Burning an MP3 CD from WAV files

Q: I’ve been asked by a friend to put together 200 songs onto one MP3 disc for office background music, but all of the tracks in my iTunes Library are in WAV format. Regardless of the Burning settings in iTunes’ Preferences window, when I start burning such a disc, a message pops up complaining that none of the tracks on the disc are in MP3 format. Can you tell me what I have to do to get a CD full of MP3s?

– Dan

A: iTunes’ “MP3 CD” option is indeed a bit ambiguous. Contrary to what many would expect, it doesn’t convert your existing selection to MP3 before burning, but instead simply burns only the MP3-formatted tracks which happen to be in the current playlist; files of any other format are left behind.

There are two options:

The first won’t help your specific situation at all, but is useful to readers trying to make backups of a mixed MP3/AAC library: simply switch iTunes’ burning preferences to “Data CD/DVD.” This will burn all files in their existing native format to a disc.

What you’ll have to do is actually convert all 200 songs to MP3. Luckily, iTunes makes it fairly easy to do. First, open iTunes’ Preferences, and select the “Advanced” tab, and the “Importing” panel. Here, change the “Import Using” preference from “WAV Encoder” to “MP3 Encoder”, and set any additional quality parameters as you’d like them.

Then, return to the playlist you’d like to burn, choose “Select All” from iTunes’ “Edit” menu, and then choose “Convert Selection to MP3” from the “Advanced” menu. This will create a copy of each of your selected WAV tracks, in MP3 format.

If you’d like, you can delete the WAV files from the playlist, but it’d be unnecessary: simply burn an MP3 CD as you’d tried to before, and iTunes will automatically weed out the WAV files itself.

For more information on burning CDs in iTunes, check out our tutorial here.

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