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The Ultimate Guide to Downloading and Converting AAX to MP3

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I have already published two tutorials on downloading and converting Audible AAX to MP3 audio files. But every year I find out some new information and decide to share all that new knowledge. It seems, for now, that this is the ultimate guide that cracks the Audible code without installing the Audible Manager and even without properly registering with Amazon/Audible.

What will you learn in this post?

I will show you:

  • how to set up a new dummy account with Audible
  • how to find freely available AAX files
  • how to download AAX files from your Audible library without installing the Audible Manager or any other similar app
  • how to convert AAX files to MP3 audio files using free, portable, and open-source tools

Set Up a Dummy Account with Audible

If you already have an Amazon or Audible account, then you can use that account to download your audiobooks.

In case, you don’t have an account and you wish not to share your personal details with Amazon, set up a dummy account with them. It’s easy.

You can use 10 Minute Mail and Fake Name Generator — two handy online services for creating dummy accounts. Read my earlier post on this topic to see how to use these services:

Related Post

How to Create a Disposable Online Identity


Sneaky websites ask for personal information that most people are not happy to give out. An elegant way around this is using disposable emails and names.

Search and Download Your AAX Files

Once you are logged in with Audible, you can search for free audiobooks online. Just type into Google $0.00 site:audible.com.

Obviously, if you want to buy Audible audiobooks, then you will need to provide your real credentials and credit card number.

Once you added an audiobook to your library, select the Enhanced option and click on the Download button.

Audible will try to persuade you to download and install once of their software packages. Reject this offer.

Reject Any Audible Software

If you now click on the Download button in your Library a second time, your browser will let you download the admhelper file.

Save admhelper as a file

Save admhelper as a file

Open the admhelper file in Notepad or Notepad++. Copy the full content (Ctrl+C) of this file.

View content of admhelper file

View content of admhelper file

Type in your browser’s address bar:

And paste in (Ctrl+V) the admhelper file’s content after the question mark.

The full URL should look something like this:

You can now hit Enter to get a download file popup.

Direct download of the Jewel of Dantenos AAX file

Direct download of the Jewel of Dantenos AAX file

Save the AAX file to your disk.

Converting Your AAX Files

You will need two software packages to convert your AAX audiobooks to MP3 format. Keep in mind, this method works even if you have never installed Audible Manager on your computer.

Step 1 — Preparations

Download inAudible-NG’s tables and FFmpeg.

Create a work folder on your hard drive. This folder will be used in the following steps. I will call my folder simply FOLDER.

Copy the AAX audiobook files that you wish to convert into this folder.

Step 2 — Extract the Downloaded Zip Files

Use 7-Zip to extract the contents of tables-master.zip into the work folder you have just created.

Similarly, extract the contents of ffmpeg-20161230-6993bb4-win64-static.zip into that same folder.

Note

If you are downloading the 32-bit version or a different build of FFmpeg, then the name of the zip file will be slightly different.

Step 3 — Find Out the File Checksum

For this part, I like to use ConEmu which is a Command Prompt replacement and upgrade. But Command Prompt will do the job just fine, too.

In ConEmu’s or Command Prompt’s window, run the following commands one by one:

Important Notes

In the above commands, use the actual correct names for the work folder you have created (FOLDER), for the FFmpeg folder you are renaming (ffmpeg-latest-win64-static), and for the audiobook you are about to convert (audiobook.aax).

What the last command does is that it reveals the audiobook’s file checksum. You need to copy (Ctrl+C) that string of characters, because you will be needing it in the next series of commands.

Grab the File Checksum

Step 4 — Find Out the Activation Bytes

Let’s continue with the commands…

Update — October 17, 2017

It seems that the only correct Windows command is now:

Important Note

Here you need to replace CHECKSUM with the actual file checksum that FFprobe has come up with.

What rcrack did there is that it has revealed the so-called activation bytes of the AAX audiobook file.

Grab the Activation Bytes

What’s great about these activation bytes is that they are the heart and soul of the AAX encryption. These activation bytes are the same for every AAX file you download using the same Audible account. So you only need to go through this process once, write down your activation bytes somewhere and use them in the future.

Step 5 — Make the Conversion

The actual file conversion takes place with these last few commands.

Important Note

In the second command, use the actual activation bytes extracted from the AAX audiobook file you have downloaded from your Audible account.

Summary

What I like about this approach is that you don’t need to install any software from Audible. And, additionally, you only need to play around with the special software tools just once.

Once you reveal your activation bytes, you can convert all your AAX files to MP3s using FFmpeg.

Bonus Information

In my previous post about converting AAX files to MP3 files, I made a mistake and assumed that you don’t have to install Audible Manager and can simply use AAXtoMP3 to convert any downloaded AAX files.

Some commenters below that post pointed out that in fact they had to install Audible Manager to make the tutorial in that post work.

My mistake was honest, though. About two years ago, I installed Audible Manager but then uninstalled it shortly thereafter because I found it horrific and disgusting. Yes, monstrosities such as Audible Manager do disgust me. I very much prefer lean, portable, open-source software.

However, even though I did uninstall Audible Manager, some bits and pieces of it remained on my computer. That’s why I was able to use AAXtoMP3 out of the box. But the commenters who have never installed Audible Manager were at a loss.

So I digged around on my hard drive and in the Windows registry. And I found out what bits and pieces remained after I uninstalled Audible Manager.

There was a file left behind called awrdscdc.ax in the C:\Windows\SysWOW64 folder.

There were also several entries left behind in the Windows registry. To find them, I just launched regedit via the Command Prompt and searched for the keyword Audible.

The only important entry was located at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Audible\SWGIDMAP.

The registry key looks something like this:

Audible SWGIDMAP Registry Entry

So, if you have Audible Manager installed, you can safely remove it from your computer. Make sure that you backup that one registry key before doing so.

You can backup the registry key mentioned above using the following command:

Now you can uninstall Audible Manager from your computer using Revo Uninstaller. Select the Advanced option in Scanning mode, so that Revo Uninstaller removes all leftover files, folders, and registry entries.

The point of all this is that if you have ever installed Audible Manager, you can backup that one registry key, uninstall the software monstrosity completely, then add back that one registry key (just double-click on the exported backup .reg file). And you are good to go to convert your AAX files with AAXtoMP3.

It is so because the hexadecimal code in that one registry key contains your Audible account’s activation bytes.

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Comments 28

  1. Thanks for the article. It came in very handy recently as I was looking a “cheap and easy” way to convert .aax files to .mp3 files.

    The only thing I would add is more information about the bit rate and how it effects file size. In your example you used 320k. For human voice audio files I found that rate too high as the file size was quite large for the files I was converting. I changed it to 64k as the was high enough and there wasn’t any lose in quality and the file size was 60% smaller on average.

    1. Peter Post
      Author

      Well, everyone has a different hearing. For example, I can hardly listen even to an audiobook that is encoded at less than 192k. It’s really individual and I would recommend trying out various bitrates before settling on an option.

      As for the effect of bitrate on the resulting MP3 file size, you can use this calculation: (BITRATE / 8) * LENGTH OF AUDIO IN SECONDS. It may not be absolutely accurate, because of the compression used with variable bitrates. But it gives you a pretty good understanding of what file size to expect.

      Example:
      You have a 1 hour audiobook and you want to know what size will the MP3 output file have at 64k, 192k, and 320k bitrates.

      Calculations:
      64k means 64 kilobits = 64 * 1,024 bits = 65,536 bits
      192k means 192 kilobits = 192 * 1,024 bits = 196,608 bits
      320k means 320 kilobits = 320 * 1,024 bits = 327,680 bits
      We will divide the resulting bits by 8, because there are 8 bits in 1 byte. And file sizes are given in bytes, not bits.

      1 hour = 60 minutes * 60 seconds = 3,600 seconds

      (65,536 / 8) * 3,600 = 29,491,200 bytes = approximately 29.5 MB
      (196,608 / 8) * 3,600 = 88,473,600 bytes = approximately 88.5 MB
      (327,680 / 8) * 3,600 = 147,456,000 bytes = approximately 147.5 MB

      So, the MP3 file will be 29.5 MB at 64k bitrate, 88.5 MB at 192k bitrate, and 147.5 MB at 320k bitrate.

  2. That’s the additional information on bit rate.

    The other suggestion I have is why in step 5 do you covert the .aax file to a .m4a file and then convert the .m4a into an .mp3? Using ffmpeg you can convert directly from a .aax file to a .mp3 file.

    Example:
    ffmpeg -y -activation_bytes xxxxxxxx -i audiofile.aax -ab 320k -vn audiofile.mp3

    1. Peter Post
      Author
  3. It’s not working anymore.

    It’s impossible to get the admhelper file now. It just goes back to the library, you click on “Download” and nothing happens.

  4. Thank you for you post..
    I did what you posted but Step 4 didn’t work well..
    The message I’ve got is “no rainbow table found”..
    I thing I got the right checksum..
    Could you help me on this problem?

    1. Peter Post
      Author

      My guess is that you missed a command. Nothing’s changed regarding this tutorial. Everything works the same as at the time I published the post. Try again and make sure you follow the tutorial to the letter.

  5. Thank you for the article. Very easy to follow, and all the step works almost flawlessly.

    I did ran into the issue that the poster above (Jay Seo) encounted when trying Step 4, but changing the command to “run\rcrack . -h CHECKSUM” fixes the problem on Windows 10.

    1. I’ve only recently come across this outstandingly simple and useful post, as before I would use inAudible software (for the infrequent times I needed to convert).

      I want to say that I found success in following commenter LN’s advice above, namely:
      “…changing the command to “run\rcrack . -h CHECKSUM” fixes the problem on Windows 10.”
      Although I omitted the period, the command succeeded. My used command was thus:
      run\rcrack -h CHECKSUM
      I hope this helps others in their journey towards less cryptic listening practices!

      1. Me, again. I just noticed that I erroneously interpreted CMD’s text output as a success, when in fact it was only telling me how to properly use the ‘run\rcrack’ command. Commenter LN’s command use is sound as is — carry on.

        And thank you, LN, for sharing the find! It saved me for sure. =D

    1. Peter Post
      Author
  6. Thank you for this great tutorial. For Win10 Users, th command: “run\rcrack . -h CHECKSUM” works fine!

  7. “This version of D:__________\FOLDER\tables-master\run\rcrack.exe is not compatible with the version of Windows you’re running. Check your computer’s system information and then contact the software publisher.”

    Any clue what am I missing here… Please help

    1. Peter Post
      Author

      The only idea that comes to mind without any investigation is that you are using a 32-bit version of Windows, however the version of rcrack.exe you have downloaded is 64-bit. Try again with the 32-bit version of rcrack.

      1. Thanks Peter,

        So I replaced it with 32Bit files in the run folder.. basically all file in 32Bit zip directly into run with overwriting 3 files.

        Then upon giving the following two run commands, first it showed error “alglib1.dll is either not designed to run on Windows or it contains an error…… error status 0xc000035a” , however then, gave following message after the command…. this happened in both cases..

        First:
        run\rcrack . -h ba5193daea42b3dc996740cf87d6fb10804edacb
        no rainbow table found

        Second:
        run\rcrack *.rtc -h ba5193daea42b3dc996740cf87d6fb10804edacb
        implementation of hash algorithm audible is not found

        Turning into Rocket Science now 😐

        1. Peter Post
          Author
          1. Peter Post
            Author

            It seems that you are out of luck. The Rainbow Crack software only supports 64-bit versions of Windows 10.

          2. Hi Peter,

            So I got luck to get my hands on 64Bit Machine .. but stuck again..

            “> run\rcrack *.rtc -h ba5193daea42b3dc996740cf87d6fb10804edacb

            no rainbow table found

            result”

            Any Idea ???

          3. Peter Post
            Author
  8. Hi Peter,
    You will be glad to hear that I have becone Rocket Scientist now 🙂 Thanks for your prompt support.

    Yes everyone This is The Ultimate Guide !!!

    Cheers
    RC

  9. When I first ran the InAudible software on one of my files, it said (in the scrolling dialog) that it couldn’t find or determin the account associated with the file. Then it said something about using a different method.
    It did in fact end up converting the file to an MP3.
    Then when I tried any of my other files (all from different accounts which cannot be retrieved) it told me that the file was not associated with my Audible account.
    Apparently, it decided that whatever was the account for the first file, had to be the account for all the files and so it won’t convert any of my other files.
    Any thoughts?
    If you wanted to Teamviewer in to try to solve the problem, we could try that.

    1. Peter Post
      Author

      I think that you haven’t followed all the steps as written up in the article. Use the Bonus Information part to completely remove Audible from your computer, then try again.

  10. Thanks for these detailed explanations and also your reply from August 7: I had the same “no rainbow table found” issue and it fixed it. Would you be kind enough to explain to me why the command had to be different to work? Is it just a Windows thing?

    1. Peter Post
      Author
  11. hi i get no rainbow tables found
    C:\Users\Zach\Desktop\folder\tables-master>run\rcrack *.rtc -h e5775e031bf9f1ebf
    0a6cab84bb29babef633c31
    i am running windows 8.1

    1. Peter Post
      Author

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