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What is the best way to convert from mp3 to wav?
October 17, 2004 9:43 AM   Subscribe

When converting an MP3 to WAV (for playback on a CD player that can't handle MP3s) What's the best method? Playback MP3 and record to WAV with a program like Total Recorder? Convert formats directly with something like Audacity or CDex? Doesn't matter?

For best sound quality, I mean.
posted by PinkStainlessTail to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
 
All competent MP3 decoders produce basically the same sound quality; that's the way the standard is designed. If you have a CD burning program that will convert to audio as part of the burning process, without a separate step, use that.
posted by kindall at 10:00 AM on October 17, 2004


I would think that the direct conversion using Audacity would make a better, more "1-to-1" conversion than recording it from playback, which is what I assume Total Recorder does. But I don't really know how Total Recorder works so I may be wrong.

I've always used a combination of LAME and RazorLame (for Windows) to decode MP3's, because I've heard that LAME is supposed to be the best at it. I think that Audacity uses LAME as well but I couldn't tell you for sure.
posted by mrgavins at 10:05 AM on October 17, 2004


Use Winamp's disk writer output plugin (it's pre-installed), it's the fast and reliable.
posted by riffola at 10:29 AM on October 17, 2004


Doesn't make any difference. MP3 decoders all produce *exactly* the same output stream. Writing to WAV is also lossless. So unless some serious software bugs are involved, it doesn't matter.

..unless your MP3 player uses some kind of output filter, like an eq.
posted by sfenders at 10:41 AM on October 17, 2004


Tell Nero you want to burn an audio cd and drag MP3's to it.
posted by smackfu at 11:20 AM on October 17, 2004


I think it does matter, because Total Recorder is just a utility for capturing audio that is playing on your computer, like WireTap for mac. This would mean your "conversion" would be a real time recording of the song you're playing. This is not as good as doing an actual conversion of the data, which i assume is what Audacity does.

I think people are misunderstanding your question to mean which decoder is the best, and I guess they are all pretty much the same, it's just that I don't think Total Recorder is a decoder.
posted by rhyax at 11:37 AM on October 17, 2004


I agree with smackfu above.

But if you're otherwise looking for something that easily converts formats, I suggest dBpowerAMP.
posted by mookieproof at 11:51 AM on October 17, 2004


QCD will convert your files too, I've always gotten excellent results using it.
posted by kamylyon at 12:23 PM on October 17, 2004


Rhyax nailed it, thanks.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:27 PM on October 17, 2004


I think it does matter, because Total Recorder is just a utility for capturing audio that is playing on your computer, like WireTap for mac.

Well, it would be slower, but I don't otherwise see how it would make any difference.
posted by sfenders at 1:30 PM on October 17, 2004


Total Recorder is essentially making a digital file from an analogue recording of a compressed digital file. This sucks, in terms of audio quality. Plus it will have to be done in real time. It's effectively the same as plugging a lead into the headphone jack and recording into another source.

Use software - any of the above will do fine, or iTunes can do it for you - to convert to wav. This is just a complex mathematical function, and will give the best possible audio quality.
posted by ascullion at 2:10 PM on October 17, 2004


Total Recorder is essentially making a digital file from an analogue recording of a compressed digital file. This sucks, in terms of audio quality.

You make no sense. Total Recorder captures the digital stream as it's headed for the soundboard driver. The audio quality would be the same, but slower.

I personally use the dbPowerAmp tools for all my audio conversion/CD ripping/et cetera, and I recommend them.
posted by j.edwards at 2:16 PM on October 17, 2004


Actually, the MP3 decoder does matter. Whether you can hear it or not is up to you. I just drag MP3s over to Nero. It works well enough for me. Note that the tests on the linked page are somewhat old, and the various programs may have fixed their decoding errors.
posted by zsazsa at 3:29 PM on October 17, 2004


Actually, the MP3 decoder does matter.

Which is why I threw "competent" in as a qualifier. ;)

I agree that Total Recorder and its ilk shouldn't result in any degradation, though. There is no analog step in the process. But if there were, you probably wouldn't notice; people used to use analog transfers with DAT tapes to get around SCMS, and it never mattered.
posted by kindall at 5:32 PM on October 17, 2004


I've actually found that the MP3 decoders in CD burning applications can be buggy - the one in Roxio Easy CD Creator has problems, and Nero used to have problems but it seems fine on the recent versions. What used to happen for me was that the software would be unable to handle strange artefacts in the Mp3 file (if they were encoded by a buggy encoder, for example, or were VBR files) and I would end up with lots of incomplete songs being burnt to CD.

I always found Winamp with the DiskWriter plugin to be the most efficient way. Very fast, and it was able to decode anything. Using TotalRecorder seems to be just introducing an unnecessary intermediate step (not to mention it costs money).
posted by Jimbob at 5:37 PM on October 17, 2004


I second mrgavins suggestion - I have used that combo for years and it is fast and convenient. And since I trust LAME to make my MP3s, I like the idea of using the same prog for decoding too.
posted by SNACKeR at 5:12 AM on October 18, 2004


Last time I did this with any seriousness -- making a couple of CDs to keep in the car -- I used Winamp's Diskwriter output mode with the DFX plugin. Putting DFX in the loop allowed me to slightly take advantage of the "fidelity" enhancement which does a fair job of masking the loss of quality at the high end. At least in my vehicle, this makes slightly muddy audio files sound better.

If you're going for accurate reproduction, however, LAME is an excellent option. For everyday CD audio burning, Nero's built-in decoder was acceptable for me and I've only had one truncated track from it.

By and large, encoder quality will have far more effect on what you hear than decoder quality. Most decoders will produce similar -- though not identical -- results.
posted by majick at 6:33 AM on October 18, 2004


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