Digital music files have long been the favorite way to enjoy music. The FLAC music format is becoming more and more popular, but many devices still cannot recognize it. But they all play MP3 : portable players, or car players in particular. FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec, that is, free lossless audio codec. The "lossless" thing is important: just like a ZIP or RAR compressed file, a FLAC compressed music track is identical to the original . No information is lost when compressed to take up less space (one half to one third of the original WAV). The equivalent in the Apple environment (where FLAC can also be used anyway) is ALAC.
On the other hand, the MP3 format does discard information (losses) . Depending on the level of compression, the result may be significantly different (sounds worse) than the original. A simile is the highly compressed images in JPEG format or videos. What is the ideal format? His thing is to compress our discs in FLAC (or buy and download music files online) to have a perfect copy. But neither in the mobile or the car radio do we need so much quality.
The nuances that can be lost in the MP3 would not be appreciated in that environment and instead we can handle much smaller files, that is, carry a much more variety of music . In addition, as we mentioned above directly, there are many cars that do not recognize anything other than MP3 ... To convert those FLAC files that we have or have passed to MP3 there are basically two ways: use an online converter, or download a program that does it in our computer. Let's look at various options.
Settings: the most common options
Before seeing online or local converters, it is convenient to review the options that in both cases we will have. You can always configure the parameters you want to modify in the sound files, which is by default. The only thing you usually want is to change the compression rate, depending on the destination of the MP3s you generate. If you are going to go to a USB stick for a car radio that reads (let's say) up to 4GB, then you might want to compress more. At least we recommend 64 and better 128 kbps. Above 192 kbps in MP3 the difference is very subtle and not worth it, and for that we already have the "original" music in FLAC.
The "sample rate" can sometimes be changed. CD files are 16-bit encoded and 44kHz sample rate. If we reduce that figure, we will be cutting the treble: except for voice tracks (books read for example) it is not interesting to lower those 44,000 hertz. Another option is usually to modify the audio channels. Normally we will have sound in stereo (two channels). We can reduce the size by half if we convert the music to monaural (one channel) although it will not sound as spacious, especially with headphones. We can even swap channels (right and left) but it is only useful on dual tracks (two languages) like those of some programs or television broadcasts. Finally there is the option to "normalize", that is to say equalize levels. Let low volume tracks sound like louder ones.
Convert FLAC to MP3 Online
We have several websites that integrate a converter between audio formats. In all, one of the most popular functions is logically to go from FLAC to MP3. Another is from the Apple format (ALAC) also to MP3. A very popular one is Online-Convert which is available in several languages (also Spanish). Nor is it necessary to read many instructions ... First we choose the source of the file or files that we want to convert. They can be on our hard drive, or on the home network, but also in a URL, in DropBox, even in Google Drive. And we can also leave the converted file there.
Another good page (for all kinds of conversions) is Convertio. A more graphic, simple interface, and with everything very clear and direct, also free if you don't mind seeing advertising. Quite popular is ZamZar which is also multilingual. And so simple that it needs few explanations . You choose whether to convert local files, or a URL. If you sign up, you can convert huge files (up to 2GB), get 100GB of online storage, and conversion priority during high traffic times. But it is not free or particularly cheap (between $ 9 and $ 25 a month).
Programs to convert FLAC to MP3
In addition to the many options to do the conversion online, there are also few programs capable of doing it precisely. Any audio editing software allows it , as a conversion or when exporting a track that we have edited. And many playback programs have this useful conversion tool as well. The first example is one of the most popular and that you almost certainly have installed, on your computer and even on your mobile: VLC.
VLC is one of the most popular and used audio and video players. But one of its functions that few know or take advantage of is precisely the conversion of files. It is perfectly capable of converting music in FLAC to MP3 : just open the files and choose the "convert" menu. We will have the usual options, and once chosen we will activate the conversion.
A popular Windows player among hobbyists is Foobar. It is very powerful, versatile and configurable, and of course one of the things it can do is convert FLAC music to MP3. Both Foobar and VLC are free, another that is also (and powerful) is Audacity that Linux lovers will surely know.
As you can see, there is no excuse for not saving your music in FLAC at the highest quality, and converting it to MP3 when you need it for your mobile or car.