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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3 Apps
Having iTunes 6 and a Sansa M-250 MP3 player, I was really interested in how to get my protected AAC files into MP3 format for the Sansa. So I wrote an AppleScript that can take a playlist of protected AAC songs in iTunes and re-record them as MP3s using Audio Hijack Pro.

It's not an ideal solution, I know, but it is completely painless -- it even copies the MP3 tag info from the AAC files to the MP3s. I wrote this to finally get my large collection of iTunes-purchased songs onto my Sansa -- start it up at bedtime, and by morning, you're all set wtih MP3s to drop right on the player.

You can read more about the script, and download it, on the Hijack Recorder page on my site.

[robg adds: I haven't tested the script, but I like the idea of having yet another way to back up my iTunes store purchases (yes, I've already burned them all to CDs).]
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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3 | 34 comments | Create New Account
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Just find somewhere big to backup...
Authored by: adrianm on Feb 08, '06 07:48:05AM
I back up my purchased tunes online. Chances are, when I need to recover my files/tunes, it will be because the house burned down, so writing to CD/DVD is not much good, so:
  1. Find a cheap online hosting provider with lots of space - I use dreamhost, for $7.95 a month you get 20GB of space (I've created a voucher code Y50UK that will give anyone $50 off too).
  2. Ensure you have a shell account (you do with dreamhost).
  3. Use launchd, cron or your favourite timed script runner to execute a script like this:
    
    #!/bin/sh
    cd /Users/yourname/Music/iTunes/
    mdfind -onlyin /Users/yourname/Music/iTunes/iTunes\ Music/ 'kMDItemFSName == "m4p"w || kMDItemFSName =="m4v"w || kMDItemFSName =="mp4"w' | \
    rsync -av --files-from=- / shellusername@host.server.com:
    

Disclaimer: I have no connection to dreamhost other than being a very happy customer.

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Just find somewhere big to backup...
Authored by: macslut on Feb 08, '06 08:44:33AM

That's kinda expensive when you start thinking about the price over 1 year or more. My solution was to buy a second hard drive. I keep one at home and then one at the office. The advantage here is that it's cheaper long term and I get the benefit of being able to listen to my music at work (or I can take it when I travel). Plus my iTunes library is 400GB, so it's a huge advantage to do it this way.



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Just find somewhere big to backup...
Authored by: adrianm on Feb 08, '06 09:50:05AM

If you've bought 400GB of DRM encrypted music from ITMS, you can certainly afford $7.95 a month :)

Everything else, of course, you ripped from your CDs so can always re-rip at a push.



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Just find somewhere big to backup...
Authored by: ptone on Feb 09, '06 11:34:20AM

This is a good idea (and nice script), but watch out for really slow upload speed from most cable modems.

I rsync my whole home folder to a server at work while on a fast LAN and it can still take a while.

-P



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Just find somewhere big to backup...
Authored by: adrianm on Feb 10, '06 06:31:12AM

Hmm, just spotted that dreamhost supports Apple File Protocol (AFP) so you don't even have to deal with the iDisk-like weirdness of webdav.



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: b3studios on Feb 08, '06 07:56:09AM

the link isn't working for me.
i get a "500 Servlet Exception" error



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: galaher on Feb 08, '06 08:53:33AM

I got an error as well but found I could get to it here:
http://kent.nechessleague.com/
or here:
http://kent.nechessleague.com/works/wiki.splash?page=Hijack%20Recorder



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: macslut on Feb 08, '06 08:47:19AM

If you've already burned to CD, why don't you just import them back from CD as MP3s, you'll end up with better quality than using Audio Hijack (which is still a really great app for other purposes).



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: Jwink3101 on Feb 08, '06 09:14:40AM

really? I was under the impression that with any of the sound recording programs that record what is going out like Audio Hijack and WireTap are 1:1 of the music. I thought you lose quality with the CD because you are converting it and re-encoding it many times.



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Surprised no one has replied to this…
Authored by: jiclark on Feb 08, '06 11:23:50AM

As this question seems to be the crux of the entire issue: how to make an unprotected copy of the file that has no loss of audio quality. Burning to CD, then reimporting *definitely* results in loss of quality (whether or not it's noticeable, and aside from the issue of losing all metadata).

I would assume that AHP could make a recording of iTunes' output in such a way as to avoid any further compression, and hence, no loss of quality. I don't know if this is right or not though. Does anyone here know for sure?

Thanks,
John-o



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Surprised no one has replied to this…
Authored by: brainzelda on Feb 08, '06 12:20:56PM

You would lose quality in both the cd burning case and in the ahp case. When the music is burned to CD the aac is converted to wav in the decoding process in order to be burned. The reimport is obviously then of lower quality of the original. In the AHP case, the aac is still being decoded when played through the computer, even though it's not being burned. So the aac>wav>mp3 will still result in quality loss. I don't think there is any way to avoid this in any case.



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Surprised no one has replied to this…
Authored by: kirkmc on Feb 08, '06 12:23:45PM

Why is it of lower quality? If you burn a CD, then import in the same format and bit rate, the quality should be the same. The algorithm for compressing the music doesn't change...

---
Read my blog: Kirkville -- http://www.mcelhearn.com
Musings, Opinion and Miscellanea, on Macs, iPods and more



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Surprised no one has replied to this…
Authored by: brainzelda on Feb 08, '06 12:30:22PM

That's exactly the point. When the aac was first ripped at wherever Apple rips its music, it used an algorithm(codec) to compress the cd to aac. That in itself result in quality loss because the algorithm inherently removes data from the original wave. That's why an aac is much smaller than the original wave. When you burn that aac to a cd and rip it again, it loses even MORE data since youre using a similar algorithm again. The original data lost is not recoverable. Everytime you rerip you're losing more and more data. That's why people try to stay away from reencodes of files already encoded in the first place.



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Surprised no one has replied to this…
Authored by: el bid on Feb 10, '06 01:44:57AM

This is strictly accurate, but the argument against recompression is easily overstated.

Audio compression systems combine lossless compression with psychoacoustic compression. For present purposes we can ignore the lossless element. The psychoacoustic compression is carried out differently with different compression systems, but is essentially based on the same set of rules derived from our understanding of how the human ear hears. Eg, ignore all data above such and such a frequency. Eliminate data for particular frequencies occurring at the same time as other particular frequencies, because they'll be masked anyway. And so on.

AAC -> WAV/AIFF incurs no loss -- we're simply expanding the compressed data

WAV/AIFF -> MP3 will technically lose data, but (providing the squash isn't too tight) will mostly be throwing away data that isn't there anyway, because it's operating by much the same filter/masking rules as the original AAC compression.



---
el bid



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Surprised no one has replied to this…
Authored by: jpmack on Feb 09, '06 04:16:18PM
As this question seems to be the crux of the entire issue: how to make an unprotected copy of the file that has no loss of audio quality.

JHymn will do this.

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JHymn does *not* work with iTunes 6.x!
Authored by: jiclark on Feb 09, '06 05:28:42PM

They're working on it, but saying it will take some time!!



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: mozart11 on Feb 08, '06 09:27:04AM

The problem is iTunes doesn't burn track name, album or any other info of protected music as an audio cd. I bought Toast Titanium 7 and even this app will not burn protected music (even though I called Roxio prior to purchase to ask and was told it does. Roxxio LIES folks).

I have about 2 thousand purchased songs. My kids like to play their iPods through the xBox 360, so I wanted to burn the music and import as mp3's into a new user account. I burn the music, NO INFORMATION IS BURNED! Holy crap. What good is iTunes the application?

Anyone know how to burn protected music to an audio cd and retain the name, album and all other information?



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: Eukaryote on Feb 08, '06 10:09:56AM

The only way that I've found out how to do this is with whole albums. If you burn an album that you've bought from iTMS to CD, then re-import it, it will ask if you want to replace the music from iTMS. This retains all of the information and data with it.

I bought a few CD-RW's and did this with all of the albums. Now I just have to get around to burning and re-entering data for the singles.



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: Coumerelli on Feb 08, '06 10:56:31AM

The CD Name/Track info is only just queried from CDDB database and only "knows" what CD you have because it compares number of tracks and length of each track against its very large database. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there's no track information embedded in music CDs at all - only mp3 CDs and in formats that can retain or hold metadata. The time invested inputing track/album/genre etc into each track (for WAVs and AIFFs) can be gone in a flash if the iTunes database file becomes corrupt.

Am I wrong?

---
"The best way to accelerate a PC is 9.8 m/s2"



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: sjmadsen on Feb 08, '06 08:33:53PM

All music CDs include a 32-bit ID. The track info lookup services use this ID as a key to the artist, album and track data.



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: JimMueller on Feb 10, '06 01:14:19PM

Huh. First I heard of an actual ID string on audio CDs.
I recall in the mid '90s that the CD cataloging apps (and the pre-buyout CDDB) used a "magic number" unique to almost every CD that involved the checksums of each track and the total length of the CD. I say 'almost' because even now we still can get multiple wildly different hits on a commercial CD: "Select correct info - 'Best of Coltraine' or 'Tenjo Tenje Original Sound Track Vol 1'"...



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: Coumerelli on Feb 08, '06 10:47:02AM

because this way, it's hands-off scripted. You can't keep putting CDs in while your sleeping.

---
"The best way to accelerate a PC is 9.8 m/s2"



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A "cleaner" way to do this: decrypt with jhymn
Authored by: SimonDorfman.com on Feb 08, '06 11:43:22AM
A "cleaner" way to do this: decrypt with jhymn
Authored by: nemesys on Feb 08, '06 12:24:11PM

Unfortunately, the latest version of Hymn (what JHymn is using) still can't remove the copy protection from songs purchased with iTunes 6...



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Just use the built-in capabilities of iTunes
Authored by: richard_wilkes on Feb 08, '06 05:30:16PM
You don't need to go through any of these gyrations -- just use iTunes' built-in conversion facilities:
  1. Go to iTunes preferences
  2. Select the "Advanced" preferences
  3. Select the "Importing" tab and select the settings for the format you want to encode into
  4. Go back to your iTunes library, select the songs you want to convert
  5. Select "Convert selection to xxxx" in the "Advanced" menu
iTunes will dutifully convert each of your songs, embedding tags if it can (i.e. when converting to MP3, it will stuff in the appropriate tags from your original AAC file). Yes, you lose some quality, but no more so (and maybe even less) than the other ways proposed here.

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Doesn't work for music from the iTunes store
Authored by: wahoo252 on Feb 08, '06 06:15:19PM

unfortunately, the "Convert selection to MP3" option doesn't work for music from the iTunes store. It just gives an error message of: "xxxx" could not be converted because protected files cannot be converted to other formats.

Works ok for other formats, just not for the protected AAC files from the iTunes store.



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: joestalin on Feb 09, '06 07:04:17AM

I think this app will work: recorder.xhead

I also remember seeing an Applescript app that ran iTunes through the process of creating AIFF files (as if it were burning a CD) and then ripping them to your preferred format. Can't seem to find it now.

Transcoding from m4p to mp3 will, inevitably, result in a loss of quality (mp3 and AAC "look for" different acoustic features in the sound; once AAC has thrown away something that mp3 might look for, mp3 is going to be in the dark). Doing so via an analog channel (as I believe Audio Hijack does) will result in a greater loss of quality. Converting from m4p to mp4 might preserve the original's quality--I'm not sure about this. It comes down to whether the AAC encoder that Apple uses for the ITMS has identical results to the one in iTunes. If they're the same, then I'm pretty sure you'll get back all the original information in the m4p.

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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: jpmack on Feb 09, '06 04:21:28PM

JHymn will remove Apple's DRM - for personal use only, of course!

http://hymn-project.org/jhymndoc/



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JHymn does *not* work with iTunes 6.x!
Authored by: jiclark on Feb 09, '06 05:27:16PM

They're working on it, but saying it will take some time!



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: imacjohan on Feb 11, '06 08:26:30AM

I like Hijack iTunes for converting m4p to m4a. Unfortunately it isn't freeware! ( http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/15328 )



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: spkane on Feb 15, '06 03:35:23PM

As mentioned above, Hijack iTunes ( http://www.kagi.com/aisoftware/ ), which costs $12, allows users to automate the integration of Audio Hijack Pro and iTunes. By simply picking a iTunes playlist and selecting an AHP session, you can convert, split, and/or apply filters to every audio item in an iTunes playlist, while maintaining all the file tags, like artist, album, etc.

It is, of course, not intended to remove protection from audio files, it simply automates the integration of iTunes and Audio Hijack Pro



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: paulsomm on Feb 23, '06 03:44:31AM

Wonderful, thanks for this hint. I routinely purchase iTunes music and the first thing I do is strip the DRM (partly b/c it's DRM and I'm not interested in having the music unusable should anything happen to my account, but mostly because I listen to my iPod in Disk Mode at work via WinAmp since I use it as a harddrive).

One note, the link gives a 500 Servlet Error b/c of the %20 in the URL. Anyone wanting the script should just go to http://kent.nechessleague.com/ and click the icon for the script.

Also, there seem to be two scripts included. Only the .scp one is for OS X, I believe the other is for Classic as it launches Classic. You'll need to compile the .scp one as an app if you want it double-clickable to run, otherwise it opens Script Editor and waits for you to click Run.



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: Shadowklr on Feb 26, '06 06:25:02PM

imtoo dbpoweramp hymn wont work on new tunes dont even try changing back to older version of itunes it wont work either use a program like tunebite to copy any and all protected or not file as they play believe me i have tried everything in 50 posts and the new itunes wont let u purchase unprotected music or burn music baught at itunes and older versions wont play new m4p aac just get tunebite and your problems are solved



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Re-record iTunes protected AAC music to MP3
Authored by: Shadowklr on Feb 26, '06 06:28:46PM

oh yeah it converts to mp3 or a few other formats with no copy protection or rights needed to listen to the music



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