Using Audio Recording to Convert DRM Protected WMA Files to MP3
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Part one of this two-part series on converting DRM-protected WMA files to alternate, unrestricted formats such as MP3 discussed burning the WMA files to CD and then ripping them as MP3 files. The CD conversion method is simple and reliable, but what should you do if your WMA license doesn’t allow burning to CD? This is where you need a slightly more elaborate setup – and some patience - to accomplish the challenge.
The audio recording method involves playing back the restricted WMA file in an enabled player such as Windows Media Player, while simultaneously capturing the digital audio stream and writing it to disc in real time.
What you need:
Streaming audio recording software
A little explanation of streaming audio recording is in order. Generally speaking, audio recording software is used to record the sound that enters your computer via one of the physical inputs on your sound card, such as a microphone or line input. However, it is also possible to intercept and record the digital audio stream that is created by audio software as sound is played back, before it reaches the card’s physical outputs.
This is where streaming audio software comes in. Originally designed to record material streamed across the Internet, such as online radio broadcasts or lectures, it lends itself perfectly to re-recording WMA files as they are played back by Media Player. Because the process takes place entirely in the digital domain, with the right settings there is only minimal degradation of the sound quality.
However, the recording method does have certain limitations. Firstly, the process involves capturing the output audio stream and storing it to disk in real time. A track must be played at normal speed in its entirety from beginning to end in order to record it. This makes converting large numbers of WMA files by this method a time-consuming business.
It also restricts the use of the computer for other purposes during recording. This is because the process relies on the consistency and continuity of the data stream between the source application and the recording application. Carrying out other tasks at the same time is liable to cause interruptions to the stream, causing glitches and drop-outs in the recording. Nonetheless, the recording method is sometimes the only way to convert protected files and must therefore be given serious consideration.
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