How to Listen to Audible Books Without the App

To be able to listen to an audiobook from Audible without the app, it’s necessary to use a third-party app that converts the AA or AAX files into MP3 files that can be played with any other app or player. 

In this post, you will know:

  • Which third-party app to use?
  • How do third-party apps work?
  • What is DMR?
  • Why are Audible audiobooks offered in AA or AAX? 
  • Can AAX files be played with different players?
  • What are the advantages of using the Audible app?
  • What is the difference between an app and an audio player?
  • What is a lossless file?
  • What is a lossy file?
  • Is it legal to use a converter app with Audible audiobooks?

Which Third-Party App to Use?

In order to find a reliable and safe third-party app to convert AA or AAX files into MP3 or other types of files, I like to follow these steps:

  • Type in Google or any other search engine: “AA AAX to MP3 converter “
  • Pay attention if the websites listed are https://. Avoid visiting websites that don’t have that final “s” (http://). It means that they don’t have a SSL certificate and your data (contact details, credit card information) can be compromised
  • Bear in mind that in most cases these converter apps will let you have a free trial version (7 to 30 days). When that time expires, you will have to pay for the service, You can also cancel the service before the trial period ends

How Do Third-Party Apps Work?

Third-party AA/AAX converter apps work by importing the audiobook file and applying a conversion codec. After the conversion is finished, the audio file generated will not be any more AA/AAX but the one that the user chooses before applying the conversion: MP3, M4B, AAC, FLAC, WAV, among others.

The original audiobook file which the user downloads from Audible doesn’t change and can continue being used in the app.  The third-party app generates a copy of the original, and only that file is the one that is converted.

What is DRM?

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, which is a set of technological tools that restrict copyrighted material from being used, modified, or distributed without authorization. 

Thus only users that have purchased or rented a digital product can have access to it through streaming or downloading the file, from an authorized website or app.

Why are Audible Audiobooks Offered in AA or AAX Files?

Audible audiobooks are currently offered as AAX files, as they provide excellent audio quality. AAX files contain encrypted features to protect copyrighted material so that authors can receive royalties from each audiobook purchased or accessed through a monthly subscription.

AA is the previous version of AAX which offered a lower but good enough audio quality.

Can AAX Files be Played with Different Players?

In addition to the Audible app, AAX files can be played on the built-in audio players in iTunes, iPod, and Kindle. AAX files can be converted to M4B format, which offers many of the characteristics of the Audible app, as well as MP3 or other high-quality formats (FLAC, WAV) using paid converter apps available online. 

What Are the Advantages of Using the Audible App?

This is an image of the way the Audible app looks on my smartphone

The Audible app is a really comfortable feature of the Audible service. It allows the user to have:

  • Quick access to the audiobooks and podcasts that the user is currently listening: A thin line under the cover of each title shows an orange color that represents the amount of time listened, and below it shows the amount of remaining time to finish the entire audiobook
  • The classic button players allow to rewind, forward, or go back or forward 30 seconds 
  •  On the bottom left side, it shows the speech speed which goes from 0,5 times the original speed to 3,50 times faster, with really sharp precision, and the option to make tiny changes of 0,05 
  • The chapters list is also available at the button of the screen
  • A temporizer can be set to suspend the audio playback 
  • An unlimited  bookmarking feature at the bottom right side allows keeping track of specific moments that the user may want to retrieve later

What Is the Difference Between an App and an Audio Player?

An app is a piece of software that can be downloaded from providers such App Store and Google Play. Although an audio player is a term related to a physical device that plays audio content (CD player, cassette player, etc), it’s also available as a piece of software to play digital audio files. 

The term app became popular thanks to the smartphone boom when the first iPhone was launched on January 9, 2007. 

What Is a Lossless Audio File?

A lossless audio file provides the best quality possible without any compression process, thus the size of the file tends to be large, in contrast with compressed files. The user can listen to the original high-quality sound that was recorded.

These are the most popular lossless formats: 

This is the format used to record CD qualityThis format is used to compress without data lossThis is the format used to record CD quality created by Apple
Great for recording audiobooksNot supported by Apple devices and music platformsNot very popular
Very little data storage (metadata) for audio track info (title, author, length)Good metadata storageGood metadata storage
1 hour = 605 MB on average1 hour = 325 MB on average1 hour = 605 MB on average

What Is a Lossy File?

A lossy audio file provides a representation of the original file but this time the compression process removes certain parts (or data). The smaller the file size is, the more amount of data is removed. 

Check some examples and recommendations for audiobook and podcast producers about what compression ranges can be used or avoided for professional commercial purposes: “How Does an Audiobook Work? Benefits, formats, and opportunities.”

Nowadays lossy files such as AAC can apply heavy compression while respecting the most valuable data. Therefore, to the ears of a user who is not an audio engineer, producer, or audiophile, there is practically no difference.

The most common lossy files are AAC and MP3. A good example of the great quality of these compression formats can be appreciated in the NPR article:

“How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality?, by Tyler Fisher and Jacob Ganz. 

from the website

Is it Legal to Use a Converter App with Audible Audiobooks?

This image shows binary numbers that represent digital data

It is legal to use a converter app to turn AAX files from Audible to MP3 or other extensions. What is not legal is to copy, modify or distribute those converted files for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Let’s take a look at some examples of commercial and non-commercial purposes:

Commercial Purposes

  • Person A converts an AAX Audible file to MP3, M4B, or any other type of format
  • Person A provides a copy of the converted file to Person B or any other amount of people. That represents distributing the original product without license or consent from the copyright holder: copyright infringement
  • Person A receives financial compensation from Person B or any other amount of people for letting them have a copy of the converted file: copyright infringement

Non-commercial Purposes

  • Person A converts an AAX Audible file to MP3, M4B, or any other type of format
  • Person A provides a copy of the converted file to Person B or any other amount of people. That represents distributing the original product without license or consent from the copyright holder: copyright infringement
  • Person A does not receive financial compensation from Person B or any other amount of people. Distributing a copyrighted product without a license or consent is copyright infringement

It’s possible that a person considers downloading an audiobook from Audible and converting that AAX file (only one single time) as a security copy.

As an author, voice narrator, and audio products producer, I understand that a customer can consider creating a security copy of a product that has been legally purchased. I highly and emphatically recommend checking the terms and conditions from the official Audible page.

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