Loss of quality recording from wma file

Hi all, I’m issues replicating the original quality of wma files and hope someone can help. Running version 2.0.3 on Windows 7 (Professional). So I have a number of wma audio files, which will not play on my iPod. For the record the reverse is true; purchased songs from iTunes and mp4 will not play on my media player (version 11 I think). Any I figured I could record and export to mp3 which both will recognize. But when I try recording the sound quality is slightly diminished, almost like muffled. It seems heavier in the bass and I notice some of the higher end sounds are altogether lost. Tried every manipulation I could think of, but can’t seem to get the Audacity sound to match the original wma sound. The best I got was with these configuration settings:

Audio Host: Windows Direct Sound
Output Device: Primary Sound Driver
Input Device: Stereo Mix (IDT High Definition Audio CODEC)
Project Rate: 44100 Hz, although there’s not much change here between settings outside the extremes

Also under Preferences/Quality I set both Real-time Conversion and High-quality Conversion to “Best Quality”. To be honest I don’t know what matters and what doesn’t. But if anyone knows the proper settings to capture a wma for the purpose of exporting to mp3 without changing the quality it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

I assume it sounds OK when you play the WMA in Audacity, and the sound is damaged when you create the MP3?

You need to use higher quality MP3 compression. But, there is always (theoretical) quality loss when you convert one lossy format to another lossy format.

When you export to MP3:
Options → Variable → Quality → 0 (Best Quality)

Or, Options → Preset → Quality → Insane, 320kbp

Leave the default Joint Stereo setting.

Those are the least-compressed, highest quality, MP3 settings. 320kpbs will give you the biggest possible (least compressed) MP3 file, and it will probably be bigger than your original WMA. (The bitrate is kilobits per second, so if you know there are 8-bits in one byte, you can figure-out the file size.)

Long Story -
WMA, MP3, and AAC are all lossy formats. Data is thrown-away when the file is compressed to 1/5th the original uncompressed size or smaller. (At high quality settings, the results are often good enough that you can’t hear a difference in blind listening tests.)

When you transcode to a different lossy format, you are going through a 2nd lossy compression step.

When open an MP3 (or WMA or AAC) in Audacity (or any “normal” audio editor) it’s decompressed. This is the same decompression that happens you play a lossy file. If you export as WAV (or to a non-lossy compression format) there is no further damage. However if you re-export as MP3 (or another lossy format), that’s a 2nd lossy-compresion step.

Also under Preferences/Quality I set both Real-time Conversion and High-quality Conversion to “Best Quality”.

That’s something different… That’s for sample rate conversion (44.1kHz to 48kHz, etc.). You don’t need to change your sample rate.

Loss of quality recording from wma file

Just FYI - You are not “recording”. You are opening or converting the file. “Recording” implies “real time capture” of audio or video, like with a micophone or video camera, or if you record/capture something you are listening to over the Internet. If you want to copy a cassette tape, you have to record. If you want to copy a CD, you just make a digital copy.

Ok, I follow what you’re saying. Thanks for the info, that’s a lot I didn’t know. However, I do want to point out that I am indeed recording. As Audacity will not import a wma file, I am playing it in Windows Media Player and recording the playback directly into Audacity. So the difference can be heard in the “raw”, as it were, before I even export to mp3 format.

I do see there is an option to install a third party FFmpeg library that would allow importing wma. Perhaps that is the way to go? I could then at least use the settings you suggest for exporting to the mp3 format. Thanks again!

FFmpeg will work for most WMA files, but not all. DRM protected files cannot be imported. But it would be better to import the WMA files if possible, so definitely worth trying FFmpeg. See here for how to get FFmpg (follow the instructions precisely so as to avoid difficulty): Audacity Manual