Convert FLAC to MP3

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This article shows how to turn Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) files into MP3 files. The benefits to this are obvious, the files are smaller and have better support among software and hardware players (also use less power when playing on supporting MP3 players). The drawbacks also exist too; MP3 is a lossy format. FLAC is lossless, which means it loses no audio information from it's original source, it is just compressed and can be returned to its original state at any time.

How to convert using Windows

Requirements

LAME MP3 Encoder ---> You need this software for the conversion to MP3.
Foobar 2000 ---> A popular audio player with a wide range of support for playing audio files and converting them to other formats.

Converting from FLAC to MP3 should not take too long and won't take up too much hard drive space.

Step 01

Run the Foobar 2000 installation. The steps involved are self explanatory and don't need to be explained in detail here. The installation should be very quick and you will have the option to run Foobar 2000 for the first time at the end of the process. You must also install the LAME MP3 encoder software onto the computer, which is not so straight forward but still easy.

Step 02

Open FLAC files in Foobar 2000, either use the Open Files option in the file menu or simply drag and drop FLAC music files onto the program itself while it is running. It will display the file in its playlist like seen above. You can play the file now if you wish as FLAC is natively supported by Foobar 2000.

Step 03

Select a FLAC file (if you want to select many then just hold down the CTRL key and click them) and right click on it. Move the mouse down to the Convert sub-menu as shown in the picture above. Now click Convert to... and Foobar 2000's conversion options will pop-up on the screen.

Converter Setup

The Converter Setup program allows you to select different audio formats to convert source audio files to. Foobar 2000 is a very powerful application on its own, but for some of the conversions it will need outside software (might even need a plug-in simply to support the source audio, APE for instance). From the Encoding Preset drop-down menu, select MP3 (LAME).

Now click the button beside the drop-down box with the three dots in it. This will allow you to select a bitrate and determine the output quality of the resulting MP3 file(s).

BitRate Settings

This is obviously easy to understand, simply move the slidebar to the left for lower quality but smaller files and to the right for higher quality and larger files. The default is 190kbps. This is a variable bitrate option which means it will be of higher quality (generally) than CBR MP3 audio. You will still suffer inevitable quality loss from the FLAC --> MP3 conversion; about the same as the quality loss when ripping CD-Audio to MP3. Make your bitrate selection and click OK.

You will now be back at the Converter Setup. Click OK and Foobar 2000 should now attempt to locate the LAME.EXE file.

Conversion Process

In most cases, this conversion will happen very quickly. If you selected multiple files then it will go through them one by one. Please remember to always check the output MP3 files before you delete the FLAC files.

Hopefully you will have successfully converted FLAC audio to MP3 audio for your personal use. If you need to repeat this process again, you won't need to point out LAME.EXE anymore to Foobar 2000, just right click and select Convert to.


Without locating the lame.exe file, Foobar 2000 won't be able to convert the FLAC audio to MP3. Navigate to the folder, select lame.exe and click Open.


How to convert using OS X