Feb 14 2009

It’s just been pointed out to me the after much waiting, the BBC have started to make AAC streams available for their listen again content on the iPlayer. The bitrates vary from 96 kbps to 128 kbps from what I can see. This will possibly result in better quality. AAC 128kbps can certainly be an improvement over the same bit-rate MP3 but it does seem that the BBC have reduced the bandwidth and quality to AAC 96kbps to save us a whole 32 kbps !! Oh well, you at least still have the choice between MP3 and AAC. Make sure you have rtmpdump installed to be able to download AAC.

In get_iplayer, the default order of trying to download a Radio programme is: iphone,flashaac,flashaudio and realaudio. You can explicitly specify to use AAC mode by using

get_iplayer --type=radio --amode=flashaac [other search options]


  • On February 14th, 2009, spaceyjase said:

    Excellent work fella; keep it up!

    • On February 18th, 2009, Paul Martin said:

      It seems to get stuck about half way when downloading programmes over an hour long.

      • On February 18th, 2009, linuxcentre said:

        Yes, the rtmpdump author knows about this bug.

      • On February 18th, 2009, Bigarules said:

        The aac streams don’t seem to play back in ipod/itunes but work ok on vlc. They do
        sound slightly better than the iphone mp3 and a bit smaller as well.

        • On March 26th, 2009, Bigarules said:

          The aac+ files can be transcoded into mp3 files with the following command. 160k can be changed to 128k if required.

          ffmpeg -i inputfile.aac -vn -ar 44100 -ac 2 -ab 160k -f mp3 outputfile.mp3

          • On September 10th, 2009, bluy said:

            Is there a workaround for itunes without transcoding everything?

            • On September 10th, 2009, linuxcentre said:

              I’ve never used iTunes but I was under the impression that you can import audio AAC/mp3 and VIDEO: mov and mp4 without transcoding? Anyone? If mp4 doesn’t work try renaming the file to .mov as I have a suspicion that this works.

            • On January 4th, 2010, Mugsy said:

              Hi again.

              I have just downloaded some episodes from BBC Radio 7, and they are AAC files. They will not import into iTunes unfortunately, but will play in VLC. Is there any way to get them into iTunes without having to do any transcoding (the bit rates are alread low and I don’t want to futz with the files even more).

              Many thanks in advance,

              – Mugsy

              • On January 4th, 2010, linuxcentre said:

                I don’t have iTunes to test but have you tried renaming them to .m4a (or .mp4a ?) ?

                • On January 4th, 2010, Mugsy said:

                  Yep tried that and no dice alas. Will have another try just to make sure,


                  – Mugsy

                  • On January 4th, 2010, linuxcentre said:

                    one forum says to rename to mp4. Maybe give that a try also…

              • On January 4th, 2010, Mugsy said:

                Found the problem: the high quality AAC streams from iPlayer (on BBC 7) or AAC, in the ADTS format, which apparently iTunes cannot read.

                I guess the only way around this is to either download the slightly lesser quality (?) iPhone MP3 files, or to transcode the AAC into Lossless, even though this means larger file sizes, at least the sound quality is not altered.

                Unless anyone had any other methods of getting iTunes to work with ADTS AAC files?

                • On January 4th, 2010, Mugsy said:

                  p.s. found out quicktime CAN play ADTS files (so why can’t iTunes? arghhhh!). I will see if Quicktime has an export/passthrough feature to MP4.

                  • On January 4th, 2010, linuxcentre said:

                    You can use ffmpeg to convert to flac or wav.

                    • On January 10th, 2010, james said:

                      does this really work? In my experience ffmpeg (I have the latest version from paehl.com) still crashes when processing these AAC files, with an SBR not implemented error.

                      • On January 11th, 2010, linuxcentre said:

                        I just checked this again. It works for a radio3 classical programme (192kbps AAC) and a normal 128k AAC file to flac without a single error. I used:

                        ffmpeg -i in.aac out.flac
                        ffmpeg -i in.aac out.wav

                        • On January 11th, 2010, linuxcentre said:

                          Using FFmpeg version SVN-r19352-4:0.5+svn20090706-2ubuntu2 (from Karmic Koala)

                    • On January 4th, 2010, Mugsy said:

                      Success: using Quicktime Pro, one can open the iPlayer AAC files, then use the Export command – make sure it’s set to Audio, and check that you can see ‘Passthrough’ mentioned in the information at the bottom of the screen – then just export to MP4. Give it a new file name so it doesn’t over-write the existing file.

                      Hope this is of help to someone 🙂

                      • On March 29th, 2010, Bruno said:


                        Where can I find the stream addresses?

                        I listen often to Swiss Radio, they publish stream addresses like
                        which I copy into the VLC player (Ubuntu 09.10) and get the music right in to enjoy.

                        Now I search the stream addresses for some british stations, mainly classic and jazz, no pop. Perhaps local news (Radio Scotland).

                        Any idea?

                        • On March 29th, 2010, linuxcentre said:

                          See //linuxcentre.net/iplayersearch

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