WAV to MP3 Converter

Category: Audio

I have hundreds of WAV audio files that are taking up a lot of hard drive space. Can you recommend a good WAV to MP3 converter that will do the job, preferably free?

WAV to MP3 Converter

Convert WAV to MP3

Audio files can be created in many formats. One of the oldest and most common formats is WAV - a file extension which stands for Waveform Audio Format. WAV was developed jointly by Microsoft and IBM as a standard format for storing audio data on PCs. It is the main format used on Windows systems, and it has its pros and cons.

The WAV format stores audio data in its raw, uncompressed form. That means WAV files are of very high fidelity because none of the data's bits has been discarded during compression. A WAV file does not have to be decompressed during playback, so playback goes smoother and sound is nice and even. Very simple playback software is all that's required to play a WAV file. WAV is simple, and simple is generally good.

But a WAV file can be very large, up to 40-45 MB for a single song. WAV files eat up a lot of storage space and take a long time to transmit via email or download from the Web. From these shortcomings arose the need for a compressed audio file format.

MP3 - Compressed Audio Files

The MP3 file format can store a song in about one-tenth of the space required by WAV. MP3 achieves this compression ratio by discarding "unnecessary" or redundant bits of data from a recorded audio stream. Essentially, it makes the playback "good enough" for consumer use. After all, a tiny set of earbud speakers isn't capable of playing the highest fidelity sound, anyway. MP3 has become the universal standard for iPod and other portable audio devices. It's more common than WAV files now.

If you record a WAV file and later want to compress it to MP3 format, you need a conversion program. Fortunately, there are many WAV-to-MP3 converter programs on the Web, and some are even free.

Switch Mp3 Converter Software is typical of the breed. You can download a free version (for Windows or Mac) that converts WAV files to MP3 format. It will convert multiple files in one batch operation. The Plus version for $19.95 converts many more file formats and is said to be suitable for "serious audio professionals."

Another good choice for WAV to MP3 conversion is Audacity, a free, general-purpose sound editor. Audacity has an excellent reputation and is popular because it works on many platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Audacity can handle a wide variety of audio formats, and offers many editing tools as well.

WAV/MP3 Conversion - Tradeoffs and Caution

When converting WAV to MP3, you can decide what the trade-off between file size and audio quality is going to be. File compression works by "sampling" an audio stream - taking only some data and skipping the rest. Selecting a higher bitrate for conversion of WAV to MP3 yields higher fidelity to the original recording. Generally, a bitrate of 128 Kbit/s is good enough. But remember, the higher the bitrate, the larger the converted MP3 file will be.

A word of caution: because WAV to MP3 converters are so widely sought, malware writers have created programs that do WAV to MP3 conversion while snooping around your computer for personal information, or acting as a conduit for other viruses and spyware to enter. Research the reputation of any WAV to MP3 conversion program before installing it, and make sure your anti-malware protection software is running before you execute a converter.

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Most recent comments on "WAV to MP3 Converter"

Posted by:

16 Dec 2009

Can't we just do this with Win media player?

Posted by:

Lee McIntyre
16 Dec 2009

Hi Bob,

re: Smart WAV Converter - I think the publisher has changed his offer since you wrote that. It appears the free version is a trial version only, and converts just "60%" of the WAV file. I suppose that means it converts about the first two minutes of a three minute song. Pay $9.95 and you get the 60% limitation removed. The Pro version -- that converts among multiple formats -- is $19.95. Bottom line: Smart WAV Converter is not free in any useful configuration.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yikes, you're right! I've replaced that program in the article with Switch MP3 Converter, which is free, and DOES convert the entire file.

Posted by:

Olen O'Neil
16 Dec 2009

I still use BonkEnc for most of my music format conversions. It is free and works very well.

Posted by:

Ken B.
16 Dec 2009

Thanks, Bob. I've had good luck with Koyote Software's Free Mp3 Wma Converter. See http://www.koyotesoft.com/indexEn.html. It converts a lot of formats into mp3 and a lot of other formats (although all I use it for is for converting to mp3).

Posted by:

Brian R.
16 Dec 2009

Thanks Bob. Your articles are very helpful. On the subject of wav to mp3 converters, I have used CDex for years to convert my CD collection to mp3 or ogg files. It also converts wav to mp3, and other formats too. It may not do everything, but what it does do, it does very well. Oh, and it is free!

Posted by:

16 Dec 2009

I use CDex.
Also gives access to the CDDB database to save (theoretically) a load of typing. Only slight problem I have found is there is a lot of public input (didn't realise that initially) and not everyone uses the same format to list tracks, etc; not to mention complete inaccuracies and outright spelling mistakes, especially applicable to compilation albums, I have found.

Posted by:

17 Dec 2009

I too will also recommend CDex having used it exclusively to rip music since the early days of MP3. Simple, effective, does all the everyday tasks well, CDDB access saves a heap of typing time and best of all its free.

It would be interesting to know what everyone else uses as their typical bitrate when ripping to MP3. My first personal MP3 player (many years ago) had a 32MB capacity and I was pretty much limited to 96 kbit/s, maybe 128 for more complex tracks.

Obviously nowadays with capacity less of a problem, I find 160 is a good tradeoff between size and performance, maybe 192 for 'special' songs. I think any higher is unnecessary.

Posted by:

17 Dec 2009

Another attempt at converting music, completely for free, is a website called: www.onlinevideoconverter.com. Pros: Easy to use. Clear directions. Can change a video into just a music file (if you like the song but don't like/ or want the video). Can change the video (from youtube.com) into other (including HD, if available) video formats (e.g. MPEG,MOV,AVI,MP4,FLV and more). It can also change Videos (from your hard drive) into other formats. PERFECTLY LEGAL, SAFE, & no-spam. Non-members can use it. No downloading required...none, except the music/video file you want. Cons: website based, affected by personal computer settings. Can ONLY work for youtube.com. MUST have internet connection. Have add(s) that can suggest sexual imagery...extremely low though.

I've used it for over 2yrs and have had virtually NO problems. LOVE IT. HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT to anyone. WORKS with WAV files into MP3 too, from hard drive!

EDITOR'S NOTE: I tried it, and after a long wait, got this message: "Conversion Failed! Impossible to convert the file. Please try again with another format. If the problem persists it is probably due to a poor quality of the video (bitrate) or a codec not supported or a size not supported." My input file was a very small WAV file.

Posted by:

18 Dec 2009

Another that also deserves mention is from SourceForge.net and that is Media Coder. It converts almost anything to almost anything you want. It is free and open source.

Posted by:

22 Dec 2009

Perhaps Lame (pronounce la-mey) might be useful as well for free conversions?

Posted by:

28 Jan 2010

Belated thanks for this article.
After reading it I decided to give Audacity a try as I use Linux as well as Windows.
Initially I had a bit of trouble getting it to accept the lame_enc.dll Library so I could export to mp3, but, one that was sorted, it's been smooth sailing. In the last 4 weeks I've probably recorded over 100 tracks from YouTube.
Just remember to start the Audacity recorder before you start the video. You can then select the silent bits by simple mouse-dragging and press Ctrl-k to delete them. Don't worry too much about the recording level either. At the end, simply select the whole recording (Ctrl-a) and choose Effects-Amplify and it's corrected automatically.
There's hundreds of effects I haven't tried yet - but am looking forward to.
Brilliant. Thanks again!

Posted by:

15 Mar 2011

you could convert your wav files to mp3 here http://www.mp3convertwav.com without installing any software into your computer.

Posted by:

09 Oct 2012

hello i my self can not convert that please send

Posted by:

16 Aug 2016

I am looking for the koyote wave to mp3 converter it was very good. Had it but lost. cant find any more. other sites have taken the name and you are redirected if you click. Any one help like to get it again.

Posted by:

24 Nov 2017

I recommend Avdshare Audio Converter which can bath convert WAV to MP3 or Convert MP3 to WAV.

Posted by:

24 Aug 2019

Avdshare Audio Converter works as a professional WAV to MP3 desktop app to easily and efficiently batch convert WAV to MP3 with no quality loss. Avdshare Audio Converter can not only convert WAV to MP3, but also can convert between any two audio formats or convert any video format to any audio format.

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