not having much luck pulling music from DVDs

Hello folks. This is my first post here.

I have about a thousand music CDs which I’ve been busy ripping to .mp3, but I have 5 that are DVDs of music concerts. I wish now I’d ordered the CDs instead of the DVDs, as I don’t have time to just sit & watch & listen. So, I am trying to pull the music off them so I can make .mp3 files and listen to them on the go.

From reading around the internet, I found I’d have to install LAME and FFmpeg libraries, and then I could use the Audacity I already had to extract the music from the DVDs. I got those two utilities/libraries and did the installs for them. Then I found out that the LAME was already part of my Audacity anyway. Presumably/hopefully, running the LAME install didn’t hurt anything. I also did the FFmpeg install. That seemed to install OK.

From my reading, I believe it’s the .VOB files, located in the VIDEO_TS folder, that I want from the DVDs. There’s an AUDIO_TS folder, but it’s empty.

I am using Audacity 2.3.2 on Windows 10.

If I do a File > Import > Audio and select a .VOB file from the DVD, I get an error message that implies FFmpeg is not installed or not working properly. Maybe it’s just a generic message that gets displayed whether or not FFmpeg is installed OK. It says “Audacity did not recognize the type of the file. Try installing FFmpeg. For uncompressed files, also try File > Import > Raw Data”. So that seems to imply that FFmpeg is not installed correctly.

If I go to Edit > Preferences > Libraries, it says my LAME is installed OK and is ver 3.100 (Built-in). It also lists my FFmpeg Import/Export Library. It says it’s version F(55.33.100), C(55.52.102), U(52.66.100). If I click on the LOCATE button, it says “Audacity has automatically detected valid FFmpeg libraries. Do you still want to locate them manually?”. So I say NO to that and exit. That seems to indicate that FFmpeg IS installed correctly.

If I do a File > Import > Raw Data and select a .VOB file, I don’t get an error. It processes awhile, then puts something in the display window at the bottom of Audacity. However, no matter which .VOB file I select, what’s in the window is 9 seconds long and is completely blank.

I see that, when I do a File > Import > Raw Data, there is a field called “Encoding:”. I’m just leaving it at the default “Signed 32-bit PCM”, and Byte Order is set to “Big-endian”. Maybe my only problem is that I need to select the right parameters, but I don’t know enough about all this to know what those parameters mean.

I feel like I’m getting close to resolving this, but there’s something I am doing wrong. Can anyone help point me in the right direction?

Many thanks,

Try copying the VOB file to your hard drive first, then import into Audacity from the hard drive copy.
If you still get an error, please tell us the full and exact message.

Note that if the DVD is copy protected, then it will not be possible to import the file with Audacity. There are some free tools for ripping DVDs that work with most copy protected DVDs, which you should be able to easily find with a Google search.

I feel like I’m getting close to resolving this

You either need a DVD ripper program or be able to set your DVD playing and record the sound parts as a streaming show in real time. Those are pretty much the only two options.

OK, so technically there is one more. Set up a camera watching the screen in a dark room and a microphone listening to your speakers in a quiet room. That does work—poorly.

Video Objects (.vob) have the picture parts and the sound parts smashed together into one stream. It’s not like the picture is over here and the sound is over there.

DVDs can have different sound tracks. Dolby Surround and straight, plain PCM stereo. The ripper has to know which one you want because the stream can have both. We had a trick at our shop. If the DVD was getting too full for the perfect quality PCM stereo, we would use the smaller Dolby compressed tracks and only fill up Front-Left and Front-Right. Effectively stereo. Players start with Dolby and work down depending on what they can find.

Rippers can be interesting to find because content producers would just as soon they all dry up and blow away. Some DVDs won’t rip. There are ways to damage the tracks so that most DVD players can figure it out and most rippers can’t.


There are ways to damage the tracks so that most DVD players can figure it out and most rippers can’t.

This problem can get insane. There was an animated movie available in the Los Angeles Library system and I couldn’t play it. Two different players, two disks from different branches, no joy.

I found the same movie at a remote library branch with suspiciously different cover art. Sure enough, it plays perfectly everywhere. I warned the library administrators.


See if VLC media player can play the DVD. If it can play it, then it should be able to “Convert” it to a WAV file.
(VLC is a free, open source media player that also has the ability to convert media to other formats:

See if VLC media player can play the DVD.

Yes it does—after it’s been ripped. But note that one of the protection schemes has the VOB files scrambled and you have to go in several layers deep to get the actual show. Watch the file sizes. The real VOBs are several MB.

Also, a commercial disk will not allow VOBs to be copied from the disk. You do not have permission…The following action…unrecognized filetype, etc.

MPEGStreamclip is another possibility.

Post back if you get something to work.


Did brian1 write that somewhere else?

What about playing the actual DVD in VLC? Does that work?

If you are going to rip the DVD, and after that to extract the audio with Audacity, I may recommend you to use Handbrake as a DVD ripper.
You may set the video conversion into the fastest possible (and lowest quality) and the audio into “auto pass-thru”; that way you would get a video file which audio is faithful to the original audio of the DVD.

Handbrake as a DVD ripper.

That’s it. That’s another one I’ve used.


Ripping just takes the work on the physical disk and removes all the tricks, errors, oddities, mis-directions and slights of hand and saves a “normal” DVD on your hard drive or wherever you want it.

You can, if you wish, stop right here. Mac DVD Player will “Open DVD Media…” Doesn’t say anything about a disk.

Then it’s up to you to take the now “clean” DVD/Video Objects and turn them into individual video and audio files.

As far as I know, VLC won’t play a physical disk. This could be a version issue. It may very well play and convert the work. I don’t know, but I know your chances are seriously better with well-behaved work on your hard drive than trying to mess with the DVD directly.


Thanks for all the replies. Holy cow! All that sounds like a lot of work. Stuff I’d read on the internet (you know how THAT goes) made it sound pretty simple & doable. I also found a couple services that claimed to do it via the internet for free and “not require any app to be loaded on my PC”. Well, as soon as I clicked on “select files” at one of the sites, it told me I first need to download & install their app. I’ll pass on that.

I did try the suggestion of copying a VOB file from one of the DVDs. It said it couldn’t because it was copy protected. So much for that.

While I really liked the challenge of making this work, I’m going to just pony up the bucks and buy the CD versions of the same things. There are only 5 DVDs that I’m dealing with here; all live music concerts. One in CD version is as little as $4, shipped, from Amazon. The most expensive one is $18. All but one of them I can just stream the songs from the CD version on Amazon. One doesn’t have streaming available, so I paid $4 plus $4 shipping from Amazon UK for the CD.

So would I :slight_smile:

That sounds like the death bell for using Audacity for this task, at least, doing it “digitally”. You could of course play the DVD in a DVD player and “record” that into Audacity, but that’s going through digital → analog → digital conversions, and can only be done in “real time” (1 hour of audio takes 1 hour to record).

That is by far the simplest solution, and if you think of “time is money”, then probably the cheapest too :wink:

If you have the patience to carry on for a bit, even if it’s “just for kicks”, then I’d suggest that you try VLC. If you’ve not VLC, I’d recommend it. It’s a media player that plays almost any media files (and disks). It’s a really useful little (free) tool to have anytime that you encounter a video file in an oddball format.

As Ivalogic wrote, “Handbrake” is a good tool, and can probably do the job, but it’s quite a complex program. The official website for Handbrake is here:
Beware of other sites offering Handbrake - there’s lots of malware versions of this app, so only use their official website.

I don’t like having technology beat me, so I continued to play with it and came up with a simple solution. While it takes more effort than just saying “rip all the songs off this DVD”, it works for me. I followed the solution of installing VLC Media Player. Then I just play the DVD on my laptop and use the “dual stereo” function, I believe it’s called, on my laptop to make the mp3 with Audacity. Both Audacity and VLC are great programs. Many thanks to all in the Audacity community who’ve helped me with this.

Also a big thanks to Doug for the PM. Very useful info. I searched and searched, and could NOT find a reply button anywhere.

I just play the DVD on my laptop

It’s time consuming but it does work. That can be far simpler than trying to take the DVD apart. Glad you got it working. A note, if the DVD is in Dolby Surround (six tracks) you will only get the plain stereo version (two track) of the show this way.


You can use tools like makemkv to select and extract the content you need from video DVDs.

You can select the program you want (among main movie, bonus, menus etc), and the video/audio/subtitles tracks you want (for a program, there can be several tracks with different languages and audio formats)

It will produce an MKV container file, WITHOUT recompressing video nor audio (which is really interesting here)

You can then open this MKV in audacity, it will extract audio data from it and you can save it in the format you like (and maybe normalize, cut tracks etc)

Note that audio tracks on DVDs are mainly encoded in 2 formats :

  • LPCM 2 channels which is very close to CD-audio format although 48khz
  • Dolby AC3 5.1 channels. Audacity will also be able to open this. You could either downmix it to stereo or mono, or keep the 5.1 by saving to a multichannel-able format (ie FLAC)

There are also other tools able to do the same, but I’m used to makemkv and it does the job quite well. It’s “free while in beta”, at least for linux version.