It’s one of the worst-kept tech secrets in the world, but Real Audio streams can be downloaded using software such as
mplayer and then converted to MP3 format with
lame. Both of these are available in Ubuntu using the non-Ubuntu package manager Automatix. The possibility of doing this conversion implies that, although the BBC offer all their programs in Real Audio and only a few as podcasts, you can in principle put any you like on your portable music device.
Similar solutions abound on the web: Tom Taylor has a method involving
mencoder; other methods can be found all over the place. However, these all involve a bit of ad hoc command-line intervention, or scripts which aren’t terribly configurable. There are GUI and proprietary commands, but they tend not to offer great support for command-line and therefore scheduled operation.
I’ve knocked together a Python application called
rmrip: it’s available in a tar file from http://www.jpstacey.info/blog/files/code/rmrip.tgz. If you unzip this to a directory you’ll find a number of
.py files and a
config.conf configuration file. Edit
config.conf to match your system requirements and stream preferences, make sure
rmrip.py is executable, then run it. mp3s should eventually appear in a subdirectory called YYYYMMDD unless you configure the system otherwise.
The application can in principle be run from a cronjob, so it could tick over late at night when everyone’s internet is otherwise nice and quiet. In addition, conversion works via a named pipe, which is a funky way of piping the intermediary, enormous
.wav audio file straight into
lame, rather than saving it to disk. This does unfortunately restrict the application to non-Windows machines, but it’s a great help for audiophiles with limited disk space:
.mp3 files can be in the hundreds of megabytes for many-hour programmes, but the associated
.wav would take up gigabytes.
Current requirements include (please give any feedback on this!):
lame: their locations are configurable
subprocessmodule in Python
Current file types supported:
- Direct rtsp://….ra Real Audio stream links
- http://….ram references to Real Audio streams
- http://….rpm Real Audio playlists (BBC so far only format tested)
To get you started, dave.org.uk has provided information on how to get stream information using a standalone Python program, and also has potentially out-of-date static pages detailing the current BBC streams.