Transfer Audible.com content to Droid

22 04 2010

Audible.com have been slow to provide an Android application for their service. Audible .aa files are DRM protected and will not play natively on android phones. As a paying subscriber it can frustrating to pay for an audible book and not be able to listen to it on the primary device you own.

There is a way to convert Audible .aa DRM protected files to MP3 using iTunes and a program called NoteBurner. NoteBurner is free to try and costs $35 for the un-crippled version. The quality of the converted mp3′s is awesome.

The process is fairly straightforward, however I have found a few glitches in the NoteBurner software that requires some tweaking to get it to work reliably. It’ll take 5 minutes to setup the first time, but conversion thereafter is just a few clicks.

Initial Setup

  • You need to register your Audible content to work with iTunes.
  • Then download NoteBurner, I suggest you use the free version to prove it will work on your setup. (Some Mac users have complained the software is unreliable on that platform).
  • Open the Noteburner control panel and change the MP3 quality from 160 Bits/sec down to 96, this will make the process more reliable and the spoken word does not require high bit rate for  quality result.

    Click to Enlarge

  • Setup the naming of files to be album /number/artist / title so the ‘track number’ is attached to the begging of the file name, this is important if NoteBurner splits the audio into separate segments, which it will for longer audio tracks.

    Click to enlarge

How to Convert aa  file(s)to MP3 file(s)

  • In iTunes you add the audible content to a play-list and click on ‘burn’ as if you are going to burn the content to a CD.
  • In iTunes select the NoteBurner virtual CD Burner instead of your CD drive. I elected to do volume leveling with no gap between tracks. Be sure to tell iTunes to include CD text.
  • Once you click OK to begin the burn process, iTunes does a preparation step prior to beginning the actual burn process. During the burning process you will see a NoteBurner progress bar pop-up out of the notification tray showing progress.

N.B. Audible.com content can only be burned to a CD once, if you make a misstep or a problem comes up you will not be able to repeat the conversion. So do not do other tasks on the computer they may interrupt the operation. Experiment with free content from Audible first before converting paid for content on audible. I have successfully transferred the New York Times daily digest (complementary content) from iTunes podcast to my droid to listen to during my morning commute. The audio quality is awesome.

Transfer considerations to the Droid

I have found NoteBurner splits up the audio into 7 minute and 30 second  segments. If you had NoteBurner put a track number on the beginning of each file then when you transfer the files to the droid they will be sequenced perfectly. I have found the transition from one segment to another is almost transparent, sometimes you hear a click as it goes onto the next track, other times it goes unnoticed.

Can you do this without forking out the $35 for NoteBurner?

Yes. Instead of burning to MP3 via NoteBurner, burn directly to a physical CD-R, you can now play this in a CD player.  This is less convenient, but the advantage is that one now has a physical backup of ones ‘paid for’ content.

Is this Legal/Moral/within Audible Terms of Service?

Probably so. My answer is prefaced by the statement that I’m not a lawyer and don’t pretend to know copyright law, the laws where you live will no doubt vary. Here is my take on using this tool.

  • The Audible content has been paid for on Audibles website using a web browser and subsequently downloaded using Audibles download tool.
  • I’m keeping the content to myself. Nothing is being sold, shared or given away.
  • iTunes is authorized for use with Audible content.
  • Burning Audible content to a CD device using iTunes is not only provided for by Audible, they encourage its customers to backup their paid for content. Here is an excerpt of their terms of service.
    • Accordingly, we encourage you to make back-up copies of purchased Audible Content as referenced above.
  • Once I have listened to the content on my Droid I delete it.

Could you have your Audible account canceled by doing this? Quite possibly, Audible reserve the right to cancel the agreement whenever it suits them.

I look forward to the day when there is an Audible application for the Droid to make all of this extra effort and expense unnecessary.

Update: 2010-09-08: Hooray!!!  The official Audible app is now available in the Android Market!! Read more here.






My Top Ten Droid Applications

1 01 2010

This is a list of the applications I have found most useful on the Motorola Droid. I will update this post as I discover apps that are worthy, and demote an item to make room. Some of the apps come on Droid out-of-the-box, others are available on the Android Marketplace. Here’s a quick flavor of what  will describe in more detail.

  • Turn by Turn Navigation.
  • Multi-touch ‘pinch’ zoom just like the iPhone. Plus tabbed browsing!
  • Print web pages and photos from your cell phone directly to your printer(s) from anywhere.
  • Make cheap international calls on your cell, bypassing Verizon’s higher rates.
  • Play Audible eBooks and magazines/newspapers.
  • Have the phone go into silent mode as you arrive at church and go back to normal after you leave.
  • Lose weight.
  • Turn you phone into a radio by playing internet radio on your home or car audio system, or on ear buds as you work out. No DJ’s, No audible adverts. Just music.
  • Have your MP3 collection with you wherever you go, even if it exceeds the memory capacity of the Droid. Take 100GB of search-able MP3′s (or more) on the road!!
  • Sync you iTunes library with the Droid!

1. Pandora (Free with ads or $34 without ads). Comes with the Droid.

Pandora is a really well written internet radio application. One can select a music stream from a list of genres or type in an artists name and create your own feed of your favorite music. One can’t choose which songs are played, but each Pandora user can give an online thumbs up or thumbs down to a track that is being played which will help Pandora provide music that is well thought of in each genre or for each artist.

The ads are very small at the bottom of the screen, better still there are NO audio ads to interrupt the music, so it is much better than traditional broadcast radio. No DJ to tolerate either. If your phone rings, the audio stream is automatically paused and will resume after the call ends. Attach the audio out jack on the Droid to a stereo or car audio system and the music is CD quality.

I found that it works just as well on Verizon’s 3G network or on WiFi. If the phone switches between WiFi and 3G, say as you drive off from home, it switches seamlessly without skipping!! A click is sometimes heard, but that’s it.

The free version is limited to 40 hours of listening per month. There are also limits on how many tracks one can ‘skip’. These limits are either raised or eliminated if you subscribe to Pandora One. Read the rest of this entry »








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