Besides settling down with the best video converter, many of us also need to have an audio converter downloaded on the computer for many scenarios.
With one of the best audio converters below, you can transcode and play incompatible audio files, make them compatible in editing programs, and convert music for mobile phones, tablets, and TVs.
When picking and testing the audio converters below, we make sure the program can keep the high fidelity of the music, preserve audio metadata and cover art, and support mainstream formats such as MP3, AAC, FLAC, ALAC, M4A, WAV, etc. Some of them are also built-in with features to extract the music in a fast speed, change sample rate and bitrate, and compress large audio files.
Whether you are general users, audiophiles, digital music collectors, or simply want to solve the audio incompatible error, you will surely find one of the following programs that suits your needs.
1. VideoProc Converter
Best for: Non-techie, music hoarders, and DVD owners. People who want an easy, stable and powerful audio converter for everyday usage, solving incompatible format errors, and archiving or sharing audio files.
Not for: Linux users trying to find a free audio converter for the Linux system.
VideoProc Converter is a dedicated audio converter and video converter, with 370+ input formats and 420+ output formats supported. As one of the best audio converters in the industry, it is also the easiest one for beginners.
There are pre-configures profiles for different scenarios, such as converting to MP3, AAC, FLAC, AC3, OGG, M4A, WAV, AIFF, CAF, etc, or turning audio into iPhone ringtones. The modern interface makes it easy to convert in 1-click, with zero learning curve.
It also allows you to extract audio from video, convert DVD to audio, select one or many audio tracks from a multi-track movie file, and adjust audio volume. If you add multiple audio files to this audio converter, you can also merge them into one audio file easily. If you need 320/256/192/160kbps, 48kHz, 44.1kHz, and so on, you can easily adjust the bitrate and sample rate in audio codec settings.
VideoProc Converter is lightweight to run on slow PCs, with industry-leading hardware acceleration tech that can boost the performance 47x. It can be used as the one-stop video and audio toolkit for media-related processing, such as editing, recording, and compressing.
- Easy to use, fast speed, and a large number of formats supported.
- Support converting video to audio, DVD to audio, ISO to audio, URL to audio, which are not supported in many other audio converters.
- Option to change bitrate, sample rate, edit metadata and cover art, compress large files, and extract audio tracks.
- No Linux version.
- Can extract audio from DVDs, but not from Blu-ray.
Supported OS: Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7macOS 10.6 or newer
Pricing: Free to convert an unlimited number of video and audio files, as long as each file is less than 5 minutes. Since many audio files and songs are usually 3 minutes or so, you can use VideoProc Converter for free in most scenarios. More info on Free vs. Full version >
Rating: 4.8 by One Hour Professor
Best for: Users with experience in audio editing, familiar with multi-track tools, and wouldn't mind installing .dll files and FFmpeg library to expand format support.
Not for: Users who want to batch convert audio, convert video to audio, convert DVD to audio, etc.
Audacity can be repurposed as a free audio converter, because as a multi-track audio editor, it has options to export audio into WAV, M4A, etc. Having been around for more than two decades, Audacity become one of the most popular tools with hundreds of millions of users worldwide, and is available in 38 languages.
Still, there is often a trade-off between being FREE and the number of supported formats. Audacity only supports exporting WAV, AIFF, Ogg, FLAC (v1.3.2 and onward), MP2 out-of-the-box. Based on our test, when trying to convert audio to M4A, AC3, AMR, Opus, and WMA, we need to manually download and install file avformat.dll to the installation location of Audacity, and specify the path upon conversion. Similarly, lame_enc.dll is required for audio-to-mp3 conversion.
Besides output format, Audacity also falls short on input audio formats, compared to other audio editors on this list. It won't import AC3, AMR, M4A, and WMA, and you need to install the optional FFmpeg library. The good news is, WAV, AIFF, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC and MP2 can be imported under most circumstances.
Despite these shortcomings, it is free and multi-functional if you also want to normalize audio, add reverbs, change volume, split stereo to mono, etc. If you already have Audacity on your computer as an everyday audio editor, it is convenient to use it temporarily for certain audio formats conversion.
- Free with many audio editing, recording and conversion features.
- Easy to find tutorials and access peer support online with a large user base.
- A limited number of input and output audio formats.
- A Steep learning curve for beginners.
- Not a dedicated audio converter software.
Supported OS: Windows, macOS, Linux, Unix
Pricing: Free, open-source
Rating: 4.0 by PC Magazine
3. Fre:ac Audio Converter
Best for: Extracting audio from CDs and converting audio to mainstream formats. Curating a music library with a certain folder pattern such as <artist>-<title> or <artist>-<album>-<track>.
Not for: Non-techie person trying to find a simple audio converter.
Fre:ac (known as BonkEnc until 2010) is one of the best audio converters for CD collectors. It carved out a path with its feature to convert audio CD to M4A or MP3, at a time when CDs were still a hit among audiophiles. Now catering to the younger generation, Fre:ac also allows you to convert digital audio to mainstream formats, such as MP3, WMA, AAC/M4A, Opus, Ogg, WAV, etc.
Fre:ac is developed by Robert Kausch, and was released in 2001 initially.
It requires some time and effort to navigate in the program and find your desired feature. But once you get the hang of it, you will find Fre:ac the best audio converter with customizable settings. For instance, for audiophiles that are kin to preserve the audio library structure with tree folders, Fre:ac allows you to set an output filename pattern in the configuration window, such as <albumartist> - <album>.
As for conversion speed, Fre:ac is integrated with multi-threaded codec drivers to process audio files with multiple CPU cores. Another highlighted feature is the AuccrateRip database access that can be used in CD rip verification.
- Free audio converter, CD ripper and audio player into one.
- Convert audio into folders with commands for file naming patterns.
- Create ID3 tags by retrieving artist and album info from Freedb.
- Not as efficient as EAC (Exact Audio Copy) when converting damaged CD audio to digital.
- Cluttered UI. It requires a steep learning curve for beginners and the non-techie.
- Doesn't have an audio normalizer, a feature frequently requested by its users.
Supported OS: Windows Executable and Microsoft Store, macOS, Linux
Pricing: Free, donationware
Rating: 4.6 by SourceForge
4. MediaHuman Audio Converter
Best for: Mac users who love to curate the music library in good order, with nice album art.
Not for: Users who also want the audio converter to extract audio files from CDs and DVDs, or burn to CDs.
MediaHuman is one of the best audio converters that survived decades of iteration. It was initially released in 2011, from its Russian-based headquarter. MediaHuman allows you to convert audio to WAV, MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC, AIFF, etc, with a simple interface.
The built-in CUE splitter is loved by many music fans. For instance, for large FLAC audio files that come with a CUE file, MediaHuman will auto-detect it and offer you the option to split the large audio file. Upon audio conversion, MediaHuman gives you the option to keep the folder structure in batch tasks. Still, it isn't as customizable as Fre:ac, in terms of designating a new folder structure as per your needs.
Another nice feature is its ability to fetch the album cover art. This free audio converter allows you to drag and drop covers from iTunes, or automatically search from Last.fm, Discogs and Google Image.
Note: Since MediaHuman has an output setting to "Conver to source folder", there are risks of overwriting the original audio file should the name stays the same. You may want to change this setting.
- Support audio effects such as volume normalization, fade in, fade out, silence trimming, etc.
- Support sending the converted audio files to the iTunes library (Music app on macOS Catalina and above).
- Doesn't support converting CD to digital audio.
- Less stable if you are trying to convert a large number of audio files in batch, for instance, 1000 pieces of FLAC to ALAC.
- Some users reported that MediaHuman's downloading program contains bundled ware.
Supported OS: Windows 11/10/8/7, macOS 10.12 Sierra and higher
Rating: 4.2 by MacUpdate
5. Foobar2000 Audio Converter
Best for: People who love to have a free media player, and do the conversion occasionally.
Not for: Users who prefer a graphic way to batch convert audio with tagging and folder structure preserved, instead of messing up with command lines.
Foobar2000 win a place in the list of best free audio converters because of its conversion component. Born in 2002, this program is mainly an advanced cross-platform media player, developed by Peter Pawłowski, the same author that created plug-ins for Winamp. Being free with the ability to install external audio encoders, Foobar2000 (fb2k or f2k) is frequently repurposed as an audio transcoding tool.
Foobar2000 supports many audio formats natively, such as Ogg, FLAC, WAV, Speex, AIFF, MMS, RSTP, and Opus. Other formats require a manual installation of additional component, for instance, AMR, TTA, MOD, XID, XA, OptimFROG, SPC, Shorten, PSF, and NSF are not supported out of the box.
Designed with the audiophile in mind, the developer created many popular features for the program, such as tagging with MusicBrainz data, secure CD ripping, command line, and plug-in support.
- Free and support third-party plug-ins
- Play the audio directly from RAR and ZIP files
- For MP3, users need to manually download the LAME binaries, and install the lame_enc.dll to be able to convert MP3 for free.
- Many other audio formats also require the installation of external command-line encoders.
Supported OS: Windows 7/8/10/11, macOS10.12 or newer, iOS, Android
Rating: 4.0 by TechRadar
6. Switch Audio File Converter Software
Best for: Occasional users with a one-time conversion task to enjoy the free version, or avid users who also need their audio or video editor to enjoy a bundled license price.
Not for: Users trying to find forever free software with large codec support.
Switch Audio File Converter (also known as Switch Sound Format Converter) is developed by NCH Software, the same company that churned out VideoPad video editing software. Despite the archaic user interface, this audio converter has many nice features in its arsenal. You can batch convert audio files at once, with the option to choose different formats for the batch task; variable and constant bitrate is supported for the MP3 conversion; and it also has a command line plugin for the automation.
As noted above in its price model, the software is only free for non-commercial use, with limited format support. According to their help manual, you need to upgrade to the Pro version to convert to AAC, AMR, OGG, FLAC, RSS, M3U, PLS, WPL, and input rare formats such as DSS, SRI, MSV, DVF, ACT, RCD, REC, SHN, and MOH. For this reason, it didn’t rank high in terms of being the best audio converter. Still, if the audio format you need just falls in the free version, you are good to go.
- Support adding sound effects upon the audio conversion.
- It has a preview feature to you to hear out the applied effects before converting the audio file.
- Dynamic range is supported during the compression to better control the volume.
- It's hard to set up and find instructions on certain features for the non-techie.
- After 14 days of the free trial, some audio formats will not be supported, and you will be prompted to upgrade frequently.
Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11 macOS 10.5 and newer
Pricing: Free version: free for non-commercial use, the first 14-day period supports all formats available in the Pro version, and after that you can continue to use the program for free but some audio formats will not be supported then.
Pro version: $19.99 for personal use, $24.99 for commercial use.
Rating: 4.5 by Top Ten Reviews
7. dBpoweramp Music Converter
Best for: Audiophiles and professionals familiar with audio processing and command line.
Not for: Beginners who only need a simple audio converter to do things in a graphic-user-interface way.
dBpoweramp Music Converter is a 2-in-1 program with an Audio Converter and a CD Ripper. It is regarded as the best audio converter for people who only want the conversion as an occasional task. For long-term usage, however, dBpoweramp is less competitive to other free audio converters in this list - especially when you only need an audio converter, without any need for the CD features.
As for conversion speed, dBpoweramp supports a multi-core CPU, so that an 8-core CPU can deliver 8x faster speed. Still, for specific tasks such as converting DSF to FLAC, some users find it extremely slow or prone to errors.
dBpoweramp has a decent number of effects, such as normalizing, sample and bit rate conversion, ReplayGain, playlist creation, fade in and out, audio insertion, resample, etc. Geeky users can find the CLI for DSP effects under the DSPEffects setting in this audio converter.
dBpoweramp supports mainstream audio formats, including M4A (ALAC and AAC), MP3, FLAC, WMA, AIFF, Wave and so on. For avid users with higher requirements on better managing the music library, dBpoweramp also has extended support for the IDv2.4 tag, together with the more compatible the IDv2.3.
- Support advanced file naming to better organize your music library.
- The tag editor is integrated with a web search feature to fetch album cover art.
- Lack of support document for command line related tasks.
- Doesn't support OFR and TTA (The True Audio) 64 bit.
- dBpoweramp will show up as a blank icon in the context menu of Windows 11.
Supported OS: Windows, Mac
Pricing: 21-day free trial, then $48 for the full version.
Rating: 4.3 by VideoHelp
8. iTunes Audio Conversion Utility
Best for: Occasional usage to convert files to AAC, AIFF, ALAC, MP3, or WAV.
Not for: Users looking for a professional audio converter with large audio formats support, codec settings, file naming patterns, and more features.
Counting iTunes as the best free audio converter is mainly because of its CD conversion feature, and of course the free forever bonus. iTunes has grown from merely a media player into a bloated program with iTunes Store, device syncing and management tool, as well as many hidden utilities.
If you already have iTunes as an everyday tool, you will find its hidden audio converter a handy utility. In the Preferences > Import Settings, you can import audio using AAC, AIFF, ALAC (Apple Lossless), MP3, or WAV encoder. After set up, you can convert audio into one of these versions.
iTunes also has a join tracks feature, so that you can convert a CD into one large MP3 file. Plus, if certain tracks are corrupted, you can skip them by joining other tracks. For instance, from 1-3 and 5-10. Thus you don't need to give up on everything because of one bad track.
- Free from Apple.
- Support ripping audio from CDs.
- Won't convert video to the audio file, nor does it support extracting audio from DVD.
- Not ideal for audiophiles intended to preserve folder structure or customize audio file naming.
Supported OS: Windows 10, macOS Mojave and earlier (iTunes 12.8). For macOS Catalina and newer, use the Music app instead.
Rating: 4.5 by PC Magazine
9. MusicBee Audio Converter
Best for: People who need a dedicated music player with bonus conversion utilities.
Not for: People who don't bother to install external codec packs for MP3 and AAC.
As one of the best free audio converters and media players, MusicBee is a one-man's project. Steven Mayall made it in 2008, and has been actively updating it and helping users in the MusicBee forum. We usually have two or three media players on our computer, MusicBee is one of those for many people, together with VLC, AIMP, or PotPlayer.
The audio converting utility in MusicBee has been hidden away in Menu > Tools > Convert Format. From there you can transcode audio files into FLAC, MP3, WMA, Aiff and Wave. Note that, depending on the version you are using, the MP3 and AAC may not be available out-of-the-box. You need to install external codec libraries for the conversion to be working.
MusicBee supports converting audio with various quality presets, but there is a trade-off between file size and audio quality. Another nice feature is its ability to adjust volume, meaning you can normalize the audio by tracks or by albums. If you love to convert audio with folder structure preserved, you will love MusicBee's folder structure commands. It also allows you to specify the field name more flexibly.
- Free to use. No ads or bundleware.
- Cannot set different output formats for batch converting process.
- No native support for MP3 and AAC.
- Windows only. Mac and Linux users need to find a workaround to install the program.
Supported OS: Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10 (32bit and 64bit)
Pricing: Free for personal use, donationware
Rating: 4.5 by CNET
10. VLC Audio Conversion Utility
Best for: Occasional audio conversion, one file per time.
Not for: Batch conversion tasks, convert to mobile devices with pre-configured profiles.
If MusicBee is more of a Music Manager, then VLC is more of a media player, with audio converting utilities, online streaming, and video converting tools all baked into this Swiss army knife.
VLC supports AAC, MP3, MPEG Audio, Vorbis, AC-3, FLAC, Opus, Speex, WAV and WMA2, that's way more convenient than MusicBee. But the dealbreaker is, you cannot batch-convert audio files, nor can you designate a file naming pattern as other free audio converters on this list. Therefore, for audiophiles who want an Album-Artist-Track pattern, VLC will fail you.
VLC also allows you to adjust audio bitrate and sample rate. But since there isn't a ready-to-use profile, users need to be familiar with audio processing, so as to enter the suitable value.
- Freeware with 10 audio codecs baked-in.
- It also support streaming videos and audio online.
- Doesn't support batch conversion.
- It's not easy to manage audio metadata and cover art in VLC in batch.
Supported OS: Windows and Mac
Rating: 4.5 by TechRadar
Make Your Own Choices
As you can see, the best audio converters we picked here include dedicated converting software, audio editing tools, as well as media players that can be repurposed as a conversion utility.
For users curating a music library who occasionally convert dozens of audio files, Foobar2000 and MusicBee are nice choices; for advanced users with editing knowledge, Audacity can be used as an ad hoc audio converter; and for the one-stop solution, VideoProc Converter is one of those must-have apps for Windows and Mac. It has dedicated panel for audio conversion, video conversion, compressing, editing, and recording, and remain light-weight and fast with GPU acceleration.