Want to change the bitrate of MP3 files? This can be useful, for example, if you need to reduce the size of MP3 files. A 320kbps MP3 file, the highest bitrate allowed for MP3 files, can be downscaled to 192kbps to significantly reduce the MP3 file size.
There will be a loss of quality, but the difference will be negligible for most listeners using standard speakers or headphones. If you’re an audiophile, apart from having expensive audio equipment, you’ll probably never use MP3.
You will most likely use a compressed or uncompressed lossless format such as PCM Audio, WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC or APE. An uncompressed PCM audio file is approximately 10 times larger than a CD-quality MP3 file.
MP3 is a lossy format, which means that sound quality is sacrificed to keep the files relatively small. Almost every site will tell you that you should never convert a lossless audio file to MP3 unless you’re okay with losing the audio quality.
This is true almost all the time. The only time this might make sense is if you have a lower bitrate audio file in a high quality format like WAV. For example, it might make sense to convert a 96Kbps WAV file to MP3, but only if you choose a bitrate of 192Kbps or higher. A higher bitrate MP3 file will retain the same quality as a WAV file, even if it has a lower bitrate.
The second thing you’ll read is that you should never convert a lower bitrate stream to a higher bitrate stream and expect it to sound better. You cannot gain quality by increasing the bitrate. That’s exactly right. You will actually degrade the quality of your MP3 file if you try to convert the bitrate.
If you need a higher MP3 bitrate than you currently have, you need to go back to the source (CD, etc.) and extract that audio at full quality. You can then convert this file to a higher bitrate MP3 file.
The last thing you should know is that it is not advisable to convert between lossy formats as you will still lose quality. However, it is possible to convert between formats losslessly, as the quality is preserved.
So, now that you understand some of the basics of the best ways to convert audio files to different bitrates, let’s talk about programs that can help us. Note that I have tested all these programs on VirusTotal to ensure they are 100% clean.
MP3 quality modifier
MP3 Quality Modifier is a small free program for Windows that is easy to use and works very well. It also does not contain malware or useless offers during its installation.
What I like about this program is that it doesn’t even need to be installed, you can just run it by opening the EXE file. A small welcome window opens on startup and explains how to use the program, which is very nice.
Just click on to get started Add files or Add folder buttons at the top. This program only works with MP3 files, so if you want to convert a WAV or FLAC file to MP3, check out the other programs mentioned below.
By default, it selects a bitrate of 130 kbps, which is about average quality. It also lists the size, bitrate, mode, and sample rate for the MP3 files you’ve added. As mentioned, this program makes sense if you are converting from a higher bitrate to a lower bitrate.
You can also click on Presets and choose from different options, e.g The best quality, High quality, Portableetc.
AmoK MP3 ReEncoder
Another free encoder you can use is AmoK MP3 ReEncoder, which can accept MP3, FLAC, or WAV as input. You can also run this program by simply double-clicking the EXE file.
After launch, you need to download the LAME encoder, which is a separate download. You can download the latest version, 3.95.5, from the RareWares page.
Note that there are several options. The first is for 32-bit Windows, the second is for 64-bit, and so on. If you need to convert FLAC files, you need to download the 4th, which states that it supports FLAC and OGG.
Once you have downloaded and unzipped the files, go to ReEncoder and click File and then Options.
In the Lame section, click on the small box with three dots, then go to the location lame.exe the file you just downloaded. Click OK, and then make sure that the source directory is also selected.
The standard profile will have a bitrate of 192 kbps, but you can click the button Profiles and create a new profile.
You can then select the bitrate and adjust it using the slider. After selecting the settings, press Add files or Add folder button to add your audio files.
Click on start and a small progress bar and window will appear showing how long it will take.
The only problem I had with this program was that I couldn’t get it to convert a WAV file to an MP3 file. For some reason it just didn’t do anything when I selected a WAV file. I may have set it up wrong, but if you need to convert from WAV to MP3, check out the latest program below that worked.
Fre:ac is a free audio converter
Fre:ac is another open source project that has the most options for converting audio formats. It includes several encoders by default, so you don’t need to download separate files for WAV, FLAC, etc.
Once installed and running, click Filethen to add and then Add files.
Then click on Options and click on General settings.
The main setting here is the encoder. The default is this LAME MP3 Encoder, which can be used to convert other audio formats to MP3. However, if you want to convert an audio file to FLAC, OGG, WAV or BONK, simply select the appropriate encoder.
Then click on Configure encoder to change LAME MP3 encoder settings. The default will be set to Standard, Fastwhich does not give you a very high quality MP3 file.
Under Use the presetschange it to Custom settings. You can now choose from VBR, ABR and CBR. These are standard for variable, Average or Constant bitrate. For the best quality, you’ll want to choose CBR, which also means your MP3 file will be slightly larger.
You can then adjust the bitrate to the desired value as well as adjust the quality. The higher the value, the better the sound quality, but the larger the file.
Click OK a few times to return to the main screen, then click the Play button at the top to start the encoding process. In my example, I converted a 6 minute 45 second 68 MB WAV file to a 12 MB 256 Kbps MP3 file using this program. If you choose the default options, you will end up with a 4MB MP3 file.
Hopefully this gives you a good idea of what bitrate is and how it can be adjusted depending on the type of audio file. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. Enjoy!