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Audacity Tutorial: How to Convert WAV to MP3 Using LAME

A guide on using Audacity to encode MP3s from WAV files

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Introduction
If you've got a collection of WAV files on your computer that you'd like to convert to smaller MP3s, then one of the hurdles you'll first face (especially if you haven't done this before) is what software to use. There are countless MP3 converters on the Internet that all boast how well they can convert between formats, but not all of them can be straightforward to use. So, what's a good option? One of the best solutions to use is the Audacity audio editor in conjunction with the LAME MP3 encoder. Audacity is free and works on several operating systems including: Windows, Mac, and Linux.

To start using Audacity to convert WAV to MP3, follow these steps:

Download Audacity
If you haven't already got Audacity installed on your computer, you can get the latest release from the Audacity website.

Install the LAME MP3 Encoder
Once you have Audacity set up on your computer, you'll need to download the Lame MP3 encoder binary files for your particular operating system. Audacity doesn't natively support encoding to MP3 so we need to use the LAME MP3 plugin.

  • For PC -- Download the LAME encoder for Windows package. Double-click to install and accept the default file destination path.
  • For MAC -- Download the appropriate LAME archive for your MAC OS version. Extract the contents of the .DMG file you downloaded. Double-click the .pkg file and install libmp3lame dynamic library (.dylib) to /usr/local/lib/audacity.

Converting WAV to MP3

  • Run Audacity and click File > Open. Choose the WAV file you want to convert and then click the Open button.
  • To convert to MP3, click File > Export. Choose MP3 as your file type to save using the drop-down menu. Click Options to get to the MP3 settings screen. Choose a bitrate mode (such as VBR) and then select a quality setting -- click OK > Save > OK when done.
Note: If Audacity asks for the location of the LAME encoder library (Windows: lame_enc.dll / MAC: libmp3lame.dylib), use the browse button to goto the folder where you extracted the Lame binaries. Click the .dll or .dylib file with your mouse followed by the Open button.

For more information on what to consider when encoding to MP3 files, read our MP3 Settings article.

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