cue sheet

Cue sheet (computing)

A cue sheet, or cue file, is a metadata file which describes how the tracks of a CD or DVD are laid out. Cue sheets are stored as plain text files and commonly have a ".cue" filename extension. CDRWIN first introduced cue sheets, which are now supported by many optical disc authoring applications and media players.

For an audio CD, a cue sheet specifies titles and performers for the disc and its tracks as well as the names of one or more audio files to be used. MP3, WAV and BIN files are often used, although some programs support other formats. Cue sheets are especially useful when burning or listening to live sets where all tracks are recorded in one file.

Cue sheets are also used for many types of CDs in conjunction with an image file. The image file generally has a ".bin" extension.

Use for CD burning

The CD format allows for rapid skipping to any track on the disc. When the source audio for the CD is a single file, such as a recording of a live performance by a band, it will produce one single track on the CD, preventing easy navigation. A cue sheet provides the necessary metadata to allow easy navigation.

General listening use

Playing audio files on computers or portable MP3 players has become more common in recent years, As such, it is therefore also useful to apply the cue sheet solution to this new playback medium. There are two standard approaches to this. The most common is to split the original audio file into a series of separate files, one per track. This solution works with all audio playback software and hardware.

The other approach is to integrate the current cue sheet into the audio player itself. This involves either providing a pseudo playlist (for example, an extra window) for the contents of the cue sheet, or adding a pseudo entry for each track into the main playlist. When the audio file containing the full performance is played, the cue sheet is opened and its tracks are shown in a special window or the main playlist window. This allows the listener to view which tune within the performance as a whole is presently playing, and to skip to any particular track within the set.

Cue sheet syntax

A cue sheet is a plain text file containing commands with one or more parameters. These commands describe the data as a whole as well as individual tracks. The most common used commands are:

At the start: title of the work as a whole.
After a TRACK line: title of the corresponding track.
At the start: Artist or creator of the work as a whole.
After a TRACK: Artist or creator of the corresponding track.
Name of a file containing the data.
Define a track, providing its number and data type, the lines that follow it, such as INDEX, TITLE and PERFORMER, provide information on this track, and may appear in any order.
Indicates the start position within the data where a given track begins, in MM:SS:FR (minute-second-frame) format (for example, 04:18:63 = 4 minutes, 18 seconds, 63 frames). Note that the maximum allowed value for CDDA frames is 74


The MP3 file "faithless - live in berlin.mp3", contains a live recording of the band Faithless, at this concert, Faithless performed eight songs. The track listing would be as follows:

  1. Faithless - Reverence
  2. Faithless - She's My Baby
  3. Faithless - Take The Long Way Home
  4. Faithless - Insomnia
  5. Faithless - Bring The Family Back
  6. Faithless - Salva Mea
  7. Faithless - Dirty Old Man
  8. Faithless - God Is A DJ

Given the fact that the MP3 is one file containing the entire performance, burning it to a CD as-is would make it impossible to skip to individual songs. To design the cue sheet, one must first find the points in the MP3 at which each song starts. Note that the times are cumulative: each track must have a later time than the previous one.

The first three lines will denote the disc information, This will be followed by the information for each track, indented from the rest. The INDEX 01 line reads the same for each track, with the exception of the time value that follows it. TITLE and PERFORMER are optional.

TITLE "Live in Berlin, 1998"
PERFORMER "Faithless"
FILE "faithless - live in berlin.mp3" MP3
    TITLE "Reverence"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 00:00:00
    TITLE "She's My Baby"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 06:42:00
    TITLE "Take The Long Way Home"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 10:54:00
    TITLE "Insomnia"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 17:04:00
    TITLE "Bring The Family Back"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 25:44:00
    TITLE "Salva Mea"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 30:50:00
    TITLE "Dirty Old Man"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 38:24:00
    TITLE "God Is A DJ"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 42:35:00

An example of a cue sheet used in conjunction with a CD image file:

FILE "sampleimage.bin" BINARY
  TRACK 01 MODE1/2352
    INDEX 01 00:00:00

See also

External links

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