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Dear visitor,
you reached the most visited entry on my weblog. This entry has generated hundreds of thousands visits since March 2004. In this entry I will write about the tools you need to download real media streams from the Internet and convert them into mp3 files.

But my weblog also offers many more interesting stuff, like a handy bookmarklet which enables you to find audio files (mp3, ogg...) via google. You will be surprised how much you can find. Here is also a list of the 25 most visited entries in my weblog. More info about me and the purpose of my weblog can be found here

Real Audio ?

I am going to reveal one of the biggest serects known to mankind:
How to download Real Audio Streams and convert Real Audio files to MP3.

A while ago I wrote about the same topic in german at phlow.net. This posting, here in my own weblog, contains some new links and will be updated from time to time.

Real Audio streams are used by most radio stations (for example wfmu.org) on the internet. Even using a dsl internet connection it is most common that the stream will break down from time to time. In most cases you can't download those streams. By downloading the stream to your computer, things like that will never happen. Another thing about Real Audio I don't like is that my portable mp3 player won't play them.

1. Listening to Real Audio files


First install the spyware free real player version from the BBC

Or try Real Alternative. Real Alternative will install a software called "Classic Media Player" (which has nothing to do with Microsoft) and some codex needed to play Real Audio files.

There is also a plugin which enables winamp to play Real Audio files. But Real Alternative has to be installed to use this plug in.

If you prefer the official Real Player, look here

2. Download Real Audio files


I know 3 methods to download Real Audio/Video files.
The first one doesn't need any additional software, a downloadmanager would be handy, but isn't necessary. Actually method 2 and 3 require additional software, but therefore more streams can be downloaded, compared to method 1.

If you ever tried to download a Real file, you surely came across different file types: The .rm is the one you are looking for, the .ram or .smil files usually don't contain any audio information, they usually contains a link to the .rm file.

1. Method
So, in order to download the radio broadcast, or whatever you are after, download the file which, by clicking on it, opens your real audio player. In most of the cases, it's a .ram file. Now open the file with a simple text editor. There should be a link to a .rm file. Copy that link into the address bar of your browser and hit RETURN. Your download should start right on. BUT... this method is only working with links like http://...music.rm, a web browser can't download files like rtsp://...music.rm .

To download a file via the rstp protocol, one needs additional software. The "best" tools for this task are Flashget and Streambox VCR.
I recommend Flashgot, if something doesn't work then you might try VCR Streambox.

2. Method

Flashget
Flashget is downloadmanager which is capable of handling the rstp protocol. A very simple but effective tool. Users of the Firefox Browser should also have a look at Flashgot. Flashgot is a plug-in to use many downloadmanagers, like flashget, directly via Firefox.

Drop the link into Flashget. If the link leads to the .rm file (the one which contains the actual audio data) via the rtsp protocol, Flashget will download it instantly. If not, one has to open the downloaded file (using a text editor), which is than somewhere between 1 and 20kb, look for the link to the .rm file and then use flashget again, but this time using the new link.

3. Method

Download Streambox vcr.
If you need help with this software, go to the The Streambox VCR Forum. There seems to be a problem when using Real Player 10 and Streambox, the problem and the solution is described here . Someone wrote a little script to automatically convert the downloaded real audio files. Get it here

note:
sometimes you find files like pnm://...music.rm , the pnm protocol was used before rtsp, if the software you are using to download real audio files won't download it, try renaming the link to rtsp://...music.rm . If this doesn't work, have a look here and here. I encountered the pnm protocol only ones.

3. Convert Real Audio to MP3


I came across two programs which can convert Real Audio files in other audio files.

  • dBpowerAMP
  • SUPER (Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer)

    The first a found was dBpowerAMP, as far as I can remember it was free in the beginning, but they are charging money now. But it can be tested free of cost for 30 days. Recently I discovered SUPER. Basically SUPER is free, easy to use and fast, dBpowerAMP is a commercial software, more complicated and slow. It can also be used to ripp sound from video files.

SUPER


To finally convert Real Audio file to MP3 (or many other file types), download SUPER

erightsoft.net: "SUPER © Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer. A GUI to ffmpeg, mencoder, mplayer, x264, mppenc, ffmpeg2theora & the theora/vorbis RealProducer plugIn."

So what does this mean? Basically Super is a very easy to use software, which is capable of converting ANY video file in absolutely any other video format. All you have to do is drop the file into SUPER, select the output format and that's it! Best thing is, no extra codecs are needed !!!

SUPER can also be used for extracting the sound of a video file or convert audio only files.

  • More info on SUPER
  • Download SUPER here

    Instructions:
    In order to convert a Real Audio file to a MP3 file, 1. drop the Real Audio file in the program, it doesn't matter where. 2. Select Disable Video and 3. select MP3 in the Output Container menu. 4. Press encode. By default the output files are located in the OutPut folder of SUPER.

    Problems:
    Here is an error which occurred when I was using the program for the first time. From the official FAQ:
    Q: The dropdown boxes are empty. I can't select any format or container. what can i do?
    A. Right-click to open the menu, Un-Check the "Stay On Top Of All".

    Two tips:
    Sometimes SUPER won't convert files which are part of a big job list. So instead of trying to convert 5 files in a row, try converting one file after another.
    If this won't do the trick, try to check/uncheck "Use Direct Show"
    These tips are referring to SUPER version 2006.build 19 (4.26.2006)

    Advantages:
    Advantages SUPER has over dbPower Amp (see below):
  • no extra codecs are needed
  • convertion is faster the real time
  • SUPER is free, as in free beer

    And you are done! This is a very short guide, but all the needed software is pretty easy to handle and help can be found on all the homepages which are offering the software downloads.

    Some people are reporting problems using SUPER. One user suggest using Switch +. Nice commercial software. Handy for basic transformations, like converting real audio streams, but SUPER is cost free and can do more complex things like ripping the sound from a real media video and convert it to a mp3 file.

    Here are a few hints on how to find out about the quality of a real audio file.

I found a German tutorial on how to use SUPER for converting video files so they can be watched on a iPod or a mobile phone.

Here is an English SUPER tutorial


Update:
I am currently using Format Factory. I've used it several times, mostly to convert video to audio files and converted one or maybe two real audio files to mp3. It is very simple to use and the results are very good. Try this one first!



Maybe try also


If you followed steps 1 - 3 you should be able to download and convert real audio streams into mp3 files. The software mentioned bellow isn't necessary, but maybe in some special cases, like ripping sounds from video games, they can be handy. I guess this little tutorial is very Windows focused, but maybe the links bellow will be usefull for Linux or Mac users.

Messer
A free tool which grabs the output from the soundcard. Development stopped in 2000.

Total Recorder

  • Also grabs the output from the sound card.
  • Commercial Product (12 US$), stil updated

    air2mp3
  • German webpage, so maybe only available in German language?
  • records from radio stations via a tv-card

    Those are very handy tools, but they aren't converting or downloading streams, those programs are "recording" every sound your soundcard is making. The interface of the programs are very simple (at least the Windows /Apple ones), like a vcr. Press the record buttom, and the sound of the radiostation/game or whatever you are listening currently is saved as wav/mp3.

    Net Transport
    This is a download manager which is capable to download real audio streams. I don't know much about it, but i will give it a try sometime.

    Switch
    Switch is also a tool to convert real audio files into other file types. I didn't tested it, but it looks promising.

    Nero
    Plug-in for Nero to burn Real Audio as usual audio CDs

Radiosites.de
Lots of links to handy software. GERMAN language only :-(

JetAudio
JetAudio is another mediaplayer that supports Real Audio files

Phonostar Player
phonostar.com: "Get the phonostar-Player and listen via the internet to thousands of radio stations from all over the world. Listen to it and even record it as MP3"

For Apple User:

"By using a few freely available UNIX command line tools, and codecs from the OS X version of Real Player, one can easily and quickly convert Real Audio to MP3. What follows is a tutorial, including a shell script to automate the conversion process." Read the rest


Apple user shoud also check out:

Music File Processing on Linux
This website covers a lot of topics. For example:

  • Converting Real Audio Streams to MP3
  • Creating a Music CD from MP3 Files
  • Creating MP3 Files from a Music CD

VSOUND

  • Linux command line software
  • This program allows you to record the output of any standard OSS program
  • convert real audio files to some other format

    Recording streaming audio with MPlayer
    grimthing.com: "Well for one, MPlayer can play almost any file format. Since we’re concerned with streaming audio, however, we’re only going to have to deal with, primarily, three formats: MP3, Real Audio and Windows Media."

    UPDATES TO THIS "TUTORIAL"


    How to Convert Digital Audio Files
    oreilly.com: "There are so many types of audio files out there that it's all too easy to end up with the wrong one. Maybe you converted your CD collection to Real Audio or WMA and now want to convert the songs to a nonproprietary format, such as MP3, so you can play them with iTunes. Or maybe you purchased songs in a copy-protected AAC format from the iTunes Music Store and need to convert them to MP3 so they'll work in your portable player, handheld computer, home network, or competing jukebox program, such as Musicmatch Jukebox.

Fortunately, any audio that you can hear on your computer can be converted to another format. How easy that conversion will be depends on whether the files are copy-protected. If they are, you won't be able to convert them directly. However, you can use one of the indirect conversion methods described later in this article. If the files are not copy-protected and are in a format supported by your jukebox or audio-editing program, it's fairly straightforward to convert them to another format, and I'll cover that too." Read the whole article

How to download certain radio shows:



  
25.03.04    Tag: Tools




 
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