Music - converting files

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Sometime you will download a music/audio file which you can't open/play in your preferred media player program (iTunes, WinAMP, Windows Media Player etc).... chances are:

  1. You don't have the latest codec - make sure you have the latest version of your media player(s),
  2. The file is corrupt - if it doesn't open in anything you might have to accept the loss and delete it, or else:
  3. The media player does not support that file - meaning you'll have to try another player or convert the file to a different format


For example:

  • iTunes cannot play: .flac, .ogg, protected .acc files ...
  • Windows Media Player cannot play: .aac ...

There are a lot of tools out there for converting music, but not many of them free... but with the right know how you can convert between most formats without paying for it. Below are several good tools for converting music files which *should* cover you for most of your needs.


Tools for Converting Music Files

ITUNES (free)

iTunes (one of my favourite programs) is well designed for converting/importing and burning music files - if you put a music CD into your machine you can quite rapidly "import" all the tracks into the iTunes library as one of several formats. Note that for some formats, such as Window's .wma files, it will often INSIST that you convert the file, and then play the converted version.

To convert files:

  1. Open iTunes and select: Edit >> Preferences.
  2. Under the General tab click Import Settings, select your desired format and click OK.... I use the MP3 converter at Higher Quality 196 kbps... mp3 is NOT the best format (.ogg is pretty good but isn't on here).... but the other options are mostly Apple proprietary and so at least with .mp3 you know it should play on ANY media player application. NOTE: In version 7 and earlier you must go to the Advanced tab and then under Importing instead
  3. Select all the files you wish to convert (you may have to create a new playlist and drag them in) then right click and select Convert Selection to MP3
  4. Wait for the files to finish and then you'll find the converted files under: My Documents/My Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/Artist Name/Album Name.


WINAMP (free)

WinAMP is useful at converting various files, such as .flac into .wav files using its output feature.

To convert files:

  1. Open Winamp (doesn't have to be the pro version) and select: Options >> Preferences.
  2. Select Output from the Plug-ins section of the left window, and then select Nullsoft Disk Writer.
  3. Click Configure then click the Directory to choose where to save the .wav files (NOTE: the same folder as the .flac files will do).
  4. Click 'OK and close the preferences window.
  5. Select 'File >> Play file, select all the .flac files (using shift) and click open.
  6. Press Play and WinAMP will decode the .flac files and turn them into .wav files. It typically takes a few seconds to convert each 5 minute song, depending on your machine's speed.
  7. Once Winamp is done decoding the files, make sure to set the Plug-ins > Output back to DirectSound or it will keep decoding any file you play.

Unfortunately .wav are uncompressed files and take up lots of space, so you might wish to convert them to a compressed format like .mp3 using a program like iTunes I believe WinAMP can convert to other formats, but this requires the pro version which costs ~$20.


NERO

I've had SOME success at converting audio files with Nero... there are two options:

#1 Using Batch Conversion

  • Open Nero Smart Start and select: Create and Edit >> Convert Audio Files .... or (in versions prior to 2008) Audio >> Encode Audio Files.
  • Drag in the files you wish to convert, select the output format and hit go.

This has worked for me in some cases, but in other cases - including .flac files - failed to open the files.

#2 Using NERO WAVEEDITOR

  • Open Nero Waveeditor (C:\Program Files\Nero\Nero8\Nero WaveEditor\waveedit.exe).... you can do this by opening Nero Smart Start and selecting: Nero WaveEditor from the list of programs on the side.
  • Open the file you want, then select File >> Save As, and select output format.

The disadvantage of this is you can only convert one file at a time, but the advantage is that you can edit the song by cutting and pasting parts of the wave, increasing volume etc.


ZAMZAR (online)

If nothing else is working [www.zamzar.com ZamZar] is an excellent free website which allows the conversion of up to 1 GB worth of files from NUMEROUS different formats (not just music files). Just select what the files you want to load, the format to convert too, and after it's uploaded it will e-mail you a link to the converted files for you to download. The big cons are that uploading songs can take a VERY long time, and sometimes the quality of the files produced is a little bad. This option is best if you only have one or two songs you REALLY want to convert, but don't have the software to do it yourself!


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