How to Convert CDA Files to MP3 Format

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How to Convert CDA Files to MP3 Format

The formats available for listening to music are numerous, the most popular one being MP3. This Techspirited article tells you how to convert a CDA file to MP3 format.

You cannot play CDA files copied to your hard disk simply because they are not audio files.

CDA files, which stand for Compact Disc Audio files, are virtual files that represent data in a CD. If you see the contents of a CD on Windows, you will notice a number of .cda files such that each file corresponds to a single soundtrack. You can play a soundtrack by double clicking a .cda file as long as the CD is in the optical drive. However, to play these files directly from your computer, you need to rip them to music file formats such as MP3, WAV, WMA, etc. But why? The reason behind this is that .cda files are only pointers created by the Windows CD driver which point to the locations of sound files on the CD. This implies that CDA files do not contain any musical data.
To extract or rip off audio files from a CD into a music format which the computer understands, you will need to make use of a ripper software. However, there are a few media players that have the ‘rip’ feature as a built-in functionality. We will now discuss how to convert CDA files to MP3 format in the following sections, but before that, we will see what are CDA and MP3 files.

What is a CDA file?

The music files on a CD are stored spirally in a continuous stream, starting from the center and ending at the outer edge. Therefore, to access an individual file or to play a specific soundtrack, one needs a pointer to that file, and Windows creates such pointers in the form of virtual files call CDA files.
These files are located in the directory of the CD and can only be accessed if the CD is still inserted in the PC. Each file has a size of 44 bytes and is represented in the directory using the naming convention Track##.cda, where ## depicts the track number.

What is an MP3 file?

MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III (MP3) is a lossy form of data compression that reduces the size of a file while retaining the quality of the original audio track to some extent. The compression formats come in two forms, lossy and lossless. Lossless formats retain the quality and size of their file, while lossy formats don’t. MP3 is the standard format used in all digital audio players.

How to convert CDA files to MP3 format?

Windows Media Player
Windows Media Player is the default media player in Windows that plays almost all formats.

  1. Insert a CD into your optical drive and open Windows Media Player. If the Player is in Now Playing mode, then click the button named ‘Library’ next to it to select the song you wish to convert.
  2. Now, right-click the ‘Rip’ button and click the ‘Format’ option, and then the ‘MP3’ option to select the output format.
  3. You can specify other options such as the bit rate and the destination for the file.
  4. Uncheck the check-box for any song you do not wish to convert into MP3 format.
  5. Left-click on the ‘Rip’ button to start the conversion process. The converted files will be stored in the Music Library folder by default.

Streaming Audio Recorder
It’s a powerful app designed to extract audio CDs as well as convert it into popular formats such as MP3, WAV, WMA, OGG, AAC, and FLAC. You can also cut, copy, merge, or split the sounds and make your own unique song and burn it into a CD later. Follow the steps given below:

  1. Install and Run Streaming Audio Recorder on your computer.
  2. Insert the CD of your choice in your disc drive.
  3. Click ‘Tools’ and select ‘CD Ripper’.
  4. Choose the CD drive from the drop-down list.
  5. Select the tracks you wish to save on your computer by checking the check-boxes next to them.
  6. Now, click ‘Rip checked track’.

Website:Streaming Audio Recorder

FreeRIP CD to MP3 Converter
As the name suggests, it’s a free converter that can convert cda files to different formats. The only disadvantage is that the user interface is not suitable for novice users. Follow the steps to convert cda files easily.

  1. Install the latest version of the software and run it.
  2. Select the tracks that need to be converted.
  3. Click the ‘Rip’ button to convert the selected files.
  4. After saving the files in your favored format, you can transfer them to your music player.


VLC Media Player
VLC Media is an open-source media player that supports all formats. The steps to convert CDA to MP3 are as follows:

  1. After inserting your audio CD, launch the VLC Media Player.
  2. Choose the ‘Disc’ tab at the top of the ‘Open Media’ screen and select the ‘Audio CD’ button.
  3. Click the Browse button to choose your audio CD from the list of options. Press the ‘Up’ arrow next to the ‘Starting Position’ field so that your track is set to number 1.
  4. Click the ‘Media/Tab’ option and click on ‘Convert/Save’. Click the ‘Profile’ drop-down box and select the ‘Audio/MP3’ export setting.
  5. Click the third toolbar icon directly to the right of the ‘Profile’ box to create a new export profile. Name your profile as you’ll be using it for all your audio tracks.
  6. Click the ‘Encapsulation’ tab and choose the ‘WAV’ option. Click the ‘Audio Codec’ tab and select ‘MP3’ from the ‘Codec’ drop-down box. Check the ‘Audio’ box on the left side of the screen and click ‘Save’ to return to the ‘Convert’ window.
  7. Click the ‘Browse’ button on the right side of the screen to open a pop-up search screen and choose a folder to save your audio file. Remember to name your track with the ‘.mp3’ extension, else VLC will convert it to the wrong format.
  8. Press ‘Start’ at the bottom of the screen to convert your first track. When the conversion is complete, repeat step 3. However, this time, choose your second track and click ‘Convert/Save’ and choose your profile (created in step 5), and press ‘Start’ to begin the conversion again. Continue till your entire CD is converted.

iTunes is the resident media player of Apple. It lets you convert cda files to mp3 for free. No changes will be made to the file specifications, allowing you to convert files without being ripped.

  1. Open iTunes by double-clicking the application.
  2. Change the Import settings in iTunes by clicking on ‘iTunes’ and then ‘Preferences’. Then click on ‘Import’. Click the ‘Import Using’ drop-down menu and select ‘MP3 Encoder’, and click ‘OK’ twice to save these settings.
  3. Insert an audio disc. This disc will be automatically recognized by iTunes.
  4. Now, click the ‘Import CD’ button on the lower left side. The conversion process begins and the files are automatically converted to the .mp3 format.

These are some of the methods that help you convert audio CDs to MP3 format so that you may listen to them on other devices such as computers, iPods, and MP3 players.

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