How do you grab an audio stream from the BBC (or other site) and save it as an mp3 file for offline listening on your computer or iPod for free? The open source program Audacity is the answer, first download it here, fire it up, and in the mixer toolbar select Wave Out or Stereo Mix as your sound source. So far, so good. As you may have guessed you’re going to use the little red record button in Audacity to capture the streaming sound.
Next, make sure you’ve opened the player page you wish to record from. To make it easy, tile that and the Audacity windows. Hit Play in the Player and the Record button in Audacity. The sound should start recording, just hit stop in Audacity when it finishes and choose the Save As option to create a wav file. You can then quickly encode this file using an mp3 encoder, such as the free Lame program here. This approach will work with almost every site streaming audio with the RealOne player, Windows Media Player, Quicktime, or anything else for that matter, because Audacity simply records the output from your soundcard.
Of course, this is a real-time, failsafe method, which is a bit inefficient, because you have to play the whole file to capture it. So, here’s a little cheat to grab an audio stream in far less time.
Run the player, right-click on progress and choose select “View Source” in your browser, you should see a page of code in your source viewer. Find the string “RPMS” without the quotes and then select everything between the quote marks in the embed source tag. Paste this into a text editor and prefix the whole thing with “http://www.bbc.co.uk” (no quotes). This will be the audio stream URL.
Now, simply feed this URL into a download manager and grab the stream. Depending on your download speed this could save minutes or even hours. The resulting file will be in RealAudio format, so you will need another converter to transform it into mp3 for your iPod. Job done. As to legitimacy, if you are in the UK and paid your TV license fee, there’s no real difference between doing this and recording off the TV and radio, is there?