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Easily convert Audible files to MP3, AAC or Flac

Discussion in 'Audio' started by AudibleAd, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. AudibleAd

    AudibleAd Member

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    As my car radio only accepts MP3 files (and audio CDs of course), I was annoyed that Audible do not provide any files that a standard HIFI device can play (and MP3 is pretty much standard nowadays). Of course I started with burning the audible files to CDs, but honestly who wants to have tens of CDs laying around in the car?
    Therefore I tried to write a small program which takes the burned CDs and converts them to MP3 (or AAC or Flac) files, fully tagged and divided at the chapter points. Further it automatically removes the annoying "Presented by Audible" comments at the beginning and the end (it should work for english and german fileS). Please let me know what you think of it!

    Here comes a full documentation of how to convert the audible files (no cracking or hacking involved!):

    1. Burn your audible file to (real or virtual) audio CD(s) using ITunes. Best is to deactivate "Gap Between Songs" (set it to "none") - but I don't know whether it really has any impact in this case... Now the DRM is gone and we can work with the CDs.
    2. Extract the CDs to an "image" file (whole audio CD in one single file). ITunes will insert a new track roughly every 7 minutes, it doesn't look whether there is a pause at the track junction or not! Also ITunes will repeat roughly 20 seconds of audio when starting a further CD. So this division in tracks is not helpful, that is why we just extract the CDs to CD image files. Use Exact Audio Copy (EAC) for enhanced security - or just any other Audio CD Grabber. Extract the images to uncompressed WAV files and name them xxxxx01.wav, xxxxx02.wav, etc. (xxxxx can be any name).
    3. Locate the according Audible file (either .aa or .aax) on your harddisk, e.g. right click the audiobook in ITunes and select "Show in Windows Explorer".
    4. Use my tool to create WAV files (untagged) or fully tagged AAC, MP3 or Flac files.

    Now the documentation of my tool:

    1. Installation
    Extract the files to a directory of your choice, it comes with the Flac Encoder preinstalled. If you want to encode to MP3, you need to copy a current version of the LAME MP3 Encoder in that directory (LAME.EXE), and if you want to get a single(!) AAC file (including chapter marks), just drop the Nero AAC Encoder package in that directory (NeroAACEnc.exe and NeroAACTag.exe are necessary). The tool will detect which encoders are in the same directory and create such files - if you have three encoders installed, the tool will create all three encoding schemes! Only if no encoder is found, the tool will produce untagged and uncompressed WAV files.

    2. Usage
    The tool is a command line tool only, so open a dos box and change the current directory to the path where you installed the EXEs.
    Just starting the tool without any parameters will show you all possible options.
    If you start the program with only the audible file name (with extension .aa or .aax), it will just show you the title and chapters of the Audible audio book. These information are stored unencrypted in the Audible files, so no hacking of a DRM or whatever is needed - all information can be read in plain text using a hexeditor.
    In order to convert the files to the "selected" output formats, use this command line:
    AudibleChapters.exe <audible filename> <first WAV image> <target directory>
    <audible filename> is the name (and full path) of the Audible file with an extensio nof .aa or .aax
    <first WAV image> is the name (and full path) of the first extracted WAV image (which must end with "01.wav"!)
    <target directory> is a full specified path, in which a subdirectory will be created (from the name of the audio book)
    If the audio book is an .aax file, everything is probably fine. If not, you can do something about it!
    I also found a book, which has real chapters (the speaker really tells "Chapter Five"), but the audible chapters where just somewhere inbetween! This is not nice, so I decided to implement also a function for automatically find possible chapter markers (the chapter marks from the Audible file will be ignored completely).
    There is a fully automated usage possible when just specifying -d on the command line. You can also specify a rough minimum and maximum length of a chapter in minutes (e.g. -d10:20 will create chapters which will be mostly between 10 and 20 minutes in length). The program will find the best matching positions, but of course can not be perfect without any user interaction. Therefore the -i option provides this user interactivity (used in conjunction with -d). After having searched the file, the tool will play a position within the file (the audio just after the "beep" will be in a new chapter). If the book has real chapters, which can be identified easily, you can decide whether you want to have a chapter mark at the "beep" position. Press "y" for yes and "n" for no. If you want to listen again to that piece of audio, press the "r" key. If you have enough chapters and want to start processing, press "q". Usually if there are no new chapter starts after 10-20 false propositions, there will be no further chapter start...
    Any problems with the tool should be shown on the command line, have a look for WARNING and ERROR messages...

    The tool can be found here : AudibleChapters

    Please share your thoughts!

    Regards,

    Anonymous Audible Addict
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010
  2. AudibleAd

    AudibleAd Member

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    I have prepared a new version (version 1.1) of the AudibleChapters tool. It basically still behaves exactly like described above, but has the following changes:

    - Adding a pause (defaults to 2.8 seconds) after the last extracted track. This is because in case of multi-file audiobooks otherwise the last track of one file and the first track of the following file have no pause between (which can be distractive, as there should be a pause between chapter changes - and usually there should be a chapter change between two Audible files). The length of the added pause (in milliseconds, also length of 0 is possible) can be set via the new -p parameter (e.g. -p0 )
    - A warning message is now reworded, as it might have been misleading

    It would be quite helpful, if there would be some feedback - does it work, where and how does it fail? There must be at least somebody who did some tests!

    Download here:
    Audible Chapters 1.1

    Regards,

    Anonymous Audible Addict
     
  3. 1952twin

    1952twin Member

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    Dear AAA (Anon Audible Addict):

    Unfortunately, I never learned DOS or how to change directories. I learned all I now from Windows 97 forward, and therefore, I and I suspect many of your readers are frustrated when you say "Easily convert audible files to MP3..."
    None of this comes easy. I didn't even know that directories and folders were the same thing. Windows calls directories 'folders' and has since 1995. OK, but that still doesn't give me what I need to complete this task.

    I hate Ipod for making their software so unfriendly for users like me. I refuse to spend good money on an Apple-Ipod .aa player when I already spent money on MP3 disc player and a Creative Zen Extra Nomad 30 gig player that still works just fi fine for MP3s and WMAs. I wanted to burn audible books for my sight-impaired 90 yr old father-in-law, but I want to put it on one device so all he has to do is hit play and pause when he gets tired. NOt all this changing 10 to 12 CDs per audible book!

    You lost me after your #2. Usage, "open a DOS box and change the current directory to the path where you installed the EXEs."
    I tried to figure all this out and spent WAY too much time on it (6 hrs). Is there any way you could remote in to my computer and walk me through? I am in a graduate MSW study program and don't have time to take a DOS course and learn all you know and take for granted for DOS-challenged dummies like me.
    Any other suggestions?

    Frustrated Non-Geek Windows 7 only user
     
  4. 1952twin

    1952twin Member

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    Dear AAA:

    If you are out there and can help me the rest of the way thru, I would like to get this figured out.
    I already converted the .aa files to .wav files using "Easy CD-DA Extractor" which I purchased months ago. I could not figure out how to get Eact Audio Copy to do it. It kept taking hours and hours to copy image file. I just copied the .aa files to straight .wav files onto my hard drive. But of course, they have all the problems yo mentioned: no chapter stops or 'cues' and each new disc I tried to copy from the wav files into MP3s just made it into evenly divided 10 tracks with about 10 seconds from the previous track recorded at the beginning of the next track.

    WHen I tried doing the Command Prompt as you described, I am not smart enough to figure out how to translate it into the write 'syntax' which keeps coming up as incorrect.

    If you will email me, I will respond. I want to do this legally of course. But I cannot figure it out by myself and I don't have any connections with "IT" geeks at my age (58) or in my circles of contacts.

    Thanks for your consideration.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2011
  5. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    There are other, easier ways to accomplish the task without burning CDs. Here is the thread for aa conversion. It was only a few threads below this one.
    AA conversion

    I do prefer ipods for audio books. The time index changer which is normally a pain is a blessing. All mp3 players stop and start where you left off. I take the audios down to 16 BR. Libraries take them down to 8. The human voice can be extremely compressed.

    Apple never give the user a break. They will extract as much as they can from you.
     
  6. AudibleAd

    AudibleAd Member

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    Hello,

    the dos box can be opened by using Windows -> Start -> Run...
    Enter "cmd" in there and press enter, a black window opens.
    (The same would be Start -> Programs -> Acessories -> Command Prompt)

    In there you can change drives e.g. by
    c: <enter>
    that will change the current drive to C:
    Then you can change directories to something:
    cd "program files" <enter>
    (quotes are necessary when the folder contains spaces)
    With
    cd \ <enter>
    you go to the "root" directory of a drive (e.g. C:\)
    With
    dir <enter>
    it shows a list of all files and directories in the current directory (which is shown in the prompt)
    If the file list is too large
    dir |more <enter>
    would help, it waits for pressing a key.

    Now you should know enough to follow the above documentation.
    E.g. you have unpacked the files mentioned above in the following directory (you can see that with Windows Explorer in the directory display on the top if you click in the directory list): d:\AudibleChap. And you have the files book01.wav, book02.wav, book03.wav on drive f: (f:\book01.wav), further the appropriate audio book (.aax or .aa file) in the file C:\my documents\book.aax. And the results should be written to the directory f:\result (which should exist)
    In that case type (without enters written now)
    d:
    cd audiblechap
    audiblechapters "C:\my documents\book.aax"
    audiblechapters "c:\my documents\book.aax" f:\book01.wav f:\result

    Thats it! (The first audiblechapters command will display the chapters, etc. of the audio book and is not necessary for the conversion)

    /AAA
     
  7. leemsoft

    leemsoft Member

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    TunesKit Audible Converter maybe the best tool I found currently which can actually strip DRM protection from Audible files and convert AA/AAX file to MP3, AAC, FLAC formats with zero lossless.
     
  8. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    Mine is the free tool audacity. The major problem is it must work in real time so I do it overnight. I have a back log of audio so it doesn't matter if it takes a week to process 30-40 hrs of audio. It will take me several weeks to listen to it.

    As for lossless... You can faithfully reproduce an audio book at 8 bit rate why use 2400? That is because the human voice doesn't go above 2kHz. It is the high frequencies that require high bit rates.
     
  9. scorpNZ

    scorpNZ Active member

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    Agree with mez.It's a lot of piss'n around just to get an mp3.He also mentions audacity.Although not my preferred program for converting it does have the ability like others to trim the front & end of files which allows dumping of overly long crap that's not required,most notably on live music audio

    edit:that same trim function is great for making better ringtones for phones

    at op
    when nobody replies to a post just edit your old one as i've done here
     
  10. GrandpaBW

    GrandpaBW Active member

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    I remember the early days when I was learning to use my computer with DOS 5.1. I no longer enjoy getting pooched by the computer. lol
     
  11. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    What do you use?
    I like Audacity because it will record any sound so it is a one size fits all. I concur on the live audios. I don't want to waste time listening to ambiance and witty banter when I want to listen to music. I usually just use it for audible which run 7-9 hrs a part. I just rip music CDs.
     
  12. scorpNZ

    scorpNZ Active member

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    Nowadays mez i use the same as you dbPA.However before that i settled on audio coder,tho i have used foobar on occasion & some whatever converter on linux. (Ripped all my cd's to flac a few years ago but can't recall what i used.Then converted to mp3 from there in the last 2 years.Only because the car has usb ports for the stick,otherwise i wouldn't bother with mp3,no point holding dual copies for a pc)

    edit:yeah some of that banter can last bloody minutes
     
  13. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    Me too. I have the same set up with my car. Even though I like mp3 CDs because they hold a few hrs of tunes, I am lazy. I use the USB. The CDs are great for mood change. I can drive while changing CDs but I can't navigate the USB and drive safely. I have been meaning to burn some disks for over a year but I have better ways to waste my time.

    I did some experimenting with Lame mp3s at the extreme setting. They don't noticeably degrade going back and forth to lossless. What V0 throws away we can't hear. Now disks are so cheap. Who cares if you keep a backup? Now that I think about it I will do that for my music and maybe my videos as well. There is some nasty disk firmware malware that can be spread by flash drives as well as via the internet. Once infected, you can only read them with an infected computer. Connecting an infected drive infects the computer. The firmware in the HD attacks the BIOS. The next time you boot up your hard disks are rewritten. This is likely written in machine language so the infection is OS independent.

    Foobar also has premium codex. I don't know how free software can do that unless the codex owners wave copyrights for Foobar.
     
  14. scorpNZ

    scorpNZ Active member

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    Numbered folders or alphabetical order can make folder search function faster to get the artist you want to listen too as the audible beeps can be counted as you scroll,1 beep for every folder assuming that's how you have yours sorted.Mind you from the time i had the old cd/radio only type 25 year ago maybe a bit more, till 3-4 years ago when i got this one with usb etc meant i wasn't up on the play so to speak,so i don't know how other models allow sorting to be done
     
  15. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    My audios are all hierarchical stored in folders. That isn't the problem. The navigation device is most awkward. There are no navigational beeps the pointer moves sluggishly but can speed up so you can overshoot your target. It was most likely designed to have no folders or just a minimum on a small USB. There is no way around that other than not using it. I have satellite which has a more suitable for the navigation system and I can BT my phone.
     

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