A FLAC file, short for Free Lossless Audio Codec, is a compressed audio file that maintains the same quality as the original source despite often being less than 50 percent of the original file size. The files are free and distributed to users under an open-source license, hence the “Free” and “Lossless” terminology, but typically surpass common audio formats such as AAC and MP3 when it comes to sheer audio fidelity. Simply put, they sound better and require less space.
However, while nearly all audio devices and multimedia players support MP3 playback, only a handful of them currently support FLAC. Thankfully, there are a myriad of ways you can convert FLAC to MP3, if you favor convenience over audio quality. The resulting file may not sound as nice, but at least you can play it. Here’s how to Convert FLAC to MP3.
If you are interested in other specific conversion scenarios, here’s how to convert M4A files to MP3, WMA to MP3, MP4 to MP3S, and even vinyl to MP3. We can also help out if you are looking for video converters.
Note: Some of the following apps are freeware, which often comes with unwanted add-ons. We suggest that you select the custom installation option, and follow along closely during the installation process. Keep your eye open for instructions about installing other apps, changing your homepage, and other actions that may lead to unwanted changes to your machine. Then, choose whether you want to install or forgo these bundled extras.
Freemake Free Audio Converter (Windows) — free
Freemake offers software with multiple options for managing music files and converting them to whatever format you desire. The software is compatible with Windows 10, highly-versatile, and simple to download — the “free download” buttons are a great starting point.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed Freemake, launch the application and import your audio files by clicking on the +Audio button and locating the files on your hard drive. Chose whatever format you want the files converted into, where you want them, and then convert away. You can reconvert them at any time after you’ve downloaded the files, too. Like many converters, Freemake allows you to adjust channels, bitrate, sample rate, and a host of other facets, allowing for greater quality control. You can also upload music to Google Drive or Dropbox, merge songs, and carry out a slew of other basic actions.
Audacity (Windows) — free
Audacity is a different sort of beast, one geared toward those who want to manage their songs and sounds using a full audio suite. The software is free and open-source, which is great for managing a large, customized library with many different audio formats.
With Audacity, you can record live audio and playback, cut and splice audio files, add effects, and convert all of your old formats — including tapes and vinyl.
Best of all, it can edit and convert a range of audio formats, including WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP3, and Ogg Vorbis. If you’re looking to convert analog to digital, or convert between various digital formats, this is the way to go.
FlacSquisher (Windows) — free
FlacSquisher is a library converter – in other words, it’s designed to convert entire libraries, or at least long lists of audio files, at one time. It’s a very simple setup, but also has some useful tool for people who want to run more complex conversion filters for their music. Choose the FLAC convert option, and then list any file types in the “File extension to ignore” box that you want the conversion to skip over, while listing any file types that you want to make copies of in the “File extensions to copy” box. This allows you to turn only certain types of audio files to FLAC, which may be just what you’re looking for.
To MP3 Converter Free (MacOS) — free
One of the most popular audio converters in the Mac Store is the apt-titled To MP3 Converter Free, an easy-to-use utility for converting from one of 200 audio and video formats to MP3. Of course, the software supports FLAC files, and the process for making the conversion couldn’t be simpler. The software also allows you to change the output from a constant bitrate to a variable bitrate, transfer tags from the source file, and adjust the volume to the maximum level.
To convert a FLAC file to MP3 using To MP3 Converter Free, just select your destination folder and drag the files over. If you need to batch convert folders or files, then you can purchase an annual subscription ($7) that also allows you to load tags and artwork from a network source, add fade in and fade out, and trim silence before and after songs.
MediaHuman Audio Converter (MacOS) — free
MediaHuman’s reliable audio converter is designed to work well with iTunes, and the design itself will probably remind of the iTunes format. In addition to exporting directly to iTunes when you are done, the app also supports batch conversion, audio extraction from video files, and innate Mac folder structure (so files don’t get switched around). If all your songs are based on a Mac, this is a versatile and dependable converter – just don’t expect it to offer much in the way of editing or sound adjustment.
Cloud Convert (Google Chrome) — free
Cloud Convert is technically a web-based converter — albeit, a useful one — but it also lives as a Chrome add-on, which makes this the first stop for Chromebook users. Pick up the add-on, open it, and you’re ready to go.
Cloud Converter isn’t just an audio converter, either. It can convert pretty much everything, including documents, videos, images, ebooks, and a laundry list of other types of content. Luckily, the service can easily handle FLAC and MP3 files. It even works in conjunction with Google Drive, allowing you to pull files from the service and store them online when you’re finished, rendering it another great option for Chromebook users.
However, it’s important to note that Cloud Convert doesn’t house extensive customization options like some of our other picks. You can specify things like bitrate, but more in-depth controls are largely absent. Cloud Convert is, therefore, better when you want to keep things simple.
Online Audio Converter (Google Chrome) — free
There’s simple, and then there’s ultra simple. If you don’t want to download anything and prefer to finish the process in a few seconds, stop by Online Audio Converter. Open the file you want to convert — whether it be via local storage, a URL, Google Drive, or Dropbox — and pick your desired audio format. The Advanced settings button will let you adjust bitrate, sample rate, channels, and other features, while the Edit track info button is self-explanatory. When finished, hit the Convert button.
The only problem is that batch conversions take a little more time with Online Audio Converter than they do with some of our other choices. The site was clearly designed with smaller conversions in mind.
Zamzar (Google Chrome) — free
Zamzar is an oldie but a goodie—a converter that’s been around for a few years but still delivers. While it gets mentioned frequently as a video converter, it’s also handy for audio files. The process is a similar 4-step online setup, and openly asks you to send in emails if you have any questions about a weird file that isn’t converting. Try using it as a resource if you run into problems with other conversion processes.
Xilisoft Audio Converter (Windows/MacOS) — $30
Converters that you have to pay for are well suited for long-term conversions, fiddling with sound editing, and dealing with strange formats. If you work in sound editing or you’re serious about music, it may be worthwhile to pay for something like Xilisoft Audio Converter.
The software handles pretty much every audio file out there, as well as a plethora of video files, and it has customization options beyond anything we’ve mentioned thus far. Xilisoft’s offering also allows you to add new audio effects and specify output size, for instance, and convert both individual files and batches. Needless to say, it takes audio conversion to a whole new level.
NCH Switch (Windows/MacOS) — $30
NCH offers a full suite of audio- and video-editing programs, but the one you should be most interested in is Switch Sound Format Converter Plus for Home. It supports more than 40 audio formats, can import playlists, and automatically adds song information via the web.
There are useful features, too, such as automatic audio normalization and the ability to listen to the resulting audio before you actually initiate the conversion. There’s even a free version of the software if you don’t want the full set of features, though, it is nice to be able to mix and match to create your own sound-editing solution.