What bit rate do I use when exporting audio from a video

Hi, I want to get songs from you tube videos, but I want to do it the best and correct way I can. I’ve downloaded some videos using savefrom.net (not sure if this is the best way) and opened them in Audacity to edit, but for exporting I’m not sure what bit rate to use to proceed. Also, does it make sense to create FLAC files from the videos to preserve the quality of the audio (not make better), but for later editing? Thanks.

Windows XP Pro 32 bit
Audacity 2.1.0

If you want to manage videos that you personally shot, then the sampling rate is probably 48000 and not 44100. If you’re getting the work from download, it’s already been crushed and compressed and it doesn’t make any difference what you do, except you shouldn’t recompress it. Double compression is almost always bad for downloads.

There was a recent posting from someone doing a broadcast radio show from music downloads. He was fine until the station compressed the work for their stream. His show would turn to honky trash when they did that.

Double compression can be a land mine, waiting for you to not pay attention. So yes, WAV, AIFF or FLAC. All effectively uncompressed. I use WAV for the one radio show I down for listening in Lori, my lorry.


I’m not sure I understand; A downloaded video has already been compressed, and exporting it as MP3 compresses it again? But exporting as FLAC doesn’t compress it? So, would it be better to convert a video online to FLAC first, open in Audacity for editing then export as MP3? Does converting a video to FLAC involve compression? I just want to create a MP3 music library using songs on youtube. What is the best way to go about this? I’m new here and this is my first post, and I only have limited knowledge. Thanks.



The “damage” (loss of sound quality) is caused when the audio is encoded into a “lossy” format.
MP3 is a lossy format.
Encoding to MP3 always loses some sound quality (high bit-rates reduce the amount of loss, but there is always some loss of fidelity when converting to MP3 (or any other “lossy” format.

Audacity works internally in an extremely high quality format (32-bit float PCM), so there is no loss of quality when importing into Audacity.

Exporting from Audacity to MP3 will lose some quality because MP3 is a lossy format.

WAV → MP3 loses some quality
MP3 → WAV no problem

FLAC → MP3 loses some quality
MP3 → FLAC no problem

Audacity → MP3 loses some quality
MP3 → Audacity no problem.

Download from YouTube in the highest quality that you can.
Then import the download into Audacity.
Edit as required.
Export from Audacity as MP3 (Requires LAME to be installed: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/faq_installation_and_plug_ins.html#lame)
ALSO export a WAV or FLAC version of your edited audio as a backup. If you need to re-edit for any reason, you can then use the WAV/FLAC version that has not lost quality through the MP3 encoding step.

Note that when export as MP3, higher bit rates lose less quality than low bit rates, but at the expense of larger files. The “Extreme” preset is pretty good for maintaining quality without going overboard. To set the quality, click the “options” button in the Export dialog : http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/file_export_dialog.html

Thank-you so much, this is very helpful.

Download from YouTube in the highest quality that you can/import the download into Audacity -So it doesn’t matter what bit rate the audio was encoded as in the video, I can export at any bit rate? Is there a best way to download the videos, better site, process, etc.

MP3 → Audacity no problem -If I decide to import an MP3 into Audacity, I can export at any bit rate here too?

MP3 → FLAC no problem -I’ve read others saying this is useless, but it would be only for preserving the quality and not for making it sound better, right?


You could use WAV rather than FLAC, but the file size for WAV is almost double the file size in FLAC format. Also, meta-data is better supported for FLAC than for WAV.

You have no control over the bit-rate that the audio was encoded as in the video. YouTube usually offers several “quality” (bit-rate) settings. The highest bit-rate will generally sound best, so that’s the one to choose.

Not really an Audacity issue. I just use a Firefox plug-in. YouTube change their system quite regularly so it’s not uncommon for a download plug-in to suddenly stop working (until the plug-in is updated). When that happens it is time to find a new version, or a new plug-in.

If you use Firefox, you can find various plug-ins for downloading videos. Firefox call their plug-ins “Add-Ons”. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/
Check out recent reviews to find one that looks good - if it doesn’t work well for you, uninstall it and try an alternative. I can’t really recommend a particular one because (a) Firefox Add-Ons are not made by us, (b) there is no “best” downloader - it’s constantly changing, so you just need one that “works for you”.

Thanks a lot, I just have a couple more questions; instead of downloading the whole video, is it just as good to convert a video online to FLAC first (I mean is the FLAC file as good, is FLAC, FLAC no matter where it came from?) then open in Audacity for editing and converting to MP3? Which is better, Video to Audacity to MP3 and FLAC, or Video to FLAC (online) then to Audacity to MP3, or does it matter? Will the quality be better one way than the other? Thanks

We have no way of knowing how the online conversion from video to FLAC is being done or what the quality will be like. Best thing is to try it, see which sounds better. If there is no noticeable difference in sound quality, then which is easier/quicker to do.

The reason I was asking is because I found a site (convert2mp3) that converts videos to FLAC and downloads pretty quick, but you’re right, we don’t know how good the quality is. Thanks so much.

Does anybody know why the bit rate is different when using VBR in Audacity? I exported my first track using Preset: Extreme, 220-260, and I’m just wondering why in my folder it says the Bit Rate is 606kbps? Is that normal? When played it’s reading between 211-243kbps. Thanks

I’m just wondering why in my folder it says the Bit Rate is 606kbps?

Does that include the video?

The bitrate in kbps is kilo_bits_ per second. If you know that there are 8 bits in a byte you can approximate* the (average) bitrate from the file size and the playing time. And of course you know there are 60 seconds in a minute, so with a little algebra we get:

Bitrate in kpbs = (File Size in MB x 133) / Playing Time in Minutes

File Size in MB = (Playing time in Minutes x Bitrate in kbps) / 133


  • There is some file overhead and embedded tags (especially album artwork) add to file size without affecting the audio (or video) bitrate.