CD Hidden Track Encoding
January 27, 2005 1:43 AM   Subscribe

How do I encode hidden tracks on my CDs that appear before track 1. In my CD player I just hit backawards search to listen to them. Is there an easier way than recording a .wav and encoding that? Why aren't iTunes and Winamp equipped to find these?
posted by nthdegx to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Best answer: I think iTunes and Winamp aren't equipped to find these because they're kind of complicated -- they are technically part of Track 1 in the "Pre-gap". They may have just ignored having to deal with them because it's easier. A lot of drives also can't read the track 1 pregap reliably.

I just tried this out on a CD that has this, Lamb's Fear of Fours. I tried using Exact Audio Copy. It has a method of ripping called "Copy Selected Tracks Index-Based" which will rip the track and pre-gaps separately. This is somewhat worthless for the normal tracks on the CD, but the first file you get out of it *should* be the hidden track. I just tried using two drives: one gave me a WAV file of silence, and one locked up the program. Give it a try, though -- you may be lucky.
posted by zsazsa at 6:14 AM on January 27, 2005

Hah. I just tried doing the same thing on another computer. The hidden track ripped just fine. One other thing you must do to get this to work is to configure EAC to rip to files including the track number. EAC -> Eac Options -> Filename tab -> Naming Scheme should have something like "%N - %T".
posted by zsazsa at 6:34 AM on January 27, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks -- I'll give this a try.
posted by nthdegx at 6:36 AM on January 27, 2005

hmm. my cd player/compact hifi (philips mz 1100) goes from track 1 to track 14 when i hit the back button on lamb's fear of fours. how annoying.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:49 AM on January 27, 2005

(i forgot to add, which was silly, because it was the reason i started writing, that this player also handles mp3 cds. i wonder if the two are incompatible in some way. perhaps hidden tracks only work because cd players have restricted access, while computers generally have more general access to the cd? in other words, it exploits a kind of bug in the cd player. that doesn't explain why computers can't access the track, but might explain why it's not trivial to do so. </wild guess>)
posted by andrew cooke at 6:52 AM on January 27, 2005

Do they show up in the filesystem at all?
posted by mkultra at 7:05 AM on January 27, 2005

andrew cooke, you have to seek back by holding the |<|<| button down, or use the <|<| seek button if your player has them. Doing 'previous track' by tapping the |<|<| won't work.

mkultra, audio CDs don't have filesystems. It's just one long audio data stream with some indexes in it to say when tracks begin, end, and have pregaps. It's so simple that computer CD-ROM drives sometimes actually have more problems accessing Audio CDs than dumb CD players do.
posted by zsazsa at 7:43 AM on January 27, 2005

Best answer: Audio CDs are made according to the "Red Book" standard.

Following on to zsazsa, on an audio CD there can be audio between track markers in the pause area. For example, on a live album I edited for the group Sviraj (One to Remember) the band wanted to have all the talking in-between songs preserved on the CD. The way I set the track markers on this project, if you play the disc straight through, you get all the talking, but if you program track 1 2 3 etc you get only the songs.

The default pause before track 1 starts is 2 seconds. Hidden track CDs have an extended pause area before the track 1 marker. We put (undocumented) hidden tracks on both CDs of Boiled In Lead's Alloy 2 using this method.
posted by omnidrew at 8:46 AM on January 27, 2005

thanks zsazsa, but it doesn't seem to help - just plays rapidly bacwards to 0.00 and then stops :o(
posted by andrew cooke at 10:36 AM on January 27, 2005

Some CD players just don't cope well with this at all. In my experience separates usually get it right, but midi systems and cheap and nasty decks don't. Even then I've found that some systems won't just stop when you "wind" to the begining of the track but go back to zero so you have to start winding again.

Why can't they just put the damn tracks at the end....
posted by dodgygeezer at 11:10 AM on January 27, 2005

This is the first time I've heard of hiding tracks before the first track. Is there a list of albums that do this somewhere?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:45 PM on January 27, 2005

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