Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Converting Overdrive WMA to MP3

I love to listen to audiobooks on my Android phone. My local library has a bunch to check out. Most are in MP3 format. With those, I run them through some SOX scripts to speed them up (and reduce their size.) WMA files are a different story.

There are a few options:
1) Transfer to iPhone, then use a program to pull the files off the phone. (sort of works, but requires an iPhone)
2) Use a tool to DRM from WMA and another to convert to MP3. (Looked at it, but the tools either look sketchy or require Windows XP)
3) Burn to CD and rip. (Some software automates this with virtual cds, but there is a mixture of shareware, sketchiness and convoluted here.)
4) Record the file as you play it.

I opted for 4. This also had the bonus of including the speedup step in one fell swoop.

First, I updated my sound drivers to try to get "stereo mix". However, now it was called "Rec. Playback". I had to right click on the volume task bar icon to bring up "recording devices. Then right click in empty area to "show disabled devices". Then enable RecPlayback. It still didn't say it worked (even when I set it as default.) But Audacity seemed to work, so I was happy.

Install Audacity http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
(To export MP3 files, you will need to install LAME. When you export for the first time, it will give a link to download. On my system, the file was placed in: C:\Program Files (x86)\Lame For Audacity)

In Audacity, under Preferences, select default sample rate of 11025 Hz under Quality.
Under devices, select the appropriate input stream (Microsoft Sound Mapper - Input) and change to 1 Channel. (Mono)

Adjust volume to a comfortable level. (I set it fairly low.) Plug in headphones so you don't hear it.

Go to Overdrive or Windows Media. On the "Play Speed" time icon, select Fast 2X Normal (or whatever speed sounds good for the book.)

Go to Audacity and hit record.

Go to Overdrive and hit play.

Make sure you so some output on the Audacity screen. Stop both. Play audacity output and verify that it sounds ok.

Now delete the audacity project and start over.

Let it run overnight (or however long it needs to go to finish playing it all.)

In the morning, stop Audacity if it is done.

Now tweak the audacity project.

If there is a bug chunk of silence at the end, delete that. (Select the range then Edit->Delete)

Normalize the volume: (Select All, then Effect->Normalize)

To split into smaller tracks, you can find silence (Analyze-Silence Finder) This may take some tweaking. I used 1.5 dB, 1 second and .5 seconds for the values.

File->Export Multiple
Select Split Files based on labels and check "Include audio before first label"
Use MP3. Options: 32Kbps, Joint Stereo. For naming, pick one method that works well. (I use numbering after prefix)
Click Export and then the tag screen will appear. Enter the info.
If you don't mind having all tracks have the name "S", just click ok a bunch of times.
It pays to upload to a single folder.

Now the folder of tracks can be uploaded to the phone and enjoyed.

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