3 Methods To Extract The Audio From Video Files

Christian Cawley 05-04-2012

extract audio from videoPerhaps you’re podcasting or your requirements for ripping the audio from a video clip might be rooted in a more artistic activity such as video editing. Either way, the matter of isolating the audio track from video files can be tricky to achieve.


Fortunately there are various approaches you can take, either using your PC or employing a second device. While this solution might not be ideal, the use of a digital connection should avoid any problems with the sound quality degrading between devices, especially if you plan to copy the isolated sound back to your computer, perhaps as a WAV or MP3.

The following suggestions on isolating or extracting audio from a video file cover using a second device, employing an audio recording application and using a utility to convert the video to MP3.

Output Audio To Another Device

Your computer should have at least one audio output option, typically a headphone port, along with other options such as the standard line out or the SPDIF optical port.

extract audio from video

Choosing one of these to match the input options of any handheld recording device that you have will make it very simple to record the audio from a video clip if you don’t have access to the right software.


When making the choice of connection, go for the highest quality. For instance you might have a digital recorder with an optical port, so if a similar port is present on your PC simply connect the device, cue the video player and press record on the device. Note that this is a “real time process”, so if you have a long video the soundtrack might take a while to record!

Recording Your Computer’s Audio

An alternative to the use of a secondary piece of kit is to take advantage of the marvelous Audacity, available from here.

After downloading and installing this software, you can use it as a digital studio for compiling tracks or as a useful tool for recording audio from source on your PC.

rip audio from video


This is done using the options on the Audacity Device Toolbar, which you will find just below the play and record options on the Audacity Transport Toolbar. Here, set the source option – indicated by a microphone symbol – to Stereo Mix (the option will have your sound card listed as a suffix).

rip audio from video

With this selected, click the record button and press play on the video clip you wish to record. When you’re done and you listen back, you might notice that the sound is a little quieter than it was when you played it as a video clip. This is likely due to the audio settings on the video player; use Effect > Amplify in Audacity to boost this up a little.

Converting Video To MP3

The third option is to use a converter application to lose all of the video information and convert the file to MP3. While the options above can be used for video played back from any source, converting is the only way of stripping the audio from a downloaded video file that sits on your computer or on a connected device.


extract audio from video

So far the most accessible free option for this is probably [NO LONGER WORKS] Free Video to MP3 Converter, although you should be warned that it will attempt to install unnecessary browser toolbars so work your way through the installation process carefully.

Once installed, the application is easy to use. All you need to do is click the Add Files… button to browse for and add the video file you wish to convert, select an output folder in the Save to: field and choose your output format and quality. When you’re happy, click Convert and wait for the audio to be stripped from the video file.


Using the first two of the described methods in the past I have been able to extract audio from various sources. The last option, actually converting the video file to MP3, is the one that has proved the easiest.


All of these solutions are suited for specific scenarios, of course – but do you have a preferred option? Perhaps you have some superior software that you like to use or a portable sound recorder that can be easily synced to your PC? Let us know!

Digital Recorder Image Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Audio Converter, Audio Editor.

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  1. Anton
    June 2, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Tried the first option. It really freaking worked!

    • Christian Cawley
      June 4, 2017 at 7:42 am

      Happy to read that, thanks for letting us know!

  2. AZAM
    August 28, 2016 at 2:55 pm


  3. Anonymous
    August 4, 2015 at 11:57 am

    I forgot to mention that the process of extraction is by far the fastest (like 10-50x faster then conversion) because there is no CPU work involved, it just "copies" the audio, like copying files on the disk.

    You'll be grateful for that if you do it on long videos, like an hour or so.

    Just to put some numbers here: I was just converting 5 hour long of music videos and it took 15 minutes. Extracting took 1 minute.

    I'm not here to endorse any product. I just share what I believe to be the best advice. Also I'm Windows user, I don't know about Linux/Mac but I guess there are extraction software available there too.

  4. Anonymous
    August 4, 2015 at 11:53 am

    No, what you're saying is not the best advice, or at least not up to date. The easiest way to do it that I'm aware of is to extract (not "convert") audio directly from the video file, say .mp4.

    For that you can use Pazera Free Audio Extractor if you're a Windows user.

    The software does just what it is supposed to do - it extracts audio from video without affecting the quality. Doing conversion on (probably) already compressed audio/video file is not going to do any good. The quality will degrade even further, especially if you convert to mp3!

    • Christian Cawley
      August 5, 2015 at 10:22 am

      "what you’re saying is not the best advice, or at least not up to date"

      Well, it *was* written three years ago.

      I'll check your suggestion out, however. Thanks!

      • Anonymous
        August 5, 2015 at 12:50 pm

        Oh yes, I see now. It came out first in my Google search so I assumed it is quite recent. Three years are quite some time.

        Just to mention, when you extract audio from video, it will most often not be MP3, but probably OGG or AAC. This could be a problem if you intend to play those files on mp3-only portable player or car radio. I've had some older car radio which does mp3 only.

        So in that case extraction wouldn't be the best method obviously because you would still need to convert it later to be usable. It would be much better to go straight with conversion to mp3 and avoid the hassle. That's probably why conversion is the best choice for most of the people who just want to things to work and not fiddle too much.

        But that first method, Audacity recording the stream, is really as technical as hell. I did it once and it was like me being in the '90s doing tape recording :D It'll make you not want to do it. Perhaps once or twice, but for every song...yeah.

        I realize that most people are not interested in all this extraction vs. converstion thing and that it's overkill for them to dwell on such dubious issues, but I know that any audio engineer or person doing some kind of quality work (ie. collecting audio material for a documentary film) with appreciate knowing ins and outs out such techiques and always go for the option that gives them higher quality.

        Best regards

  5. Larry
    April 8, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    VLC can also be used for conversions.

    • Breeze
      April 20, 2012 at 7:03 am

      Thank you for sharing.
      There is another option. I know a great app which is easy and effective. You can capture audio from internet and save new audio files to your other devices.

  6. Bob
    April 7, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I have been using pazura for a long time when I need to get the audio from a film. It's free and there was a portable too

  7. Christian Cawley
    April 6, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Some great suggestions here. I've since learned that The KMPlayer will also strip audio from a video clip!

  8. Z.B. Manfred
    April 6, 2012 at 2:19 am

    Other apps that are useful include Avidemux and XviD4PSP, both of which are Free Software. Virtual Dub is great too in that it allows you to strip the audio and save it as a .wav file. I have some DVDs that either didn't release soundtracks or for which the soundtracks are out of print, and what I do to get the song is just cut the video file to wherever the song is playing (usually the credits) and save that to audio.

    I do this a lot with TV shows because I'm something of a junkie for theme songs. :-)

    Audacity is a great app that's also Free Software. I've used it in the past to cut and reencode parts of songs that I later use as ringtones for my cell phone :-)

  9. Ken Yoshioka
    April 6, 2012 at 2:04 am

    You can use MPEG Streamclip on both the PC or Mac to export the audio portion of a video clip to fuul quality AIFF files.

  10. Austin
    April 5, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I like to use ffmpeg to quickly extract the original audio without any additional transcoding, it works great. If I need to, I can reencode it to another format, but usually it's already in a pretty nice format like m4a, so I don't need to. Ffmpeg is a great tool :)

    • Austin
      April 5, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      Usually it's as easy as a command like this, depending on the format:
      (for video with original aac audio): ffmpeg -i videofile.mp4 -acodec copy outfile.m4a

      (for video with original OGG vorbis audio): ffmpeg -i videofile.webm -acodec copy outfile.ogg

      (for any type of video, will reencode it into MP3, takes longer and loses quality, but puts it in a handy format): ffmpeg -i videofile.ext -acodec libmp3lame output.mp3

      And you can set the bitrate with -ab 256k or whatever you want :)

    • Micah
      April 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      Agreed, WinFF is nice GUI front end for it if you don't want to mess around with the command line.

  11. Mulder
    April 5, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Actually, you don't need to use any of these methods; you can just use QuickTime to easily extract or delete the video (or audio) track and save the new file, without altering the original.

  12. Jouni "Rautamiekka" Järvinen
    April 5, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    eRightSoft SUPER beats the shit out of these.