I want to mux (combine) two files into one mkv file. The first one is an mkv file that contains a video and an audio stream in German. The second one is an English audio stream in dts format.I want one mkv file that contains both audio channels, the English one being the first and default audio stream.

Here's the ffmpeg command I'm using so far:

ffmpeg -i movie.mkv -i audio.dts -map 0:v:0 -map 1:a:0
-map 0:a:0 -c copy movie_combined.mkv

This produces acceptable results. I get an mkv file that has two audio channels, the first one English, the second one German. However, there's two problems. The second (German) audio stream is still the default stream (VLC media player uses it by default and according to MediaInfo, there's a default flag on the stream). Also, the English stream doesn't show up as English, according to MediaInfo there's no language information for that stream.

How do I flag the English audio stream as the default one? And how do I add the language information for that stream (so that, for example, it shows up as English in the audio track selection of VLC media player)?

  • For language, add -metadata:s:a:0 language=eng. FFmpeg doesn't set or alter track dispositions in MKV. Use mkvpropedit.
    – Gyan
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 16:20
  • @Mulvya Thanks, the metadata tag works. Can you explain what it does / how that parameter takes it's input? And do you know what command I need to use with mkvpropedit to set the default audio stream flag? Feel free to post that as an answer so I can accept it
    – MoritzLost
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 16:51

2 Answers 2


For language, add -metadata:s:a:0 language=eng.

FFmpeg doesn't set or alter track dispositions in MKV. Use mkvpropedit.

To set the default flag for the first audio track and remove it from the second one, use this command:

mkvpropedit movie.mkv --edit track:a1 --set flag-default=1 --edit track:a2 --set flag-default=0

As mentioned in the docs, the app "does not set the 'default track flag' of other tracks to '0' if it is set to '1' for a different track automatically." This is salient because FFmpeg sets default flags for all tracks to 1 unless the input has it different.


Based on this answer on stackoverflow, it seems that changing the disposition is now possible with ffmpeg (see also the official documentation).

I think that the command that you would need, so that the final file had English as the default audio stream is:

ffmpeg -i movie.mkv -i audio.dts -map 0:v:0 -map 1:a:0 -map 0:a:0 -c copy -disposition:a:0 default -disposition:a:1 0 movie_combined.mkv

The addition is -disposition:a:0 default -disposition:a:1 0. The numbering of the streams is for the output. -disposition:a:1 0 is needed to remove the disposition from the second stream.

(Instead of -disposition:a:1 0 you could also, in principle, use the non-documented -disposition:a:1 none, which has the same effect.)

To add metadata/language information, see the other answer.

  • 1
    Have you tested this? At the time of my answer, -disposition was added but didn't work with MKVs.
    – Gyan
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 5:10
  • 1
    Yes, I have tested this (using ffmpeg on Ubuntu 16.04) with MKVs and it did work. The changed disposition was recognised by both ffmpeg itself (ffmpeg -i previous_output_file.mkv) and a mediaplayer.
    – aplaice
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 10:20
  • 1
    for people stumbling over this (like me): the ffmpeg doc now has -disposition and says, that you should use 0to delete the disposition. none is not listed there, maybe unknown values are simply mapped to 0.
    – Jakob
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 23:10
  • 1
    Thanks for the information! It's great that -disposition is now documented. none, despite indeed not being mentioned there, still seems to work. It's not just the case that unknown values are mapped to 0 — using any other value results in an error message. I've edited the answer, but kept mention of none in case there are old versions of ffmpeg which accept none but not 0. (It's unlikely, but I don't want to test all old versions or trawl the git history...)
    – aplaice
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 11:58

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