Convert wma files to mp3 or mp4 format

I have a CD of my Dad's band that I would like to couple with a simple video(outsourced at fiverr). It is in wma format. The person doing the project wants mp3 or mp4 format. Is there some software that will convert the file(s)? I am not a programmer.

Please advise. Also, can you use wma with a video successfully and upload it to YouTube?

Thanks.
sheana11Asked:
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Paul SauvéRetiredCommented:
May I suggest --->Freemake Free Audio Converter<---. It is easy to install and easy to use.
Convert audio to MP3, M4A, WMA, WAV, AAC
Convert audio between the formats: MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, AAC, M4A, OGG. Convert WMA to MP3, MP3 to M4A, WAV to MP3, MP3 to WMA, FLAC to MP3, AAC to MP3, M4A to MP3, OGG to MP3, etc.
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BillDLCommented:
Hi sheana11

There are literally thousands of audio converters around, and I'll bet a lot are used to convert the proprietory Microsoft WMA (audio only) and WMV (audio & video) to formats that are accepted more widely by other software.  Everyone has their favourite, and the needs usually dictate the complexity of features.

My preferred one the free version of "Switch":
http://www.nch.com.au/switch/index.html
DON'T click the "download now" button.  Use the link at the right entitled "Download the free version here"

The simpler the better.  Some of these free programs install additional bundled software like toolbars, so you have to do a "custom setup" and watch for the boxes to untick.  many also include an online CD Database which fetches details and album art of recognised albums.  You don't need this, unless the recording of your Dad's band was on a commercial Audio CD.

Quite often you will already have the means to do this without installing any additional software.  Please make sure that you are using a COPY OF the original *.WMA audio file.  It would be disastrous if you accidentally overwrote that file with a new one of lesser quality.

Quality is an important aspect.  It all depends how the original recording was made and what kind of sound quality it is, but ideally you want the best there is.  Converting some types of audio file compresses them and degrades them, whereas other formats compress but don't degrade them.

MP3 is a "lossy" compression format, but is the most universally accepted type of audio file.  While you cannot increase the apparent quality of the audio from the original (because you can't add in data that wasn't there already), you can degrade the audio quite a lot if you accidentally choose the wrong settings during conversion.

First of all play your WMA file in Windows Media Player and, if you don't see the details shown in the main window (it depends on your layout), use the Tools menu > "Properties" to see the "kbps" or "kb/s" value (short for KiloBits Per Second).  When converting, there is no real sense in setting the figure any higher for the MP3 file.

Was this recording on a CD, and you ripped it out to a file using Windows Media Player?

If so, then you can do this again from Windows Media Player, but instead of ripping as a WMA file, all you have to do is change the settings so that it rips the track from CD to an MP3 file.
Windows Media Player 11 in Windows XP (translate the steps to your version of WMP):
Tools > Options > Rip Music:
Click "File Name" and choose what parts you want in the name.
Set it to MP3 > choose "Best Quality" which should say 320 kbps (KiloBits per second).
It won't increase the quality of the original audio as stored by Audio CD though.  You can experiment by creating 3 different MP3s at 192, 256, and 320 kb/s (rename each one with the kbps value in the file name before the next rip) and play them back to see if you perceive any difference in quality.  Don't set it any lower than 192 kb/s or you will be degrading it.

Your other option is any CD Burning software (not the inbuilt Windows function) that you may already have installed.  Usually these have a CD Ripping function and also a conversion option in one of the modules.

Whatever software you use, if you are offered any of the following complicated sounding options, I suggest these:

VBR (Variable Bitrate) vs CBR (Constant Bit Rate) - Set it to CBR and convert, then do another one with VBR.  Usually Constant Bit Rate is better for synchronising with video in a new production.

Normalize - This changes the audio content by trying to boost the perceived loudness without distorting it.  Often one or more audio tracks on a CD are deliberately quieter than the rest, but when ripped out it is too quiet for your liking as a separate audio file when played along with others, so people often allow the track to be "normalized" during conversion.  Personally I would suggest that you don't allow this, because on occasions it can distort or change the audio, but again experiment by creating one MP3 with it and another without, then compare.

Fixed File Size - NO.  This could compress the audio to an unacceptable level.

Resample - If offered, this is usually for live ripping rather than converting an existing audio file.  It "listens" to the audio content again and samples it just as was done at the original time of recording, but you won't get any perceived benefit by doing so with an audio file that was already encoded at a certain quality.

Let us know if you have any other questions.

EDIT > ADDENDUM

I see that you have opened a new question:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Digital_Living/Digital_Music/Q_28250334.html
the summary of which is that you used Musicmatch Jukebox to acquire the audio from a cassette player plugged into your computer and, instead of splitting it into separate tracks at silence points, it created one large WMA file that you now need to split.
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sheana11Author Commented:
Again, thanks for the incredible work and detail in answering my question.
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BillDLCommented:
You're very welcome sheana11
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