How to download a Real Audio file without installing crapware

After spending the better part of this morning struggling against obsolete file formats (Real Audio), I thought I would catalog and document the finished process for future reference. Feel free to sing along.

When I say “crapware”, I mean trial software/shareware of dubious origin. The process I came up with has plenty of software involved, but it is all freeware and stuff I trust or already had installed for other reasons. This is probably not the ideal way to do it.

  1. Determine the origin of the RM file. If you have a link to an RM, you’re fine. If you have a .RAM file instead, download it and open in a text editor. The .RAM file contains a single line pointing to the .RM file you need.
  2. Download the RM file. This is easy if the protocol is http. If the protocol is RTSP, you must use a special program. I used mplayer on Linux, following instructions found here. Simply run:mplayer -noframedrop -dumpfile out.rm -dumpstream rtsp://url/to/file.rm -bandwidth 250000
    to download your music file. (“Bandwidth” is some random number to make it go faster.)
  3. Convert the file to PCM (WAV) format. I used mplayer for this as well, under Linux. Simply run: mplayer out.rm -ap pcm Your file is now in PCM format!
  4. Convert the PCM file to MP3. We have finished the ugly parts and now I’m sure you can do this on your own. I use Audacity to open the WAV file and export to MP3.

Good luck!