MP3 is still easily the most widly used and widely supported digital audio file format. As a result, working with MP3 tends to be simple, especially on Linux. There was a time when it was still a proprietary format, and required additional packages, but now, converting your MP3 files is a breeze.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • How to Install SoundConverter
  • How to Convert To MP3
  • How to Convert From MP3
SoundConverter Converting MP3s
SoundConverter Converting MP3s.

Software Requirements and Conventions Used

Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Arch Linux
Software SoundConverter
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Install SoundConverter

This guide is going to focus on SoundConverter. It's a simple graphical tool that easily lets you convert one or more files between audio formats. If you're more into the command line, you can absolutely rely on FFMPEG for this as well.

To start, you'll need to install SoundConverter. It's a GNOME utility that's availble in most distribution repositories, so you shouldn't have a hard time.

Ubuntu/Debian/Mint
$ sudo apt install soundconverter
Fedora
$ sudo dnf install soundconverter
OpenSUSE
$ sudo zypper install SoundConverter
Arch Linux/Manjaro
$ sudo pacman -S soundconverter

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Convert To MP3

Now that you have SoundConverter on your system, you can open it up and start converting your files. SoundConverter is almost always classified under "Sound & Video" or "Multimedia" in desktop menu's, so go ahead and launch it from there.

SoundConverter Running
SoundConverter Running.

When SoundConverter first opens up, it's fairly plain. All the controls you need are accross the top, and the body of the window will populate with the files that you're working to convert. Before you start, select the Preferences

SoundConverter Preferences
SoundConverter Preferences.

The preferences window will pop open. Here, you can change everything form the output file name struction to the destination folder, file formats, and bitrates. Set your Format to MP3. You can also change the quality of your files. MP3s are notriously muddy sounding, so it's best to pick at least Very High quality. When you're done, close the preferences window.

SoundConverter Select Files
SoundConverter Select Files.

Next, press Add File to select your files. Browse to the files that you want to convert to MP3. You can select multiple files by holding CTRL while clicking.

If you'd prefer to add an entire folder, you can do that too with the Add Folder button. Then, just select the folder you want to open.

SoundConverter With Files Added
SoundConverter With Files Added.

Back in the main SoundConverter window, you'll find your files listed out. You can keep going back and adding more files if you'd like. Otherwise, press Convert to start converting your files.

SoundConverter will run through your queue and convert everything. When it's done, it'll let you know, and you'll be able to find your new files in the folder you selected. By default, that's the same folder as the originals.

How to Convert From MP3

Converting files from MP3 is essentially the same process. Keep in mind that MP3 is a lossy format, meaning that when a file is converted to MP3 from a lossless format, like FLAC or a CD, some data is discarded. You can't then convert it back to FLAC or WAV and expect the same quality. Therefore, it only makes sense to convert MP3 to another lossy format, like OGG.



Select Preferences again. This time, change the format to something else, like OGG. Once again, you should try to retain as high of a quality as possible.

Now, add your files again. Obivously, if you're looking to convert from MP3, be sure to choose MP3 files to convert.

Once you have the MP3s in your queue, press Convert again to start turning your files into MP3s. When it's done, you'll find the files in your designated folder.

Conclusion

Working with MP3s is easier than ever in Linux. You can use tools like SoundConverter and FFMPEG to quickly move your files in to and out of the MP3 format. You should consider the quality of your music library before converting your files because MP3 is a lossy format that will negatively impact your music. That said, if you're looking for a compact format for a music player or even your phone, keeping MP3 copies of your music can be beneficial.

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