How Do I Shrink an MP3 File?

Whether uploading music to your MySpace or Facebook page or sharing songs with friends via email or instant messengers, the ability to shrink the size of an MP3 file is a helpful skill in sending files on the web. Make your MP3 files smaller and more versatile with free mp3 conversion software.

Using iTunes

iTunes is a free music player designed and distributed by Apple Computer. The player is available for both Windows and the Mac OS as a free download from Apple's website. Aside from playing many different kinds of audio files, iTunes also has the ability to convert and shrink mp3 files.

Once the player is installed and set up with your music library, select "iTunes Preferences" from the File menu. Click on the "General" tab, and then on "Import settings." Select "MP3 Encoding" from the first drop-down menu and in the second, a relatively small bit-rate, such as 128kbps.

To shrink an MP3 file, simply select the song or file in iTunes' browser, and click "Create MP3 version" under the "Advanced" menu tab. A new, smaller version of your song will be created.

Using FreeRIP

FreeRIP is an Windows-only program, free for download at the FreeRIP website (See Resources for link). FreeRIP will convert CD audio, WMA, CDA, and OGG files to MP3, as well as perform MP3 to MP3 bit rate conversions.

Download FreeRIP and install it. When the program is open, set it to "Conversion Mode" by selecting "Conversion" from the View tab. Next, select "Select Files To Convert" from the File menu and add any files you wish to convert. Select your desired bit rate and select "Convert Selected Files To MP3" to start the conversion process.

Bit Rate Conversions and Audio Quality

The sound quality of your end-result MP3 file is directly proportional to the bit rate that you choose to convert it to. It is important to take into consideration the final application of your MP3 file, to find a balance between good quality sound and the convenience of the file size. A 64kbps MP3 file will be incredibly small, making it ideal for transferring via email, but the sound quality will be very very poor. A 256kbps MP3 will sound accurate to the recording, without the "warble" effect consistent with lower bit rates, but has the downside of being exceptionally large to transfer.

As an example, a four minute song encoded at 64kbps will weigh in at 1.5 megabytes. The same song encoded at 256kbps will be much larger, at 6.1 megabytes.