How To Convert Audible .AA File Format to .MP3

Bharat Karavadra Technology 26 Comments

I once purchased Joe Vitale’s Attractor Factor (2nd Edition) from Audible.co.uk who use the .aa audio format with the intention of using it on my Sony Walkman which plays MP3 files.

To download the audio I had to install Audible’s Download Manager and Media Manager which I found a bit strange as I thought MP3 audio files were MP3 audio files and could simply be downloaded and used as one desired.

After downloading the file I found that this was not the case. The download was one huge 92MB file with a .AA extension. Having worked in software development for over 25 years I was quite surprised to come across a file extension that I had not seen before. And before you ask, I did not get excited about it, just surprised.

Anyway, the next thing to do was to get the audio onto my Walkman, so I loaded the Audible Manager program and there it was; 1 huge 92MB 6 Hour 42 minute audio file. “Where were the chapters?”… was my first thought. I clicked around a bit but could not find the chapters and then thought that I was going off track.

You can add mobile devices to the Audible Manager so I clicked on the “Add New Device” link and found that the program wanted to connect to Audible’s site to download a list of supported devices. So I clicked OK and a long list of devices came up.

I thought “great”, the Walkman is most definitely going to be in there somewhere and I found only one relevant entry called “Sony Handhelds” which I thought was appropriate as my Walkman is a handheld.

I installed the Sony device entry and the device name appeared as “Sony CLIE Handheld”. Not knowing what CLIE was I simply assumed that it was some generic abbreviation for Sony handhelds.

I attached my Walkman to the USB port on my computer, clicked on the Sony CLIE Handheld device entry and waited for the available space pie graph in Audible Manager to show the available space. This did not happen. I tried clicking around Audible Manager a bit more but simply could not get it to “see” my Walkman.

So I thought I’d call Audible in the morning to see what I was doing wrong.

The morning
Sharply at 10:10am, shortly after Audible open their phone lines, I called the company and told them about my problem. As soon as they heard the words Sony Walkman, the support person’s voice got quite stern and said that THAT was the problem. Audible did not support Sony Walkman’s.

Thinking this was quite odd as Sony Walkman’s are very popular, and trying not to be judgemental about what they supported, I told them that I specifically bought the audio to play on my Walkman and hence could I have a refund as the file was no use to me.

That’s when the stern energy got stronger, and they said as I had downloaded the audio file they could not give me a refund but told me that I could write an audio CD of the file.

I wasn’t very happy about this as I only realised that the Walkman was not supported after I downloaded the file but according to Audible, that was that. I had to keep the file. They did give me a bit of advice – to contact Sony and ask them to let Audible support Walkman’s. Who’s business is Audible? Theirs or mine?

If I did not already know that I could convert a CD to MP3 format files then I would have really lost my patience with Audible as just before writing this article, I had a look at their site again and still can’t find anywhere on it that says they don’t support Sony Walkmans.

By by the way I had this issue back in November 2008 and in November 2012, 4 years on, I faced the same issue as I had no choice but to purchase a personal growth audio book from Audible as no one else seemed to sell it.

The solution from 4 years ago still works as below.

So if you’re having similar issues here’s the formula to convert Audible .AA files to MP3 files, for free.

1) Make sure you have downloaded the .AA file onto your computer using the Audible Download Manager (I had v 6.6.0.0) and you have to install, if not already installed, the AudibleManager (I have used v 5.5.0.0 and v 6.6.0.15).

2) Install iTunes if you don’t have it installed already. ( I have used v 8.0.1.11 and v 10.7.0.21).

3) Load iTunes, Go to the File Menu and click on “Add File to Libary” on the menu, then locate and open the .AA file.

4) Go to the “Recently Added” Menu item in the iTunes Playlists menu, and you should see your .AA file, perhaps with a cover thumbnail image. Click on it.

5) At the bottom right of the iTunes window you should see a Burn button. Click on it and you will see a pop-up “Burn Settings” box.

6) In the box, make sure you have “Audio CD” selected and then set any preferences you want for your Audio CD and then click the “Burn” button.

7) iTunes may say that you will be writing multiple CDs or words to that effect, simply agree and carry on.

8) Insert the blank CDs when iTunes requests them on the top message bar and complete writing all the CD’s.

Using FreeRIP

9) Once all the CDs have been written, download FreeRIP from here which is a Free CD ripping/conversion program. Install and open it.

10) As I had already set the encoding options in FreeRIP which worked great for me, I have simply put a snapshot of the settings below so that you can see what mine were compared to the default. The settings are under the File menu, then Settings, then Options, then the Encoding Tab.

NOTE: You may also want to go to the Output Tab and set where the MP3 files will be saved on your computer.

Once you have changed the settings, click OK.

11) Now simply insert each of your CDs and you will see the list of tracks appear in FreeRIP. Make sure they are all ticked and then go to the RIP menu and click on “Rip Selected Tracks to MP3? and wait for the files to be converted and saved.

12) Repeat step 11 for each CD.

Using DVDVideoSoft’s Free Audio CD to MP3 Converter.

9) Once all the CDs have been written, download DVDVideoSoft’s Free Audio to CD Converter from here which is a free CD ripping/conversion program. Install and open it.

10) As I had already set the encoding options in DVDVideoSoft’s Free Audio to CD Converter which worked great for me, I have simply put a snapshot of the settings below so that you can see what mine were compared to the default. The settings appear at the bottom of the window as soon as the software is opened.

NOTE: You may also want to go to the Output Tab and set where the MP3 files will be saved on your computer.

11) Now simply insert each of your CDs and you will see the list of tracks appear in DVDVideoSoft’s Free Audio to CD Converter. Make sure they are all selected and then click on “Convert” wait for the files to be converted and saved.

12) Repeat step 11 for each CD.

That’s it. If you have any feedback then leave a comment below.

Have fun.

A solution without CDs
The above method works but for me wasted a lot of CDs as I tend not to use CDs any more and I simply discard them and due to copyright issues, it does not seem possible at the moment to give the CD’s to someone else even if they may be use to them.

So, if you have a solution to converting Audible audio files to MP3 without using CDs and for free then please leave a comment below. Thank you.

Previous comments
I had 132 Comments to the original above Post on one of my old blogs which I do not wish to migrate here, however below are some recent comments.

Appreciation:

iTunes : For browsing and organising audio and video.
FreeRIP : A CD to MP3 converter.
DVDVideoSoft : A Free studio of software for downloading, converting, uploading audio and video.

 

Comments 26

  1. Post
    Author
    Teresa

    Hi Bharat, I just rec’d my brand new Sony Walkman, purchased from Amazon incidentally, and after several frustrating hours of failing to download my purchased books from Audible (almost the only game in town!), I decided to return the player. Finding your site allows me to keep a very nice MP3 player purchased at a very good price. In the Amazon customer reviews, I did read something about how to download books through iTunes as a podcast, which will allow you to stop and start without searching for your left-off “place” but hadn’t a clue how to accomplish this simple task — I understand so little of computers other than straight forward operation and appreciate how simply you have described the process of converting the files to a usable format. Thank you so very much for sharing your solution and for the updates contained throughout the comments over the many months since your first posting. There’s a lot of smart people out there and I’m grateful how nice they are and willing to help the rest of us!
    Teresa

  2. Post
    Author
    Claire

    Dear Bharat,
    you’re great!!! I was gobsmacked, when I realised AFTER purchase, that I didn’t get a mp3 file of my book, but an aa-file I’ve never heard about. I’ve read your story and I thought, it was mine!!! You ‘how to’ workedvfine. I followed step-by-step and finally got my mp3 files.

    Thank you so much,
    Claire

  3. Post
    Author
    Glenn Huston

    I am so glad that ask.com came up with your Website as I was going NUTS!!!! trying to find a way to convert Audible files to to mp3.
    I can’t tell you how much I apreciate the work you did to make this possible!!!!

    Glenn

    1. Post
      Author
      Bharat K

      Hi Jeff,
      I just had a look at Tunebite by Audials and I can’t seem to find any reference to it being able to convert Audible’s file format.
      Also it is paid software and it would be good to find free software.

  4. M. Johnson

    I went though exactly the same frustrating sequence of events you describe, when after subscribing to Audible, I tried and tried to add my Walkman as a device. I then tried to use a free program to convert the file from AA to either MP3 or WMA. I got an error message telling me that because of Audible’s copy protections, this was not possible. While I’m sure your process works, I’m too lazy to run files through a couple of recording and trranslation programs, so I asked my wife to get me a player for XMAS which will play MP3, WMA and audible formats. There are some very reasonable Senza players which will do this as well as many Samsung players as well.

    1. Post
      Author
      Bharat K

      Dear Mr Johnson,
      Thank you for sharing your experience and I’m glad you found a solution to playing your file, however it does not feel right to have to purchase a whole new music player just because a device is not compatible with a purchased file format especially when there is no mention that the device is not supported. I’m not sure if Audible now mention that Sony Walkman’s are not mentioned but an obvious warning message before the purchase would help people make a wise decision before they click the BUY button.

  5. Randy

    Hi Bharat,
    After reading your post and considering the easiest way to accomplish converting to mp3 without using CDs, I’d like to mention that the free software called Audacity will do this. I just launch Audacity to get ready to record, pull up the file in iTunes, press record in Audacity, press play in iTunes, wait for the file to completely finish, stop the recording in Audacity, and (here’s the really important part) export the file to mp3 using Audacity. The reason for this last step is that Audacity wants to save this file in a propietary format that uses much disk space, so I choose to only save the mp3 version. The only drawback is that the recording is real-time, so a two hour playback will take two hours to record. Good luck!

    1. Post
      Author
      Bharat K

      Hi Randy,
      Thanks for your method for creating MP3’s without CD’s and in fact it is exactly the same method I tried but what I found was that alerts such as for new emails, calendar reminders, etc would disturb the sound, or my computer would go to sleep because I was not in front of it and using it and the recording would stop.

      As far as I remember there were a couple of other frustrations, and so I did not post the suggestion here.

      However, I agree that using recording software such as Audacity will allow you to simply record the audio playing on your computer, but as you mentioned, it will take as long as the length of the audio.

      So, it seems where still on a search for a software solution to quickly convert the files to MP3.

      And thank you again Randy for sharing what I did not share with my fear of frustrating people with what I experienced.

      1. Post
        Author
      2. Martin

        Oh, never mind. I found that there are actually multiple Audible formats, including AAX.

        iTunes combined with the DVDneXtCOPY iTurns tool did the trick for me. Be careful – new versions of DVDneXtCOPY iTurns are not free, you have to find a website which hosts legal free older versions of DVDneXtCOPY iTurns. It acts like a CD burner and you can access all your audio tracks from iTurns virtual CD/DVD burner after iTunes has completed burning. DVDneXtCOPY is able to automatically switch its virtual CD disks so you can ignore iTunes message about not fitting on a single CD.

        Free version of DVDneXtCOPY reencodes audio to OGG so you might lose some quality. To have the highest quality possible, you need to download the Enhanced format files (AAX extension) from Audible, then go to DVDneXtCOPY menu “Edit-> Open settings”, click the Encoder tab and pick the highest quality OGG CBR encoding values, and then you’re good to go with burning your playlist from iTunes. After burning, you’ll see all your files in C:\Users\\Documents\DVDneXtCOPYiTurns\DiscXX folder (files are split to 7 minutes and named as Artist-TitleX by the way) where X is some autogenerated numeric value. Then if you want MP3 files and not OGG files, you have to find another free tool to convert OGG to MP3, for example Any Audio Converter (when installing it, be careful to pick Custom installation and uncheck unnecessary adware) which is able to convert multiple OGG files at once.

        That Aimer DRM Converter mentioned in comments here and on other websites is not free and internally it is using iTunes anyway and it records in realtime, so slooooow – the same as you do with Audacity, thus not worth paying for. TotalMounter does not support AudioCD mode – useless.

        1. Post
          Author
          Bharat Karavadra

          Martin,
          Thank you again for the re-clarification and for those wanting quick summary, Martin says that the .AAX format is an audible format and that older free versions of DVDneXtCOPY iTurns will encode the .AAX format to .OGG format and then you can convert that to .MP3 format with free software such as Any Audio Converter.
          See Martin’s reply above for details and how to.

  6. greg

    ive had the same problem though gladly i got my audio book for free,though i had to
    sign up to one of theyre special offers which means next month theyll grab money from
    my bank in exchange for one credit = one free book..anyway when they told me, to choose
    ether pc etc etc it clearly says . dont worry you can still play your book one other players.
    but clearly thats not the case ..is it possible theyre in breach of consumer laws by fact of
    misleading us.because like you the list of players the manager comes up with is all very
    expensive to buy and yet the impression given is easy peasy just download and you can
    listen on any payer,which clearly you cant do.. so me thinks because of the disgusting way
    they treated you. that we should all click and share this post on every site and keep doin it
    again and again constantly till word spreads and amazon understand by a fall in shares
    to treat customers with respect and like you said add a notice /warning or clearly list what
    plays and wont play theses most uncommon files and or change the format entirely .
    instead of giving the opposite impression which they do on the website..ps will google etc
    this page and with permission i`d like to copy and repost…all the best mate..aa format drm
    aint good enough amazon…

  7. Mike

    Hi Bharat
    Have a look at virtual CD software like “Virtual CD” http://www.virtualcd-online.com/ it free for 30days, I’ll figure out what to do when it expires, though it seems very good so might just buy it.
    This puts all the burned cd files into a hard drive folder and you can then rip them using something like “Free CD Ripper” http://www.koyotesoft.com/
    I couldn’t get your ripper to see the virtual CD’s and WMP kept on automatically naming my files.

    1. Post
      Author
      Bharat Karavadra

      Hi Mike,
      Thank you for the advice. I haven’t purchased an Audible audio book since I had the first issue and so if I ever do, I will try what you have suggested.

      Could any other people wanting to convert Audible to MP3 try Mike’s method and comment back here with your experience. Thank you.

    1. Post
      Author
      Bharat Karavadra

      Abhinav,
      Thank you for the link which goes to a page to download software to remove Audible DRM and convert Audible files to MP3.
      Please report your experience here.
      Thank you.

  8. Monica Sandor

    Hi Abhinav, I’ve just downloaded this software – Aimersoft DVD Media Converter. The free trial version says it will only convert a few minutes’ of audio, so I registered for it (it costs EUR 32.00 VAT included). Now I’ve loaded up a file to convert to mp3, and it does the following: it automatically opens up my iTunes, and starts “playing” the audio file. That is, I am not hearing it but it is running the conversion (I presume) in real time. So 6 hours from now I’ll be able to determine if it worked… so no different really than recording it with Audacity, as someone suggested.

  9. Abhinav

    Hi Monica,
    Sorry to hear that but I am sure it must have worked for you. Adding to what Mike said I found an alternative to “Virtual CD” which is available for free. It is ‘TotalMounter’ from http://www.kernsafe.com/product/totalmounter.aspx . I tried it on my win 8 pc but it did not help, on checking the documentation I found it is not compatible with it. If you have an earlier version of windows it might just work for free :)

  10. Monica Sandor

    Hi Abhinav, actually I am very happy with the Aimersoft programme. It went very smoothly (in the end, it seems to have taken less long than real time, something like an hour and a half (on my very slow Netbook) to convert the 6 hours total. An interesting thing, though, was that though it seemed the file was “playing” in iTunes, I could not hear it and also could not use the speakers of my netbook for anything else (Skype, playing something from the radio online live…) for the period that the programme was converting. No big deal, just an interesting aside.
    I looked at Kernsafe and think it’s a bit complicated for me, who was not wanting to burn a CD at all but just make MP3 files that could be played on either a Sony MP3 walkman or indeed on my laptop, computer, etc. Thanks again for the tip.

  11. Abhinav

    Hi Monica,
    Nice to hear it worked! I guess the Aimersoft programm internally redirected the output audio stream of iTunes to its input. This would have locked the sound hardware which is good as this eliminates other sounds,alerts etc from being recorded.

    Welcome :)

  12. Wendy

    This is brilliant. imported my AA files into Itunes, (had to sign in to my audible account through itunes first), then once the files were imported, I selected to burn them to the virtual cd drive. (Virutal Cd program was open simultaneously). When I selected burn playlist in iTunes I chose the virtual cd drive as the destination, I also selected insert virtual cd from the virtual cd program, then there was a popup within itunes asking me if I wanted to turn sound mode on, I selected that option as it then it burns it out from itunes to a temp folder and then converts it to mp3 format to your public music folder, rather than just writing the virtual audio cd where the files are in cda format and would need converting further. I was very impressed. The moment one virtual cd finished it continued with the next one.

    1. Post
      Author
      Bharat Karavadra

      Wendy,
      Can you let us know which virtual CD software you use?

      It may help those who are not familiar with such software and to help save CD’s.

  13. Martin

    I know one of my friends tried also Audials TuneBite 11 Premium, but it costs about 25 USD. You don’t need the entire Auials One package, which costs twice as much. If you have lots of audiobooks to convert, maybe it’s worth paying for TuneBite, it’s more stable than DVDneXtCOPY iTurns Free Edition which I mentioned before.
    Also I tried NoteBurner which again is not free. I got bad experience with it – it started skipping some parts of audiobook. For example iTunes wrote 11 CDs for a 15 hours book and each CD has 10 files in it. When I looked at NoteBurner results, I saw that clearly there are not enough files there.

    One more trick I found. When you write from iTunes to some virtual burner (no matter, which one – TuneBite, iTurns or NoteBurner), the process is still really slow. It took me 5 hours to convert 15 hour book. When investigating my CPU usage I noticed that iTunes is taking 99% CPU. Then I thought – wait, iTunes is not doing anything such resource intensive, why should it take so much CPU – then there is no free CPU power for the CD burner software whihc needs more power to encode files to mp3 or whatvere format you pick. Then I right clicked iTunes process in Task Manager and set it’s priority to Below Normal. Whoa! The results were amazing – I saw that my virtual CD burner started encoding files much faster, and also iTunes recording process started moving faster, thus I got my 15 hour audiobook ready in about half an hour insetad of 5 hours!

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