How To Convert Protected AAC To MP3 Free (3 Ways)

Written By Robert Fabry Last updated: January 25, 2024

In 2009, Apple finally introduced an entire music catalog encoded as AAC without FairPlay or any other DRM in the iTunes Store. It means that all AAC music you download from iTunes is unprotected. That didn't help much with songs purchased between 2003 and 2009, however. The subsequently launched Apple Music also uses DRM technology. AAC audio files protected by DRM can be played on devices authorized by Apple only.

It becomes increasingly difficult to convert protected AAC to MP3 or other plain formats you want. How to convert DRM protected files to MP3 for free? To play music on any player you want, you must first remove DRM from Apple Music or iTunes to make it possible. Fortunately, this article will enumerate easy ways for you to convert protected AAC audio files to MP3 and let you enjoy your music everywhere.

Contents Guide Part 1. What Is Protected AAC Audio Files in iTunes/Apple Music?Part 2. Convert Protected iTunes/Apple Music AAC to MP3Part 3. Convert Unprotected iTunes AAC to MP3Part 4. Convert AAC Audio File to MP3 OnlineFAQs About Protected iTunes/Apple Music AAC Audio FilesConclusion

Part 1. What Is Protected AAC Audio Files in iTunes/Apple Music?

Before sharing how to convert protected AAC audio file to MP3, let's learn about what is protected AAC audio files and why we should convert them to MP3.

Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) is an audio coding standard for lossy digital audio compression. AAC generally achieves higher sound quality at the same bit rate compared to the older audio formats. Music, videos, and movies offered by iTunes and Apple Music use AAC for audio encoding. However, these AAC audio files downloaded from iTunes and Apple Music are protected by FairPlay (a digital rights management technology). FairPlay is built into the MP4 multimedia file format as an encrypted AAC audio layer, allowing only authorized devices to play the content. It means that you cannot play protected AAC audio files on other media players.

To enhance device compatibility, you can convert protected AAC to MP3. If you are a music enthusiast you might probably heard about MP3. It is also a lossy compression. MP3 files can play on pretty much any device and operating system, giving it more popularity than AAC files. With this file format, you can enjoy a lot of your favorite soundtracks without worrying about compatibility, file size, and audio quality. How do I convert a protected AAC file to MP3? This question will be answered in the following part!

Part 2. Convert Protected iTunes/Apple Music AAC to MP3

Due to DRM, you can't play protected AAC audio files to your own music players. You can only enjoy them on devices authorized by Apple. To improve the compatibility of protected AAC audio files, you can remove DRM from Apple Music and iTunes songs first. AMusicSoft Apple Music Converter is the best choice and you can have a quick look at it here.

This professional converter is full of amazing features that will surely bring you the results that you want in just minutes. AMusicSoft Apple Music Converter can remove DRM from Apple Music and iTunes AAC audio files without losing quality. This DRM removal tool will ease your burden of transferring and sharing your favorite music. AMusicSoft software will keep all the music metadata and ID3 tags for the downloads, including the title, artists, Track ID, and album artwork after the conversion is finished. With this information, you can easily manage your collection of music downloads.

AMusicSoft Apple Music Converter also helps you effortlessly convert protected AAC to MP3, FLAC, AIFF, WAV, or other mainstream formats. It supports single and batch conversion to save your waiting time! AMusicSoft Apple Music Converter is a great partner tool for enjoying audiobooks offline for reading enthusiasts because it can also convert AAX audiobook files provided by Apple Music.

No more Apple Music or iTunes apps are required! AMusicSoft Apple Music Converter has a built-in Apple Music web player, letting you directly access the whole music library to convert and download music conveniently. Click the download button to try it for free!

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Convert Protected AAC Audio File to MP3 with AMusicSoft

Step 1. Run the AMusicSoft Apple Music Converter on your Windows or Mac. The built-in Apple Music web player will load your music library automatically. You can now choose any song that you want to convert to MP3.

Choose Music

Step 2. After adding the protected AAC songs to AMusicSoft Apple Music Converter, select MP3 from the menu of "Output Format". You can also set the output path to store converted files. To get original quality music, you need to change the bit rate to 320kbps: click the three-line icon in the upper right corner of the software, and from the drop-down menu, choose Preferences > Advanced. From the Bitrate, choose 320.

Click MP3 As Output File Format

Step 3. After adjusting all the settings for the chosen file format, click the "Convert" button and the protected AAC audio files will start to be converted to MP3 now.

View The Converted Files

That's it! With those three easy steps, you can now have all DRM-free MP3 music files without compromising the quality. You do not have to worry about compatibility problems! You can transfer them to any device you want for playing, regardless of its operating system.

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Part 3. Convert Unprotected iTunes AAC to MP3

We have shared how to convert protected AAC to MP3, now let's talk about how to convert unprotected AAC to MP3 in this part. As we mentioned earlier, if you purchased any music from iTunes Store after 2009, you downloaded music without DRM in them. You can convert these DRM-free AAC music to MP3 with iTunes. Here's the step-by-step tutorial:

Convert Unprotected AAC Audio File to MP3 with iTunes

Step 1. Open the iTunes application on your computer. When you are using Windows, in its menu, click Edit menu and choose Preferences. If you are using a Mac, select the iTunes menu tab at the top and choose Preferences.

Step 2. On the General tab, click on the Import Setting button, and choose MP3 Encoder for the Import Using option. Once done, tap the OK button located at the bottom part.

Convert Unprotected AAC

Step 3. You may now go back to your music library and start selecting those you wish to be converted to MP3 format. After selecting them, click the File tab above and then Convert. Then select Create MP3 Version.

iTunes Create MP3 Version

We need to remind you that Apple will phase out iTunes in the future in favor of separate new apps, namely Music, Podcasts, and TV, with Finder and Apple Devices taking over the device management capabilities. For those who still need iTunes, they can use it on Windows or older macOS versions. But iTunes might not get updates in features and maintenance from Apple anymore.

Part 4. Convert AAC Audio File to MP3 Online

How to convert protected AAC to MP3 without installing any apps? You can also look for some free online converting tools to convert them to MP3. For example, Apple Music MP3 Downloader can help you easily download DRM-free music from Apple Music. It is a web-based service and totally free to use. Now let's see how to convert AAC audio music to MP3 online free by Apple Music MP3 Downloader.

Step 1. Open the Apple Music web player or app on your computer. Find the songs you want to download as MP3 files. Copy the link of the songs by clicking the three dots next to the song name.

Step 2. Head to Apple Music MP3 Downloader, paste the copied URL into the search bar, and select your preferred download option.

Step 3. Finally, click Get Download > Download MP3 to confirm the downloading.

Convert AAC Audio File To MP3

However, with Apple Music MP3 Downloader, you would get limited features. First, you can't get batch file conversion. If you don't want to waste time waiting for the results, then, you turn to AMusicSoft Apple Music Converter, which supports batch conversion for free. Secondly, MP3 is the only supported output format of this downloader. Besides, it cannot guarantee the security when browsing the website.

FAQs About Protected iTunes/Apple Music AAC Audio Files

Q1: AAC vs MP3, which is the better audio format?

AAC and MP3 are both a lossy file format. Whereas MP3 audio can be played on just about any computer or media player, protected AAC files are associated with Apple operating systems. AAC files have a higher quality than MP3. However, AAC versus MP3 sound capabilities don't vary considerably. To enjoy more high-quality sound, you can try Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC).

You may be interested: Apple Lossless VS AAC: Which One Is Better

Q2: Is it legal to convert protected AAC audio files to MP3?

It’s okay to convert protected AAC to MP3 as long as you don't circulate the songs commercially, sell, or share them publicly. All DRM-free MP3 music downloaded via the mentioned solutions in this article is only for personal use.

Q3: How to check if protected AAC files are on iTunes?

All music and videos on Apple Music use DRM to limit what devices users can use for listening to songs. However, iTunes provides DRM-free and DRM-protected files. Only iTunes songs purchased before 2009 have DRM versions. How to check if an audio file is protected in iTunes? Just right-click on the song you wish to check, and click “song info” > “File”. If the song is DRM-protected, you will see the “Protected AAC audio file” from the “File” section.

Protected AAC Audio File


We already finished discussing the ways to convert protected AAC to MP3. Compared with the backward iTunes app and unstable web-based tool, AMusicSoft Apple Music Converter is still the best choice to convert and download DRM-free music to MP3 format for playback without any limitations. You can enjoy your music on all of your devices at any given time.

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