How to Convert Audio Files to MP3

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

There are many audio file formats available for your computer, some of which are more popular than others. The most popular audio format today is MP3. MP3 files take up less hard-drive space than other audio files, and offer excellent sound quality. The reduced space the MP3 files take up on the hard disk allows you to store millions of music files on your computer. If you have a music file in MP3 format you can listen to it on your computer or iPod [source: Britannica].

Many programs, including Windows Media Player, allow you to convert audio files to MP3. Some of these programs are free, while others have to be purchased. Each program works slightly differently. The most important thing is to follow the instructions carefully.

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Here's how to convert audio files to MP3 using Windows Media Player.

  1. Insert the audio CD into your computer's CD drive.
  2. Click on the arrow below the Rip tab on the Windows Media Player menu.
  3. Select the option to change the format to MP3.
  4. Click Rip and the file will be loaded as MP3 [source: Microsoft].

There are other programs available for converting audio files to an MP3 format. Some of these programs are available for free over the Internet, while others have to be purchased [source: DBPowerampNCH].

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Originally Published: Jun 16, 2011

Convert Audio Files To MP3s FAQ

How do I convert audio files to MP3?
There are many free audio to MP3 file converters available online. All you need to do is select the file you want to convert into MP3 and follow the instructions of the conversion tool or software you're using.
Are audio converters safe?
For the most part, yes. Both paid and free audio converters are generally safe to use. However, there is always a chance of malware, adware or spyware that can damage your computer or steal your personal data when you download files from the Internet so make sure your computer’s antiwar software is up to date. If you’re really concerned, go with a reputable paid service to get the best in audio conversion and security features.
Does converting WAV to MP3 reduce the quality?
Yes. Whenever you convert a song from the WAV to MP3, you will have to compromise on the overall sound quality since the converter will be throwing away a lot of the data to make it smaller.
How can I convert a large video to MP3?
While there are many free video to MP3 converters available online, not all of them allow you to convert large video files to the MP3 format. For that, you may have to go with a paid option. Remember that you’ll be losing the video part, as MP3 is just audio.