MP3 is a standard and widely known term used for audio files around the globe. Whenever a digital device user or a smartphone user converses about the MP3 file format, that simply refers to the audio-based files. However, in addition to the MP3 extension, audio files can be stored in various formats such as M4A, AAC, ALAC, DSD, etc.
M4A file format
As cited above, M4A is another extension used for audio files. The Apple users are often more familiar with M4A file format; if you are an iPhone user, you would be aware that M4A is the default file extension used in the iTunes store to download the audio files.
It was basically released for Apple products; that’s why the default media player in Apple devices, i.e., iTunes or Music by the name, can play the M4A files without any format conversion.
M4A vs Mp3
M4A and MP3, both file formats, present audio files in smaller sizes. Despite the high popularity level of MP3 file format, M4A is still better than MP3, given the audio-quality aspect. However, there are only a limited number of media players available that support the M4A formats.
Conversion of Audio file formats
If you have any audio file in a format other than MP3, then that can’t be played on all devices; it is pretty tentative that the media player of the respective device is whether able to play that audio file or not. This is because most media players often tend to play the audio files in MP3 extension only and generally don’t support any other audio format.
To address this challenging state, you might be required to change the audio extension from m4a to mp3 so that it can be played by any media player. This conversion can be carried out either by employing any third-party media conversion app or the built-in media player of the respective device.
Best ways to convert M4A to MP3 on a macOS
Though the m4a files are directly playable on Mac-supported devices, but you may need to convert the m4a files to mp3 format if you want to transfer or play the files on any other device. This conversion can be performed quite conveniently via the iTunes app even. Hold on to the below-stated methods to get a playable mp3 file in few seconds.
Convert M4A to MP3 via iTunes
Converting the m4a file to mp3 via iTunes is so far the easiest way as for this, you don’t even need to install any third-party conversion app on your device. To perform this conversion, you need to follow the below stated steps.
- Launch the iTunes application on your Mac operating system.
- Navigate to the iTunes Preferences, and here, you need to select the General tab.
- Then click on the button Import settings.
- Proceed on by setting the Import using to MP3 Encoder.
- Now choose the bitrate for your MP3 files from the dropdown menu list. If you want to customize the bitrate, then you can go for the custom option.
- Click on the OK button.
- Click on the OK again in order to quit the iTunes Preferences.
- Now, launch the music list by clicking on the music icon located at the top left of iTunes.
- Here select the particular files you want to convert. If files are available outside iTunes, then you can simply drag & drop the required files in iTunes for selection.
- Right-click on the selected file and select the option Create MP3 version from the menu list.
- On clicking the Create MP3 version, a new version of the respective audio file will get created in the Music list as a duplicate file without affecting the original file located there.
- Now, you can save your newly created audio files anywhere on your device; for this, you just need to drag & drop the respective file on the destined location; this process will not delete the file copy located in iTunes. However, the audio files located in the iTunes Music library can be deleted if required.
Convert M4A to MP3 via CISDEM video convertor app
Doubtlessly the conversion carried out via built-in media player of Mac operating system, i.e., iTunes is much feasible, but you can’t access too many choices by this way. Therefore, the users often rely on third-party media conversion apps to get more customized results.
In this regard, the CISDEM video converter is worth mentioning due to its versatile variant features; whether you intend to convert audio, video, or any other file to another format, this app serves as a one-stop solution all problems. For this:
- Firstly, you need to download & install the CISDEM m4a to mp3 converter app on your Mac-supported device.
- Launch the CISDEM app.
- Import m4a files into the CISDEM app by applying the drag & drop strategy.
- Click on the blue-colored icon depicting the file format; consequently, a format menu will get displayed.
- Navigate to the General Audio tab and select the option MP3 Audio from the list of formats available next to General Audio.
- For extended customization, you can access the format settings by clicking on the gear icon located next to the MP3 Audio option. Then in Advanced settings’ windows, you implement the desired changes. (Note: Proper format knowledge is required to perform the customized conversion)
- Choose a destination location to save the converted output file and then proceed on the conversion process by clicking on the processing icon destined for conversion.
- Then you will get your file converted to mp3 successfully without conceding on sound quality.
Convert M4A to MP3 via Audacity
Audacity is well-known and one of the most reliable programs for editing & customization of Audio files that also perform the format conversions quite efficiently. The only limitation users may encounter is the conversion of M4A to MP3 on Mac OS because primarily it was not designed to support the import & conversion of M4A files on the Macintosh operating system; the users were able to import only a limited number of formats in Audacity at the beginning such as WAV, MP3, and AIFF.
However, this glitch has been resolved now because the users with the FFMPEG library installed on their system can import more file formats also in their Audacity app, providentially. Consequently, it can also offer a good conversion of m4a to mp3 format, by this way.
So, suppose you are sure that the FFMPEG library is installed on the system along with another built-in library LAME encoder that generally comes in a package. In that case, you can definitely go for the Audacity option because with these libraries, you would be able to import many formats such as M4A, WAV, WMA, AC3, etc.
To download these libraries:
- Access https://lame.buanzo.org/#lameosx64bitdl. (Just copy the link and paste it in your browser’s search bar)
- Here locate and download the required FFmpeg package available for Mac operating system.
After the installation of these libraries required for the conversion of m4a to mp3, you will need to:
- Launch Audacity app.
- Navigate to the Audacity menu and select the Audacity Preferences option.
- Then click on the option Libraries.
- Click on the Locate option next to the FFmpeg library and then add it.
- Now, go back to the homepage of the Audacity app.
- Here, you need to add your respective audio file by the drag & drop method.
- Click on the File option located at the top menu of Audacity and select the Export option followed by Export as MP3.
- A window will pop up for Extract Audio; here, click on the Save button.
Now, you can set the metadata tags and finish the entire process by clicking on the OK.
Convert M4A to MP3 via Command line & FFmpeg
You might be already familiar with the Terminal or command line as this is a built-in program in your system. Command-line can also be used for the conversion of m4a to mp3 format like other options, as explained earlier, but it is not that easy. In fact, it is a bit complicated way of conversion because even a minor misplacement of any letter or character can result in an error stating “command not found.”
If you don’t want much of your time wasted in wrong attempts, make sure to attempt the correct command the first time. Here is the approach that can be adopted to convert m4a to mp3 format via the command line.
- Initially, you need to install the FFmpeg library from the following link https://www.rickmakes.com/ffmpeg-notes/.
- Now, create a destination folder on the desktop to store your converted & original files. The best practice is to name the folder as MP3 if it is for output; otherwise, name it as M4A for original files.
- Afterward, launch the command line.
- Type the below-stated commands in sequence and press Enter to proceed with the conversion process. (The commands vary with the single and multiple files)
For a single file: (To convert a single m4a to mp3 file)
ffmpeg -i input.m4a output.mp3
ffmpeg -i input.m4a -acodec libmp3lame output.mp3
ffmpeg -I input.m4a -f mp3 output.mp3
For multiple files: (To convert multiple m4a to mp3 files)
[iMac-2: Desktop thh$ cd Desktop/ ]
[iMac-2:Desktop thh$ pbpaste > convert_to_mp3.sh ]
[iMac-2:Desktop thh$ chmod +* convert_to_mp3.sh ]
open -e convert_to_mp3.sh ]
iMac-2:Desktop thh$ ./ convert_to_mp3.sh M4A/ MP3/ ]
In case, if you have any m4a file, this command line tactic can be considered to convert to mp3 Mac file.
Convert M4A to AAC
No matter the MP3 is a commonly recognizable format for all devices still you can consider a variant alternative format option to make your audio file playable on your device. On account of this, we will move on with a way to convert m4a to AAC format also.
The AAC format is also fully compatible with the Mac-supported devices and presents a good quality of audio. To convert the m4a to AAC:
- Open iTunes.
- Head to the iTunes preferences and select the General tab.
- Then click on the option Import settings.
- Here you will need to set the Import using to AAC Encoder.
- Now, choose the bitrate for the AAC file from the options available in the dropdown list.
- Then click on “OK.”
- Click on the OK again to exit the Preferences.
- After exiting Preferences, navigate to the music list; for this, you will have to click on the music icon located at the top left of iTunes.
- Here select the files you are intended to convert. In case if respective files are located somewhere else, then you can simply drag & drop them in the iTunes music.
- Then click on the file menu and choose the option Create new version.
- Proceed on by choosing the “Create AAC version” option, by this way, duplicated AAC versions of selected audios will get created. Now, you have the choice to delete the original versions of audios in iTunes.
- Afterward, you can save the new AAC files anywhere on your device; for this, you can opt for the drag & drop strategy simply; however, this won’t affect the files located in iTunes; you can access these files from iTunes too, later on.
- You also have the choice to delete the files permanently from iTunes if you want.
We have enlisted all possible approaches that prove to be helpful in converting m4a to mp3 on Macintosh operating system. Although all demonstrated ways are equally effective, still you can choose the most suitable one, given the feasibility perspective.
Note: The format conversion via proper compression can affect the sound quality seamlessly, but that often doesn’t make any noticeable difference in audio.
M4A is a standard extension used by Apple products to store audio files, but the files with this extension are often unrecognizable by many media players. So, in most cases, you may need to convert m4a to mp3 Macintosh-supported format.
Format conversion is not a big deal if you know how to operate the iTunes app because you can easily convert the m4a to mp3 mac files via the iTunes app. In addition to iTunes, a built-in app of the Mac operating system, several other approaches can also be adopted to get similar results.
Such as this conversion can also be carried out via command line, third-party media conversion apps, and few other reliable online platforms. In the above-stated discussion, we have clearly demonstrated all these approaches that can significantly assist in converting m4a to mp3 on Macintosh OS.
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