arrow directly next to To. Choose Audio file to mp3 from the bottom of the very large drop-down list. Do NOT choose Movie file to mp3, even if the DVD is a “movie”.

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  7. Now select the Audio tab and choose a bitrate for your mp3. I like to use something a little bit higher than the default 128, but this is a personal preference. Remember, the higher the bitrate, the larger the resulting file will be. Click Encode when you’re ready.

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  9. ffmpegX will display a status window letting you know how things are going
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  11. The status window will change to Finished when it’s done
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  13. If you check the folder where you saved the .ac3 file, you’ll now find an .mp3 as well. That’s it! You can rename the mp3, move it to your Music directory etc.
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  • Ian Emory

    I’ve been looking all over to figure out how to do this. I thought I was going to have to buy Conversion – Thanks!!!

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross

    Ian,

    Glad to hear it helped :)

  • Chris

    Has anyone else seen this problem?
    After clicking Encode, the encoding process finishes almost immediately, and apparently successfully, but no audio file is saved. Clicking the info button shows this:
    FFmpeg version CVS, Copyright (c) 2000-2004 Fabrice Bellard
    Mac OSX universal build for ffmpegX
    libavutil version: 49.0.0
    libavcodec version: 51.9.0
    libavformat version: 50.4.0
    Sun Jan 14 11:50:30 EST 2007
    , gcc: 4.0.1 (Apple Computer, Inc. build 5250)
    [ac3 @ 0x5597b8]Could not find codec parameters (Audio: ac3)

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  • Rob

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve been looking for a means of extracting audio from concert dvds that I own.

    Unfortunately, I get the following error (with both 5 channel and 2 channel input files):

    Encoding started on Sun Mar 18 18:39:28 CDT 2007
    FFmpeg version CVS, Copyright (c) 2000-2004 Fabrice Bellard
    Mac OSX universal build for ffmpegX
    libavutil version: 49.0.0
    libavcodec version: 51.9.0
    libavformat version: 50.4.0
    Input #0, ac3, from ‘//.AC3′:
    Duration: 00:04:39.3, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 448 kb/s
    Stream #0.0: Audio: ac3, 48000 Hz, 5 channels, 448 kb/s
    Could not find input stream #0.1

    Any help/thoughts? Thanks!

  • John Hopkins

    The process above works well for DVDs that have AC3 audio track. I was wondering what to do about those DVDs that have PCM tracks instead. Mac The Ripper and osex will both rip the DVD audio to .PCM files, but I can’t find a way to go from .PCM files to .MP3. Any hints on that are much appreciated. I have two concert DVDs that I really want in my iPod and am having zero luck. Thanks!

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  • Ed

    If you encounter where 0kb mp3 files are generated and get error “could not find input stream” , then try running the following from terminal:

    /Applications/ffmpegX.app/Contents/Resources/ffmpeg -ab 256 -i in.ac3 out.mp3

    You need to key in the correct file paths and names but it worked for me!

  • Ed

    Another tip solution that worked without using the console – just ensure you select the target format in ffmpegX to be AUDIO file to MP3 – the others are not working as Ross rightly mentions in the tutorial.

  • Sean

    Great guide. However, I am having one problem by following these steps.

    I extract a single AC3 stream with MTR, and test it with VLC player. It plays fine.

    However, after I encode the mp3 using ffmpegx the song shows up in the mp3 2 times (back to back)

    (FYI I am running this on Leopard)

    Any Ideas?

  • Sean

    I take that back!
    MTR is the one putting the song 2 times in the extracted AC3 file.

    I am using MTR 3

    Any ideas?

  • What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

    For those who had trouble using this method, here’s an alternative (I just used it with PCM audio):

    I was able to extract a chapter of a DVD using Handbrake, as an AVI with MP3 (you probably want a ridiculously high bitrate, as it will later be converted to AIFF, before being converted to whatever you want.) I was able to open and play the AVI with Quicktime Player (and the help of Flip4Mac to handle the AVI video encoding–which may not be necessary just to access the MP3 track–I already had it installed.) I was able to trim the combined audio and video to the starting and ending point desired using Quicktime Player, then export the trimmed portion of the audio to AIFF using Quicktime Player’s export function. If you want another format, you can convert it with iTunes.

  • http://www.RosaLindaRoman.com Rosa Linda

    Oh my gosh, I wish I had found this article two days ago. I wasted SOOO much time.

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!

  • Marco6

    Thanks for this step-by-step guide, couldn’t be any easier. On occasion though, the speed of my resulting mp3 is too fast, like doubled. Any suggestions on what I’m doing wrong or missing?

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    @Marco6:

    OK you have me stumped on that one. I’ll google it and see if I can find anything, then get back to you.

  • ARCVILE

    Wow! Talk about complex for no reason.
    Use YADEX. Its free and will do the same in a second!

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  • Francisco J López

    How can I choose multiples chapters ((choose a start and end chapter)?

    Thank you,
    Francisco

  • Etienne

    Somehow it doesn’t seem to work
    Everytime I keep getting an error.
    “couldn’t find the proper codec”?????

    I installed ffmpegX using the guide on the website.
    Also installed te required add-ons

    What am I doing wrong???

    Please help.

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  • baud

    Got exactly the same problem …
    Any advice is welcome.
    Thanks

  • Katie

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this out. This was incredibly helpful!

  • Francisco J López

    It does work, Thank you so much,
    Francisco

  • Lord Elpus

    Great tutorial, the first part worked like a charm. However the audio track in my case was a PCM and ffmpeg refused to recognise it. XLD converted it nicely though to aiff after a bit of trial and error and guessing of the required parameters for conversion.

    Many thanks Ross, this was very useful.

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  • glenn

    HELLLLLP!! Okay here is the deal… ALL i want to do is grab the DVD file .IFO that is the MENU SCREEN for a movie i have. THe menu screen is where the PLAY, SPECIAL FEATURES, BONUS MATERIAL etc… the movie is Friday the 13th. I want that file its about 35 seconds long that just loops but it’s the only audio i can find that has the best sounding F13 Theme. HOW DO I GRAB THIS .IFO file? anyone that can help would be highly appreciated. Glenn2008@mac.com

    THANK YOU IN ADVANCE! =)

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  • Jordan

    This was made four years ago and it’s still helping people today… this guide was brilliant for me. Thanks!!