How to Download a Streaming Audio

There are lot of free streaming audio and video lectures on the net, be it on philosophical or other things. Currence recently reported of free audio lectures related to Wittgenstein for example.

But what to do, if you want to download those things for listening offline, for example on your iPod or similar device, and there is no link for downloading (you might want to try first if simply right clicking on the link and ‘save as’ or ‘save link as’ option work) ?

If it is a flash player (like they use on YouTube, Google Video, etc…) you can check my previous post about extracting the audio from those kinds of videos.

If it is “old-school” streaming audio however, you need to do following (as far as I know, this doesn’t work for real-audio and real-video! (.ram, .ra files)).

  • Download and install VLC Media Player. It is a free media player, which can handle most of video types. It has lot of functionality, which isn’t found in other media players, but that is another story…
  • Find the URL of the streaming audio that you want to download. For example, on this page, under “Wittgenstein’s unsolved problem: How to be guided by a rule”, the link to the quick-time lecture is this: . (If you get an embedded player, try right clicking on the player, and check if there is ‘Properties’ or some similar option. It should give you the URL there.)
  • Start VLC Media Player. Go to File->Open Network Stream. We are in the ‘Open…’ dialog.
  • Choose the HTTP/HTTPS/FTP/MMS option, and enter the URL of the stream in the URL text box. (In our example that would be the URL that I mentioned up there in bold)
  • In the same dialog, in the bottom, turn on “Stream/Save” check box, and press Settings…
  • The ‘Stream output’ Dialog should appear. Turn on the “File” checkbox, and then click the Browse button. In the ‘Save as’ dialog go to the folder where you want to save the audio, then write the name you want to give to the file in the File Name text field (e.g. test.mp4), and press Save.
  • In the ‘Stream output’ Dialog, in the part about encapsulation method choose what kind of the target file type you want (in our example “mp4“). Also, turn on the Audio Codec option, choose the codec (e.g. ‘mpga’) from the drop down list, and choose the other options (I went with 128kbps and 2 channels, and it worked OK with this options). Click OK.
  • We are back in the ‘Open…’ dialog. Just click OK. You should see the player starting to count the time. Given the example we mentioned, it says that it will be finished in an hour, and in the specified place you will have your ‘test.mp4’ media file.

BTW, you can use this way to extract the audio from the streaming videos also.