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Transcoding Audio

Transcoding means converting/encoding audio files from one format to another. In this guide, we will discuss the basics and procedures of transcoding audio files. For the transcoding, we will use foobar200 but the process should be similar in other programs also.

Audio Source

AnalogVinyl, tape
DigitalCD, DVD, Digital Store, Streaming
  • For analog source, you have to use analog to digital converter to get the digital file from the physical medium.
  • For digital source, audio files are already present in digital format. You have to use ripping software to rip form these.
  • Among streaming services,
    • Lossless: Qobuz, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music & Deezer
    • Lossy: Spotify & Youtube Music

Audio Format / Container

Uncompressed LosslessWAV, AIFF
Compressed LosslessFLAC, ALAC, APE, WavPack
Compressed LossyMP3, Ogg Vorbis, Opus, AAC, WMA
  • Open source: FLAC, APE, WavPack, Ogg Vorbis, Opus.
  • Uncompressed Lossless is usually used for studio mastering and editing. huge in size since everything is recorded with same bitrate (including silences).
  • Compressed Lossless efficiently compresses the audio and reduces the file size by a good margin.
  • Lossy formats remove the audio ranges that humans can't hear.
  • Ogg & m4a can contain both lossy & lossless.

MP3 Bitrate Types


  • Constant Bitrate
  • CBR gives every sound the same bitrate, including silences (like Uncompressed Lossless), resulting in larger file sizes than with other bitrate types
  • you can only choose one bitrate, all the sounds will then be that exact bitrate


  • Variable Bitrate
  • VBR dynamically changes the bitrate based on the sound resulting in smaller file size
  • you can select the bitrate quality level and the encoder then decides the bitrate for every sound based on that


  • Average Bitrate
  • ABR is a mix of CBR & VBR. The audio bitrate will vary (like VBR) & the average bitrate will be the user given one (like CBR)

The Process

Read before transcoding

  • Audio can't be legitimately transcoded to higher quality since you can't generate new details after compression has been applied. That's why you shouldn't transcode
    • lossy into another lossy because you will lose more details during transcoding
    • lossy into lossless since it will be just a waste of space & no audio quality improvement.

  1. Download and install Foobar2000 & encoder pack.
  2. (Optional) Add Georgia-ReBORN theme.
  3. Add your music library in the foobar2000.
  4. Now follow the video below

Standard Quality for Common Containers

MP3 (VBR)Lvl 0
MP3 (CBR)320kbps
Ogg Vorbisq10