Converting DVD audio to MP3

I have a couple of concert DVDs (Last Night of the Proms from 2002 and Hilary Hahn Portrait) that have performances that I’d like to have on my iPod.  I searched high and low for an easy way to do this, and unfortunately didn’t find one.  Doom9.org has several guides on converting, but none that exactly did what I needed.  Here are the steps that I wound up taking:

Ripping the audio (you’ll wind up with either a WAV or AC3 file after this)

  1. Download and install DVD Decrypter from http://www.doom9.org/ (in the Download section under Descrambling / Ripping Tools).
  2. Run DVD Decrypter, put in your DVD.  Go to Mode and select IFO.  Go to Tools->Settings.  On the IFO Mode tab, make sure that Enable Stream Processing is checked.
  3. Here’s the hard part.  On the Input tab, you’ll have to find the PGC (Program Chain) and Chapter that you want.  Both DVDs that I was ripping included timings for the chapters in their liner notes; I was able to quickly determine which I needed through that.  In general, the longest PGC is the main feature.
  4. Decide how you want to have the tracks encoded.  If you select all chapters at once, you’ll wind up with one file for each PGC.  If you want each chapter to be a separate MP3 file, you’ll have to select chapters one at a time and repeat the ripping/converting steps below.
  5. Once you’ve found the PGC/chapter that you want, go to the Stream Processing tab.  You’ll see different streams here, including subtitles and audio.  You will be interested in either the AC3 (Surround Sound encoded, you’ll wind up with an AC3 file) or LPCM (stereo, usually uncompressed audio, you’ll wind up with a WAV file) streams.  Hilary Hahn Portrait had LPCM audio and I chose to rip to this format, as I figured that there were a couple of possible cases:
    • It was recorded in stereo, so I was ripping the original source material.
    • It was recorded in surround sound and downmixed to stereo by an engineer with more knowledge and better equipment than I have, therefore was higher quality than I could get by downmixing the AC3 track.

    Select the stream that you’d like to copy and make sure the option is set to Demux the stream (de-multiplex, this means to pull out the stream into a separate file).

  6. Click the Decrypt button to write the file to your hard drive.  In your Destination directory, you’ll wind up with an AC3 or a WAV file for the audio stream.

Converting WAV to MP3:

Drag and drop the WAV file onto iTunes.  Right-click and select Convert to MP3. 

Converting AC3 to MP3:

You can follow the AC3->MP3 conversion guide from Doom9. I found that the BeLight program gave several error messages about out-of-bounds indexes when I dropped the files onto its work area; I wound up having to restart it several times.  I can always blame Vista! 😉

Note that the file (either way) won’t have any tag information in it, so you’ll have to add that.

Not terribly simple, is it?  I don’t think I’d have the patience to do this for a large number of DVDs; it was worth it for the live Korngold Concerto performance for sure!

Don’t steal music.  If you like the music enough to go through the above steps on your $1,000 computer so that you can listen to it on your $250 MP3 player, think about dropping the $10-$20 on the DVD to support something that you enjoy.

Legal Note: Check your copyright and fair use laws before doing this.  I suspect that a jury would have a hard time finding me guilty of “stealing” by copying the audio from a DVD that I’ve purchased to the iPod that I own for my own use, so I feel pretty safe, but I suspect the MPAA & RIAA don’t like what I’m doing anyway.

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