What is CDA?
Audio Format DescriptionCDA, or CD Audio Tracks (.cda), are audio files that can be stored on CD media. These small files, only 44 bytes each, were created by Microsoft Windows for every track of an audio CD.
The .cda files are only representations of CD audio tracks and do not contain the actual PCM (pulse code modulation). What they have is indexing information that various programs may use to play (or rip) the disc, and tell the beginning and the end of a track. In other words, each .cda file can be described as a pointer to the location of each track on a CD. Each of the 44-byte tracks contains track times and a special Windows shortcut which helps users to access the specific audio tracks. In short, the files do not contain actual audio data, but only encode music on compact discs.
CDA files can only be played from a CD-ROM, so if a file is copied to the computer hard drive, it cannot be played. The files first need to be converted to another format (like .wav or .mp3) in order to be stored on a hard disk. This is because the way information is stored on an audio CD differs greatly from the way it is on a computer hard drive. On a CD, data is stored in a raw 16-bit digital PCM stream, which is a format not recognized by Windows PC. CDA is, therefore, not a true audio format, but a way in which Microsoft Windows interprets an audio CD.
CDA files may be opened with Windows (Apple iTunes; Microsoft Windows Media Player; Nullsoft Winamp; VideoLAN VLC media player), Mac (Apple iTunes; Microsoft Windows Media Player; VideoLAN VLC media player), and Unix (VideoLAN VLC media player).
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