Monday, September 07, 2009

Windows Media to MP3 Conversion for Mac OS X and Linux

For the past couple years, my girlfriend has been amazingly (astonishingly) patient about a whole slew of .wma files that we've got on the network drive... backups of her CD collection made when she was a Windows user. We managed to save them right before the computer died, but she hasn't been able to listen to them when she's booted into Ubuntu or Mac OS X.

Late last month, after getting back from two weeks abroad, Marjorie said that she'd really like to have access to her music collection again (the CDs are cumbersome and stored away in boxes for our impending move back to Colorado). With that said, I did some digging around, and found some immediately helpful links (two years ago, a few google searches had turned up results that indicated too much effort was involved).

I started out by trying a couple free Mac OS X GUI applications, but these ended up being quite horrible: either they did not offer the functionality I desired, they were buggy to the point of being unusable, or they rendered audio with unlistenable artifacts.

In the end, I had to use mplayer and lame in combination. After googling around and some trial and error, I discovered the combination of mplayer options that would successfully extract the audio data from .wma files and dump them as .wav files.

I started with a shell script, but quickly changed to Python, since there were several locations for the .wma files, and none of them on nice paths. I've used this script several times since then, when more .wma files were discovered, and have yet to encounter any issues in sound quality. Once nice-to-have would be to extract .wma metadata and save it in the new .mp3 files as id3 tags...

Anyway, here's the code:

Hope someone else finds this useful and their significant others don't have to wait 2 years for their music!


  1. Thanks, this has been very helpful!

  2. re "Shell script" and "nice paths": it helps a lot if at the beginning of your bash/dash/sh/ksh script you insert a:


    (that is: quote, actual tab character, newline, quote)

    From that point on, your shell script will choke on filenames only if they contain <tab> or <lf> characters.