Audible User’s Guide for iPod
I’ve put together an Audible / iPod user’s guide to try to answer the most commonly asked questions regarding using Audible on your iPod. If you are already familiar with Audible, you can probably skip to Section 3 where it gets iPod specific.
If you have questions that are not answered here, please post it and we can add it to the knowledge bank to share with other users.
The comments below regarding iTunes should be equally true for the Mac or PC platform. Information on other applications is specific to the PC.
- Audible Basics
- Audible File Formats
- iPod Software for Audible
- Importing Audible Files
- Transferring Audible Files
- Audible File Navigation
- Tips and Tricks-coming soon.
1. What is Audible?
Audible.com offers a wide selection of digital spoken word audio content. Audible files can be downloaded and played on computers and transferred to portable devices such as the iPod. Audible’s content library includes audio books, downloadable archives of NPR & PRI radio shows, speeches, lectures, interviews, comedy, drama & poetry, and just about any form of spoken word content.
Audible content can be purchased from Audible.com or through Apple’s iTunes Music Store. For frequent listeners, Audible content can be purchased individually, and for frequent listeners, a variety of money saving subscription plans are available at the Audible website.
Audible content can be played on PC’s or Macs.
2. Audible File Formats
- A. Enhanced playback features
Audible utilizes a proprietary file format that includes custom features that improve the user experience over regular MP3 formats when listening to spoken word audio.
Audible files provide the ability to bookmark and remember your last heard position on each and every file stored on the iPod. You can switch between Audible files, exit and listen to music, and go back and forth and the iPod will remember your last position played and pick up where you left off.
Also, Audible files are broken up into different sections, either by timed intervals, chapters, or program segments. These segment markers allow you to quickly advance backward or forward to the next section.
And finally, with Audible’s compression technology and advanced file navigation features, entire books can be stored in a single file. The entire 62 hour volume of War and Peace, for example is contained in only three Audible files.
B. Audible vs MP3
In contrast, if you rip audio books from audio CD’s, every chapter or couple chapters will be contained in a separate file. So with a 6 hour abridged audio book from CD, you are likely to end up with 30-40 separate files. The iPod will NOT remember your last played position on MP3 files.
There is no way (that I am aware of) to convert audio books that were ripped from CD as MP3 files into the Audible format.
C. Audible File Formats
Audible files are available in four different compression rates. 1 through 4. For the iPod, I recommend using format 4 for the best sound quality, assuming you have broadband. If you don’t have broadband, try formats 2 or 3. Audible files purchased from Audible.com are labeled with the .aa extension. Audible’s Format 4 is similar to an MP3 files at 32kps.
Audible files purchased from the iTunes music store are encoded in Apple’s AAC format, and provide the same enhanced playback improvements as files with .aa extension downloaded directly from Audible.com.
3. Software for using Audible on iPod
- ITunes (Mac or PC)
- MusicMatch /AudibleManager
In order for Audible files to perform properly on the iPod, you MUST use either iTunes, J. River Media Center 9, or the combination of MusicMatch (version 7.5.5115 or later), and AudibleManager. If you use anything other than this, you will run into problems, I guarantee it! Obviously, Mac users will use iTunes.
Personally, I recommend iTunes or MC9 for Windows users. Both perform similarly with regard to Audible files, so your choice will depend on your personal needs and preferences. IMO, iTunes is cleaner and simpler, while MC9 offers many features not found in iTunes.
Prior to the launch of MC9 and iTunes, you had to use a combination of MusicMatch for transferring MP3 files, and AudibleManager to transfer Audible files. I found this to be a big headache. ITunes and MC9 let you manage and transfer both your music and Audible files with the same program, in one easy step. If you use Audible on your iPod, I highly recommend to switch from MusicMatch if you haven’t already. (Audible files aside, I think iTunes and MC9 are just much better tools for use with the iPod, period).
Swithching to iTunes from AudibleManager
If you switch to iTunes for Windows, you will no longer be able to use AudibleManager to transfer to your iPod. You must use iTunes. You will still use AudibleManager for your downloads just as in the past, just not for iPod transfers. For more details:
Ephod Users: Ephpod will transfer Audible files to the iPod. However, Ephpod does not support Audible’s bookmarking feature. Any bookmarks will be lost whenever you transfer files to your iPod. If you have used Ephpod previously on your iPod and want to use Audible files with bookmarking, you will need to restore your iPod firmware using Apples’ firmware updater before using your iPod with one of the recommended programs.
XPlay: last time I checked, XPlay (version 1.1.3) would not transfer Audible files, although it caused no problems with Audible files transferred to the iPod with AudibleManager.
4. Importing Audible Files
If you use AudibleManager to transfer to your iPods, your files are automatically loaded in AM after you download them.
Files downloaded from Audible.com
When using iTunes or MC9, you will need to import files downloaded from Audible.com into your iTunes/MC9 library. This is done just like adding any other file into your Library, using the Import File, or Import Folder tools. You can also drag a file from AudibleManager Inbox or its folder directly into iTunes/MC9.
Files downloaded from iTunes Music Store:
If you purchase audio books from Audible through iTunes Music Store, your downloaded files will automatically download into your iTunes library, ready to transfer to your iPod. If you use MC9, you will need to import them manually.
5. Transferring Audible Files
Audible Files are transferred to the iPod just like MP3 or AAC music files. The exact procedure will vary depending on which program you use. You can transfer files individually or create Audible playlists. Audible files can be transferred manually, or with the synch function. In either case, follow the method for transferring MP3 files to your iPod.
The iPod is designed to remember your last-played position in Audible files and resume at the point where you left off when you return to that file. The playback position is remembered in each Audible file you listen to. For example, you can listen for example to an audio book, stop it, switch to another Audible file, play it for a while, stop it, listen to some MP3 or AAC music files, come back a week later, and the iPod will still remember where you left off in the each of your Audible files.
The last played position is also remembered when you transfer additional files to or sync your iPod. (provided you are using one of the software programs that support Audible. (see above).
Note on Bookmarking: The iPod does not allow the multiple, manually selected bookmarks like the Audible Otis player does. The iPod only bookmarks the playback position when a file is paused or stopped.
7. Audible File Navigation
RW-FF buttons: advance the file forward or backward in five-second increments.
Rapid Advance (a.k.a. “scrubbing”)
To rapidly advance to any point in your Audible file, touch the center button once. The volume bar will turn into a file navigation bar. Use the scroll wheel to rapidly advance backward of forward to any point in the file.
Many Audible files are broken up into segments. The segments may be chapters, timed intervals, radio show segments, etc.
To use the section navigation feature, tap the center button once. Section indicators (when available) are indicated by vertical bars in the file navigation bar. Use the RW or FF buttons while in file navigation mode to jump from one section to the next.
NOTICE: The section navigation feature is available only on 3G iPods. 1G and 2G models operate the same as 3G with regard to FF/RW and Rapid Advance (scrubbing), but you will not see the segment markers in the navigation bar.
8. Tips and Tricks
You can further discuss using iPod with Audible in the new Audible for iPod forum.
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