Top MP3 Converters

Kevin Ott
inserting CD into computer

Long ago in an ancient era of human history, a person had to purchase special software in order to convert WAV files to mp3s or other formats. Thankfully, the computer industry has advanced far enough so that file conversion services are common and free. Whether you are converting your CDs to mp3s or converting your songs into a variety of formats, the following programs and websites are the best on the market. The best part, however, is that they are all free.

iTunes

Screenshot of iTunes version 11
Screenshot of iTunes version 11

iTunes is not only a widely used music platform, it has also garnered rave reviews from the tech industry. PC Magazine gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars, mentioning its "sleek design." When you load a CD into your computer, the operating system will give you the option to choose which digital music file format you want before it rips the songs onto your computer. To rip them into mp3 format, follow these steps:

  • Before you load the CD into your computer, go to iTunes "Preferences."
  • Under "General" settings, click "Import Settings" near the bottom.
  • In the drop-down menu under "Import Using," select mp3.
  • Select the bitrate under "Settings." 192 kbps is the standard CD quality bitrate for mp3s. Lower bitrates are better if you need the mp3 file to be smaller. Bitrates lower than 128 kbps are better suited for lengthy tracks that are non-musical, such as speaking presentations.
  • Load the CD, and when it asks if you wish to import it, click "Yes."
  • If you load the CD first without configuring your converter to your preferred file type, click "No" when it asks to import.
  • Near the bottom of the iTunes screen that shows the tracks of your CD, click "Import Settings" and follow the steps above.
  • Click "Import CD."

Converting Other Digital Music File Formats on iTunes

If you have songs already on your computer that need converting, here are the steps to do this in iTunes versions up to 10:

  • Select the song in your iTunes general music library.
  • In the iTunes menu at the top of the screen, click "Advanced."
  • Click "Create MP3."

ITunes will then process your request and produce an mp3 of your song directly below the original version in your library's list.

If you have iTunes 11 or higher, the steps are slightly different:

  • In the iTunes menu at the top of the screen, click "File" instead of clicking "Advanced."
  • Bring your cursor down to "Create New Version" so that a pop-up menu appears.
  • Click "Create MP3 version."

Windows Media Player

Screenshot of Windows Media Player
Screenshot of Windows Media Player

If you own a PC your Windows operating system will come loaded with Windows Media Player. This operating system also received a near-perfect rating from PC Magazine, and MakeUseOf praises the newest version's improved capabilities. It was especially commended for its design in mp3 conversion while ripping CDs. Using WMP to rip your CD onto your computer follows the same general procedure as iTunes: first configure your ripping settings, then load the CD and rip it. The following list provides links to Microsoft's instructions for ripping music based on operating system:

Unfortunately, Windows Media Player does not have built-in file converter technology as iTunes has. Once you rip a song from a CD or download it from the Internet, you will not be able to convert it to any other format. You will have to go online to accomplish file conversion.

Media.io

Screenshot of media.io landing page
Screenshot of media.io landing page

The good news is that there is a brilliantly designed converter available online, called Media.io, that is free and incredibly simple to use -- even simpler than iTunes. According to published stats on its Facebook page, the site has successfully converted over a million music files and it receives 25,000 visitors a day. There is a reason why it is so popular. After searching far and wide, you will not find another site that compares in options or ease of use. It is not limited to one conversion process, such as WAV to mp3, as most other converters are. It processes files very quickly and makes them available for you to download without requiring any sign-up or personal information. The following steps will guide you through the procedure:

  • Go to www.media.io.
  • Click "Browse" to select the music file from your computer.
  • Click "Upload."
  • Select the file type to which your song will be converted (in this case, mp3).
  • Select the audio quality level.
  • Click "Download."

The site makes money through its ad placements so after it delivers your converted file it automatically directs you to an advertisement, which you can promptly close without any hassle.

The Next Audio Converter Frontier: Mobile Devices

Computer and web design have become so advanced that complicated computing tasks can now be done online or with built-in programs that come with the computer. All of this, however, is in the context of personal laptops or desktop computers. Audio file management for mobile devices is still in a clumsy infant stage. When a user downloads songs onto their mobile device, their options for manipulating and managing those files with the device's built-in software reduces drastically. It is impossible, for example, to use your smartphone's web browser to upload audio files to online converter sites. However, at the rate that technology is advancing, especially in the area of file converter apps, this headache in smartphone technology will soon be a thing of the past.

Top MP3 Converters