The easy way to convert BBC RealAudio files to mp3 on Windows

After a couple of years of using uncountable tools, and despite their ever-expanding list of podcasts etc. I think I’ve finally hit the perfect combo for downloading those Radio4 “listen again” RealPlayer files or entire streams from the BBC and converting them to mp3 (and ogg).

You will need two tools:

Both of these apps are Windows GUI tools, easy to use and free (shareware).

You can copy and paste .ram URLs into Net Transport and it will download the .rm or .ra files for you. You can also schedule downloading from a stream so that you can, for example, get the breezeblock.

Once the download is complete, you can then open the downloaded RealPlayer file or files in Switch and convert them into mp3 or ogg, which you can then happily transfer over to your iPod or other mp3 player. Brilliant.

A word of warning – I’ve been using Switch for a couple of days, and it’s worked fine, but it does have a 14-day trial period after which the “advanced” features are turned off. The documentation states that this includes converting files from the following formats: .DSS, .SRI, .ACT, .RCD, .REC , and .SHN. Fortunately I’ve never heard of most of these so it shouldn’t be a problem, but if I run into any difficulties after another couple of weeks, I’ll let you know.

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12 thoughts on “The easy way to convert BBC RealAudio files to mp3 on Windows”

  1. The older versions (which are still lurking around on the net) don’t have this, they just bug you every now and again to register.

    Which, of course, if you find the software useful, you should do!

  2. you can download radio1 too,
    simply drag over a radio4 url and tehn edit using the final name in the radio1 integrated player url. hope that kind of makes sense

  3. i don’t know why you remove my comment?????????? may be for my adding of some url, but see the people called “Chao Xian”, in his comment, there is also the url, why did you remove his comment? this is not fair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. You always link to the same site, which looks like a spam site to me. Chao Xian adds something to the conversation and links to a site which isn’t his own.

  5. how did you know that site isn’t chao xian’s? may be all the site are his, but you just didn’t know~~~~~~~~~~~
    i am just a new to the blog, so i am not familiar with some rules, i just think you can tell me, but not remove my comment, so crude.

  6. Actually, I know him in real life, so I know he doesn’t. Also, his post wasn’t simply an advert for a website (regardless of who owns it), it was a link to a direct download of the file I was talking about in my post.

    I routinely delete comments which look like they are just adverts for websites added by spam robots, and I’m afraid to say that yours looked like one.

    Had you instead maybe linked to a blog post you had written about the same piece of software, or linked to a blog post which had a link to a piece of software which did the same thing as my post is talking about, I would have left your comment.

  7. if you are a linux user then this handy little script will do the whole thing for you. here is my mary ann hobbs breezeblock to ogg vorbis downloader:

    < --- cut here -->

    #!/bin/bash
    # catchbreezeblock – capture “Radio1 Breezeblock”
    # copy this file to your home area and
    # chmod u+x thisfilename
    # then run it by:
    # ./thisfilename

    # Just use todays date in the filename
    DATE=`date +%F` # Save the date as YYYY-MM-DD

    # Where to save it – the Breezeblock became the “Radio 1 Experimental” in October 2006
    FILE=/tmp/music/breezeblock.$DATE.ogg
    #STREAM=http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/shows/rpms/radio1/breezeblock.rpm
    STREAM=http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/shows/rpms/radio1/hobbs.rpm

    # tags for the OGG Vorbis file
    AUTHOR=”Mary Ann Hobbs”
    ALBUM=”Radio 1″
    TITLE=”Breezeblock – $DATE”

    # Use mplayer to capture the stream $STREAM to the file $FILE
    /usr/bin/mplayer -really-quiet -cache 500 -ao pcm:file=”$FILE.wav” -playlist “$STREAM”

    # Encode to .ogg, quality 2, and tag the file
    echo OggEnc $TITLE, $AUTHOR, $ALBUM
    oggenc -q 2 -t “$TITLE” -a “$AUTHOR” -l “$ALBUM” -n “1/1” -G “Radio” -R 48000 -o “$FILE” “$FILE.wav”

    # Remove the raw audio data file
    echo Cleaning up
    rm “$FILE.wav”

  8. Net Transport you mean?

    I think the BBC recently changed how their files work so you’ll need to download the .ram file, open it up in notepad and copy/paste the URL of the .rm file into Net Transport instead.

    It’s a pain in the bum, I know.

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