It may happen that you have downloaded a CD and you think that it is a mp3 file, but seems like it’s a .flac file. An mp3 player can not read .flac files, but this doesnt mean you have to throw the file away. There are small free programs available that can convert different music files to mp3. Switch Sound File Converter is a simple program which allows you to convert flac files into mp3 format, actually it convert many formats. It’s available for Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7and Mac OS X 10.3 or above.
What are FLAC files
Flac stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec and means that the music is converted to this Audio Codec without any loss of quality. Flac files are music files that are more or less comparable to the popular MP3 files. Mp3 wants to compress to a minimum size but the music file is still a good sound. Flac compression refers to the original music in the smallest possible size to save with the preserving of original sound quality. Flac files are mostly bigger file size compared to the same song in MP3 format, but the files are a lot smaller than the original WAVE file. Flac is a beautiful compression between Wave and MP3 files. Flac files are identified by the extension .flac and can be played with a Flac player. The advantage of flac compared to Mp3, it has no loss of sound quality of the original WAVE (WAV) files. MP3 files loose sound quality but its a much smaller size. It is therefore perfectly possible to make from flac files again a very good quality strong music CD. Flac compression is also called lossless compression, no information disappears during the compression process.
Installing Switch Sound File Converter
First download Switch Sound File Converter which takes only a few seconds. The installation start first with the license agreement. Read it carefully and click on Accept. Second you have the option to install Related Programs and Extras: Wavepad Audio Editor, Mixpad Multitrack Software, Prism Video File Converter and NCH Software Internet Browser Toolbar. If you want you can check some of them, but it is not important. Click on Finish and the program starts.
Convert flac files to mp3
When you click on the Add File button you can browse for files and add them or if you have a complete CD in a folder then click Add Folder. The Browse button specifies a folder where your converted files will be saved. If you check the box Output to same folder as source files, the converted files are saved in same folder as the original.
In Output Format select the file type what you want to make, select mp3 files because this is most commonly used. Then click Encoder Options to choose the Bitrate and the encoding options.
Constant Bitrate CBR
If you convert an audio file with a constant bitrate, the whole song will convert from the first to the last second the selected bitrate. You can choose between 8 Kbps up to 320 Kbps, a higher value means better quality. Good quality starts with 128 Kbps. Keep in mind, when converting into higher quality then the file size increase too.
Variable Bitrate VBR
If you encode an audio file with a variable bitrate, the bitrate encoder decide the bitrate and adjust automatically to the requirements of the coding fragment. You can choose between the quality VBR 0 and VBR 9, VBR 0 is the best quality.
The advantage of VBR compared to CBR is that the resulting MP3 files are smaller but has still the same or even better quality. Encoding with CBR is going faster than using VBR.
Make sure that your mp3 player supports the selected bitrate or else your mp3 player does not recognize the converted MP3s.
Channel Encoding Mode
The best you can choose for Joint, if the sound on the left and right side is the same only one channel is saved. While playing the song it converts again into two channels. Actually, the compression of MP3 files are based in this way.
After you’ve done your settings click Ok and the pop-up windows will close. Finally press the Convert button bottom right of the main window.
You can see in the end result that the mp3 file is almost 9 times smaller than the flac file. I use the 128 Kbps and of course this also has consequences for the quality but when you want to convert them, you decide for yourself what quality is still acceptable to listen.