Gathan Beaga

ripping pre-gap tracks

As mentioned, I’ve been ripping all my CDs to some sort of quality level that means I won’t have to do it again for a while (sadly, I don’t quite have enough disk space for FLAC, but that’s another story).

One slightly annoying issue is that some CDs have hidden tracks that can be almost impossible to rip. I’m talking here about those tracks that are hidden before the start of track one on the CDs hosting them. In order to hear one you need to scrub backwards past the beginning of track one using your old CD player, and eventually you’ll find it. They’re in what’s known as the pre-gap, a space that supposedly should be 2 seconds long, but in which it was discovered whole tracks could be placed.

Cover of the SFA album, Guerrilla.Most software based music players will not detect these tracks, so you can’t find them with iTunes and the like. Therefore it’s quite possible you may even own CDs with these tracks and not know it – here’s a list.

Mine (that I know of) is the Super Furry Animals album Guerrilla; the hidden track is called “The Citizen’s Band”, a little ode to CB radio whose melody borrows heavily from an earlier song. So not the Eldorado of hidden tracks, but then not getting it would be an affront to my completist sensibility around SFA, my long-term favourite band.

Cutting to the chase: it turns out that it is possible to get these tracks. Special software is required:

One additional problem: not all hardware can actually extract these tracks correctly. My two Macs, though both with different optical drives, eventually extracted what seemed to be full sized files, spewing lots of disk errors as they did so, but the files actually turned out to be silent. This is apparently quite common, and you may have to try lots of machines before finding one that works.

I found one eventually, though not at home… and now I have the track ripped and safe in its new place of repose. Clearly, my life is complete. For now.