Technology Advice by Ryan Taylor Adams

The Fail-Safe (but Lossy) Way to Remove DRM From Audio Files

July 18th, 2008 · 3 Comments · Printer Friendly Version


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There are programs available (such as FairUse4WM) that can remove the DRM encryption from audio files without compromising the files quality. Unfortunately, DRM updates, new audio formats, and software patches quickly make this programs outdated. The other method of removing DRM is to play the audio file and record the output. This method doesn’t produce exact copies of the original audio, but it is much easier to use and much more likely to work. SO here is how you do it:

***As always, removing the DRM from files may be illegal. It is your responsibility to research whether or not your intended actions are legal.

You will need three programs to complete the steps below. These are HarddiskOgg, MP3Trim, and MP3Gain. All are freeware and can be downloaded from the web. You will also need the lame_enc.dll file which can be found with a Google search.

To save you time, I have assembled all the programs and files you will need in a ZIP file.

There are many steps here, but after following them once or twice, you will quickly see how easy the whole process is.

  1. Download this ZIP file and extract the “RemoveDRM” folder contained inside to your desktop.
  2. Open the “RemoveDRM” folder and double-click on “RecordAudio.exe”. You will presented with a window similar to this:

    (Click to enlarge)
  3. Click the ellipse next to “Output file” and select a location and name for your MP3 file. I would suggest the song’s name.
  4. In the “Output format” box, select “LAME MP3”.
  5. Click the gears next to the “Output format” box which will open a window like this:

    (Click to enlarge)
  6. Here you can adjust the output MP3’s quality settings. Normally a higher bit rate would mean better sound, but because of the way we will be recording the audio, there is a point where a higher bit rate doesn’t help. You can play around with the settings yourself to find what works best but I recommend you set your options to match these:

    (Click to enlarge)
  7. Press “OK” to close the MP3 settings window.
  8. Under “Normalization”, select “None”.
  9. Under the audio bar on the right side is an icon which resembles an audio slider. Click this button and a window similar to this will open:

    (Click to enlarge)
  10. This window allows you to select where you want to record the audio from. Every computer has slightly different options, but you want to select one similar to “Wave Out Mix”. Drag the slider for the selected output all the way up and then close the window.
  11. Now it’s time to test the audio levels. Open your media player and start playing the song we want to un-DRM. Skip to find the loudest section of the song. Return to the “HarddiskOgg” window and click the microphone icon labeled “Test the record settings”.
  12. You will notice the audio volume bar on the right side of the window will move. Return to your media player and adjust it’s volume setting until the meter on the “HarddiskOgg” window floats somewhere around 2/3.
  13. Stop your media player and also click “Stop” in the “HarddiskOgg” window.
  14. You are now ready to record. Press the “Record” button in the “HarddiskOgg” window and immediately start playing the song to un-DRM. When the song finishes playing, return to the “HarddiskOgg” window and press “Stop”.

Your song has now been saved as an MP3 file without any DRM. You can use the “TrimAudio.exe” program to remove excessive silence from the start or end of the MP3 and you can use “normalizeAudio.exe” to normalize the volume.

Tips and Troubleshooting:

  • The MP3 file created will contain all sounds your computer plays during the recording process. Make sure you disable any other programs that output sound while recording.
  • Make sure your microphone is disabled or unplugged while recording, unless you feel in the mood for Karaoke.
  • If the MP3 file created is staticy, tinny, or otherwise distorted, the output volume of your media player is probably too loud. Review steps 11 and 12 above to properly adjust the volume.
  • If the MP3 file created is too quite, use “NoramalizeAudio.exe” to normalize it’s volume.
  • If the output MP3 is blank, review steps 9 and 10 to ensure you selected the right output.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mark // Nov 27, 2008 at 3:52 AM

    My FairUse4WM no longer works as mirakagi can’t read the IBX file or something. Do you know of any other way to strip DRM out of WMV videos?

  • 2 Ryan Adams // Nov 27, 2008 at 10:40 AM

    @Mark: You can try the equivalent of the audio capturing process described here; use a screen recording program to record the video playing to a new file. I wouldn’t expect very good results though.

  • 3 jessi // Dec 25, 2008 at 9:58 PM

    ok… so I got to step 4 and “LAMEMP3” was not an option so I have no clue what to do… any advice?

  • 4 Ryan Adams // Dec 26, 2008 at 10:34 AM

    @jessi: Make sure you have the file “lame_enc.dll” in the same folder as “RecordAudio.dll”. If it can’t find this file, the program will give you an error message the first time you start it.

  • 5 Nekulor // Jan 19, 2009 at 11:13 PM

    Tunebite works very well and is available from many places on the net. It is shareware, so you have to pay like $20 to get it to convert full files rather than 30 second previews. However, it will batch process thousands of songs or videos at a time. Trust me, it works.