How to Convert Protected AAC Audio Files to MP3

Music is the seasoning of life, but you may find out that there are quite a lot of audio types of music, for instance, a protected AAC audio file in iTunes. This is a DRM-restricted file that prevents the content from unauthorized delivery or reproduction.

To have more flexible playback, you may wonder how to convert protected AAC audio file to MP3. Now, let’s learn what a protected AAC audio file is first and then change AAC to MP3 with or without iTunes. Better yet, fans of Apple Music can enjoy unlimited downloads of songs in high-res MP3s below.

Apple Music Higher Quality

What is a Protected AAC Audio File in iTunes?

To have a better idea of the protected AAC audio file in iTunes, you may want to check out the breakdown as follows. Now, let’s go for an in-depth knowledge.

What Are the Commonly Used Audio File Types in the iTunes Library?

Depending on the source of audio, there are a few common types of audio files in the iTunes library. Some of them may be identical with slight distinctions. You might as well have a look at the following.

Encoder Source
AAC Audio File

A standard AAC file

 Convert audio or rip songs from a CD with iTunes’s default AAC encoder.
MPEG Audio File A classic MP3 file

 Convert audio or rip songs from a CD with iTunes’s default MP3 encoder.

 Download from any website.

Matched AAC Audio File A special AAC file  Download from iCloud via iTunes Match.
Apple Music AAC Audio File An exclusive AAC file  Download from the Apple Music streaming service.
Protected AAC Audio File A DRM-restricted AAC file  Download purchased songs from iTunes Store prior to April 2009 with DRM protection.
Purchased AAC Audio File

A free or protected AAC file

 Purchase and download songs from iTunes before or after April 2009.

How to Check the Audio File Type of Your Songs in iTunes?

It’s easy to check the audio file type in the iTunes library with iTunes (Windows or macOS 10.14 and before) or the Apple Music app (macOS 10.15 and later). The steps are basically the same. Now, follow the tutorial below and check it out.

  1. Launch iTunes or Apple Music and go to “Library” > “Songs” on the left.
  2. Right-click on the audio and select “Get Info/Song Info“.
  3. Switch to the “File” tab and you can see the “kind” of your audio file.

What Are the Differences Between Protected AAC and Purchased AAC?

Actually, purchased AAC covers protected AAC. To be more specific, purchased songs before April 2009 will be encoded with protected AAC with DRM restriction while purchased songs after April 2009 will be encoded with DRM-free AAC. The main difference lies in the time before or after Apple introduced iTunes Plus for DRM-free purchased songs/albums.

What Are the Limitations of Protected AAC?

As introduced above, the protected AAC audio files are imposed with DRM (Digital Rights Management) restrictions. Therefore, there are quite a few limitations like in-app playback, availability with an active subscription, limited authorized devices, the limited amount of downloads, etc. That’s why people are looking for a way to convert protected ACC files to MP3 with a great helper like MuConvert Apple Music Converter .

Convert Protected Apple Music AAC to MP3 Without iTunes

MuConvert Apple Music Converter  is great news for fans of Apple Music to directly convert protected AAC to MP3 from Apple Music. The best point is that you don’t even need to manually convert .aac to .mp3. The downloaded songs are already in MP3 without DRM protection. Then, you can enjoy flexible offline playback on any device and keep your favorite tunes forever even when the subscription expires.

More Sparkling Features to Discover

  • All Catalog Covered– Download songs of all genres, albums, and playlists from Apple Music.
  • 10X Ultra-Fast Rate– Take only a few minutes to download tens of songs or the entire album/playlist.
  • Batch Download– Download multiple songs from Apple Music with an unlimited amount.
  • Various Output Formats– Convert Apple Music to MP3, WAV, M4A, or lossless FLAC over the cloud.
  • High-Res Music Quality – Support lossless quality of up to 320kbps and 48kHz for the best listening.

With its default web browser connected to Apple Music, it cannot be easier to get started with MuConvert Apple Music Converter. Now, let’s learn how to convert AAC to MP3 without iTunes from Apple Music.

Step 1. Select the Protected AAC Files to Convert

When MuConvert Apple Music Converter is installed on your computer, open the program to sign in to the Apple ID. Then, after getting to the Apple Music Web Player, you can directly choose the protected AAC files you want to convert.

Add Apple Music Songs to Convert

Step 2. Specify Output Format and Adjust Parameters

From “Preferences” > “Advanced”, people can specify the output format as MP3 and convert protected AAC to MP3. You can also adjust the audio parameters such as Sample Rate and Bitrate.

Advanced Settings on Converter

Step 3. Initiate the AAC to MP3 Conversion

After you’ve got everything ready, tap the “Convert” button, and the selected protected AAC audios will be added to the converting list and transcode to MP3 files. When the conversion process is done, you will get the DRM-free MP3 files saved in your selected output folder.

Converting Apple Music

MuConvert Apple Music Converter  works like a charm to convert protected AAC to MP3 from Apple Music with high quality. However, if you want to change AAC to MP3 from local storage on Windows/Mac, please jump into the following part.

Converting Protected AAC Audio Files to MP3 Format with iTunes

In fact, iTunes also provides a bonus feature allowing people to convert protected AAC audio file to MP3 inside the application for Windows/Mac. Yet, you should note that you’ll need to use the Apple Music app to convert AAC file to MP3 if you’re running macOS 10.15 and above. More details are coming in the following.

Convert AAC to MP3 with iTunes Match

For iTunes Match subscribers, Apple allows you to upgrade the protected AAC audio files (which you purchased prior to April 2009) to iTunes Plus, the DRM-free audio format. Through this way, you can get the protected AAC files unlocked and then converted to MP3 format. Go ahead with the following steps after getting the DRM-free AAC songs.

Step 1. Subscribe to iTunes Match

First off, open the Apple Music app on Mac, or iTunes on Windows PC.

  • For Macs, click “iTunes Store” on the left.
  • For Windows, click “Store” at the top.

In iTunes Store, scroll down to the bottom and select “iTunes Match“. Now, click the “Subscribe” button and log in to your account. After filling up the bill, your subscription will be eligible.  

Step 2. Download Purchased Music from iTunes Store

Next, open iTunes for Windows or Apple Music for Mac on your computer.

  • For Macs, switch to the “iTunes Store” on the left sidebar.
  • For Windows PC, select “Music” first and then click “Store“.

Scroll to the bottom and click “Purchased“. You can now download the purchased music from the cloud. Please be aware that purchased songs before April 2009 will be downloaded in M4P while in M4A after April 2009. Since M4A is a DRM-free audio type, you can directly convert M4A into MP3 .

Step 3. Convert Protected AAC Audio File to MP3

Now, go to “Edit” > “Preferences” > “General” > “Import Settings” on iTunes for Windows or Apple Music for Mac. After that, set “Import Using” to “MP3 Encoder” and “Setting” to “Custom“. Then adjust the parameters for high fidelity. Last, select the protected AAC song and navigate to “File” > “Convert” > “Create MP3 Version“. This will convert M4P to MP3  and a new copy will be under the source.

Convert Protected AAC to MP3 By Burning to CD

For people who haven’t subscribed to iTunes Match, another option to convert protected AAC files to MP3 is to burn Apple Music to CD , and then rip the CD to MP3 via iTunes or Apple Music. However, you’d better get acknowledgment and authorization for doing this. Besides, the sound quality may be compressed and lossy without improved fidelity. In the following, the detailed steps are provided.

Step 1: Create a new playlist in iTunes and add all the protected AAC files you wish to burn to CD to the playlist.

Step 2: Subsequently, insert the blank CD into the computer, and select the playlist to burn to the CD.

Step 3: Once burned, utilize iTunes for putting the converted MP3 songs from CD using the MP3 encoder again, and you can get the AAC files converted to MP3 files.

Burn Audiobooks to CD


To sum up, if you already purchased some music from iTunes Store, you can convert protected AAC to MP3 using iTunes or Apple Music by iTunes Match or burning to a CD. Luckily, if you want to convert protected AAC to MP3 from Apple Music, MuConvert Apple Music Converter  is an amazing downloader that lets you directly download all your favorite songs to MP3 for free offline HD playback. Just don’t miss such a great helper.