Get Audiobook from CD's to Fuze

I am trying to get my Harry Potter audiobook CD’s onto my Sansa Fuze.  I am confused as to how to do this.  When I am finished with this process, I would like the following to happen…

  1. select the book from the “audiobook” category on my fuze

  2. have the file(s) play in sequential order (press play and it plays the entire book all the way through without touching any buttons)

I am a newbie to this mp3 player thing and I don’t mind doing a little work if needed.  Since I am new to this process, could someone help by explaining this in as much detail as you can muster.  You would really be helping me out.  Thanks!  

Okay, you have a few steps to learn for this process, after which, it’s a breeze.

The files on the CD are in PCM format, “wav” files, sampled at 44.1kHz.  They are big files!  You’ll need to convert them to a handy format for use on the Fuze (or any portable player, for that matter).

I’d recommend a program that’s most likely already on your PC, Windows Media Player (WiMP), for two reasons.  First, despite it’s being a klunky program (more on that later), it will convert your PCM audio to mp3 format or even wma (both will work just fine); and second, as you load the CD, WiMP may locate the actual names for those chapters from its online database.

First, you can try a simple test.  Don’t have the Sansa plugged in just yet, as WiMP likes to poke around the first time it finds a new toy on that USB port.  Open Windows Media Player, and insert the CD.  It will take a few seconds, but see if the title of your Harry Potter CD comes up, aling with chapter names.  This may be interesting.  If not, click on the Rip tab at the top, and see if the chapter titles fill in.

In the upper left of the screen, go to Tools > Options > Rip Tab and select mp3, 64kb/s for your audio books.  You can use a higher bit rate, but at 64kb/s, voice sounds great (close to FM quality), and takes half the space as a 128kb’s music track (if you use this speed- I prefer 192 for music).

The process of “ripping” is a buzzword for the transfer of PCM data to a compressed audio format.  MP3 or wma files have tags built into them as part of the format.  These tags are needed to find the files once loaded onto the Sansa.  The tag is called an ID3 tag , and it’s written into the beginning of each file.  If you use WiMP, as we’re using for this example, the ID3 tag data will be written to the mp3 or wma file automatically by WiMP.

Do you see chapter names when the Rip tab is clicked?  If so, we have a great head start.  Please note, WiMP isn’t the only “kid on the block” there are many other programs, like Media Monkey or Winamp, that can “rip” to mp3 for you.  I’m simply starting with my goofy little friend first, since Microsoft includes WiMP with your operating system, and updates are simple and free.

Let me know what you see so far, and we can go further.  In a nutshell, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Rip the CD audio files to MP3 or WMA
  • Add ID3 tags to your files (WiMP uses ID3v2.3 ISO 8859-1 format tags that the Sansa likes).
  • If WiMP doesn’t do this, Download MP3Tag.  It’s free, and it edits your tags crazy fast.
  • Set the genre tag to “audiobook”.
  • Transfer to the Fuze.  Audiobooks can be located under Music > Audiobooks.
  • In Audiobook mode, you will have a basic bookmark feature.

Let me know if WiMP finds the titles for you.

Starting with audiobooks is a unique case, a wee bit more complicated than simple music files.  In comparison, the process is the same, but the CD track names and album art will most likely pop right up. For audio CD music, be sure to select something higher then 64kb/s, as it sounds much better.

Bob  :smileyvery-happy:

Bob is on the case as usual, but let me butt in and make a few suggestions.

Your WMP should be 10 or 11. If you have XP and never updated, it will be WMP 9. You can update it from within Windows Media Player or just by going to www.microsoft.com

Here comes the real geek part. Left to its own devices, WMP will probably do two things (unless the defaults have been changed for new downloads–I don’t remember what they were the last time I updated). 

  1. When you rip that Harry Potter book, it will rip it to its own file format, .wma (Windows Media Audio) with copy protection, which could cause trouble later. Bob explained how to fix this, but just to be redundant: 

Fix: Open Windows Media Player and look for Tools. If you don’t see it–some views of WMP hide it–just right-click on the upper left where it says Windows Media Player. Go to Tools/Options/Rip Music and set two defaults. 

Change the format it rips to mp3, as Bob explained. That’s important.

Also, under Rip Music to This Location I’d suggest you pick a folder with a name you’ll remember. I think the default buries it about 5 folders deep. Mine is creatively called C:/Albums, so it’s near the top of the list when I go into the C drive. You can call yours  iTunes or AAAAAAAAh or Bathsheda Babbling if you want.

  

  1. WMP may  try to dump every song and photo in its library onto your poor unsuspecting Fuze. I think you’re going to have to connect the Fuze for this. Then under Tools/Options go to the Devices tab and look for the Fuze. Highlight it, click Properties and un-check “Start sync when device connects.”  Your Fuze will thank you.

Ah, automatic sync, the scariest part of WiMP.  Not really, but keep in mind that WiMP is like a small child, and it wants to break out the crayons and go to town.  The first time the device is recognized, a set up window will pop up.

You can select “cancel”, and simply drag and drop the audiobook or music files to the “sync pane” on the right side of the screen, then click on Start Sync.  Nothing but items dragged there will transfer.

The automatic sync function can be selected by pressing the button at the lower edge of the Sync button (WiMP11), selecting Set Up Sync.

Really, it boils down to two issues.  Manual sync (select “cancel” on the set up box, and drag your files over), or automatic, which has one goofy part: the actual set up.  The first time you select automatic, WiMP will try to toss everything on to the Sansa.  Click on the Stop Sync button in the lower right, then choose Set Up Sync (again, bottom of the Sync button at the top).

A two-list menu will show up.  Now here’s the only strange part with this list: Microsoft made the lists display backwards, meaning that you will select items on the right by clicking them one at a time, then click the center button between the two lists to remove selections like : all TV programs, all photos, and all music.  When you press the Sync button again, WiMP will remove the surplus files (music and photos) from the Sansa- it will clean up its mess automatically.

Hey, don’t worry about so many details just yet!  We want to help you get that audiobook on the Sansa to get you started.  See if the track information pops up, and click on that “cancel” button the first time the Sansa is recognized.  You can send just your audiobook over for now.

Bob  :stuck_out_tongue:

I put in the first CD and when the info came up in WMP, the track names were numbers.  The first few tracks were 03-01, 03-02, etc. until the last two tracks were 15-01 and 15-02.  Is this good?

Were those the filenames (like 03-10.mp3) or were those shown as titles (like song names) in WMP? Regardless, it looks like they will play in order.

George Peppard used to say that all the time, “I love it when a plan comes together!”  (Who remembers the corny A-Team series?)

I’m glad you have “leading zeroes” on those files 1-9.  The Sansa will play them in order.

You can do a few cool things with those mp3 files:

Right click on a track, looking at the Library tab in WiMP.  Advanced Tag Editor will be available.  See that the Genre field is “audiobook”.  When these tracks go to the Fuze, they will go in the Audiobooks folder.

You can add a cool Harry Potter album art image to the files if you wish too, using the editor.  We can go over that wee detail later.

Editing tags is pretty basic once you get the hang of the editing software.  I love MP3Tag, as it does the job rapidly and very smoothly.

On to the Fuze.  Finding the book will be via Music > Audiobooks.  If you turn Chapter Mode on, by clicking on the bottom “submenu” key, this will allow you to skip forward / back one file at a time.  When you leave the book playback to listen to a little music, the individual files all have bookmarks at the last listened point.  The player will ask you “resume from current position” or “from beginning”.

Give it a try.  Enjoy your book!  The Sansa works beautifully with audiobooks.

Bob :smileyvery-happy:

Message Edited by neutron_bob on 12-14-2009 02:52 PM

Thanks for the info!  I don’t know if Murdock (A-Team) has gotten involved here, but…

When I ripped disc one, the file names read as follows 03-01, 03-02, 03-03, 03-04, 03-05, 03-06, 03-07, 03-08, 15-09, 15-10.  The tracks on disc 2 make sense: 02-01, 02-02, 02-03, …  Whay would the files on disc 1 look different.  Also, will that affect the Fuze playing themin order.

Also, the title for disc one just reads Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, while the title for disc 2 reads Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Disc 2.  Should the discs be numbered Disc 01, Disc 02, etc. like the file names.

A rip, rip, ripping I go!

Also, how do I select a bit rate smaller than 128 kbps?  In the rip options, the smallest bit rate is 128.

The leading zero is only needed in those individual tracks between 1-9.  Within the title, it’s fine to leave it as it stands.

You can select 64kb/s by using the “slider” found by clicking Tools > Options, then the Rip tab in that pop up box.  Drag teh slider to the left (quality), and you have a choice of bit rates.

You can also click on the bar at the bottom of the Rip tab, in the main screen.  Click on bit rate and select your lower rate for teh books.  64 sounds great for this purpose, and you’ll have plenty of space for more books or music.

Bob  :smileyvery-happy:

Ok.  I found the slider, but the minimum bitrate I can select is 128.  Why is that?

Also, I have all the CD’s ripped.  Is it just a matter now of syncing the files to my fuze.  I think I probably need to change the filenames from the first CD.  Can I just change them in WMP?

Try this one: click on Help > About (in WiMP) and let us know the version number.  A quick check of WiMP11 on my end shows the slider limit currently at 48.  Perhaps you may need to update your player.

The Sansa can navigate either by folder name or better yet by the ID3 tag information.  The atgs are key, since WiMP generates them with the preferred format, and you can edit them easily using the Advanced Tag Editor (right click on the track, or the “album” to do the entire group).

You’ll find some quirks with the editor, like updating album art images. MP3Tag, once you get used to it, is much better.

Bob  :smileyvery-happy:

Sorry - I am using WMP 12.  That could be part of it.

I don’t know the full world of audio books but have done some.  If it’s just one guy reading the whole book you don’t need stereo or a high bit rate… some of them I’ve done at 10 kb/s in speex.  Others might better be called radio drama… different character’s voices in different places, sound effects (phones ringing, traffic noise,  etc) then stereo and some fidelity is in order

With trepidation, I’ll enter the fray with a different ripper alternative: iTunes

Rationale:

  1. Ability to join tracks.

  2. Ability to specify more MP3 bitrates, all the way down to 16 kbps.

  3. Useful also as a podcatcher for subscribing to video/audio podcasts (iTunes is arguably the best podcatcher)

Here are the steps that work in my version of iTunes (v9.0.2.25):

  1. Set bitrate:

Edit --> Preferences --> General tab, “When you insert a CD:”  “Import Settings” button -->

  • “Import Using:” [set to “MP3 Encoder”]

  • “Setting:” --> “Custom…” --> “Stereo Bit Rate” [set to whatever you want, like 32 or 48 or 64]

[Then “OK” your way back out.]

  1. Rip:

Insert CD, and iTunes will display the tracks.  Select all of them (in my iTunes, I couldn’t grab, instead had to select first track, then shift-click the last track to get them all highlighted). 

  • Advanced --> Join CD Tracks

  • [see last para. below for possibility of tagging at this point]

  • Advanced --> Create MP3 Version

  1. Repeat step 2 for all CDs in the audiobook. 

Find the ripped audiobook parts on your PC (Edit --> Preferences --> Advanced shows the “iTunes Media folder location”, which you could have changed if you didn’t like their default).  Drag-and-drop the audiobook parts to the Fuze’s audiobooks folder (resume works if either the parts are tagged “Audiobook” or the parts are located in the Fuze’s “Audiobooks” folder

If you need to tag, File --> Get Info allows that.  I use MP3 tag, so can’t say for sure, but I think you can do this at the point where you Joined the CD tracks and are about to rip, i.e., just before you click “Create MP3 Version”.

I’d just suggest two things.

iTunes gives me tags in ID3v2.2 and I haven’t found a way to change the tag version. The Sansa plays them, but I’d rather have ID3v2.3 since that’s preferred. 

Also, iTunes numbers the tracks 1/12, 2/12, 3/12, etc.

Both can be solved with mp3tag. In Tools/Options/Tags/Mpeg set Write to ID3v2.3 ISO-8859-1. 

And then, once the book is ripped, open it in mp3tag, make sure the files are in order and go to Tools/Auto-Numbering Wizard and pick the Leading Zeroes option. Tracks become 01, 02, etc. 

Also, you can set iTunes to rip mp3 by default under Edit/Preferences/Advanced. 

Now that I have everything ripped…

The first disc seemed to have weird filenames.  Is the filename the thing to change in MP3Tag or should something else be changed so that everything plays in order?  Once I get all of that in order and sync to the Fuze, will the audiobook play all the way through (all 17 discs) without me doing anything or will I have to advance to the next CD?

Thanks everyone! 

I have successfully gotten my audiobook onto my Fuze.  I listened to the first CD and then I had to advance to the next CD on the Fuze.  Is there a way to get the Fuze to advance to the next CD automatically without me selecting it?  Thanks again.

Tag the book so the disks all look like they’re on the same album.  So, you want something like album = “Moby **bleep**”, NOT “Moby **bleep** disk 1”

Then you have to make sure to either tag the disk numbers or make the track numbers keep going up from one disk to the next (not restart at 1) 

That, or make a play list from all the separate albums. 

edit: Uh Oh! Looks like an automatic censor in action… the book mentioned above is a famous epic about a great white whale.  You fill in the blanks  :dizzy_face:

Message Edited by donp on 12-21-2009 07:06 AM

@donp wrote:

Tag the book so the disks all look like they’re on the same album.  So, you want something like album = “Moby **bleep**”, NOT “Moby **bleep** disk 1”

Then you have to make sure to either tag the disk numbers or make the track numbers keep going up from one disk to the next (not restart at 1) 

 

That, or make a play list from all the separate albums. 

 

edit: Uh Oh! Looks like an automatic censor in action… the book mentioned above is a famous epic about a great white whale.  You fill in the blanks  :dizzy_face:

Message Edited by donp on 12-21-2009 07:06 AM

Ha Ha Ha…

That is one of the funniest posts, I’ve seen here.  Who would have thought that a classic would be caught by the automatic censor…:smileyvery-happy: