Microsoft developed Windows Media Audio (WMA) in an effort to undermine the MP3, Apple’s AAC compression, and other codecs. Since its initial introduction, the format has grown to support a range of audio types beyond compressed audio — in addition to high-fidelity audio and multi-channel surround sound, there’s even a WMA compression algorithm specifically tailored for the human voice.
However, while WMA remains widely used, far fewer programs support the proprietary codec than the industry standard for compressed audio, MP3. If you listen to music on an iPod — or most anything remotely similar — you’ll likely have to convert your WMA files into a more accessible format before enjoying your tunes.
Fortunately for you, we’ve put together a simple guide for converting WMA files into MP3. There are a variety of methods for you to choose from, whether you prefer web-based or third-party desktop programs.
Lunaweb Ltd.’s freemium Cloud Convert is an extremely popular file conversion tool. Though users are limited to 25 conversion minutes each day, it still allows you to quickly convert between more than 100 different file formats — including WMA and MP3, of course — provided your file is smaller than 1GB. Moreover, the resulting audio quality is great, and the site features a simple-to-use interface that’s also completely devoid of ads, making it easy on the eyes.
Navigate to the main Cloud Convert home page and click the Select files button located in the center of the page to upload a file from your computer. Alternatively, you can click the arrow to open a drop-down menu where you can upload from a URL, or from various applications like Dropbox and Google Drive.
Once the file is uploaded, click the box next to your file’s name to select the format you wish to convert to — in this case, MP3. You can also select if you want to create an archive file, which is particularly helpful if you’re converting multiple files. Cloud Convert displays handy information on whichever file format you’re converting to. Click on the wrench icon to the right of your desired conversion format to access the advanced options. You can fine tune a number of settings, including the resulting bit rate and audio frequency.
From there, there is a final menu at the bottom of the page to specify whether you’d like to receive the resulting file(s) in Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive; in order to do so, you’ll first need to sign up for a free account with Cloud Convert. Keep in mind that Cloud Convert will simply provide you with a download link if you don’t check a box. If you’re looking for high-quality audio, we suggest setting the bit rate to 192k and the sampling rate to 44,100Hz. Click the blue Okay button at the bottom of the pop-up window when you’re satisfied with your settings.
The final step is to click the red Start Conversion button and wait for the process to complete. Once finished, click Download, or navigate to the application or save location you previously set to retrieve your newly-minted MP3!
Online Convert may not be as visually appealing as other web-based converters, but it gets the job done, and supports a number of different conversion types (including WMA to MP3). Like Cloud Convert, Online Convert features a 100MB limit when it comes to source files. That said, Online Convert is a wonderful and straightforward way to convert your files without having to install any third-party software.
Head over to the Online Convert home page and select the Convert to MP3 option under the gray Audio converter box in the upper-left corner of the page. Afterward, click Choose File near the middle of the page and select the file you wish to convert.
Like Cloud Convert, Online Convert allows you to customize a number of settings when converting MP3s, such as audio bit rate and sampling rate. Adjust the settings as you see fit within the optional settings box, trimming the resulting file if desired. Again, MP3s sound best with a bit rate set to 192k or higher, and with a sampling rate of 44,100Hz.
Once you’re satisfied with the settings for the resultant file, simply click the gray Convert button at the bottom of the page and allow the software to convert your WMA. Your file will automatically download once it’s finished!
Convert using MediaHuman (Windows/MacOS)
If you’ve got a lot of files to convert, it might be easier to download a conversion program rather than using a website like Cloud Convert. You can spend a bunch of money on a paid program, like Switch, or (this is our recommendation) you can simply download MediaHuman’s free converter and convert all your WMAs into MP3s, easy as 1-2-3.
The software is extremely easy to use, even if you’re not a tech wizard. Simply navigate to the MediaHuman site, download the program for your operating system, and install it to your applications. Once open, you can either drag and drop files from your computer into the program, or click the big “+” button in the upper left corner and select appropriate files.
Once you’ve selected the files you’d like to convert — MediaHuman can convert multiple files at once, as long as you want them all to end up as the same filetype — select MP3 from the dropdown list of codecs, and click the Convert button, located at the top of the window; it looks kind of like the universal ‘recycling’ sign. In a matter of seconds (or minutes, depending on the number of files you’ve selected and their size), your conversion will be complete.
To access the converted files, access the File menu from the MediaHuman app and select Open Output Folder. This will automatically open the destination folder where your completed files — in this case, MP3s — are stored. From here, you can add the files to the library of your favorite media player or upload them directly to an external device. As always, if you want to sync files to an iOS device, you’ll have to go through iTunes.
Updated on April 25, 2017 by Nick Hastings: Updated for accuracy, and to include MediaHuman.