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I have a bunch of Audiobooks from Audible. I've made a complete switch from Windows to Linux but Audible do not support Linux. While there are some annoying ways around this I would like to convert my Audible books into Mp3 or Mp4 format.

Has anyone done this previously? Can anyone suggest a quick and easy way to make this conversion?

Should I go down the copy directly from the soundcard route? or is there a way to remove DRM directly from the file itself?

I have absolutely no intention of sharing these files once they are converted. I like the service audible provide, and I don't mind paying for books that I want. I just want to be able to listen too them!

3
  • You would need to run Windows in some fashion, but Soundtaxi does a very good job of converting Audible content to mp3 format. Jul 24, 2014 at 10:00
  • Some 3rd party applications may be helpful, like TunesKit AudioBook Converter, Aimersoft DRM Media Converter etc. TunesKit product can strip the audible DRM directly, but aimersoft removes the DRM by recording technology. So it depends on your choice.
    – meeleem77
    Apr 2, 2015 at 3:25
  • In principle, there is a web based player on the audible website. So you could stream the music and record it using a program of your choice (like Audacity). Personally, I can't get the web based player to work.
    – Nobody
    Oct 10, 2016 at 16:32

5 Answers 5

15

This works:

  1. Use audible-activator once to get your activation bytes string
  2. ffmpeg -activation_bytes ACTIVATION_BYTES -i input.aax -vn -c:a copy output.mp4
    

That's it. It's also incredibly fast, converting at several thousand times realtime speed on my laptop.

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  • It's fast because it simply decodes and doesn't re-encode (-c:a copy).
    – Geremia
    Apr 22, 2018 at 3:11
  • Or just drag your AAX file onto audible-tools.github.io and it shows your checksum and Activation Bytes in a split second, without even having to upload the whole file.
    – Zade
    Jun 10, 2021 at 3:38
  • Do the activation bytes vary for every file, or is it the same for any file from the same Audible account? (Or a third option?)
    – Stephen R
    Feb 22 at 16:15
  • 1
    It's per Audible account. I've done this with two separate accounts.
    – l0b0
    Feb 22 at 20:40
  • Note: the activation bytes are the "hex" value returned by the script. Look something like a1234567
    – Stephen R
    Apr 9 at 0:03
9

I've explored this path before and you'll find you have 2 options. You can run the Audible software under Wine, or you can run it natively inside a VM (VirtualBox) using Windows.

If you're interested in the Wine route take a look at the WineHQ page. Specifically this page, titled: Category: Main > Multimedia > Audio > AudibleManager.

Using this method you'll be extracting the .aa files out to CDs, from which you can extract .mp3 files. Your path is basically .wav to .mp3.

You can try saving an actual CD by buring them to a .iso file which you can then mount and rip down to .mp3's from there.

Because of the DRM the path is intentionally painful, making you perform various steps in a manual manner.

References

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  • If things haven't changed in the last year, the audible manager now delegates burning to itunes and in my experience, itunes can't successfully span audiobooks over several CDs. But running inside a VM will make grabbing the sound output easier. Dec 19, 2013 at 7:52
  • so when grabing the sound output is there anyway to do it without having to play the whole audiobook? Jan 13, 2014 at 20:36
  • @CecilJames - I wish, no there is not.
    – slm
    Jan 13, 2014 at 20:52
  • How do we, in AudibleManager, export .aa to a CD, let alone to an .iso?
    – Geremia
    Dec 24, 2014 at 17:31
  • @Geremia - it's described here: download.audible.com/help/gettingstartedcdburn.pdf
    – slm
    Dec 24, 2014 at 20:11
9

There are possibilities to convert aax to mp3 on linux. It just worked fine for me with AAXtoMP3 and audible-activator.

Here is a detailed howTo

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  • 1
    worked like a charm; except the last incantation should read: ./AAXtoMP3 --authcode <authcode> <aax-file>. I.e. you need to explicitly type the --authcode option. Jan 18, 2019 at 23:58
5

Another path could be, under Windows, using a recording software (Audacity is good and free), together with a virtual cable driver (like Virtual Audio Cable, or a free alternative) to stream audio directly from the audible application to the recording software. It may take a full night, but that's a way of doing it. I think you can even record directly to a compressed format.

4
  • 2
    This answer could use some considerable expansion; consider adding links or further explanation as to the process you would recommend.
    – HalosGhost
    Dec 10, 2014 at 1:32
  • Used exactly this method with a small realtime mp3 encoder program called Messer. Using the free VAC software as mentioned above I was able to convert my (fortunately only one!) Audible book to mp3. It did take several hours becuase it was rerouting normal playback straight into the VAC for Messer to record. Except for the re-encoding into mp3 there was no additional loss of audio quality. However, I will never use Audible again.
    – captcha
    Apr 2, 2015 at 4:40
  • Have you found a DRM-free alternative to audible? I'd love to be unencumbered and keep my books on my media server for my family to use, but I also appreciate the selection available at audible. Aug 4, 2015 at 19:09
  • Is an option, but meanwhile there are far better converter options. Please check my Answer: unix.stackexchange.com/a/374682/57118
    – Alex
    Jan 2, 2018 at 14:06
3

You can listen to your audio books online on the Audible website, this works on Linux too.

If you want to save them, I found the wine/virtual machine way quite annoying. But you can play them over the web and record them to a file. There is a fully graphical way with the pavucontrol and Audacity programs, or a pretty automated command line solution using the script from there (disclaimer: I wrote said script. It's probably buggy, but it works for me):

$ ./sound-recording-wrapper.sh t output.wav 'firefox --new-instance --ProfileManager'

then start the stream in Firefox, you won't hear it but it will go to output.wav. You can check that it's working with pavucontrol. You can use another browser or Firefox without arguments, but if you use a --new-instance and another profile than your usual one, you can still use Firefox like normal during recording (even play other sounds). Execute the script without arguments first for a full explanation of how it works.

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  • Does this go through some kind of DAC?
    – einpoklum
    Nov 18, 2016 at 17:44
  • @einpoklum No, it's rerouted internally in the software audio system. It records the data that would otherwise be sent to a DAC. The loopback device defaults to CD quality, if your DAC is higher quality (not likely unless you have professional audio hardware), then in theory it could record at a worse quality than if you listened directly. But the source material is probably already lower quality than CD, so it shouldn't matter.
    – Nobody
    Nov 18, 2016 at 21:08
  • So the audio is decoded (or perhaps I should say decoded and re-coded) into 44.1khz 16-bit PCM?
    – einpoklum
    Nov 18, 2016 at 21:13
  • @einpoklum Exactly. The loopback device defaults to s16le 2ch 44100Hz (and that's what's written to the wav file, exactly), but you can probably somehow set it to whatever you want by configuring the kernel module which this uses.
    – Nobody
    Nov 18, 2016 at 21:17

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