I want to extract the 5.1 audio from mkv/avi/mp4 for reference, how to do that?

3 Answers 3


Here's a way to obtain this result using ffprobe and ffmpeg.

First, let's see what audio streams are available in a given file :

$ ffprobe my_input_file.m4v

What we are interested in this part of the output :

Stream #0:0(und): Video: h264 (Main) (avc1 / 0x31637661), yuv420p(tv, smpte170m/smpte170m/bt709), 718x552 [SAR 64:45 DAR 5744:3105], 1023 kb/s, 25 fps, 25 tbr, 90k tbn, 180k tbc (default)
      creation_time   : 2013-01-26 10:39:52
      encoder         : JVT/AVC Coding
    Stream #0:1(fra): Audio: ac3 (ac-3 / 0x332D6361), 48000 Hz, 5.1(side), fltp, 384 kb/s (default)
      creation_time   : 2013-01-26 10:39:52
    Side data:
      audio service type: main
    Stream #0:2(eng): Audio: ac3 (ac-3 / 0x332D6361), 48000 Hz, 5.1(side), fltp, 384 kb/s
      creation_time   : 2013-01-26 10:39:52
    Side data:
      audio service type: main

It tells us that this container file includes two audio streams, identified as #0:1 and #0:2, both are ac3 bitstreams and are 5.1 soundtracks.

If we only want to extract the ac3 bitstream of the 'en' soundtrack (#0:2) to a file :

$ ffmpeg -i my_input_file.m4v -map 0:2 -c:a copy output_file.ac3

The -map option is here to specify which stream of the input file we want to get in our output file.

Now, maybe what you really want is to get a PCM wav 6 channels file of this soundtrack. Let's try this :

$ ffmpeg -i my_input_file.m4v -map 0:2 output_file.wav

This will generate a 6 channels 16 bit PCM wav file. But depending on the length of the original movie, that might lead you to a wav file that exceeds the 2 GB size limit for wav file ... (Notice that some systems and players will support up to 4 GB).

In this case, an alternative might be to output the soundtrack as 6 mono PCM wav files. First extract the soundtrack as ac3 file, as shown previously, then :

ffmpeg -i my_input_file.ac3 -map_channel 0.0.0 l.wav -map_channel 0.0.1 r.wav -map_channel 0.0.2 c.wav -map_channel 0.0.3 ls.wav -map_channel 0.0.4 rs.wav -map_channel 0.0.5 lfe.wav

(Note that channel mapping, ie which is front, rear left and so on might depend on the original bitstream channel mapping).

I have unfortunately not found a way to do this directly from the ac3 stream of an audio+video container.


Take a look at the free and open source TAudioConverter. It supports ripping/extracting audio from many different files.

According to the changelog it should support multichannel export as long as you don't choose mp3 and AAC-HEv2 as target.

Features (from website):

TAudioConverter support various encoders. It can convert to MP3, AAC, AAC HE, AC3, MusePack, Ogg Vorbis, Opus, WMA, DTS, ALAC, FLAC, Monkey's Audio, TAK, TTA, WavPack, AIFF and PCM.

TAudioConverter is multithreaded. This means that it will run several encoders in parallel to shorten encoding time. The number of parallel processes depends on the CPU cores you have.

It can also extract audio streams from video files. This can be done with or without encoding the audio stream. Even if your video file has more that one audio stream, you can select the one you want.

CD ripper has freedb support.

Audio Merger. Merge several audio files into one.

It can copy tags and cover art from source.

TAC can split cue sheets.

TAudioConverter can apply certain effects to audio. It can change audio volume level and playback speed.

TAudioConverter is free open source software.

  • Thanks, I have tried TAudio, but it seems that the converted .wav sounded lower in level than the original, did I set something wrong?
    – Ah Kei
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 15:33
  • Dunno - It may be caused be the way you're playing back the output. Or it may be caused by the export settings. I don't have a 5.1 mkv near by so I can't test that I'm sorry. Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 7:30
  • Possibly, the original bitstream has a metadata influencing reproduction level (as dialog level in ac3) that is not applied when converting to PCM.
    – audionuma
    Commented Oct 4, 2015 at 20:14
  • There is another problem, the extracted audio is restricted to the length of 1h22m, shorter than the video length. I found it happened within the mkv file has chapters. How can I solve this?
    – Ah Kei
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 20:05

TAudioConverter works! I was having trouble creating a DVD from a variety of mkv, mp4, and avi files of the same film using the very reliable DVD Flick (with which I have created 100s of DVDs). For some reason all of the downloads with 5.1 audio wouldn't load, or (and I ALWAYS have this problem with downloads with RARBG as part of the file name) the 5.1 audio is shifted one channel to the left, so what should be coming out of the front centre speaker comes from the left front speaker, and all of the remaining tracks are shifted accordingly, making the DVD unusable (especially if there are a lot of sound effects or music supposed to come from the rear channels).

So! I found a 1080p mp4 source with 2.0 audio, and with TAudioConverter I extracted the audio from another source with 5.1 audio, and using DVD Flick was able to delete the 2.0 audio track and replace it with the extracted 5.1 audio. Voilá! It works!

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