Converting RealAudio to MP3

Turning RealAudio files into a more convenient format.

It has been argued that Real Networks and their media player are deceptive, annoying and inconvenient. If you use an iPod, the last is certainly true. How do you get RealAudio track playing on your iPod? Despite some moves by Real towards compatibility, meanwhiles you have to convert to some useful format like MP3. Unfortunately, getting an audio converter to understand the Real format can be complicated.

One solution that will work on any platform is to use one of the many "eavesdropping" applications, that will record the output of another program, computer or stream: AudioHijack, Wiretap, Streamripper, etc. Just play the stream and have the converting program listen in and record. The main problem with this is that it will take the length of the program to convert it. Otherwise ...


This is one of those jobs that is a lot easier under Windows. While a number of solutions have been suggested, the most straightforward is to use the Switch music converter.

But before you do that, so that Switch can understand RealAudio, you have to install the Real codecs (libraries for interpreting compressed media) onto your system. The obvious way to do this is to obtain and install RealPlayer.

Easier said that done. The RealPlayer has a history of being it hard to find on the Real website (buried behind multiple "opportunities" to buy the full version of the player). It also has a nasty habit of insisting on taking over every media file on your system. It's much easier to find, download and install the BBC branded RealPlayer When it asks for your name, email and personal details (so you can be sent "important" announcements and offers) you can just enter bogus details. When it asks what media types you want it to handle, select the "Advanced" option and then deselect everything but the actual Real media formats.

Download and install the Switch converter. Start it up, add the RealAudio files to the input list. Select MP3 as the output format. Convert.


There is currently no solution on that Macintosh that works for me. While an OSX version of Switch is available, it doesn't seem to recognise Real files regardless of what other applications or codecs are installed. A slightly complicated solution involving mplayer, a shell script and free codecs has been proposed, but I've been unable to make it work, perhaps because library names have changed since it was written. Music Safari (now called iRecord?) looks promising but isn't fully functional until paid for.