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))
- 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).
- 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”.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
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”
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