Audible User’s Guide for iPod | iLounge Article

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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.

  1. Audible Basics
  2. Audible File Formats
  3. iPod Software for Audible
  4. Importing Audible Files
  5. Transferring Audible Files
  6. Bookmarking-Pause/Stop-Resume
  7. Audible File Navigation
  8. 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)
  • MC9
  • MusicMatch /AudibleManager
  • Ephpod
  • XPlay

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:

http://www.audible.com/iPod/FAQ.html

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.

6. Bookmarking-Pause/Stop-Resume

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.

Section Navigation
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

Coming Soon!

You can further discuss using iPod with Audible in the new Audible for iPod forum.

« How to import CD tracks to iTunes

MWNY03: A look at iPod accessories »

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Comments

1

‘Im getting a runtime error message listing an Abnormal program termination when I try to complete the activation of my iPod with the Audible Manager.  It show the iPod as NOT being connected when it is. 

iPod works with musicmatch fine…and I make sure and eject it from Musicmatch and close the program before I try to initialize it with Audible??

Any suggestions?

Posted by Chark on November 6, 2003 at 10:58 AM (PDT)

2

Chark,

I had this same problem.  I use EphPod to transfer songs, and apparently there is a driver which the Audible Manger expects to be installed, which is not installed on your machine as an EphPod user.  I downloaded and reinstalled the iPod 1.3 firmware (even though my iPod had this firmware already) and the missing driver was installed on my computer.  Make sure you reboot before running the Audible Manager after this update and you will be good to go.

Posted by Jim on November 14, 2003 at 9:11 AM (PDT)

3

我需要中文说明.

Posted by menglei on December 10, 2003 at 11:24 PM (PDT)

4

I am thinking about buying an iPod and have one question:
Is the “bookmark” feature bound only to these Audible files or can it remember the play position within any other large MP3 file (for example a DJ mix) or within a playlist (persitent, not just the last)? I think the Rio Karma player can do this…

Posted by Christian on February 24, 2004 at 11:44 AM (PDT)

5

I love the bookmarking ability with the Audible files, but it always seems like when I try to pick up from where I left off, it’s going back to the previous bookmark, not the most recent. Is there an exact combo of steps to make sure it’s bookmarking my most recent position? Thanks!!!

Posted by Melissa on March 24, 2004 at 12:27 PM (PDT)

6

I use my iPod Mini exclusively for audiobooks. I have been alternately delighted and disappointed by its bookmarking feature. Sometimes it remembers my place, even when I jump to a different book for a while, as you described. Sometimes it goes back to my LAST stopping place, as Melissa describes. And sometimes it starts over in the book, usually after the battery runs down (almost daily) or I leave it charging too long. When it works correctly, it is great. When it doesn’t, you can imagine my frustration trying to find my last stopping place in an eight-hour long file. I’ve trained myself to USUALLY remember whereabouts I stopped last—but I have had a few choice words to say to my iPod on certain occasions.

Posted by Larry on July 13, 2004 at 7:25 PM (PDT)

7

One additional thought: You should mention to your readers that the iPod will LOAD and recognize Audible file format 1 on the hard-drive, but cannot play it. They must load format 2 or higher, which are considerably larger files but no problem for the relatively massy HD on the iPod. I have 33 continuous DAYS of audiobooks on board my Mini, and still have about 1/3 of HD left.

Extra freebie: iTunes for Windows works better and produces better quality audio than Windows Media Player does—AND it doesn’t tie up your entire system resources either.

Posted by Larry on July 13, 2004 at 7:31 PM (PDT)

8

You can enable bookmarking on any AAC file that you use on your Ipod and in ITunes.  Modify the extension of the AAC file from “m4a” to “m4b ” (space at the end).  Whalla instant bookmarking enabled.  This works for Apple and PC.

Posted by Tony on August 4, 2004 at 9:15 AM (PDT)

9

Hi,

Digital is the future… obviously…
The Ipod is currently leading the way into the portal digital audio player; congrats.

Aubile Books are great but I’d like to also listen to my current books on CD on my ipod and store them right next to my audible files and not with my music.

I don’t really want to be shuffling through my songs and having books and language programs pop up.

The “fast, normal, slow” controls are great for anything encoded with the audible’s m4b format but how do I get my audiobooks and language programs on CD into that into that format?  The bookmark is also key but I would love the speed control features. 

I shouldn’t have to buy something again just to get the good encoding.  I already paid for the audio material and should be able to listen to it on my ipod easily, just like audible’s format

So what do you think?  Wouldn’t it be great to get all your audio files (books on CD, language programs… I’m sure the future ipods will have video storage with video outs to the TVs… so family videos by then) onto the ipod and store them into the software the most effecient way possible???

If we all ask apple through the feedback on the ipod.com website, we might stimulate a response.

Until the software changes…

There has to be something out there that rips into audible’s format… we just need to find it.

Happy Hunting,

Tom

Posted by Tom on August 7, 2004 at 3:02 PM (PDT)

10

GoldWave (http://www.goldwave.com) will convert from Audible format to MP3.  I wonder if it will go the other way too?  Never tried, but I’d love to organize them like you’re saying.

Posted by Travis on August 27, 2004 at 4:35 AM (PDT)

11

I’ve renamed my mono 32kbps AAC audio file from m3a to m3b. Audio book plays on 4G clickwheel ipod but when you pause (for bookmark) it locks up the player.

Does anyone else have this issue or could someone suggest what I am doing wrong?

Thanks,
Matt

Posted by Matt on September 18, 2004 at 4:55 AM (PDT)

12

Read this thread for more on changing file type/extension.

Posted by Andreas on September 20, 2004 at 12:42 AM (PDT)

13

Andreas,
Thanks for the response…

but it does not discuss the locking up on a 4G clickwheel (the threads end in March).

Has anyone else had their 4G clickwheel iPod lock up when playing audiobook files that were made by renaming m4a to m4b?

Posted by Matt on September 20, 2004 at 3:44 AM (PDT)

14

It is just not true what PARANNOYA says above ! There is a way to convert any MP§ file into audible file format ans it does not need any software but itunes itself !!!!!

Just import the audio book that is in MP§ into the itunes internal AAC format. This will create a new data file directory in 4ma format !

Now all you need is to manually change the extension name from 4ma to 4mb and off you go !
Once you changed the extension to 4mb you have real workable audible equal files that play in different speeds etc…....

The only thing of course you need to do is to rereference them into the itunes library for the change in file names make them unreachable for itunes.

Hope you enjoy !
ALexander Berger

Posted by Alexander Berger on September 22, 2004 at 9:22 PM (PDT)

15

It seems with the 4gen ipod, changing the extension locks the firmware.
It sucks ....

Posted by ronnn on September 29, 2004 at 1:39 PM (PDT)

16

I have a 4th gen and converted my mp3 audiobook files to m4a using itunes and then renamed the extensions to “m4b ” using windows explorer and i’ve not encountered any lock up problems. The audio book features work perfectly! thanks to the folks who did the guide.

Posted by acidburn on October 14, 2004 at 12:56 PM (PDT)

17

I have a problem with an audiobook I bought itune store.  It downloaded to my library but I can’t seen to transfer it to my ipod.  It just won’t show up on my ipod.  Any thoughts?

Posted by Dean Molta on October 17, 2004 at 2:46 PM (PDT)

18

Converting to AAC and then renaming file extension to M4b works great on the 4g. I have not had any problems doing that.

Posted by N on October 17, 2004 at 6:05 PM (PDT)

19

To Whom It May Concern,

Background: I have downloaded and edited {The Filenames} quite a few MP3’s. But as I transfer or import them to my IPod, this maticulously edited {and not to mention great deal of time used to do this editing} does not show up on the IPod. Of course as you know, the “source name” does show up.  Often times, this “source name” is incorrect.
Question: How would I import into IPod these Edited “filenames” from My “My Shared Folder”?
Or is there a way to replace the “source names” with the edited “Filenames” in “My Shared Folder”? This way and once I import this shared folder source-names, I will have imported my precious and correctly edited “File Names”.
Or is there a support program {to purchase}that will help me do this?

Gary

Posted by Gary on October 20, 2004 at 10:45 AM (PDT)

20

I have also converted my audiobook MP3s to AAC (.m4a) and then renamed them all to .m4b files.  After transferring to the iPod and listening/bookmarking I have begun experiencing the lock-ups that are mentioned above.  Any available help with this issue would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by Szerath on December 3, 2004 at 9:21 AM (PDT)

21

Szerath,

Try splitting up your larger .m4b files into multiple, smaller .m4b files, with each chunk no larger than 32 MB. I know it’s a pain, especially if you’ve tossed the original files, but this cured the .m4b lockup-on-playback-resume problem on both my 4G iPod and the wife’s 3G iPod. I’d be curious to know if it helps you as well.

There’s obviously a firmware bug with larger homemade .m4b files, I’m doing further testing to try and narrow down the problem.

-AndyE

Posted by AndyE in St. Louis, MO on January 16, 2005 at 4:57 PM (PDT)

22

4th Gen iPod….iTunes 4.7.1 on OS X 10.3.8.

I’ve tried no less than FOUR times to take audiobook files I have and get my iPod to remember the “bookmark”  I imported from CD to AAC (128K).  Then I went to the song file and changed the extension to each track to .m4b

Then I saw the comment above that there needs to be a SPACE at the end of the extension.

I drug them back into the iTunes Library, replac ed the files on my iPod and still, no bookmarking.

This audiobook is FOUR discs with ONE HOUR LONG TRACK on each disc.  each file is about 58mb in size.  Ironically, I’m not having any hangups that others are griping about…I just can’t get the bookmarks to work!

Is it the SIZE of file?  is the m4b trick for windows users only?  Thoughgts?

Posted by Eric Nentrup in Indiana on January 18, 2005 at 9:01 AM (PDT)

23

I have all my audiobook files converted to .m4b format. How do I get iTunes/iPod to recognize them as audiobooks and separate them from my music? I dont really want to be shuffling through my music library and have a book start playing, esp while playing music for a party or something.

Posted by Chris325 on January 23, 2005 at 5:31 PM (PDT)

24

I’m having the same lock up problem mentioned by others with my 4G iPod.  I’m not sure how you get the space after the .m4b to stick because windows wliminates the space after you save the renamed file.

Any help from those who got this to work?

Posted by David Posey on February 8, 2005 at 11:22 AM (PDT)

25

From: Podunk- fka Parannoya

FYI-I wrote this guide back in ‘03.  Much has changed since (including my name)and it is seriously dated now.  The updated version of the Guide is available as a sticky in the Books & Spoken Word section of the forums. If you read the above, forget everything you read and read the newer version.

http://forums.ipodlounge.com/showthread.php?s=718f3909f386373561fa7ffad80399b0&threadid=13039

p.s. Dennis. What’s with the byline my friend? grin

Posted by podunk on May 16, 2005 at 1:24 PM (PDT)

26

How do I get my audiobooks to load on the iPod. I first joined the cd tracks before I copied each disk to iTunes. Then I used the applescript to make them bookmarkable. When I hook up the iPod they do not upload automatically and I don’t know how to do it manually.

Posted by jcroentgen on January 5, 2006 at 7:57 AM (PDT)

27

I’m using my Nano exclusively for holding audio that I get from my local library on CD’s.  What’s the difference between genres ‘audio’ vs ‘books and spoken word?’  Why would the playback turn off at the end of a CD rather than continuing to the next one?

Posted by kiwikit on June 15, 2006 at 4:18 PM (PDT)

28

Which ipod is the easiest to use with Audible books

Posted by Diane on December 28, 2009 at 4:14 PM (PDT)

29

Can you explain to me why iPod w/video is not compatible with the Enhanced format?  Will it ever be or do I just need to invest in a separate device to enjoy this content? I have been a long time user of Audible.com and have had my iPod for awhile and never had any trouble beyond this. Just curious…I could not seem to find an answer on Audible.com Thanks!

Posted by Ronna on March 16, 2011 at 9:43 PM (PDT)

30

How do you get audible books to sort in with itunes books. And not just under audible.

Posted by gail on December 2, 2011 at 10:27 PM (PDT)

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