How to extract audio from a Blu-ray disc

Reader Derrick Crandall has one chunk of media that he’d like to turn into more. He writes:

I have a concert recording on a Blu-ray disc. I’d like to use my Mac to extract the audio from it so I can play its music on my devices but I haven’t any idea where to start. What do you suggest?

To do this, you’ll need both hardware and software that you may not currently have. You’ll also need this admonition:

The MPAA and most media companies argue that you can’t legally copy or convert commercial DVDs or Blu-ray discs for any reason. We (and others) think that, if you own such a disc, you should be able to override its copy protection to make a backup copy or to convert its content for enjoying on other devices. Currently, the law isn’t entirely clear one way or the other. So our advice is: If you don’t own it, don’t do it. If you do own it, think before you rip.

With that out of the way, here are the ingredients and process. First, you need some variety of Blu-ray player for your Mac. Scan Amazon or Other World Computing and you’ll find such a player for well under $100. Connect the player to your Mac via the supplied cable (likely a USB connection).

Now, download a copy of MakeMKV. This is a utility for ripping Blu-ray and DVD discs. Launch MakeMKV and from its Source pop-up menu, choose the Blu-ray player. Choose File > Backup and select a destination large enough to hold its contents (this could be around 40GB). In the MakeMKV Disk Backup window that appears, enable the Decrypt video files option and click OK. MakeMKV will make a copy of the disc and, in the process, remove its protection. This can take up to an hour.

makemkv backupdisc

Choose a location for your disc backup.

When you return from lunch, quit MakeMKV and download a copy of Computer Application Studio’s DVD Audio Extractor. The full version costs $38.50, but you can use a free full-featured trial copy for 30 days. Launch DVD Audio Extractor and from the DVD Source pop-up menu choose Folder – Open DVD Files From File Folder. Click the file browser icon just to the right of this pop-up menu and navigate to the folder that holds your copy of the Blu-ray you just ripped. Click Open within the navigation window and the contents of the now-virtual disc will appear.

It’s now your job to locate the audio files you’re after via the Title and Chapter panes within the app’s window. (The play button in the bottom-left corner can help by allowing you to preview chapters.) When you’ve selected exactly what you want, click on Next.

extractbluaudio

Select the chapters (containing the audio you want) within DVD Audio Extractor.

In the next window you choose the output format, sample rate, channels, and bit rate for the extracted audio. For an iOS device you might choose AIFF, 44100 Hz, Stereo, 16-bits. If you have a surround-sound AV system capable of playing multi-channel files, you may choose to maintain the original six channels and 24-bits. Once you’ve made your choices, click Next again.

Now choose your output location (the Documents folder within your user folder is chosen by default) and click Next again. Finally, click the Start button in the next screen and the app will set about creating the audio files. In not-too-many minutes the extraction will be done.

Note, there are other utilities that claim to do all of this. As with a lot of disc extraction and media conversion tools, I’d avoid them. They’re generally not very effective, cost more than the options I've mentioned, and are promoted via spam. The tools I’ve suggested will get the job done at a reasonable cost.

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