How to Convert an Audio File to Another Format
If you purchase your music from the iTunes store, the audio files you get will be in AAC formats at the speed of 256 kbps. Amazon, on the other hand, lets you download MP3 files in variable bitrate compression (VBR). You can also download audio files in other formats such as WAV or FLAC from any other website. The fact that audio files exist in so many different formats introduces the need for audio file compression and conversion methods and tools.
Whether you use an Apple or an Android device to play your audio files, you will probably need to convert your audio files into a different file format at one point or another. In this guide, we will introduce you to the most common formats available for audio files and how you can convert your files from one format to another. So, let’s get right to it!
The Different Audio File Formats
Audio files may be lossy, lossless, or uncompressed. Lossy formats are file formats that take less space on storage disks due to their compressed audio. However, lossy formats cause some data loss to the original audio file in the compression process. Lossless file formats are used to compress audio files to save space without causing the original file to lose any data. They provide original audio quality after compression but they tend to take up a larger space than lossy formats; sometimes up to 5 times larger in space. Finally, there are uncompressed file formats for audio that contain real original sound waves captured and transformed into a digital format without processing. In other words, uncompressed audio files have the most accurate and original quality; however, they take up way too much space compared to compressed formats.
Although lossy formats risk the quality and clarity of the audio and may sound like the least commonly used option, you’re probably more familiar with the MP3 format than any other lossless or uncompressed format. It’s no wonder that almost every digital device around the world can read and play files in MP3 if it has an audio playback. The term stands for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 and it’s not the only example of lossy formats, others include AAC, OGG, and WMA. Examples of lossless formats include FLAC, ALAC, and lossless WMA, while uncompressed formats include PCM, WAV, and AIFF.
Converting Audio Files Using iTunes
People often convert files from one format to another or change their files’ bitrate to save storage space. When syncing to an iOS device, iTunes can help you convert music audio files to 128 kbps AAC. This can be very helpful if you prefer to listen to music outdoors and your device is limited in terms of storage. A drop in audio quality from 256 kbps to 128 kbps should not make a big difference if you’re listening to your music on-the-go. To do this, find the option for “Convert Higher Bit Rate Songs to 128 kbps AAC” which should be on the iTunes summary screen for your device when you connect it to iTunes. Checking this feature will start the process automatically once you sync.
iTunes can also be a big help if you’re trying to compress any MP3, AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, or WAV files to or from any of the same formats. By changing some of the settings of your AAC files, you can easily convert to MP3 and enjoy the music you downloaded from the iTunes store on any other device that only supports MP3. To do this, click the General icon from the iTunes preferences menu, then click the Import Settings button and select MP3 Encoder from the Import Using menu. This should allow you to “Create an MP3 version” once you select all the tracks you want to convert and click Advanced.
Converting Audio Files Using Other Apps
iTunes forms a great help when it comes to file compression and conversion; however, it does not support all known formats. Having a file in FLAC or OGG Vorbis format means you can’t convert it or go anywhere with it if you’re relying only on iTunes. It means not being able to play that file if your device does not support FLAC or OGG. Fortunately, there are many useful tools and apps out there that can convert files of any format. Some of these programs are even designed specifically to convert FLAC and OGG Vorbis files into iTunes-friendly formats.
Thorough online research will be enough to help you decide on the easiest app to use for your file compression. Some are as simple as dragging the files you want to convert onto the window of the app you’re using and choosing a bit rate and an output format.
No matter what device you use to play audio files, you will need to convert some files into another format for space management and quality improvement purposes. You can use iTunes if you use an Apple device to download and listen to music as it should enable you to convert most audio formats. However, if you end up with a FLAC file that you can’t add to your iTunes list, many other programs and applications can do the job for you.