Lesson 5: Convert Audio Files

In this lesson, you will download four audio files, of varying formats, and drag them into a GarageBand project and iTunes to see if they “go.” You will then use iTunes and Switch software to convert files that are not compatible with GarageBand.



Would you lilke to look at a piece of paper instead of a web page? Click to download a reference guide (list of menu items and keyboard shortcuts) and the list of practice items for this lesson. Would you like to track your progress? Use the Practice Items pages as a checklist or download the Self-Assessment Rubric.

Reference Guide - Lessons 4-6: Export, Convert, Import (PDF)
Practice Items - Lesson 5: Convert Audio Files (PDF)

Sample Audio Files:

Audio files used in the tutorial, and their sources, are listed below. You may use these files to practice converting, if you like.

Practice Items:

step 1Download Switch software: http://www.nch.com.au/switch/index.html.

step 2Open iTunes.

step 3Open new GarageBand project: File ⇒ New or ⌘N.

step 4Determine if file is compatible with GarageBand.

  • Drag desired audio file into timeline - if it goes in, there is no need to convert.
  • If it doesn’t go in, the file will need to be converted.

step 5Determine if file is compatible with iTunes.

  • Drag desired audio file into timeline - if it goes in, there is no need to convert.
  • If it goes in, convert with iTunes: Select Advanced ⇒ Create MP3 version. Follow process from Lesson 4 to locate the new song file and move it to desired location.
  • If it doesn’t go in, convert with Switch.

step 6Use Switch to convert outside of iTunes or to non-MP3 file type.

  • Open Switch.
  • Drag and drop audio file into Switch window.
  • Select output folder - this is where your converted file will end up.
  • Select output format - mp3 is widely compatible.
  • Convert: Use menu (Convert ⇒ Convert Files), keyboard shortcut (shift+⌘C),
    or click on icon in lower right corner of window. Switch convert icon

step 7Drag converted file into GarageBand timeline.

switch software window


Swtich can convert to and from common audio file formats, some of which are listed below. Information in the table below is from FileInfo.com: http://www.fileinfo.com/filetypes/audio.

.aac Advanced Audio Coding File iTunes default encoding. Similar to an .MP3 file, but offers several performance improvements.
.aif Audio Interchange File Format CD-quality audio file, similar to a .WAV file; standard CD audio AIFF files have two channels (for stereo sound).
.flac Free Lossless Audio Codec File Open-source; uses lossless audio compression; compresses audio files with no loss in quality.
.m3u Media Playlist File Contains a playlist of MP3s and other audio/video files; contains references to files, but not the actual files.
.mov Apple QuickTime Movie Common multimedia format often used for saving movies and other video files; Mac and PC compatible.
.mpc Musepack Compressed Audio File Based on .MP2, but with several improvements; not as popular as .MP3 c, but has higher-quality sound.
.mp3 MP3 Audio File Common for music files and audiobooks; near-CD quality in a file 1/10 the size of a .WAV or .AIF file.
.ogg Ogg Vorbis Compressed Audio File Compressed audio file that uses free, unpatented Ogg Vorbis compression; similar to an .MP3 file, but sounds better than an MP3 file of equal size.
.pls Audio Playlist Playlist containing a list of audio files; may be used to redirect to an Ogg Vorbis (.OGG) audio file; contains references to files, but not the actual data.
.vox VoxWare Dialogic Audio File MetaVoice encoded audio file that simulates human speech.
.wav or .wave WAVE Audio File CD-quality audio file, similar to .AIFF file; WAVE more common on Windows, AIFF more common on Mac.

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