How do I Choose the Best AAC Converter?

Mary Elizabeth

AAC is an acronym for Advanced Audio Coding. It refers to a standard digital audio compression and encoding format. It is one of a group of audio codecs, a method to convert analog signals to digital bitstreams and vice versa, as well as to encode audio for digital storage. An AAC converter is a tool for changing a different format to AAC or changing an AAC format to a different format.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Audio codecs are classified as having lossy or lossless compression. Lossy compression discards portions of the input in its goal of reducing the size of the output, losing some sound quality in the process. It is the most often type of compression found in computer audio file formats. Lossless compression preserves all the original data in a manner that allows the original to be digitally duplicated, but at the cost of larger file sizes. AAC is a type of lossy compression.

You may often see AAC identified as being part of the MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 standard, but also being compared favorably to the MP3 format. To understand this, it is essential to know that MP1, MP2, and MP3 are formats from the MPEG-1 standard approved in 1991, and the higher numbers in MPEG2 and MPEG-4 indicate standards that were developed to address shortcomings and add improvements to the earlier standard.

Choosing the best AAC converter is a matter of several factors including trust, convenience, and purpose. AAC is the default audio format for several important technology companies and their key products, including Apple, Sony, Nintendo, and Nokia. Android-based phones also use AAC format as their standard.

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What this means for choosing an AAC converter is that in some cases— — iTunes®, for example — you will find an AAC converter built in. Since iTunes® is free, the converter is also free. If you go to iTunes® Preferences, select the panel called “General,” and click on “Import Settings,” you will have the following choices: AAC Encoder, AIFF Encoder, Apple Lossless Encoder, MP3 Encoder, WAV Encoder. By selecting “AAC Encoder,” you can convert any music that you are moving into your iTunes library to the AAC format.

Now, suppose you want to save a copy of a digital recording that is already in AAC format to another file format. Using the method outlined above, choose the format that you want the file saved to. Then select one or more files in your iTunes® library and go to the "Advanced" menu. From that menu, select “Create Version.” The word will be filled in with whatever choice you made in preferences.

While there are many free converters offered on the Internet, as long as iTunes® offers the formats you need, it is recommended to use this free, reliable tool from a known manufacturer as your AAC converter. But what if you need another format? In that case, it is best to take the following three steps. First, find software that has been reviewed favorably on a reputable technology site, like CNET or ZDNet. Second, read any directions or help files that may accompany the software. Third, back up your original file prior to attempting a conversion.

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