Converting MP4 to MP3 with VLC

Have you ever wanted to convert a video file to an audio file? Like, maybe you wanted a small clip from TV show to use as a ringtone, or maybe your favorite band was on Conan or Kimmel and you wanted an audio version of their performance for your iPod or smartphone?

There are dozens of apps out there that claim to do that, but most of those websites seem scammy, as if the download is malware or the ads might infect your computer with some kind of virus. And even the legit apps often have some kind of toolbar or search engine they want to install.

But did you know that VLC, the malware-free Swiss Army knife of video players, can also convert video to audio?

Just open VLC and choose “Media” > “Convert/Save”:

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In the window that appears, click “Add” and choose the video file(s) you want to convert:

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Next, click the down arrow on the “Convert/Save” button and choose “Convert”:

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On the next window, make sure the “Convert” radio button is selected, then choose the type of audio file you wish to create: OGG, MP3, MP4, FLAC or CD (WAV):

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Choose an output destination, then press “Start”. VLC will appear to play the file: the main VLC window will appear, and the progress bar will move as if the video is playing at high speed, but no video will be displayed. When it reaches the end of the video, the conversion will be complete. You can then edit the audio in Adobe Audition (spendy, but awesome) or Audacity (free, but not as good as Audition).

By default, VLC will convert the audio to a 128kbps mp3. This is fine for things like ringtones.

If you’d like to convert at higher quality, select “Audio – MP3” at the previous step and then click the Options icon (the icon with the screwdriver and wrench). Click the “Audio Codec” tab:

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Here you can adjust the bitrate as necessary. However, note that increasing the bitrate will not improve the converted file if the new file’s bitrate exceeds the original file. For instance, if the audio in the original file is 192kbps, editing the bitrate to 320kbps won’t make it sound any better; it’ll just make a larger file. You could, however, change VLC’s default bitrate from the 128kbps to 192kbps to get the best quality from the converted file.

4 Replies to “Converting MP4 to MP3 with VLC”

  1. Thanks for sharing a great article. now it make easy for me to convert any format according to my mp3 player.

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