Convert FLAC to MP3

Edited by Jay

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Convert your FLAC music files to MP3s on a Windows PC, using free, open-source software. FLAC is a digital audio format that stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. Similar to .wav, FLAC files represent the original recording with no data loss. The main difference between wav and FLAC is compressed lossless versus uncompressed lossless. In short, FLAC files will be slightly smaller than wav files, but they should sound indistinguishable from each other when played back on the same device/system.

MP3, on the other hand, is a lossy form of audio compression that reduces file sizes by removing data that the algorithms deem negligible for audibility. Lower bitrate mp3 files (192 kbps or less) typically have lower sound quality. That said, mp3s encoded from a good source, compressed no smaller than 256 kbps (320 is best), sound great in nearly all playback scenarios.

Why Should I Convert My FLAC Files to MP3s?

The two main reasons are file size and playback support. If you have a massive music collection, compressing them using mp3 will significantly reduce the size of each song, even at 320 kbps. Playback options are more limited with the FLAC codec when compared to both mp3 and wav. Nearly all modern devices come equipped to play digital audio support mp3 and wav files, whereas, with FLAC, playback options are more limited.

In the following Visi tutorial, we'll cover how to convert FLAC audio files to Mp3s, using free, open-source software (fre:ac), VLC Media Player, in addition to Winamp on a Windows computer.

**Please Note*** Many free and paid programs are available to convert various forms of audio files. We encourage you to test as many as you can out.

Convert FLAC to MP3 With fre:ac

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  1. 1
    Go to free.ac's download page and select the Binary .zip package (Windows).
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  2. 2
    Select OK when the file save/open dialog appears.
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  3. 3
    Once downloaded, locate the zip file (usually in the Downloads folder), right-click it, then select Extract files.
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  4. 4
    Navigate to the folder/directory you wish to save fre.ac (or create a new folder), then select OK.
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  5. 5
    Once the zip file contents are extraced, right-click the application file named freac, then select Open.
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  6. 6
    Select Run when the Open File warning dialog appears.
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  7. 7
    From the top menu, select File > Add > Audio file(s).
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  8. 8
    Locat the FLAC files you wish to convert, then select Open.
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  9. 9
    Once your FLAC file(s) are added, select Options > Configure selected encoder.
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  10. 10
    Here is where you set your desired bitrate
    .
    For this guide, we selected 320 as our bitrate. Be sure CBR is selected if you wish to set a specific bitrate.
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    Once you're happy with the encoder settings, select OK.
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  11. 11
    Now you need to select a directory/folder to save your converted audio file
    .
    Select Browse.
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  12. 12
    Navigate to the folder, then select OK.
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  13. 13
    Now it't time to encode your file(s)
    .
    Select the green Encode button in the top menu.
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  14. 14
    Once your file(s) are complete, go to one of the mp3s, right-click then select Properties
    .
    In the properties window select Details, then check the bitrate of your mp3.
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    Also, have a listen to your files to make sure they sound right.
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Convert FLAC to MP3 With VLC Media Player

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VLC is another great way to convert your FLAC files to MP3. Follow the steps below to use your installation of VLC to convert your FLAC audio files to mp3s.

  1. 1
    Launch VLC from your start menu or desktop
    .
    Go to Media > Convert/Save'.
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  2. 2
    Click Add.
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  3. 3
    Navigate to the directory with the FLAC files you wish to convert, select them, then click Open.
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  4. 4
    Once you've added file(s), click Convert / Save in the lower right corner.
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  5. 5
    Click the little wrench icon next to the Profile dropdown.
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  6. 6
    On the Encapsulation tab, select MP3'.
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  7. 7
    From the Audio Codac tab, use the dropdown menu to select MP3.
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  8. 8
    With MP3 selected, change the bitrate to 320
    .
    Name your profile in the upper left corner, then click Create.
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    If you wish to make your files smaller, try a bitrate of 256 or 192 kbps.
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  9. 9
    Click Brwose in the bottom right corner.
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  10. 10
    Go to the location you wish to save your converted MP3, name it, then click Save.
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  11. 11
    Click Start to begin the conversion.
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  12. 12
    Once the conversion begins, VLC's screen will be black, but you'll see the player's cursor is moving from left-to-right.
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    This process could take some time, depending on how many files you're converting at once, as well as computer speed.
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  13. 13
    To ensure your newly converted file is the correct bitrate, go to the MP3, right-click and select Properties
    .
    Select the Details tab, then scroll down to see the bitrate.
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    Click OK to exit the properties window.
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Convert FLAC to MP3 With Winamp

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Winamp for Windows is a great little free media player that also converts various audio formats.

  1. 1
    Go to the Winamp homepage and click the Download button.
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  • 2
    Select Save File when the dialog box appears.
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  • 3
    Once the installer is downloaded, navigate to your Downloads folder, right-click the file, then select Run as administrator.
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  • 4
    Select Yes when the UAC window appears.
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  • 5
    Select Next when the Winamp installation wizard appears.
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  • 6
    Choose either Standard Install or Custom Install, then select Next.
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    If you choose Custom, you'll have to manually select which components you wish to install.
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  • 7
    Select Yes when the User Account Control (UAC) dialog appears.
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  • 8
    Choose the skin design, then select Next
    .
    You can change the visual appearance of Winamp at any time via the player's options.
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  • 9
    Select the file types you wish to associate with Winamp, then select Finish.
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  • 10
    Select Yes when the UAC window appears.
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  • 11
    Select File, followed by Add media to Library.
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  • 12
    Navigate to and select the directory your FLAC file(s) are located, then Select Add.
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  • 13
    Once your FLAC file(s) are added to your Library, Select and right-click them
    .
    With the right-click menu open, select Send to:, followed by Format Converter.
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  • 14
    The Format Converter Configuration window is where you manage how your file(s) get converted
    .
    For this article, we're going from FLAC to MP3.
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    This is where you also select the output directory, as well as the quality of encoding. We recommend a bitrate of 320 for optimal quality, but file sizes end up larger. Once you're satisfied with your settings, select OK to begin encoding.
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  • 15
    Once your file(s) are converted, select Done.
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  • 16
    Go to your new MP3 file(s) and test them out
    .
    Verify that the bitrate is what you set it to back in step # 14, by viewing the MP3's properties.
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  • Tips, Tricks, and Warnings

    • Always use the highest quality source material when encoding to mp3.
    • Remember that you cannot add data or details to a file once it's compressed. So, if you have the hard disk space, keep you FLACs and WAVs backed up.
    • Try to encode your audio files to at least 256 kbps (320 is better).

    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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