Like many people, I ripped a good many CDs back in the early 2000s in order to create a digital music library. With inventions such as the ‘home-theatre PC’ running Windows Media Centre, you could have all your music and videos in one place and use your TV as a giant jukebox.
This was, of course, before the days of music streaming services, but today a local collection of digital music files still has its place.
Cars, in particular, usually have a USB input and will play MP3s but few will play the WMA format which Windows Media Player used by default. If your car doesn’t support MP3s or USB sticks, here’s how to burn an audio CD from MP3s.
Chances are, then, that like me you have a bunch of albums in near-useless WMA. They’ll still play fine on any Windows PC or laptop, but to play on anything else, you’ll want a more compatible format.
Technically MP3 is dead, but compatible players will still be around in many years, so it still makes sense to convert your WMAs to MP3. Here’s how.
Rip again from the original CD
Windows Media Player, which is still present in Windows 10, has no capabilities for converting audio files.
What you can do, if you still have your CDs, is to re-rip them but this time in MP3 format.
To do this, fire up Windows Media Player, insert an audio CD and look for the Rip settings option which will appear in the menu.
Click it, then click on Format which will expand the menu. Now choose MP3.
In the Audio Quality menu (the option below Format) choose 320kbps (Best Quality).
Now you can rip all the tracks and they’ll be saved in your Music folder in MP3 format.
Convert WMA to MP3
With free software
Maybe you ditched your CD collection to save space, so ripping isn’t an option. No problem. Just download a free audio converter such as the one from Freemake.
Be careful during the installation and choose the Custom option, then untick the web browser which is installed if you go for the automatic install.
When Freemake is launched, click the + Audio button at the top, then navigate to the folder where your WMA album is stored. Select all the tracks and click Open.
Although you can select only one album at a time, you can queue up many albums before doing the actual conversion.
Once your queue is ready, click the ‘To MP3’ icon at the bottom. Here you can select the quality to use from the drop-down menu (we recommend 320kb/s) and also where the files will be saved.
Click on the Convert button and the process will start. When it’s finished, you’ll have MP3 versions of those WMA files.
Bear in mind that some WMA files might be protected with DRM (digital rights management). You might find that some apps can’t convert these.
Use an online service
There are loads of online services for converting files, so if you’d prefer not to install any software and you don’t have thousands of files to convert, you can upload WMA files and download MP3 versions.
Some audio conversion sites include Cloud Convert, media.io, Online Convert and Online Audio Converter.
Some place limits on the number of files you can convert, but since there are so many services, you can use several to get around this problem – or pay for the unlimited service.