Converting .cda files

I am trying to copy and edit .cda files in Audacity on Windows and get a message that the format is incompatible and I should try converting these files to a compatible format. Is there a way or a software that I can use to convert .cda files to .wav files? Or perhaps to .mp3 since I will ultimately convert them to that format anyway. Thanks muchly.

I assume that these .cda files are coming from a CD - and that you still have the CD - in which case all you need to do is to rip the CD to WAV/MP3/AAC. There is plenty of (free) software out there that will do that for you - including iTunes.

If you are going to rip them to work on in Audacity, then definitely rip them as WAV files - only move to MP3 (via Export from Audacity) as the very last stage in the workflow (as MP3 is a lossy compressed format - and throws audio data away).

Alternatively if you have some software on your copmputer that will play your .cda files then you can play them there and record into Audacity - this is much more time consuming as it has to be done in real-time and you will have to worry about levels etc.


Many thanks. I will go back and try to figure out how to re-rip them. I ripped them once, but am such a beginner that I didn’t notice that they were being ripped in the same format. I think I just assumed they would be WAV files.

From looking at the relative file sizes of .cda and .wav or aiff files, the .cda files are so small that I think they are not audio files at all, but some sort of indexing or ID file for the track with which they are associated.

Quote below from from the CoolUtils website

CD Audio (.cda) tracks are audio files that can be stored on CD media. The .cda files are representations of CD audio tracks and do not contain the actual pulse code modulation (PCM) information. Cda files can be played only from a CD-ROM. To test a .cda file, either try to play a different .cda file from your CD-ROM or try to play a .cda file from a different CD-ROM. Copied from the CD-ROM to the hard disc it cannot be played. This is format used for encoding music on all commercial compact discs. If you buy a CD from a store, the music on that CD is stored in CDA format.
The current standard for CD audio requires a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz and a sample size of 16 bits (2 bytes per sample). As a result, you need to store 2 x 44,100= 88,200 bytes of data every second to record in mono. Recording in stereo would require twice that much storage. That extrapolates to about 10 MB of data for every minute of stereo sound! It is for this reason that compression schemes such as MP3 are so important.

Unfortunately, your computer can’t store files in CDA format, so you still have to convert CDA files to another format to store on your hard disk.

In a way it can be thought of as similar to the Audacity file structure where the .aup file contains only the top level info and points to where the sound files, the .au files, are store - similarly with a CD the .CDA files point to where on the CD your player can find the PCM files which canotain the actual audio.


Yes you can convert it to Wav file. Than you can try Flac and keep sound quality but on 30% smaller files. Flac and Wav are lossless. The Cda is virtualy file. But you can play it directly from cd or just copy on your hdd and listen it.
It is a very small size, so i wonder why people convert it anyway?

The .cda file is small because it doesn’t contain any audio. It just “points” to the audio that is on the optical disk.


I know that. I put correct post but the 1 one is aproved here. Yea it is impossibleto play it from hdd. So it must be in some uncompressed format like wav or in compressed format like flac (lossless) or mp3 (loss). Flac rocks. :smiley: