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Which Format Would It Be Best To Convert DRM Protected WMAs?

by lire23 / November 26, 2007 12:31 PM PST

In order to back-up some DRM-protected WMA music files, I want to convert them to unprotected music files. These DRM-protected files are 192kbps WMA's, and I'd like to preserve as much sound quality as I can.

I would *assume* that converting them to 192kbps WMA's would be essentially the best, since it would probably be just stripping the DRM protection, and recording them as they were originally.

But maybe I'm wrong? Maybe it the conversion process doesn't work like that. Maybe converting them to a OGG 192kb or MP3 256kbps would be better?

By the way, I'm using Tunebite to do this, if that helps.

Thanks for the help!!


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Cnet wrote a how-to.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 26, 2007 10:48 PM PST

They put them on CD then used a CD-RIPPER.


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Use highest available bitrate
by mbucci / November 27, 2007 4:30 AM PST

Using Tunebite, you are not performing a conversion of the original wma file; you are creating a new file that Tunebite makes from recording the wma file being played through a music player. Tunebite listens to the output of your sound card. Presumably, you are referring to Napster wma files at 192K, and you (or rather Tunebite itself in this example) are playing them through WMPlayer 10 or 11, Napster 4, etc., while Tunebite records the output. Therefore, there is no illegal stripping of DRM. The second part of your question involves choosing a file format and bitrate suitable to you and available through Tunebite. The simplest but more laborious answer is to perform your own tests. Make recordings of one music file at three or four bitrate settings, e.g. wma: 128-160-192; mp3: 160-192-256-320, then judge the best. When you make a conversion of a compressed music file to another format, such as when you import a wma file into iTunes and convert it to AAC or MP3, you are effectively applying another layer of compression to it during the resampling. A 192kbps wma or MP3 file is small in size because it has stripped the original music file (at 1411kbps) of all but 14% (approx.) of the data (music material). You will strip more through additional conversions (transcodings), and that is the "downside". Although you are not "converting" a file using Tunebite, nevertheless you are effectively resampling already compressed musical material; the new file will always suffer audio deterioration. Although it is unavoidable, you need to keep deterioration to a minimum. If you CAN hear well and do notice shifts in sound quality, I suggest you perform a listening test and decide for yourself. If audio quality differences are noticeable but no need to test, then choose the highest bit rate available in the format you select (192K for wma, 360K for MP3 and so forth). If sound quality differences do NOT matter to you, pick the format you like and choose the medium bitrate setting. Using Tunebite to make MP3s suitable to my hearing, I sacrifice size for audio fidelity and choose MP3 360kbps. I choose MP3 because it is the current de facto standard and universally playable. Hope this helps.

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The Best Way For Me To Use Tunebite
by lire23 / December 18, 2007 12:51 PM PST

Right. Thanks for the extensive and accurate answer!! Tunebite has two lossless options, WMA (lossless) and WAV. The WMA's are smaller, but for some reason, Tunebite took huge resources and tons of time to tag the files and save them. On the other hand, since I have plenty of disk space, I tried WAV lossless (for archiving), realizing that this would keep the original DRM files as close to exact as possible. In fact, I think it IS exact, because Tunebite is using a digital sound card--which may complicate the legal issues.

In any case, converting to WAV went super fast, all the way through the files, from start to finish, even though the resulting files are 10 times the size of the original. Now, once I have them in this format, I can experiment all I like to see about converting these to MP3 or whatever, and at what bitrate suits me.

Thanks again. This thread has been helpful!


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