Originally posted June 2, 2008 – Updated

The DRM Problem:

Audible seems to want to actively block the ability to rip / convert .aa files to MP3 through third party software. The fact that the non ability to use the purchased media however one wants only affects their own paying customers astounds me. With any digital file there will always be a way to remove the publisher’s Digital Rights Management (DRM) access control, maybe it will take some time but there are people happy to spend their time doing so. These same people are the ones most likely to upload it somewhere for others to use. Regardless of what publishers do, media will always end up on pirate-free-market, so the only function of the DRM is to restrict the access and usability of the honest, supportive paying customers.

Why would I want to rip .aa to MP3?

The simple answer would be because I paid for it and wish to listen to it however I want.
I have no intention of giving it to other people, I just want to listen to them on a device and software of my choosing. Plus if I want to listen to them in the car, why cant I put the whole thing on a single CD instead of contributing  to screw up the environment with 8 plus CDs. Why cant I make it future proof? What happens if they close down, shut shop? I know, not likely, but lot of start ups used some form of phone home DRM on their products and went under. What if I format my computer and/or can’t get online to enter my username and password?
For me, the foremost reason why I like to have them in MP3 is because even though I have a media player listed as compatible (I started my Audible membership with a month trial  included in the box of my media player), the crappy Audible software doesn’t recognise it, hence I can’t play .aa files on my “compatible” MP3 player.

 

How to legally rip .aa files to MP3:

This is not the only way to do this but it is the only “true rip” method that I know of that currently works. Plus it is legal within the restrictions that Audible give you.

These instructions work with Windows XP/Vista and probably Windows 7. I don’t know if works or doesn’t work on a Mac. If you see anything in need of correction or can contribute in any way, post a comment below. Steve simplified the instructions in a comment below (now added at the bottom of this post).

You will need:

  • Audible membership with crappy Audible software.
  • Nero Burning Rom 7, 8 or 9 (the latest iterations; 10, 11+ apparently do not work). I will explain it using Nero 8.
  • A CD emulator (I use Magic ISO but Alcohol, Daemon Tools or any other should work fine)
  • WAV (CD) to MP3 encoder (there are literally hundreds out there. Google “CD to MP3″. I will use Windows Media Player 11 (WMP))

1.

  • Open Nero Burning Rom.
  • A “New Compilation” box should appear.
  • Select CD on the top left side of the box.
  • Scroll down on the left and select “Audiobook CD”.
  • Click “New”.
  • On the top toolbar of Nero, the drive that the CD will burn to will be selected, click on that and select “Image Recorder”.
  • In the left navigation browser, navigate to your .aa file.
  • Select the .aa file and drag it across into the right (empty) box. It should process into multiple CD’s, each named in the following format: CD 01 time CD name etc.
  • Click “Burn”.
  • The dialogue box will come up again, click “burn”.
  • You will then be asked to “save as”.
  • Navigate to where you would like to save your files and click “save”.
  • Click “Autocreate file names”.
  • Nero will then convert your .aa file to multiple CD images on your hard drive. Close Nero when it’s finished (or if you want to .aa to CD, you can now burn the CD images to disc with Nero).

2.

  • You will now need to mount your CD image onto a your virtual drive (CD ROM drive emulator). There are a number of ways to do this but I will only write about one; PowerISO.
  • Find the icon of your virtual drive in your system tray (all those pretty little pictures in the bottom right corner of your screen), PowerISO is a little gold CD, right click it, select your drive and click “Mount Image”.
  • A dialogue will popup, navigate to your CD images (they will be listed as Image.nrg, Image02.nrg, Image03.nrg, etc in your folder) and select the first one, click “open”.

3.

  • You can now open your CD to MP3 encoder, I’m using Windows Media Player 11 (WMP) for this purposes – most people have this.
  • Open WMP and click “rip”.
  • Select your CD drive on the left and WMP should automatically start ripping to MP3 (or wma if you have that set in your preferences).

2. again/repeat

  • Once the first CD has been ripped, without closing WMP, repeat step 2 for the next CD and WMP should automatically start ripping. Repeat until all CDs are ripped.

4. (optional)

  • Navigate to where WMP put your MP3s “Music” or “My music” by default.
  • Name your folder “Book Name CD1” etc.
  • Go into the folder and select all MP3 files in the folder. Right click and click “properties” select the “details” tab and in the “artists” field write “Book Name”, in the album field write “Book name CD1” etc.

Your done.

It seems a little complicated but it is actually very simple. The most time consuming part of the process in step 4 but that is completely optional, although I would recommend at least naming the folders as the time and date system that WMP uses can be a little hard to navigate 6 months down the track.

Steve’s Summary:

Audible .aa to .mp3 conversion

1. Download the audiobook files via the Audible Download Manager

2. Open Nero Burning ROM and select Audiobook CD from the menu, then click New

3. Drag and drop your .aa file into the blank workspace on the left then click Burn

4. On the next screen, click Burn again

5. Choose a location to save the files then click Save, and then Autocreate File Names

6. Once the process is done, open MagicISO

7. Click the Open Image File icon

8. Click the Extract Audio Files icon

9. Choose a file save location, check the Using MP3 Encoder checkbox, then click OK

10. Finally, repeat steps 8-10 for the rest of the discs in the series

Thanks Steve.

Update:
It appears that Nero 7, 8 and 9 are the only versions of Nero that work with Audible (Nero 10 does not work). – Thanks John and Bernard.

Also, if anyone knows of any other .aa compatible burning software, please comment below.

28 Comments to “A simple way to rip Audible .aa files to MP3”

  • Cool! Very useful information :) I used to use MelodyCan converter. Cause it has good conversion speed and quality

  • @Viki Is that program a stream recorder? As in it records it as it plays it like an old tape deck?

  • I read similar article also named e way to rip Audible .aa files to MP3. This makes a little bit more sense for me

  • It’s great. It works. I did it a bit differently, but using your instructions as guidelines and it worked perfectly. Thanks a lot!

  • Thank-you! I should have though of this years ago!

  • Great, thanks for this. I’ll start buying from Audible again now

  • after i create the .nrg file, i try to mount the file to the virtual cd. what file extension should the file have in the virtual cd drive? when i check the contents of the virtual cd drive, i see the ORIGINAL file (file with .aa extension). shouldn’t the file have a .mp3 extension? i am having problems converting my audible files.

  • @anna.
    It sounds like you aren’t converting the .aa to wave. Nero should do this before you press the burn button. Are you selecting “Audiobook CD” when you start the compilation in Nero?

  • @damien c edwards.
    i used nero express 6 to create the nrg file. nero express 6 doesn’t have the “audiobook” feature. is there a way i can work around nero express or do i really have to download nero 8? thanks.

  • @anna
    My guess is that you need a newer version of Nero as it is that part of the process that takes care of the DRM on the .aa file. There may be other burning software that the Audible software supports. Check it out at the Audible site or update to the latest Nero (9 I think). Good luck.

  • Hey, for those interested, Slysoft.com has a free Virtual CloneDrive program available that does an awesome job creating those virtual cds…

  • I’m using a portable version of Nero 7.7.5.1 and it works great!…also if your audio book is in two parts you’ll need to burn each part individually.

  • Thanks,
    I dug out an old copy of Nero 8 (I already had MagicISO) and they are working at it as I type this. I just “opened” the images in MagicISO and let it Rip/Convert to mp3s. Working great, but I lose the ID3 tags. I’ll end up using TagScanner to fix that, and add some cover art.
    Last week I actually “burned” CDs from iTunes. Never again.
    BTW, I’m spending the processing time reading your blog. It’s very good.
    Thanks again.

  • Audible .aa to .mp3 conversion
    1. Download the audiobook files via the Audible Download Manager
    2. Open Nero Burning ROM and select Audiobook CD from the menu, then click New

    3. Drag and drop your .aa file into the blank workspace on the left then click Burn

    4. On the next screen, click Burn again
    5.

    6. Choose a location to save the files then click Save, and then Autocreate File Names
    7. Once the process is done, open MagicISO
    8. Click the Open Image File icon

    9. Click the Extract Audio Files icon

    10. Choose a file save location, check the Using MP3 Encoder checkbox, then click OK

    11. Finally, repeat steps 8-10 for the rest of the discs in the series

  • I enjoyed your article and got excited! Nero 6 would not work so I downloaded Nero 10 and guess what? There is no “Audiobook CD” in the CD list.
    Any ideas to get around would be appreciated. Thanks

  • Nero 10 doesn’t support it due to “licensing issues” according to a post on the forum. If the version of nero you have installed supports it, then it should show in the audible manager as a “mobile device” and a button on the upper right. I have a nero 7 express that came with my external burner that works well using the manager on both 32- and 64-bit Win7. Note: Virtual CloneDrive cannot mount .nrg images. MagicIso does work.

  • I have several audible files that I found online. I have an active account, but these files were not bought with it. I downloaded the audible software to play the files, but it keeps asking me for the username and password of the user that bought them. I can’t use my account, it does not work. I have also tried to convert them into MP3, but it always asks for the username and password.

    Any idea of how to bypass that DRM protection??

    • I don’t know of any way to break the DRM without the password but I think it would be kind of difficult. As you have found, each download is tied to the username and password of the account that downloaded them. Also, consider actually buying them from the authors that you like, so they can be paid, enabling them to write more books for us to read and listen to. They’re pretty cheap with most books being 1 credit as opposed to the $60+ plus that they were on CD.

  • Finally, after months of loooking !!!
    It was such a laborious process using audacity when those books are dozen’s of hours long.I luves the tinternet !!!

  • I found a way to eliminate a step!

    On Nero 7, it makes you open up a music project, bt then select audiobook as te project, then when you import the .aa file it will brk it up for you. I unchecked all fur of the “cd’s” that it was going to create, and I hilighted the first one by clicking on it (not the box next to it)I then expanded the options tab and clicked on “copy audio cd tracks.” The dialogue box that opens lets you select .mp3 as the save method. SO you can skip the whole ISO saving, mounting etc, and just encode it straight from the .a file. SO I tried to be detailed, but it’s really only a quick couple of steps and way quicker. open nero, load file, save tracks, burn or listen!

  • scratch that, I guess I was loading an ISO I already had. sorry, please delete. It did save the files from the virtual drive to the computer in mp3 though, for what it’s worth.

  • What alternatives do you know of to Nero, it looks like I can only buy 11 now and it is $50. Any free suggestions?
    Thanks,
    Jase

    • As John Belli commented above; Nero didn’t get a license for the file type a couple of versions ago, so unless you can see anything to confirm it in the features / specs, I wouldn’t get any of the newer versions. Can anyone confirm anything about v11?
      Not sure if there is any other software that does the same job. Anyone?

  • I just found and installed a DRM converter…

    http://handysoft.org/drm_converter.html

    Hope it works… testing now…
    :)

    • Don’t bother, it doesn’t work.

      • It does, you’re doing it wrong.

  • Hi, I read on a guide which was way too complicated that only the early versions of Nero 9 can convert to Audible. Its supposed to be gone from one of the updates.
    This one worked for me. thanks.

  • At first I was a bit overwhelmed with this guide…but it worked like a charm!! THANK YOU!!!!

Post comment

Tags

Recent Posts

Categories

Meta