How to Quickly Convert Audio Files with Gnac [Linux]

If you’re like most people, you probably have more than a couple of audio files on your computer. And they’re probably in a few different formats. Like what? Like MP3, MP4, WAV, FLAC, or even Ogg.

And maybe you want to covert to those files to another format – say MP3 to Ogg. There’s no lack of audio converters for the Linux desktop, but if you’re looking for one that’s small, simple, and fast, then look no further than Gnac.

Let’s take a look at Gnac and how to use it.

Installing Gnac

You can download binaries for several Linux distributions from the Gnac website. For Ubuntu users, the easiest way to install Gnac is to open a terminal window and run the following commands:

add-apt-repository ppa:gnac-team/ppa
apt-get update
apt-get install gnac

You can also download and compile the source code or build the latest sources from a GIT repository.

Setting Up and Using Gnac

Before you convert your first audio file, you should set one or two of the program’s preferences. To do that, start Gnac and then choose “Edit > Preferences“.

Preferences window

The one setting that you’ll want to change is the folder in which Gnac saves the converted files. By default, it drops those files into the same directory as the source audio files. That can get messy, especially if the source directory contains a lot of your music. You can tell Gnac to save the converted files in a subfolder of the source directory by clicking the Subfolder option, and then typing a name for the subfolder. Or, click Custom folder and then choose a folder in your /home directory.

If you want to get rid of the source files and only keep the converted ones, click the Delete original files after conversion option.

Once that’s out of the way, it’s easy to use Gnac. How easy? You can either drag and drop files on to the Gnac window, or click the Add button on the toolbar button to add one or more files to convert. Then, choose the format to which you want to convert the audio. After that, click Convert.

Ready to convert

The speed of the conversion depends on the size and number of audio files that you’re converting. On average, it takes about 20 seconds to convert a file. Not too shabby.

Turning the Knobs

Gnac can handle all of the audio formats that the GStreamer multimedia framework supports. Out of the box, you can convert between the following formats:

  • Ogg
  • FLAC
  • AAC
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • SPX

The factory settings for those formats are fine for most people. But you might want to fiddle with those settings to, for example, increase the quality of the audio or make the file a little smaller. To do that, click the button Edit beside list of formats in the Gnac window.

Editing window

Click on one of the formats, and then click the Edit button.

Changing audio options

Depending on the format, you can change the quality (worst to best; the default is usually in the middle), the bitrate, the number of channels, and the sample rate. To change any of those settings, either select an option from a dropdown list or click and drag a slider with your mouse.

You’ll have to experiment a bit to find the settings that work best for you and your needs.

If you need to quickly convert audio files, then Gnac is a great choice. It’s simple and powerful, and gets the job done quite nicely.

Scott Nesbitt

Scott is a writer of various things -- documentation, articles, essays, and reviews -- based in Toronto, Canada. He loves to play with tech, and to write about it too. Scott hasn't snagged that elusive book contract. Yet.

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