Over the years I’ve tried several different methods for extracting the audio from my collection of concert DVDs. I’ve never been completely satisfied with the results. I’ve tried makeshift copies in the past by hooking wires from my TV to my computer input to capture the sound. These days, that is definitely not the way to go.
More recently, I’ve used the Mac software Audio Hijack Pro, which captures audio directly from the computer sound card and creates an output file. That method works pretty well, but you have to time the DVD playback in conjunction with Audio Hijack correctly to get a the best results. Another problem with capturing from the sound card is that you need close programs with notifications because any system sound will be recorded on top of the music playback.
This weekend I found myself tinkering with audio ripping again. I discovered a solid method for ripping DVD audio. It isn’t a one-click solution by any means, but it’s the best approach I’ve found to date.
Put the concert DVD in your computer. Use Handbrake and capture the song(s) you want, one by one. Don’t capture a spread of chapters at once or you’ll end up with more than one song in a single output file. Choose the file format MP4. Under the “audio” tab, use the codec “AAC (CoreAudio)” with a bitrate of 320. If you have multiple options for the audio source, choose PCM Stereo or AC3. If later find that the sound on the source DVD isn’t mixed loud enough, you can come back and increase the gain and rip it a second time.
Once you have captured the video, you should have a collection of MP4 video files. On the Mac, use the free program Extract Movie Soundtrack. Select the WAV format and process your video files.
Once that is complete, you should have a collection of WAV files. On the Mac, use the free program xACT to convert the WAV files to MP3. I usually use the highest quality bitrate of 320 when making the final MP3 output, but you can select the quality that fits your needs.
After all three steps above are completed, you will finally have your songs in MP3 format. Sure, the process is a bit tedious, but the result is a pure audio extraction, and it’s as good as you’re going to get. I think it’s worth the effort for capturing a song here and there, but it would obviously take quite a long time if you were trying to capture every track on the disc.