December 20, 2007 4:09 PM   Subscribe

Please explain to me what a cue, m3u, and log file are in layman's terms. (In regards to audio files.)

I just starting ripping a few cds using EAC.

Why are these files useful and also, if I have FLAC files that include these 3 files and if I convert the FLAC to a different format, are these old files still useful?
posted by hazyspring to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A .cue file defines the track (both in audio, and CD format terms) layout of a CD disk. The .cue file normally refers to a identically named .bin file while contains the data. A CD burning program can read the .cue, find the data it requires in the .bin and burn a copy of the CD from it. Certain MP3 playing applications can also read data from .cue and .bin files in order to know when one track starts and another finishes, and this method of distribution is often used for mix CDs, where there are no discernable audio-gaps between songs.

A .m3u file is a text file, originally used by WinAmp music player to define the order it should play tracks in. m3u files can also contain some MetaData about the track which the mp3 player can display.

A .log file, I assume, is just that - a log of whatever process your ripping software went through, for reference sake.

If you have ripped some files to .FLAC, whether you need any of these other files depends on what you want to do with them now. A .m3u file would help WinAmp (or another player that reads such playlists) to play the tracks back in the order of the album, and a .cue file might be useful if you want to reburn the files back onto another CD, but if your mp3 playing software (iTunes, for instance) doesn't use these things specifically, you can safely delete them without damaging the music in the FLAC files.
posted by benzo8 at 4:15 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

.log is the EAC log. .cue and .m3u are both optionally generated by EAC, and lots of rippers include these when distributing rips.

.m3u is kind of worthless IMO, but .log is good for validating the quality of the files, and .cue is helpful when burning to a CD. If these are for your personal use and you don't plan on sharing, I'd just ditch everything but the .cue. And the cue file is still valid for mp3 versions, so I always copy these over after converting.
posted by neckro23 at 5:12 PM on December 20, 2007

The mp3 format suffers from a design deficiency that makes it impossible not to have small gaps between tracks. Some players can hide or otherwise minimize this deficiency, but it's still there. So when you have an album wherein the tracks are meant to seamlessly blend into each other (such as a live DJ recording) without any silence, they typically sound like ass when ripped to MP3 due to the gaps. One common workaround for this problem is to rip the entire album into one monolithic MP3 file and then distribute a .cue sheet with it which tells where the tracks originally started and stopped. This lets you play it back exactly as it was meant to be heard while still using MP3 format that offers substantial compression.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:08 PM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

« Older Help me find interesting anthropology/sociology...   |   Findiing toy stores, typewriters in Los Angeles. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.