I hate my iPod (for audio books, anyway)
February 19, 2006 3:47 PM   Subscribe

There’s GOT to be a way I can convert my .aa audio books from Audible.com into plain old audio files (eventually convertible to mp3s for compact packing onto as few as possible CDs) without burning them all onto physical CD disks at 44.1k first, doesn’t there?? (“Virtual” disks would be fine!) On a Mac, btw... And yes I’m aware that this seems to be something of a grail quest, but surely some M’Filterite has found it...yes?
posted by dpcoffin to Technology (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not 100% sure if this would work, but there's Wiretap, and Audio Hijack, both of which can record whatever audio is playing on your Mac. A drawback is recording is real-time. I've used Wiretap in the past to record Real player audio of NPR news segments.
posted by jaimev at 4:06 PM on February 19, 2006

This program seems like it should help; it will automate the Audio Hijack process so you could set it up and leave your computer running for a few days whilst it played all your books.
Disclaimers: I haven't done this, and I would worry about whether my entire hard disk would be filled up with temporary uncompressed audio files whilst all this was happening, so check up on that.
posted by nowonmai at 4:24 PM on February 19, 2006

Sure, they’d work, thanks.... but the real-time thing is the killer. That’d be even more inconvenient than burning CDs at an hour of playback apiece, even at 16x. And I don’t want to listen to these things twice.
My quest is to be able to convert from .aa to mp3, in the background, inaudibly, and in batches if possible, then burn these to a few compressed CDs that will play in my mp3-capable car CD player. Bookmarking or track-making isn’t needed here because the player keeps track of where it was when the ignition turned off.

And I know that this is precisely what the .aa format is designed to prevent, so as to foil piracy. But I’m not a pirate, just a listener. My iPod is woefully ineffective as an in-car audio-book delivery device: Runs on batteries (or hums horribly if played in the car while also plugged into the cigarette lighter jack), constantly forgets where it was when turned off, doesn’t turn off when the car turns off, and is insanely easy to incorrectly trigger with the slightest misplaced touch.

Sorry, but if that rant is the only gratification I get from this post, that’ll help, sort of.
posted by dpcoffin at 4:35 PM on February 19, 2006

Thanks for the Hijack iT! link. Interesting, but that still seems like more trouble than just burning 44.1k CDs instead.
posted by dpcoffin at 4:40 PM on February 19, 2006

hums horribly if played in the car while also plugged into the cigarette lighter jack

Sorry for the derail, but is this common? I'm going to get my lighter jack replaced this week because my FM transmitter thingie drains my battery in like 2 hours, and I'm in my car a lot. Is the hum a problem for other people?
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:56 PM on February 19, 2006

I did some Goolging, and I found out that older versions of the RiverPast Audio Converter were capable of .aa --> .mp3 conversion, but the feature was disabled.

I found a link to an installer of previous version with the conversion capability: http://winsite.planetmirror.com/win95/audio/audioconverter_setup.exe

However, I've never used this software and never used a .aa file. I got this from the forums at afterdawn.com, and the thread I read strongly suggests this program I've linked will help you.
posted by chudmonkey at 5:01 PM on February 19, 2006

I forgot to include in my last post that this is a Windows-based solution. I wasn't sure if you had access to a PC or emulation software that would allow you to implement it.
posted by chudmonkey at 5:03 PM on February 19, 2006

Doing this is against Audible's terms of service and probably considered illegal via the DMCA or whatnot. It's intentionally difficult to do this - they don't want you giving copies of these books to your friends, which is most likely what you want to do this for, right? Right.

There are programs out there that will do it... but I only know of one for Windows, and only an older version of the program will do it, because once Audible found out about it, they made them remove the ability to do the conversion...

The Windows program that did it was called River Past Audio Converter... After a certain version, it wouldn't do it anymore...
posted by twiggy at 5:04 PM on February 19, 2006

I remember there used to be a product for Windows that did this but they had to remove the feature. Oh and you're a pirate!

--rolls eyes--

Seriously, AudioHijack will do what you want. While it will do it in realtime (unfortunately), it will do it in the background so you don't have to listen to it while it is happening. I believe you can even allow other audio to play on your computer (iTunes, system beeps, whatever...) and it will not be recorded. AudioHijack has a way of recording the audio from only the applictations you want it to.
posted by pwb503 at 5:41 PM on February 19, 2006

they don't want you giving copies of these books to your friends, which is most likely what you want to do this for, right? Right.

Right; the very first thing I do with anything I own is figure out how to use it unlawfully. The main thing I want to do with my audio books is give them away. I really need to keep my friends supplied with free audio books. But I’m too cheap to give them away on more than a few CDs. Right.

Um, did you bother to READ my question and subsequent comments? I’m not interested in distributing these files to my “friends.” I want a reason to continue purchasing them, over other audio-book products that are currently far more convenient and suitable to me than .aa files, but not always available in the same titles. I want a way to use them that suits MY current situation and equipment. I’m sorry I own these if I have to use them only in this way, with devices I find annoying, and it’s my fault for not forseeing this, to be sure. But I’m not willing to let you or anybody else assume I must primarily want to break the law with them, without a protest, simply because YOU can’t imagine any other reason for my question.

Thanks for your generous and thoughtful assistance; I really hadn’t grasped the audible POV. Must be my criminal mind-set, and the limited perspective of my circle of criminal, audio-book-starved friends. And for assuming I haven’t already found all the well-documented, easily googled PC solutions.
posted by dpcoffin at 5:53 PM on February 19, 2006

hums horribly if played in the car while also plugged into the cigarette lighter jack

Radio Shacks sells noise filters for this problem (I forget exactly what they're called but they are specifically for automobile noise). I think they were actually recently discontinued, but you should be able to find one, and for a clearance price. Talk to your local RS store's manager and he'll be able to locate one for you. Or you may be able to get one at a good auto supply store.
posted by neuron at 7:13 PM on February 19, 2006

Goldwave is an audio program for Windows that will open audible programs and convert them to mp3 or .wav files. I read that you want a program for a mac but I thought you might be interested to know that goldwave will do the conversion (without playing the story in real time). Goldwave states on their web site that they received a cease and desist letter from audible and that they cannot talk about audible files. When opening an audible file, make sure the dialogue box for opening a file is set to "all files" instead of "supported files". It will then open up the file and you can save it in another form. Goldwave can open up 8 hour long audible files, although you can choose "save as selection" and save as mp3's in 2 hour chunks.
I've spent many hours recording audible files in real time to convert and I was very happy to find that goldwave made the process much easier. Good luck!
posted by aliksd at 7:20 PM on February 19, 2006

I signed up with Audible the first month or two they were open, and have been happily listening to their books and programs ever since. Unfortunately, I use windows, not MacOS, so I don't have a precise solution for you- but I've used GoldWave without any problems at all to convert the .aa files to .mp3's as fast as the CPU can process them. Just open up the .aa files in goldwave, and do a 'save as' .mp3. The key is to have the audible Windows media player codec installed, which comes (or at least used to) with their desktop player installation.
Might be worth trying out some of the PC emulator software; it has always worked flawlessly for me. My current mp3 player doesn't support the audible codec, so this is the only way I can play all of the files I've bought from them over the years, while I'm away from my computer.
posted by bemis at 7:30 PM on February 19, 2006

I use my ipod in my car to listen to audible audiobooks all the time. I have been downloading books and radio programs several times a week and listen to about 10 hours of content a week (long commute). I have had really good luck with my Monster iCarPlay (which you can buy at the apple store). Using both mac (at work) and pc (at home), I haven't had any problems.
posted by meta x zen at 8:53 PM on February 19, 2006

I did this a while back once I quit audible... I think I used teh goldwave method, and that worked for me...
posted by hatsix at 9:28 PM on February 19, 2006

I´ve used a program called Razor Lame. Works like a charm every time, and you can let it run in the background.
posted by richmondparker at 7:27 AM on February 20, 2006

Let me just second meta x zen. Based on a recommendation I saw here on AskMe, I bought a "RoadTrip+" which is a combination transmitter and charger (no more draining batteries), for $25.99. The only "downside" is that it only transmits on 87.9, but that hasn't been a problem -- even in the high-density area where I live -- since 87.9 is the least-used frequency in the U.S.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:33 AM on February 20, 2006

The horrible humming that occurs when your ipod is plugged into the car charger can be eliminated with a ground loop isolator. Definitely should still be available at your local RadioShak type store for under $20.
posted by metaname at 10:06 AM on February 20, 2006

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