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How to Convert WAV to MP3 in 3 Easy Steps

wav vs. mp3

How to Convert WAV to MP3 in 3 Easy Steps

Before Spotify, Apple Music, and other audio streaming services, the MP3 file format was the staple of mobile music. Compared to the typical Waveform Audio File Format, MP3 is considerably more compact, which makes it ideal for small-storage devices and streaming purposes.

In this article, we’ll talk about how to convert WAV to MP3. We’ll also share key details about both file formats, including their distinguishing features and differences. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in. 

#1: Convert WAV to MP3 using VLC Media Player

Outside specialized audio conversion software, the VLC media player is among the best possible solutions for converting your WAV files into MP3 for free. Not only is the program free to use, but it’s also equipped with the majority of codecs necessary to encode/decode various media files.

This allows you to convert your WAV files into MP3, but also a number of different file formats, such as AAC, WMA 2, and other audio files. To convert WAV to MP3, please follow the steps below.

Step 1: Import the WAV File

Converting WAV to MP3 using a VLC media player implies that you have the software installed on your personal computer. If not, the program is available for free on the developer’s website and you can easily install it on your computer.

how to convert wav to mp3
Selecting the desired WAV file through the VLC Media Player.

To convert your WAV to MP3, start the VLC media player. Click on the Media menu located in the far-left section of the Menu Bar to open the drop-down menu. Select the Convert/Save option, or press CRTL+R on your keyboard to bring up the Open Media window.

Once the Open Media dialog appears, click on the Add… button located at the right. This will open the file explorer box, allowing you to navigate and select the desired WAV file. The imported WAV file will now appear in the File Selection section. Next, we have to set up a conversion profile.

Step 2: Configure the Conversion

Setting up a conversion profile.

Once you’ve imported the desired WAV file, click on the Convert/Start button located at the bottom of the Open Media dialog box. This will prompt the Convert dialog box. MP3 is a pretty popular file format, and the VLC media player comes with a preloaded conversion profile. This means that we don’t need to configure the conversion profile ourselves.

However, just because we don’t need to doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Assuming that you already brought up the Covert windows, select Audio – MP3 from the Profile drop-down menu. Next, click on the Edit selected profile button located near the drop-down.

When the Profile edition window appears, hop to the Audio codec tab — there’s really no need to check any other settings. This is where you can set the Bitrate for your MP3 file. Bitrate describes the amount of data being transferred into audio, thus determining audio fidelity. A higher bitrate means better audio quality. 

Enter the desired bitrate (320 kb/s is the maximum for MP3), and click on Save to save the changes made to the conversion profile. This will close the Profile edition box and return you to the Convert window.

Important Note:

WAV files typically have a bitrate of 1,411 kbps, but MP3 is a lossy file format (more on that later). This means it has a lower bitrate which ranges from 96 to 320 kbps. Most converters, VLC media player included, are set to 128 kbps by default.

Here, you can increase the bitrate and, thus, increase the quality of your audio. However, this also affects the file size — the higher the bitrate, the bigger the audio file. It’s worth noting that most streaming services, such as Spotify, usually stream 160 kbps of audio.

In most cases, humans can’t really distinguish between WAV and 160kbps MP3 unless they use high-fidelity sound reproduction equipment. So, you can’t really go wrong by selecting any bitrate between 160 kbps and 320 kbps.

Step 3: Convert the WAV File

Choosing the file destination folder.

With the appropriate conversion profile selected and tweaked to suit your needs, click Browse to choose the file destination folder. Once that’s done, simply click Start to convert the desired WAV to MP3. The conversion process should take more than a few seconds to complete for a single file.

#2: Convert WAV to MP3 Using Apple iTunes

Besides offering audio reproduction and library management, iTunes is also capable of converting your audio files. The software is compatible with both Windows and macOS, making it a versatile solution for your audio conversion needs. Here’s how to convert WAV to MP3 using iTunes

Step 1: Configure iTunes

Selecting the MP3 Encoder.

Just like with the VLC media player, this method implies that you have iTunes installed on your computer. If that’s not the case, you can easily download iTunes for free. To configure iTunes, start the app, and click on the Edit drop-down located on the left side of the program’s Menu Bar.

In the drop-down menu, choose Preferences… to open the General Preferences dialog box — or simply press CTRL+ on your keyboard. Next, click the Import Settings… button located in the lower half of the dialog box to open the Import Settings window.

When the Import Settings pop up, select the MP3 encoder from the Import Using drop-down menu. Next, click OK to save the changes and return to the General Preferences dialog box. Click OK, located at the bottom right of the General Preferences window, to return to iTunes.

Step 2: Select/Import Your WAV File

You’ll have to select and load your WAV file manually if it isn’t already loaded into your iTunes library. To do so, click on the File drop-down located in the iTunes’ Menu Bar, and select Add File to Library… to open the file explorer window.

Locate the desired file on your system’s mass storage, select it, and click Open to load the file. Alternatively, you can either press CTRL + O or drag and drop the WAV file into your iTunes library.

Step 3: Create an MP3 Version

Once the WAV file is loaded into your audio library, select it, and click on the File menu located in the Menu Bar. Click on the Convert drop-down, and select Create MP3 version to convert your WAV to MP3.

For a comprehensive walkthrough of this process, you can check out this video:

#3: Convert WAV to MP3 Using Audacity

Audacity is a free third-party audio editor and recording program available for most operating systems, including Windows and macOS. However, besides being a fantastic multi-track audio recorder and editor, Audacity is also capable of converting audio files, including WAV to MP3 conversion. Here’s how to convert WAV to MP3 using Audacity.

Step 1: Load Audacity

Opening the file using Audacity.

Download and install Audacity if you haven’t already. Once it’s installed, start Audacity, click on the File menu in the Menu Bar, and select Open. Navigate to your WAV file, select it, and click Open to load the file into Audacity.

Step 2: Convert Your File

Selecting Export as MP3.

Once your WAV file is loaded into Audacity, initiating the conversion is rather simple. Just click on the File menu located on the Menu Bar, click on the Export drop-down, and click Export as MP3. This will prompt the Export Audio window.

Choose the destination folder for your MP3 file and the appropriate file format setting. We recommend the following settings:

  • Bit Rate Mode — Constant
  • Quality — 192 kbps
  • Channel Mode — Stereo (Joint Stereo for reduced file size)

Once you’ve selected the desired encoding preferences, click Save to bring up the Edit Metadata Tags window. Edit the data you deem necessary, and click OK to convert WAV to MP3.

#4: Convert WAV to MP3 using Online Converters

Online file converters are quite convenient as they eliminate the need for any locally installed software. However, they have their limitations, and most of them can’t perform batch conversions. Here are some of the best online audio converters:

Online-Convert

Online-Convert is a versatile online audio converter that supports a wide range of audio file formats, including both WAV and MP3. However, you can easily convert your WAV files to other formats, as well, including M4A, FLAC, OGG, etc. The service is exceptionally easy to use, and it even supports batch conversion, so you can process multiple audio files at once.

FileZigZAG

FileZigZag is another great online tool that supports a wide range of files. It’s really simple to use and allows you to upload and convert files that are up to 200MB in size. In addition to audio conversion, FileZigZag also supports video, document, and image conversion.

Convertio

Convertio is a browser-based, user-friendly converter that allows you to convert your files into MP3, WAV, FLAC, AAC, and many others. The service supports cloud storage integration, so you can convert files you have stored in your Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and other prominent cloud services. Additionally, Convertio also supports batch processing and offers a range of file preference customization options.

What Is MP3?

MP3 is a popular lossy audio file format that reduces file size without a noticeable decrease in audio quality. It was first introduced in 1993, after which it quickly became the standard for digital audio files.

These files are highly compressed, which means they take up less space on your mass storage compared to lossless formats, such as WAV. This makes them easier to distribute online, which made MP3 the most widely employed audio file format for music and audio content.

Though MP3 encodes data using inexact approximation and partial discarding of data, the differences between WAV in MP3 are so minute they’re often not discernible to the average human ear.

What Is WAV?

Waveform Audio File Format is the native audio format used by Windows OS to store and process uncompressed audio data. It was developed by Microsoft and IBM in 1991, specifically for Windows 3.x — the predecessor to Windows 95.

It stores uncompressed audio data, which is why it’s favored among sound professionals and audio experts, especially since it can be edited by various software solutions. However, the uncompressed nature of the format means that WAV files are large, which impedes online sharing.

Converting WAV to MP3: 5 Must-know Facts

Here are the five must-know facts about WAV and MP3 file formats:

  1. WAV files feature uncompressed audio of higher fidelity, which is why they’re larger.
  2. MP3 files, on the other hand, discard some of the data through inexact approximation. This makes MP3 files significantly smaller.
  3. With the advent of mass storage, which now counts hundreds of gigabytes on modern smartphones, both files are equally supported. The best-selling iPhone from 10 years ago (iPhone 5S) had a maximum of 64 GB of internal memory.
  4. Despite the lossy nature of the file format, MP3 has been adopted as the industry standard for digital audio files.   
  5. WAV is still favored among disc jockeys due to its lossless quality and ease of editing.

How to Convert WAV to MP3: Final Thoughts

Since its introduction in 1993, the MP3 audio file format has quickly become the industry standard, and for a good reason. It produces acceptable fidelity at a much-reduced file size compared to the WAV file format. We hope our guide has helped you convert your WAV into an MP3 audio file.

If you need any further assistance with your computer, please check out our guides on How to Convert HEIC to JPG in 4 Steps or How to Convert Word to PDF in 5 Steps.

Up Next

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I convert WAV to MP3 for free?

Just follow the steps described in our guide. If you want a quick, one-time conversion, check out the section about Online Converters.

Can you convert WAV to MP3 without losing quality?

Unfortunately, no. MP3 discards some of the audio data from the file, which diminishes the quality. However, converting at higher bit rates makes the difference in quality between WAV and MP3 nearly indistinguishable.

Is it better to master WAV or MP3?

When it comes to mastering audio, it’s always best to go with an uncompressed audio file, such as WAV.

Can I increase the audio quality if I convert MP3 back to WAV?

Sadly, no. Once a WAV file has been converted into a lossy format, converting it back won’t make up for the data lost in the initial conversion.

What is a good audio converter for Windows 10?

Audacity is a really good, free, open-source audio recorder and editor that can also convert audio files.

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