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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