You finally decided to upgrade your old car audio system to one that also supports MP3s. But as an audio connoisseur, you have your music in FLAC format and maybe some AAC or AC3 files. Thankfully, you don’t have to recompress them one by one or overthink their format: SoundConverter supports many audio formats as input and can re-encode all of them to MP3s, OGGs or AACs in one go! Let’s see how you can easily convert audio files in Ubuntu.
SoundConverter’s popularity almost guarantees you’ll meet it in your distribution’s software center.
Seek it with its name and install it from there, or jump to a terminal and enter:
sudo apt install soundconverter
After the installation, launch it and let it idle on your desktop while you proceed to the next step.
Converting your audio files
1. Run your favorite file manager. It’s easier to use drag-and-drop with SoundConverter for batch conversions. Point it to the directory with your “source” files – the ones you want to convert to MP3s (or some other format supported by SoundConverter).
2. Select all the files from your source directory and drop them in SoundConverter’s window.
You can also drag-and-drop directories – SoundConverter will “parse” them and add their contents to its queue. And you can repeat the procedure with more directories and files in different paths. You can include as many files-to-be-converted as you please to the program’s queue.
3. Click the button with the gear icon on SoundConverter’s title bar to configure the specifics of your conversion.
Start by choosing your output folder from the very top. It can be the same folder as the input file, but that could lead to conflicts if you have files with identical names but different extensions in it. Prefer to modify this to “into folder …” and pick an output folder by clicking “Choose.”
4. The options in the “How to name files?” pull-down menu offer some basic renaming functionality.
If dealing with large numbers of files, and not, for example, a single album from a specific artist, we recommend you use the “same as input, but replacing the suffix.” This way it will be easy to identify which file came from which source.
If your files contain strange characters apart from alphanumerics, enable “Replace all messy characters” to enhance compatibility with standalone devices, like the car audio system of our intro. Some standalone players can’t even read characters outside of what you’d use in an old DOS filename.
5. Use the “Format” pull-down menu in the “Type of result?” section to select your output files’ encoding.
We bet that for the vast majority of people, and most needs, this will be the ever-popular MP3 format, but if you wish, SoundConverter allows converting to other, albeit less prominent, formats. For example, if you know your audio player supports it, opt for the AAC format, since it leads to better quality at smaller file sizes than MP3.
6. Each format comes with some basic settings you can tweak. For all, you’ll have a quality option that also affects their file size: higher quality equals larger file sizes.
Some formats may come with extra options you can tweak. For example, for Ogg Vorbis files, you can use the “oga” extension instead of the default “ogg.” MP3s allow you to choose variable or constant bitrate, and so on. If you don’t know what each option does, we suggest you only tweak the quality to what you’d like and leave all else as is.
7. You can further minimize the size of the recompressed files and save more storage space by resampling them.
Most consumer audio equipment has 44kHz as a ceiling. So why leave your files at 48kHz and waste more space when re-encoding them? The produced files will be of somewhat lesser quality, but it’s not like you could tell if you aren’t using high-end gear – and that includes the device that will play the files and your speakers or headphones.
8. If you have an older CPU and are converting a lot of files at once, you’ll want to turn your attention to “Limit number of parallel jobs,” the last option.
Enable and set it to the number of cores of your CPU minus one or two. This way, you ensure that the encoding procedure won’t take up all resources, causing delays to other running software – except if you have no problem with that and don’t plan to multitask while your files are re-encoded.
9. With everything set up, return to the program’s main window and click on “Convert” at the top left to start the re-encoding process.
CPUs have gotten good at compressing audio, so if you bought your CPU during the last decade, and it has more than a single core, SoundConverter should have your results ready in mere minutes, if not seconds.
Not for everything
As a closing point, nothing’s perfect, including SoundConverter. Sometimes an incompatible file can break a conversion.
In our case, we included a video file in WMV format to see if SoundConverter could extract and re-encode its audio. It didn’t. The whole process failed, and the program crashed.
If you meet similar problems, check your original files and encode them in groups until you find the culprit that breaks the conversion.
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