What should I use to convert m4a to mp3.
August 31, 2006 11:46 AM   Subscribe

What should I use to convert m4a to mp3.


A friend of mine burned his demo cd using itunes on his pc. I zipped it it up and sent it to myself so I could copy it onto my own computer / non-iPod mp3 player. So now I have a folder of m4a files that I can't play.

I'm looking for free, or very cheap, software to convert them to mp3s. My requirements are, no spyware, very small footprint, clean install. No iTunes.

Google brings up a number of results. I tried a freeware app called Bonk or something and it didn't work.

What should I use?
posted by miniape to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Windows or Mac?
posted by tumult at 11:46 AM on August 31, 2006


Sorry, windows xp pro
posted by miniape at 11:51 AM on August 31, 2006


Install iTunes temporarily and burn a CD. It won't give your computer cooties.
posted by cillit bang at 11:52 AM on August 31, 2006


dbpoweramp.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:54 AM on August 31, 2006


Keep in mind that converting from one lossy filetype (m4a) to another lossy filetype (mp3) will result in (sometimes significant) quality loss.

If you're simply looking to play them on your computer, you'd probably be able to find a plugin for a player you already use. I know Winamp supports them by default now, and my player of choice, foobar2000, does as well.
posted by owenkun at 12:07 PM on August 31, 2006


Install iTunes temporarily and don't burn a CD, but just right click on the files and choose "Convert to MP3." For this to work, you need MP3 selected as the importing filetype in Preferences.
posted by neustile at 12:34 PM on August 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


The HYMN Project (Hear Your Music aNywhere) produces software "which allows you to free your iTunes Music Store purchases (protected AAC / .m4p) from their DRM restrictions with no loss of sound quality. These songs can then be played outside of the iTunes environment, even on operating systems not supported by iTunes and on hardware not supported by Apple."

I've used it to clean all sorts of files before... Its great... A little time consuming... But great.
posted by lucidreamstate at 12:43 PM on August 31, 2006


neustile has it. If it says "Convert to AAC" instead, go into Preferences>Advanced>Burning and change the file type to MP3. (The menus might be slightly different on the PC.)
posted by danb at 1:20 PM on August 31, 2006


The HYMN project only works for iTunes 4.x, it also just converts files to AAC, which isn't mp3. (his player might support it, but he doesn't say, so let's assume the worst)

Unfortunately, I think the easiest free way will be to temporarily install iTunes and convert over. Good luck!
posted by hatsix at 1:24 PM on August 31, 2006


Go for dbpoweramp (you might need to download this codec, not sure if it comes in the default install).

"Just install iTunes" is annoying Apple apologism that doesn't answer the question, so quit with that.
posted by reklaw at 2:49 PM on August 31, 2006


I'm what reklaw would call an Apple apologist but would still support the dbpoweramp approach. It's a great program.
posted by TheRaven at 4:20 PM on August 31, 2006


>"Just install iTunes" is annoying Apple apologism

No it isn't. "Just use iTunes" is a bit blunt when he's said he doesn't want to, though of course "why not iTunes?" is a perfectly good question.

Is the reason covered, implicitly, by the other requirements: "no spyware, very small footprint, clean install"? Or is there some other reason?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:38 PM on August 31, 2006


Secondong dbpoweramp. Nice set of tools...
posted by gergtreble at 5:10 PM on August 31, 2006


It makes no sense to reinvent the wheel. "Just install itunes" (even temporarily) IS the best answer as given above.

Install the damn thing, convert each song to mp3, then delete itunes if you want.

And Ambrose, the OP obviously doesn't know the ins and outs of itunes, otherwise s/he wouldn't be asking this question (no offense intended to the OP).

It makes more sense to me for a poster to use their expertise to answer a question -- even if the poster didn't quite ask the correct question. I don't think that there was a rule anywhere rule that says mefites aren't allowed to draw any inferences. Jeezus. I guess some of us didn't get the memo.
posted by bim at 5:54 PM on August 31, 2006


typo -- even if the [insert ORIGINAL here] poster didn't quite ask the correct question
posted by bim at 6:36 PM on August 31, 2006


"Just install iTunes" is annoying Apple apologism that doesn't answer the question, so quit with that.

Posting questions where the poster knows an easy solution to the problem is even worse.
posted by cillit bang at 7:10 PM on August 31, 2006


You're absolutely right, cillit. I should have read more carefully. I rescind my comment to Ambrose (sorry).

*Gives the OP forty lashes with a wet noodle*

*Gives myself 20 lashes with a wet noodle*
posted by bim at 7:27 PM on August 31, 2006


no spyware

I installed Quicktime, and got iTunes along with it. This combo insists on grabbing a bunch of MIME types for itself, and everytime I did *anything* with the preferences, Quicktime was inserting itself as a startup item until I permanently disabled it. Also, the iTunes thing seems to have some little TSR window that gives out annoying recommendations, and that's got to be using some sort of phone home thing.
posted by meehawl at 6:12 AM on September 1, 2006 [2 favorites]


1)The quicktime download page clearly offers a standalone version of quicktime -- so what's the big deal?

2)Whether you install quicktime or winamp or WMP or whatever, they ALL try to screw each other by grabbing various file types. That's why when it asks you what filetypes to associate with quicktime (during installation), you can click off the various boxes. So again, what's the big deal?

3)The recommendations window can easily be turned off.

...so all in all...these are pretty lame complaints.
posted by bim at 7:06 AM on September 1, 2006


you can click off the various boxes

Go into the Quicktime Preferences and try to turn off its MIME grabbing for what it considers "core" file types. You can't. Mever mind that I want to open them in mpc or vlc because it's faster, and does full screen, and detaches from the browser when I want. No go.

I don't run winamp or WMP, so I really can't comment on those programs. But when I access Media Center to change prefs, it doesn't take every opportunity to attempt to re-insert itself into my startup items, grabbing RAM and focus. Quicktime does. To me, that is the essence of spyware: unwanted and unasked fucking around with your startup without so much as a by your leave.
posted by meehawl at 7:55 AM on September 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


So don't install anything but your OS, meehawl. I'm sure you your computer will make an attractive desk ornament in its pristine state!
posted by bim at 8:31 AM on September 1, 2006


don't install anything but your OS

Considering that I have more than 2TB of disk online for the main machine, you can probably appreciate that I have a lot of stuff installed. Using emulators and virtualisation, I occasionally run some programs dating back to the 1970s. Hell, I even have a virtual Mac OS 8 installed into Windows when I want that Classic Mac feel. However, I do like to be able to control what I install, how it is installed, and how it interacts with other programs. Quicktime is a naughty little program in that regard.
posted by meehawl at 8:35 AM on September 1, 2006


Considering that I have more than 2TB of disk online for the main machine

Oh I think I've heard of that. Doesn't it come with a free massive wang attachment?
posted by cillit bang at 9:03 AM on September 1, 2006


Doesn't it come with a free massive wang attachment

Why yes, and all controlled from one handy, state of the art, central wang terminal.


posted by meehawl at 9:34 AM on September 1, 2006


Shouldn't be a problem, load up VMWare, install windows on your virtual machine, install quicktime on that machine, convert music, delete virtual machine.


Even the "long" way around is painfully obvious AND would have taken less time than waiting for answers.
posted by hatsix at 9:47 AM on September 1, 2006


Thanks everyone. I ended up using dbpoweramp. And if anyone else comes across this, you do need the codecs installed as well. The reason I didn't want to use iTunes: A wanted a smaller download. I didn't want quicktime installed and I don't know if it's an option not to install it. I disliked iTunes when I had it on an old computer and found it very slow. I was hoping for something I could keep installed in case this comes up again. I wanted the smallest amount of HD space taken. I probably could have worded the question to indicate this, but I thought it would be more straight forward just to say 'No iTunes.'
posted by miniape at 6:07 AM on September 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


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