How CD pregaps gained their hidden track superpowers

232 points3
ssl-33 days ago

One less-secretive way I've seen pregaps used is for live recordings.

The crowd noise betwixt songs can be contained in a pregap, so that it is only ever heard when listening to the album straight-through (instead of in shuffle or track-program mode).


Another fun feature of audio CDs is indexes.

A disc can have 99 tracks, and each track can have some pregap (including track 1, as the article discusses). And each of these 99 tracks can be further subdivided with 99 index markers.

This gives a CD the theoretical ability to have 9,801 selectable audio segments.

Although realistically, I've only owned a couple of CD players that even displayed index numbers and exactly one CD player (a Carver TL-3300) that allowed a person to seek to a given index number within a track.

(And I've only known one CD to actually make use of indexes in any useful manner, which was a sound effects CD from the early 1980s that had a lot more than 99 sounds on it -- all organized by tracks, and sub-organized by index marks. I just can't think of the name right now.)

kevin_thibedeau3 days ago

My personal CD ripping script is configured to leave all pregaps after track one at the end of the preceding track when splitting them out as individual files. It gets ripped in one DAO pass for guaranteed preservation of all samples when using gapless playback on live recordings. Track navigation then works just like a real CD without having to listen to an incongruous section of audio meant to link the previous track on sequential play or, even worse, missing it altogether.

I have a classical CD from the 80's with index marks for different movements within within the individual compositions represented by a handful of tracks. My understanding is that DG was the only publisher routinely using them. That required some manual intervention to convert the indices to separate tracks. Sony was pretty good about providing index nav. on their full size stereo players. At least until their perpetually cruddy remotes eventually failed.

ssl-32 days ago

That's probably the best way to do it, given common toolsets and players. I also rip pregaps as lead-outs (rather than the lead-ins that the structure may appear to suggest).

It's things like this that make me wish that we'd landed on on a good, popular way to store albums (with metadata!) instead of individual tracks -- or to at least reassemble individual tracks' files properly into whole albums without glitches and weirdness. (FLAC/cue can do some of this, but hardware player support is nearly nonexistant.)

I've been told that this is a stupid thing to want, and I want it anyway.

I'm old enough to remember listening to albums the whole way through by default since anything else would take extra steps, and perhaps fortunate-enough to have generally preferred listening to albums where that is a thing that is also worth doing intentionally.

(And yet, I am young enough to still be bitter about Lars killing Napster. My dissatisfaction is multifaceted.)

kevin_thibedeau2 days ago

In addition to lossy compressed track files I also generate a FLAC with embedded cue as a master copy of the original. It's useful for recreating the whole recording for mass editing. I have a few discs mastered with preemphasis that needed correction. I too hope there will be a day when all FLAC players support track navigation. The reality is the music album has had its day in the sun and will largely be a forgotten curiosity like the typewriter or rotary phone.

ssl-32 days ago
qingcharles2 days ago

I'd love a new solution that wasn't "break the CD data into pieces."

I've never looked inside a CUE file, but it's just text and I don't think it supports meta data, right?

We need like a new CUE file to go with the FLAC, right?


ssl-32 days ago
kevin_thibedeau2 days ago

Cue is a bodge that should never have become a defacto standard. Joerg Schilling's cdrdao tool has its own TOC format that faithfully captures everything including index marks, various flags, and multilingual CD text but it was ignored by everything else in the heyday of the ripping era. Nowadays we'd be better off with a standard yaml/json format that duplicates what cdrdao provides.

mikepurvis2 days ago

This is an issue for movie discs too. Some mkv rips will preserve chapter data (though player support is spotty), but in the end it's still a big linear file— menus, intros, trailers, optional features, etc are all gone once it's ripped unless you rip that stuff to separate video files.

Which I get on the one hand, but it's a bummer that in all these cases (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray) the metadata for the larger structure of the production got inextricably tied to the specific physical media implementing it, such that the only real way to preserve that data was to rip a full disc copy.

op00to2 days ago

> At least until their perpetually cruddy remotes eventually failed.

For me, Sony remotes were made of the same stuff as early Nokia phones - indestructible! Surprised to hear someone thought they were cruddy.

kevin_thibedeau2 days ago

They were physically robust but the carbon button contacts always became dodgy for me. I tried to avoid Sony products for this reason because I encountered it so often in other people's gear. I have a remote from the late 00's that saw virtually zero use and it conked out with age alone.

alliao2 days ago

Japanese called it Sony Timer...some call it urban legend but this seems like yet another independently verified data point

layer82 days ago

There is/was carbon spray that you could use to refresh the contacts.

albrewer2 days ago

I had a set of cds that went with an intro to music theory textbook around ~2009. It did also made heavy use of indices in tracks to do exactly the same thing. My car stereo listed each index as a track.

I wish I could remember the name of the textbook because I really liked a lot of the baroque music on the CDs and can't remember who they were by or the titles of the songs...

benjaminpv2 days ago

Do you remember if the textbook was orange (possibly with a two-tone cover design)? I had a really good textbook in college that had a... 4? CD set (with the big jewel case) that had a bunch of tracks and like you I really enjoyed it.

albrewer2 days ago

It was a reddish (could be orange, could have been maroon) color lightly mottled in black with a picture of a violin (or cello, idk) set in the lower 2/3 of the cover. I'm somewhat certain it had 6 cds because it filled my disc changer in my stereo, although that detail is fuzzy too.

pseudosavant2 days ago

I mastered a CD in 2000 for a band that wanted a secret track at the end. I came up with a novel way to do it.

There were a dozen regular tracks. A bunch of empty ones. And the final track over about a dozen tracks of varying length with no gap. Used all 99 tracks.

I could only pull it off with this CD burning software that didn’t have a UI. It took a text file as input at the command line. But it could do everything from almost every color of spec (Red Book, Blue Book, etc) for CDs.

chaboud2 days ago

The Nine Inch Nails “Broken” EP had a couple of tracks at the end of 99, though the middle tracks were all 1-second blanks.

ssl-32 days ago

I've had visions of putting a CD together that was that way, but with pregaps and indexes utilized as well.

"WTF? The time counter keeps going forward, and then sometimes it goes backwards! And using the track seek buttons completely eliminates some parts that I can hear if I don't touch anything!

It's a whole different song entirely when you program tracks 39, 40, and 52 in a loop, and IDFK what it is with this Index number that only always showed "1" before.

Oh wait. Srsly? From tracks 71-93, it's using the index to count beats...and the track number to count measures? No, that can't be it. Except...."

pseudosavant2 days ago

I thought I'd really (ab)used the CD specs, but don't recall ever trying indexes. Curious how most CD players, which only had a two-digit track indicator, handled indexes. I would have used that if I had known about it.

giobox1 day ago

I wasn't aware these existed either. I suspect the answer is incredibly boring: most CD players simply wont seek to an index, pressing skip track will just skip to the next track ignoring any indexes present.

cainxinth3 days ago

> Broken was re-released as one CD in October 1992, having the bonus songs heard on tracks 98 and 99 respectively, without any visual notice except for the credits, and tracks 7–97 each containing one second of silence.

Amarok (1990) by Mike Oldfield is a single hourlong track with 53 index marks.

egypturnash2 days ago

Broken was absolutely perfect to put into a multi-disc player along with TMBG's Apollo 18, which contains "Fingertips", a suite of 21 very short songs. Set it to shuffle songs from everything in the player, and enjoy your sonic whiplash

ssl-32 days ago

Was this better with the crazily fast-loading chonka-chonk slam-slam nature of a Pioneer 6-disc cartridge changer, or with something slower and perhaps more-civilized like a period-correct Technics 5-disc changer, with its nearly-silent and relatively exquisite, seemingly-careful demeanor?

(Both have their merits, but I unfortunately have neither at hand. And I only have one of these 2 albums. And one of those albums is the original Broken, which only has 6+2 tracks across two discs instead of 99 tracks on one disc.

And how do the 91 silent tracks on a more-common release of Broken affect things compared to the 26 musical tracks that the original 6+2+18 track-count ensemble may entail, in terms of inter-song delay or any other such thing on a real multi-disc changer?

I know TMBG fairly well, and NIN very well, and I enjoy the fuck out of gear, but I have so many questions.)

(I vaguely jest above, but Spotify only shows me 18 tracks on Apollo 18. And only one of them is Fingertips. Am I looking at this wrong?)

egypturnash2 days ago
eyelidlessness2 days ago

If you want sonic whiplash without so much effort, you can also listen to a Fantomas album in its original order.

tecleandor2 days ago
egypturnash2 days ago

There wasn't really much effort involved. Pick a few discs off the CD rack that I thought will clash interestingly, load up the cd tray of the cheap all-in-one turntable/tape deck/radio/cd unit I had in my room, hit the 'shuffle' button until it tells me it's gonna shuffle everything together, hit play.

Looking Fantomas up on Wikipedia makes it sound like they'd go pretty well with "twenty tracks that sound like the choruses of twenty different songs" and "ninety-something 1s blank tracks plus a few industrial songs", though.

AkBKukU2 days ago

I'm curious if you have a specific example of an album with the crowd noise between tracks like that? I collect and rip hundreds of CDs and am always on the look out for edge case discs to further hone my tools.

On your pregap + 99 indexes remark, the "pregap" is the space between index 00 and 01 which continues on up to index 99. Players seek to index 01 as the start point of the track. There is no separate pregap designation. I've paid special attention to this because it is a difficult problem to solve as many discs have space between tracks stored in index 00-01 but rarely is there anything audible in there after the first track. The only example I have of this is a specialty music sample disc, Rarefaction's A Poke In The Ear With A Sharp Stick, that has over 500 samples on the disc accessed by track + index positions.

As a sidebar based on the later comments in the thread, I've made it a habit to rip and store every audio CD as BIN/CUE+TOC using cdrdao. This allows me to go back and re-process discs I may have missed something on. But that is imprecise even because it usually breaks bluebook discs with multiple sessions to store data due to absolute LBA addressing. Also the ways different CD/DVD drives handle reading data between index 00-01 on track 1 is maddening. Some will read it, some will error, and the worst is those that output fake blank data.

meindnoch2 days ago

>I'm curious if you have a specific example of an album with the crowd noise between tracks like that? I collect and rip hundreds of CDs and am always on the look out for edge case discs to further hone my tools.

E.g. the Japanese version of Flying Lotus' album "Until The Quiet Comes" has a pregap of 5 seconds before the 19th track, to separate it from the rest of the album, as it's a Japanese-exclusive bonus track.

mmmlinux17 hours ago

Is it crowd noise or just a gap? I'm also interested to see one of these skipable crowd noise CDs.

hcs2 days ago

Seven minute pregap on disc 1 track 4 of , it's a whole long discussion between songs, with some audience cheering. VGMdb follows the "append pregap to previous track" convention, that's why track 3 looks so long. There's similar but shorter gaps with banter on tracks 2 and 7.

Cuesheet looks like:

      INDEX 00 00:00:00
      INDEX 01 07:34:43
Edit: Probably covered by your sfx disc, but this one has 17 indexes on track 1:

That messed with a tool that only anticipated one index in track 1 for detecting hidden pregap audio, cuesheet is like:

      INDEX 00 00:00:00
      INDEX 01 00:00:37
      INDEX 02 00:11:40
      INDEX 03 00:37:33
davidgay2 days ago

I have an early CD (Bach's Goldberg variations, played by Glenn Gould) which is one track with 31 index markers.

My (early) Philips CD player dealt with it fine, but since then it's been a bit of a problem...

LeoPanthera2 days ago

Semi-related: "Minidisc" is an album by Gescom (who are really Autechre in disguise) released, as the name suggests, only on Minidisc, containing 88 tracks which are designed to be played on shuffle, because Minidisc, unlike CD or any other physical format, can be shuffled with no audible gap between tracks.

Each track is designed to segue into any other so the album is different every time you play it.

qingcharles2 days ago

I was responsible for some of the first digital content ingestion for the world's record labels back in the late 90s, which was all based around trucks filled with retail CDs being fed into CD-ROM drives and an army of young folks grinding hundreds of track names into a database. (what happens when a truck full of East Asian CDs turns up? what about all those albums by Aphex Twin and Sigur Ros with untypeable names? )

I love these hidden tracks to death, especially the two hidden pregap tracks on Ash's first album, but they caused me unending pain and suffering.

Not only are they an absolute nightmare to rip, often with more than one song per track (so the WAVs have to be edited), the names of the songs are often totally unknown, even to the record labels. What do you even number the things in the metadata?

Added to that, you nearly always didn't even know they were there, so the negative numbered tracks would fail to get ripped and all the other ones in between or at the end would get ripped in weird ways and confuse all the data folk.

"Help, computer."

afavour3 days ago

One memorable album using this was Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf. If you rewound from the start of the first track you got 90 seconds of strange sounding (but tuneful) rumbles and bleeps and bloops.

When I looked it up online I found out it was called “The Real Song for the Deaf”. It was literally a song for deaf people, the idea was that if they turned it up enough they’d be able to hear the vibrations forming a song.

For those interested to listen via a more accessible method:

leonard-slass2 days ago

I have the hardware and the CD. I did not know you could rewind to negative seconds of the first track. Thank you, you have made my day!

mckn1ght21 hours ago

Same for 311’s Transistor. I remember accidentally doing it and wondering if I’d somehow distorted the fabric of spacetime. Took me a while to figure it out.


I read this whole thing twice and I now know what pregaps are and the history but still have no idea why people would put them on a CD or why they’re useful for hidden tracks.

mikepavone3 days ago

An audio CD is mostly arranged like a single continuous recording. Tracks are added on top of this via the Q subcode channel that gives information about the current location and the ToC stored in the lead-in area (also using the Q subcode channel). In the ToC, each track will have one more indexes that points at a specific location on the disc by minute, second and "frame" (represents 1/75 of a second, basically a sector).

If a CD is properly following the Red Book standard, index 0 will point to a 2 second pre-gap of silentce and index 1 will point to the actual start of audio of the track (additional indices are allowed, but not common). The purpose of the pregap is to make life easier for less sophisticated players that aren't able to seek to a precise frame on the disc. They just have to be able to hit a 150 frame region. However, just because the standard says the pregap is supposed to be 2 seconds and silent doesn't mean it actually has to be. Players generally don't care and by the time the format was popular, even inexpensive players could seek precisely. This allows you to stick audio data before a track that will be skipped by the player when it's trying to seek to that track. If you stick it before track 01, it will be skipped even when just playing the disc through unless you rewind.

kevin_thibedeau2 days ago

The key for a hidden track at the beginning is that players usually start playing track 1 from index mark 1 (1.1) rather than index 0 as with continuous play through all subsequent tracks. The lead-in area for 1.0 is a holdover from grooved phonorecordings never meant to be played. It's a way for the primitive hardware of early CD players to acquire the start of the data stream in a safe area that doesn't have to be faithfully reproduced.

Some players permitted you to skip back from 1.1 to 1.0 to hear the lead-in as a hidden pseudo-track. Typically this was only possible with hardware index nav. buttons rather than the track nav. buttons, further obfuscating the presence of the hidden track.

The other means of "hiding" tracks is to have a bunch of short silent tracks until you get to track 99 (inconvenient to reach on a player without numeric track entry) or to have a long section of silence starting on the last track from index 1.

crtasm2 days ago

>Typically this was only possible with hardware index nav

Holding the previous track button would "rewind" playback and get you into the pregap on all the CD players I remember using, but these would have been late 80s models onwards.

barrkel2 days ago

The writing is not good; I gave up part way through. It's weirdly elliptic and almost autistic in its focus on details and an almost complete absence of a big picture. It could do with some kind of proper context-setting introduction, at the very least.

nayuki2 days ago

A CD audio frame is defined as exactly 1/75th of a second (588 samples per channel). I don't know why the article waffles around with these poor wordings (emphasis mine):

> These albums all had a pregap of either 32 or 33 “frames,” with a frame representing a length of about 1/75th of a second, per Hydrogen Audio’s Wiki.

> To offer a small correction to the original question now that we know we’re talking about 74 frames per second rather than 60 or 100

It's needlessly confusing and undermines my confidence of the entire article.

WarOnPrivacy2 days ago

This mirrors my experience. It's good content but I'd barely land on one splainer before being segueded into the next one. I kept thinking I missed the part they delved into hidden tracks.

monocasa3 days ago

Basically cd audio tracks have a base sector and a start specified. That allows sectors representing audio before timestamp 0:00 to be represented the track. The reason for this originally was probably to allow the drive to get synchronized before the track started. Enterprising cd masterers put actual hidden audio data in that area which would allow you on some CD players to rewind past 0:00 and then play the hidden audio at the negative timestamp.

crazygringo3 days ago

How much hidden audio could be stored?

Was it limited to something negligible like a couple of seconds?

Or could you store a whole five-minute recording in there or something?

boomboomsubban3 days ago

There doesn't seem to be a limit, this mentions a 27 minute live recording.

jvan3 days ago
croes2 days ago

I guess the limit is some milliseconds short of 74 minutes.

dylan6043 days ago

Oh good, so I'm not the only one that thought the article failed to actually state what the superpower was. Some lame ass patent was granted?

add-sub-mul-div3 days ago

As the article says its like an easter egg, putting a hidden song before the first track of a CD. If the song wasn't in the pregap it wouldn't be hidden. It's just for fun.

(Sometimes songs can also be hidden in tracks at the end of the CD like 99, but that feels less mysterious.)

mattl3 days ago

Sometimes CDs would have a long piece of silence at the end of the last song and then another song on the same track.

Other CDs really experimented with the shuffle feature. They Might Be Giants’ Apollo 18 had a bunch of very short tracks that would usually play between songs when shuffle was used.

gwbas1c2 days ago

I remember getting surprised by one of those. I was at a friend's house and forgot to turn off the CD at the end.

It was funny at first, but when every other CD I bought had one, it became tacky.

add-sub-mul-div3 days ago

I had that CD and remember the short tracks but never thought of playing it on shuffle that way.

I think it was nine inch nails' Broken EP that had the hidden tracks on 98/99 rather than after a long silence, but I could be wrong.

ssl-33 days ago

Broken was first released as a 2-disc set. It was still in a many-fold Digipak case, but also included was a 3" mini-CD that had Suck and Physical (You're So).

The regular-sized CD looked about identical to the 99-track version, but had only 6 tracks.

(It was expensive to do this, and was never intended for long-term production. Later versions were generally as you describe.)

mattl3 days ago

I think it tells you in the liner notes that you should use the shuffle button.

My copy in the UK at the time didn’t have the individual tracks. Just one track.

dec0dedab0de3 days ago

I remember my friend accidentally found the negative track on a CD and called me up out of breath like aliens just landed. I think it was one of the early AFI albums.We spent the whole weekend checking for negative tracks on every CD we could find.

The negatives between songs were also pretty cool sometimes, Mediocre Generica by Leftover Crack makes very good use of them. Listening to it over streaming or even mp3s ruins the effect, unless someone captured the entire album as one file.

Lammy3 days ago

> I think it was one of the early AFI albums

I wouldn't call it an “early” album but I found one of these (untitled 18-second intro) on AFI - DECEMBERUNDERGROUND:

Some others I've run across in my CD collection include…

— on Jonathan Katz - Caffeinated

— the track "Every Time Is The Last Time" on Bloc Party's Silent Alarm

— a kid606 remix hidden in the first track pregap of The Locust's eponymous

— the "Theme of Coon" (aka Riki) on the third disc of the SaGa Frontier soundtrack

> The negatives between songs were also pretty cool sometimes

And one of these, the interlude at the end of “High Roller” on TCM's Vegas which is part of the pregap for “Comin' Back”

Elidrake2416 hours ago
dec0dedab0de2 days ago

I wouldn't call it an “early” album but I found one of these (untitled 18-second intro) on AFI - DECEMBERUNDERGROUND

I think it was answer that and stay fashionable. We all stopped listening to them when black sails came out, so if im right about it being AFI, it was one of the first 3 albums, or the all hallows EP.

nammi3 days ago

AFI almost always had a "hidden" track after silence following the last track, I figured following the Misfits' tradition

xxr2 days ago

“Midnight Sun” at the end of Black Sails always gets me

WarOnPrivacy2 days ago

> Mediocre Generica by Leftover Crack

Those names are a rabbit hole event horizon. Album released 9/11, working title of Shoot The Kids At School was rej by label. Follow up was F WTC. Band lives in C-Squat...

guerrilla2 days ago

This makes me wonder how I ever found the hidden tracks on the X-Files soundtrack. Must have been an accident.

zdw3 days ago

I've been using to digitize CD's, and it supports identifying Hidden Track One Audio (HTOA) when it exists and is not blank.

Add in MusicBrainz Picard and Navidrome and you have a really nice solution.

chuckufarley2 days ago

Whipper user here also. If you've not yet encountered it, as it's not as prevalent in repos as Whipper, Cyanrip is always very much worth a look and has come on in leaps and bounds, with recent updates adding (non compliant) .cue sheet support.

Jedd3 days ago

This specification anomaly sounds like the polycarbonate equivalent of vinyl's multiple-groove capability. [0]

I'd first heard of this for a Monty Python record (wikipedia notes this is in fact the most famous use case) but checked to see if people went for >2 grooves, and seemingly they did. I expect the casting for the pressing was horrendously expensive, which is why it didn't happen an awful lot.

I suppose both mediums shared the less-well-hidden feature where a long silence separated the penultimate from the ultimate track.


caf2 days ago

When I was very young, my parents had a game called 'wacky races' that was based on a multi-groove vinyl. It was a horse-racing game - I can't recall exactly how the gameplay worked, but the vinyl contained racing calls where the races would start the same way but the outcome would be somewhat random depending on which groove the needle ended up following.

TonyTrapp2 days ago

Techmoan has a video on a similar horse racing game (maybe it's even the same just with a different name) and how it works:

alanfalcon2 days ago

This is supremely cool, thanks for sharing. I'm probably missing something obvious but why would the casting be any more expensive than any other pressing?

Jedd2 days ago

Not terribly informed about the pressing process, but as I understand it, it is (or was) effectively a player-process in reverse.

A needle creates the groove(s), replete with bumps for sound, in a not-quite-set (slightly soft) master disc - and I _speculate_ those follow a specific path defined by the mastering tool.

In comparison, playback just drops the needle in the track, and it necessarily follows the extant spiral form.

Making the master of a multi-groove record I'm assuming would require recalibration of the groove-defining mechanism (doubtless carefully designed for conventional layout), once for each of the grooves you want to make, ensuring they each stay within the boundaries defined by the previous grooves.

omar_alt3 days ago

I recall a CD of mine had hidden audio before track one circa 1997, a coffee table jungle breakbeat on a Symphonic Black Metal album:

Also on the topic of trying to push the compact disc to its limits a Grindcore group who had a bonus track where "All efforts were made to exceed typical limitations of 16 bit linear digital technology compression, limiting, and equalization curves have been created to deliver maximum gain structure"

I had a period of bad luck in my youth where I believed all these new enhanced CD's and shaped CD's were damaging the tracking of the lens on my CD player so I gave Exit-13 a swerve and started to listen to safer music ;)

londons_explore2 days ago

Things like CD's with their large number of partly-compatible extensions shoehorned in remind me that whenever one is writing a specification, one should make sure that every combination of bits/bytes is either valid with defined behaviour, or invalid.

The one exception is a field for "extensions", which should have some bits for 'compatible' extensions (ie. there will be extra data ignored by readers which don't understand them), and other bits for 'incompatible' extensions (ie. you have put a DVD into a CD player).

Neil442 days ago

I had a Rammstein ablum, that if you rewound before track 1 there was a black box audio recording of a plane crash were everyone died. It was pretty macabre. I think the CD cover was like a plane's black box if I remember correctly.

107292872 days ago

I’m not into this band but that could be related to this famous event :

hnbad2 days ago

No, that's what they were named after. They released an epinomous song on their first album (Herzeleid) that played with the visual imagery of that disaster ("Rammstein - a human burns / Rammstein - the smell of meat in the air / Rammstein - a child dies / Rammstein - the sun is shining"). They apparently initially wanted to name the band Rammstein Flugschau ("Rammstein flight show") before shortening it to Rammstein. The difference in spelling was accidental but Rammstein is evocative (literally "ramming stone") so it stuck.

The album the parent mentions is Reise, Reise, which is travel themed (in a broad sense of the word), the cover being styled after a black box (being bright orange of course). The flight recording in the pregap literally comes from a black box of a plane crash so that fits.

Loughla2 days ago

Reuse, Reise is the album. It was a Japanese aircraft crash. It was on every album but those released in Japan I'm pretty sure.

It's mostly just scrambled alarms and some Japanese yelling. Without the context it's pretty hard to understand what you're listening to.

kstenerud2 days ago

One compact disc extension I remember well is CD+G. It was pretty wild plugging an Information Society CD into a CDTV and watching the (admittedly crappy) graphics while you listened to music and samples of Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley...

exabrial3 days ago

I remember discovering “hidden tracks” on the Beastie Boys intergalactic album with my cousins… we were like what on earth is happening as the CD player display glitched out and played this stuff we hadn’t heard.

comprev2 days ago

"Korn - Follow The Leader" (1998) album started on track 13.

RiverCrochet2 days ago

If you are interested in this topic, locked grooves may also interest you.

fnord772 days ago

that whole article went into a lot of detail about the history of pregaps, but never says what was actually put on the pregap

sziring2 days ago

The domain name is how I felt after trying to read the article.

snvzz3 days ago

Abusing the standard to put songs in gaps was such a bad idea.

I have no idea how they got a patent for such a thing and, even worse, anyone ever did it on actual commercial discs.

ssl-33 days ago

Why? Are easter eggs like this harmful to consumers or something?

snvzz3 days ago

It's abusing the standard, which can break compliant implementations.

Especially bad since most Audio CD players are opaque hardware without update-able firmware.

zarmin2 days ago

You're right. We should start a letter-writing campaign to President Bush. Maybe it will make the nightly news.

Sent from my Discman

ssl-33 days ago

Has this been shown to be actually-problematic in the three decades since Willy Nelson's album contained a song in the pregap of track 1?

lampiaio2 days ago
zarmin2 days ago

of course not.

indus3 days ago

In the age of attention deficit infused dopamine—-who has the time for an Easter egg?

Instead, engineers and product managers, slow roll quirkiness on social media.

fortran773 days ago

What's the "A.C." band?

d3323 days ago

This inspired me to read up on the low-level details of CD structure. I'm curious if anybody scanned an entire CD and shared the results, so that we could work with a raw image of disc that contains all its quirks, as opposed to the typical .iso format?

thristian2 days ago

It's really difficult. Unlike floppy disks, where you tell the drive to seek and get back raw magnetic pulses (so you can produce raw flux images), or hard disks where you tell the drive to read an arbitrary sector and get a blob of data (so you can produce sector-level images), the protocol for talking to a CD ROM involves asking for track/sector addresses, which means you have to trust the drive to interpret all the track metadata and error-correction for you - you generally can't just dump the "raw" data and do the interpretation yourself.

That's why the most robust CD image format is the BIN/CUE format. The BIN file contains all the sectors the drive allows us to read, the CUE file contains the disc metadata as interpreted for us by the drive firmware.

There are some drives which support extra "raw read" commands, but they're incredibly rare and consequently in great demand by CD preservation projects like

Some people have used the contents of BIN/CUE data to reconstruct what should actually be on the disk, but that's not quite the same thing. Here's a great explanation of the CD structure in all its complexity:

AkBKukU2 days ago

Even BIN/CUE is not enough. It cannot store subchannel data like CD+G and is only able to hold a single session which breaks bluebook CDs with audio and data.

We do not currently have a widely supported CD standard for storing data from a CD that can properly hold all data. Aaru [0] is close, but still has to output back to other formats like BIN/CUE to use the contents of the disc.


edude0322 hours ago

Apparently makemkv forum members created some patched firmware that lets you raw read BRs for the sake of extracting metadata that’s intentionally hidden for DRM. Though I’ll have to recheck my understanding since you’re saying you can’t actually raw read disks anyway

sho9 hours ago

Coming back to this, having read some of the (great!) replies, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that in theory, this sounds possible, and fun, but highly impractical. I'll assume that by "scan" you mean a high end "flatbed scanner" optical scan which would return a 2D bitmap.

It's impractical because the resolution required to retrieve the data "flatbed scanner style" is comically high, perhaps 50k dpi, far beyond the capability of any commercial unit and well into scanning microscope territory. Sure, from my understanding, it looks technically possible. But it would be a very significant and costly project just to assemble the image in the first place. Even if you had that, the resulting file would be hilariously huge (something like 122GB), extremely difficult to work with, and you would be starting from scratch implementing some kind of visual pathfinding helical decoder to painstakingly unravel the linear coil of data the scan just sort of blatted into two dimensions.

It's a cool idea. But it's comically, exponentially harder than just using the equipment as intended to just read the laser returns off the disk directly, into a far, far more easily dealt with format.

I'm adding that CD scan to my list of things I'd like to do if I ever get really rich.

ssl-33 days ago

Audio CDs were never ripped/transferred as ISO files. ISO-9660 is a filesystem that came years later, and Redbook audio CDs simply do not contain files.

If you want to look at the structure of a whole audio CD, then one way is to rip it with a decent tool (perhaps cdrdao or EAC) and generate a bin/cue file pair as an output.

d3322 days ago

But that's not my goal. I'd like to be able to observe every grove, the physical encoding of data, and see if I could implement decoding from scratch. First problem is though that I don't know how to get a microscopic image of the disc.

ssl-32 days ago

You don't need a microscopic image of a disc to do that; a two-dimensional photograph is of essentially no advantage here.

All you need is the unmolested data from that disc. The data is arranged on a singular spiral groove starting from the center and slowly winding its way towards the outside.

The data is completely linear: It begins at the beginning, and continues to the very end without interruption. This is all akin to (although opposite of) how a single-track vinyl record is physically laid out. The entire CD -- whatever it contains -- is just a continuous string of pits and lands.

And to observe that string as it appears on a real disc, all you need to get started is a regular old-school CD player and some appropriate data acquisition gear, and maybe an oscilloscope to help figure out what you're looking at.

The optics and basic motor controls are already solved problems, and it doesn't even have to be particularly fast data acquisition gear by today's standards to record what is happening.

AkBKukU2 days ago

Look into the Domesday Duplicator project for Laserdiscs as an example of how what ssl-3 is talking about can be done using a high sample rate input. That exact process is possible and with enough storage and processing power can be used to get the most "low level" access to the data. It is not for the faint of heart though, and can take around 1TB of storage and hours of CPU time to process full movies in this way, I know because I've done it.

I believe I've seen there is work being done to attempt this on CDs but it would have still been in the exploratory phases and not yet ready to start archiving with. It might seem like overkill to do this to something meant to be digitally addressed but I've experienced enough quirks with discs and drives when ripping that I would 100% be willing to switch over to a known complete capture system to not have to worry about it anymore. Post process decoding also allows for re-decoding data later if better methods are found.

hunter2_2 days ago
taneliv1 day ago

You might do well enough with without needing use different hardware to scan the disc. Instead it relies on the CD drive's ability to report on inaccuracies in keeping in sync with the grooves.

qingcharles2 days ago
tombert2 days ago

IIRC Blink 182 had a hidden track "Fuck a Dog" on their album Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.

throwaway9843931 day ago