Convert WMA to MP3
I have lots of music in WMA (Windows Media Audio) format but I want to convert it to MP3 for my iPod. How can I convert WMA to MP3?
How to Convert WMA to MP3, or Vice-Versa
With the abundance of digital audio formats available for the mass consumption of music, a clear victor has yet to emerge. But two of the top contenders -- the ubiquitous MP3 format, and Microsoft's Windows Media Audio (WMA) -- both offer good sound quality and portability.
Although both formats can be ideal for casual, and even critical listening, not all digital media players are universal in their support for both MP3 and WMA files. For example, Apple's celebrated iTunes application and its corresponding iPod portable media player offer support for an array of consumer and professional audio formats. But when it comes to virtually any Microsoft-invented media format, the unfortunate user is out of luck, and the proper course of action may not be apparent.
So, what's a budding audiophile to do? Well, there's always the tedious method of gathering your incompatible songs and burning a standard audio CD, which will convert the files to PCM audio in the process, and then ripping the music from the CD to MP3 or WMA files. But this can burn a lot of time, in addition to CDROM disks. So is there a cost-effective software solution, that can save time and eliminate the expense of all those throw-away CD's?
(NOTE: If you're looking for help converting iTunes music into MP3 format, look here.)
Audio Conversion SoftwareMost software and hardware media players incorporate MP3 support, but the problem lies in preparing your WMA files for those applications and devices that simply refuse to cooperate. For Windows, there are many applications that will convert WMA files to MP3 (and back). One of the more popular programs available is Applian Technologies Replay Converter (US $29.95) which converts files to and from a variety of audio and video formats. The interface is relatively clear-cut, providing buttons to select songs, as well as drag and drop file selection. The conversion process itself is a little sluggish, and the maximum bit-rate of 128 kps for both MP3 and WMA file conversion leaves a bit to be desired. For what it does offer, this little program functions very well.
Looking for a less expensive solution? Check out Koyote Software's Free MP3 WMA Converter, which provides lots of flexibility. With Koyote's converter, MP3 and WMA formats, as well as a host of others, can be translated using an astounding variety of options. Users have full control over bit rate up to 320 kps, sample frequency, channel selection, high and low pass filters, quality presets, and even a command line interface.
Similar to most, Koyote's converter employs either a dialog box or the drag and drop method for file selection. Though it is not required to achieve excellent results, opening the dialog box or drop down menu to make any necessary adjustments to the format parameters can certainly enhance the output of the file conversion, whether it is WMA to MP3, or vice versa. Koyote Software's Free MP3 WMA Converter is an excellent choice for the Windows platform, and if you need further convincing, it comes bundled with a CD ripper, audio editor, and peer-to-peer file sharing software, all free as well.
For Apple's Macintosh Operating System, the options are considerably more limited by comparison. Patrice Bensoussan's EasyWMA is designed specifically for users who need to convert Microsoft's proprietary media files to more Mac-friendly formats. EasyWMA's interface is incredibly straightforward (Figure 5). With its output format and bit rate (up to 320 kps) menus, the process includes the simple task of either selecting a file to open through the program's File menu, or dragging a single, batch, or entire folder of Windows Media files into the main window, and file conversion begins immediately (and finishes quickly) to your chosen destination (Figure 6 and Figure 7).
The program even includes an option to automatically import your converted songs into iTunes, thereby rendering them iPod-ready. As a Macintosh-based solution, requiring OS 10.2 or later, EasyWMA is unmatched in terms of ease of use, functionality, and affordability (US $10).
The DRM Roadblock
Keep in mind that these format conversion tools are not intended, and in the majority of cases are simply unable, to bypass the Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes employed by Microsoft, Apple and the recording industry to protect copyright and restrict the use of purchased audio files.
But there are some software solutions that claim to get around this problem. WMAConvert Platinum promises to legally convert DRM-protected WMA files to unprotected MP3 format at high speed, with CD sound quality. And Tunebite Premium offers to record your copy-protected WMA files as they are being played, then saves the recordings as unprotected MP3 audio files you can use anywhere.
Got comments about audio conversion or DRM? Post your thoughts below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 8 Feb 2007
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Convert WMA to MP3 (Posted: 8 Feb 2007)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved