How to Convert WAV to MP3 in Audacity

Download the LAME MP3 encoder to convert to MP3

What to Know

  • In Audacity, open the WAV file you want to convert to MP3, and go to File > Export > Export as MP3.
  • If Audacity can't find the LAME encoder, go to Edit > Preferences > Libraries > Locate and select the LAME plugin.

This article explains how to convert WAV files to MP3 using Audacity in Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Before you download and use Audacity, be sure to review its privacy policy to ensure you’re comfortable with its terms.

Convert WAV to MP3 With Audacity

Audacity is one of the best ways to edit audio files, so it's only natural to want to convert files with the program too. However, when you need to export an audio file in a format like WAV to MP3, you quickly learn that, by default, you can't do it—unless you tell Audacity where to find the LAME MP3 encoder.

When you use the LAME MP3 encoder in Audacity, you can reduce the space that the audio files are using on your hard drive because MP3 is a lossy format (i.e., not a bit-perfect conversion) that saves the audio to a compressed format.

With Audacity installed and the proper LAME files ready to go, you can now convert from WAV to MP3.

  1. Go to File > Open in Audacity.

    File > Open option in Audacity
  2. Select the WAV file you want to convert to MP3, and click Open.

    Open a WAV file in Audacity
  3. Go to File > Export > Export as MP3.

    Export to MP3 option in Audacity
  4. Find and select a folder where you want to save the MP3. You can also change the name of the file there if you want.

    Click Save.

    Optionally, before saving, you can edit the bit rate mode, quality, variable speed, and other settings for the MP3. These options are at the bottom of the Export Audio window.

    Save WAV to MP3 in Audacity
  5. Edit the metadata tags if you want something else to be included there. You can edit the artist's name, track title, genre, and more.

    Click OK.

    Metadata tags options in Audacity
  6. Audacity converts the file to MP3 in the folder you chose above. You know the conversion is finished when the conversion window goes away and you're left with the original WAV file you opened in Audacity.

Audacity Can't Find the LAME Encoder

If you get a lame_enc.dll error or a similar message about how Audacity can't convert to MP3, you need to tell the program where it can find the LAME encoder library.

LAME error in Audacity
  1. Click Browse.

  2. Locate the folder where you extracted the LAME binaries, and click Open.

    The file is called lame_enc.dll in Windows and libmp3lame.dylib in macOS.

    How to find the lame_enc.dll file in Windows
  3. Click OK on the Locate LAME window.

    Import the lame_enc.dll file to Audacity in Windows
  4. Audacity then continues with the conversion.

Alternatively, you can go to Edit > Preferences > Libraries and click Locate to select the LAME plugin. In Windows, you can expect to find the file in C:\Program Files (x86)\Lame For Audacity; Mac users should look in /usr/local/lib/audacity/.

Don't Have Audacity or LAME?

If you're confused about which LAME package you should install, some quick instructions are as follows:

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