Remove DRM Easily (?) from Your Audible Purchases

NOTE: The following instructions are for Windows; I may later figure out the equivalent on macOS.

NOTE: The only way to remove DRM from an Audible audiobook is to play and record it digitally with your computer. If it’s a 17 hour book, the conversion takes 17 hours!

I listen to audiobooks a lot, and mostly I buy them from Audible. However, Audible’s own player sucks. Unless it has changed recently, its bookmarking system is non-existent, and it also couldn’t keep track of multiple books in progress at the same time. So I prefer to use the excellent Listen Audiobook Player on my Android phone (on iOS devices you might consider Bookmobile Audiobook Player). But it won’t play the Audible’s DRM-protected files, so somehow I have to get rid of the protection first. I’ve been using Aimersoft’s DRM Media Converter for the task for the last couple of years, but today I found out that it no longer works after a recent Windows update. It invokes iTunes (which is authorized to play the Audible DRM content) as it should, but for some reason it no longer ‘hears’ what iTunes plays back to it, so the mp3 is never written.

I spent a couple of hours figuring out a new solution. Even though this new solution requires a few of more components, it’s more stable and the required components are free/donationware, so you can get accomplish the task for free, or at least at a cost acceptable to you (I recommend pitching in to the Virtual Audio Cable folks for their fine piece of software!) ?

So let’s get started.

  1. Log in to your Audible account, then click on “Hi, {Yourname}! ˅” (on top of the Audible page), and navigate to Account Details > Update Settings, then scroll to the bottom of the page, and clear “Check for Audible Download Manager” checkbox if it is checked.
  2. Download and install Audible Manager. You’ll only use the Audible Download Manager from this installation; you’ll find it in the “AudibleManager” folder in the Start menu.
  3. Download and install iTunes. Once installed confirm that you’re using “Windows Audio Session” (which means system sound) in iTunes Preferences > Playback > “Play Audio Using”.
  4. Download and install Virtual Audio Cable. If you have a 64-bit system (which is likely), select the 64-bit installer when starting the installation (both are included in the download). Note that it needs to be installed as the Administrator, so you may need to right click on the installer, and select “Run as administrator”. Virtual Audio Cable is donationware, so once you have this setup working, consider returning to the VB-AUDIO Software website, and sending them a donation of your choice.
  5. Download and install Aktiv Mp3 Recorder. It is free.
  6. Open Aktiv Mp3 Recorder and configure it:


    1. Check detect silence
    2. Set silence duration at least to 20 seconds. If the audiobook you’re converting has long stretches of silence, set this to a longer amount so that the recording won’t stop prematurely. However, there will be this amount of silence at the end of the recording before the recording is automatically stopped when the book ends.
    3. Select CABLE Output (VB-Audio Virtual…) for the input device. If it doesn’t show up on the list (after you installed Virtual Audio Cable earlier during this process), reboot your computer and continue from this step.
    4. Select the output folder. The file name you’ll want to of course set for each book you’re converting.
    5. Select 128kBPS, 44Hz Stereo for the output format.
    6. Click on “Set Default” so that you don’t have to reconfigure this every time (the only thing that you need to change is the Target File name).
    7. When you’re ready to start recording, click on “Record” (but not yet!)
    8. Close the program (note that you have to exit the program in the systray where it remains after you close the main window).

The above steps need to be done only once to set up. The following steps are repeated whenever you download new content from Audible, and process the conversion:

  1. Once you have purchased an audiobook in Audible, go to your “Library” in Audible, and click on the “DOWNLOAD” button for that book. A file with name “admhelper.adh” will be downloaded. While each “DOWNLOAD” action (for any audiobook you have purchased) downloads an “admhelper.adh” file, each file is specific to the book which you downloaded it for. When you double-click on an “admhelper.adh” file, Audible Download Manager will open and immediately start downloading the corresponding DRM-protected audio file. The file has an “.aax” extension.
  2. Open iTunes and click on the drop-down in the top left corner. By default it is set to “Music”, but choose “Audiobooks” instead. Then drag and drop the downloaded audiobook file (with the “.aax” file extension) into iTune’s library pane on the right. If you haven’t played Audible content with iTunes previously, you will be prompted to authorize iTunes with Audible. Proceed to do so, and a browser window will open. Log in to Audible with the same credentials you purchased the book with, and click on the link “Click here to complete your activation!”. You are now ready to play the audiobook in iTunes, and you can test-play it if you like.
  3. To prepare for conversion, set the system audio input/output: go to the Control Panel, open “Sound”, and in “Playback” tab set the default to “CABLE Input” (make note of what was the previous default as you’ll want to return to it after the conversion is complete). Then go to the “Recording” tab, and set the default to “CABLE Output”. NOTE: If you use DFX or other sound enhancer that iTunes plays through, you should set the output (to “CABLE Input”) in that program’s settings.
  4. To prepare for conversion, open the Volume Mixer from the system tray (or hit Win+R, then type “sndvol”, and click “OK” to open the mixer). Select “CABLE Input” device from the Device drop-down if it’s not already selected, and mute System Sounds, and preferably the browser and other sound sources besides iTunes (any sounds made by the system or the browser will otherwise be included in the converted audiobook).
  5. Ready to go! Open iTunes, make sure the audiobook you want to convert is on the Audiobooks library page. Open Aktiv Mp3 Recorder, make sure the settings are as you set them earlier, then enter the audiobook’s name in the File name field. Click on “Record”, then switch (within 20 seconds or whatever you configured as Silence Duration) to iTunes, and start playing of the audiobook. Switch back to the Aktiv Mp3 Recorder, and make sure that the audio is coming in (the level indicators should be moving). Then wait. And wait. ? Note that you can go to the iTunes window and see on the top, next to the playing book’s title, how much time is remaining. After the entire book has played through (you won’t hear it while it’s playing), the Aktiv Mp3 Recorder will notice once there the set Silence Duration (20 seconds if you followed my steps) has elapsed, and stop the recording. You can then take the Mp3 file and tag it as you see fit (say, with Foobar2000, or any of the million other Mp3 players/taggers), copy it to your mobile device, and play it with the player of your choice!

Well, this wasn’t totally simple. ? But once you have set it up and ran through it once, it’s pretty quick to do. Obviously, after you’ve done with the conversion, you’ll want to unmute the system and browser sounds, and switch the playback/recording default devices as they were before you altered them.

I hope this is useful to someone out there! ?