[Simplest] 4 Ways to Convert WAV to M4A on Mac in Seconds

Peter William
time August 08, 2021 Preview 2.6K
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Both WAV and M4A are audio formats supported by Apple devices or programs. You can easily play them on iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac (OS X, macOS), etc. But WAV files are large and require more disk space, whereas M4A is able to save audio files in high quality and minimal file size. Here will help you convert WAV to M4A on Mac with 4 methods.


What is WAV?

WAV, short for WAVE, is a standard audio file format for recording. It's often stored in a 44.1 kHz, 16-bit, stereo format, which is almost the same as that of a CD. It can be compressed into other lossless or lossy formats such as M4A.

However, WAV is a lossless music format and eats up too much storage space, making it difficult to spread. A 3-minute WAV song is between 30MB and 50MB.

What is M4A?

M4A is an extension of the MPEG4 audio standard file, which is encoded with either AAC or ALAC. It has become popular since Apple started using M4A in iTunes and iPod to distinguish between audio MP4 and video MP4. Almost all software that supports MPEG4 audio supports M4A.

M4A audio file is relatively smaller in size. So it’s ideal for saving and sharing audiobook content, podcasts, digital music, and more.

Difference between a WAV file and an M4A file

Developed by IBM & Microsoft Apple Inc.
Initial release 1991 2004
Expand to Waveform Audio File Format MPEG-4 Part 14
Format type Uncompressed lossless Compressed lossy
File size Larger Smaller
Quality Better than M4A Lossy quality but also good

4 Ways to Convert WAV to M4A on Mac

In many cases, we have to perform the audio conversion. This section will introduce 4 different types of WAV to M4A converter for Mac.

#1 Cisdem Video Converter (Recommended)

Cisdem Video Converter is a comprehensive audio converter with the ability to convert across 50+ audio formats. It can also extract audio tracks from 200+ video formats like MP4, MOV, MTS, AVI, VOB, etc. It supports batch conversion and preserves the original audio structure.

Furthermore, this WAV converter for Mac allows you to download audio from YouTube, rip purchased DVDs to iTunes, customizable encoding parameters, and so forth.

Free Download

Steps to convert WAV to M4A without quality loss:

Step 1. Load WAV audio tracks

Launch Cisdem Video Converter.

convert interface

In the “convert” interface, drag and drop all your WAV files into it.

add wav files cisdem

Step 2. Select M4A as the target format

There is a format button next to each audio thumbnail. Click it to open the format list, choose “M4A Audio” under "General Audio" category.

choose m4a

Step 3. Tweak output settings (optional)

Open the “Advanced Settings” panel by clicking the icon next to the output format you choose. Then, you can adjust audio parameters. For beginner, leave them at their default.

advanced settings

Step 4. Convert WAV to M4A on Mac

Click the conversion icon button at the bottom right side to begin the task.

#2 Audacity

Audacity is a free audio recording and editing tool for Mac and Windows. It can only export to a few common audio formats, including MP3, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, OGG, MP2, but no M4A format.

To convert WAV to M4A with Audacity, the FFmpeg library - a plug-in is required to ensure that Audacity imports or exports more audio formats.

Tip: FFmpeg 2.2.2 works for Audacity 2.0.6, and higher versions of FFmpeg work for Audacity versions prior to 2.0.6.

  1. Install FFmpeg for Audacity on Mac.
  2. Drag-n-drop WAV files into the Audacity.add wav audacity
  3. Go to “File” > “Export” > “Export Audio”. If you want to export two or more WAV files, click “Export Multiple”.export audio
  4. Choose the file type as M4A (AAC) Files (FFmpeg) as well as where to store the file. Click “Save”.choose m4a audacity
  5. If needed, edit metadata tags. Finally, hit “OK”.

#3 Online Audio Converter

MP3Cutter.com covers an Audio Converter tool that’s able to convert your local files to 10 formats such as MP3, OGG, iPhone Ringtone, etc. You can edit track information, choose quality (bitrate), regardless of constant or variable, and apply the effects like fade in/out.

But this free WAV to M4A converter online merely lets you convert up to 5 WAV files at a time. Even if you add more than 5 audio files, only the first 5 will be converted. Moreover, it's not safe to convert confidential audio.

  1. Visit https://www.mp3cutter.com/audio-converter in your browser.
  2. Hit the green “Choose File” button to add WAV files from your Mac.add wav online
  3. Choose the output file format option as M4A.
  4. (Optional) Change quality or advanced settings.
  5. Click “Convert” to export WAV as M4A.convert wav to m4a online free
  6. Start to download. If there are multiple files, they will be compressed into a zip file.

#4 FFmpeg Commands

FFmpeg is a robust project that can process lots of multimedia tasks, including audio converting. It's convenient to convert WAV to M4A on Mac with commands.

To transcode multiple files, you have to rewrite scripts. I tried some scripts recommended on forums, but all failed. Therefore, for technical novices, using FFmpeg is a waste of time, as you don't know how to write the scripts by yourself.

Below are the steps to convert single WAV audio.

  1. Download FFmpeg from official website or via a package manager such as APT.
  2. Open Terminal program and drag-n-drop FFmpeg you download into it.
  3. Type the command-line: -i input.wav -map 0 output.m4a or -i input.wav output.m4a, both of them work.
    Note: "input wav" is not to input text directly, but to drag your WAV file into Terminal.
  4. Press “Enter” to make a transcoded audio. After the end, find M4A in the home directory.convert wav to m4a ffmpeg


1) Can iTunes convert WAV to M4A on Mac?

Yes, it can!

First, you should set the output as M4A format:

  1. Navigate to "iTunes" > "Preferences" > "Import Settings"
  2. Select Apple Lossless Encoder from "Import Using". Click "OK".import using m4a itunes

iTunes supports WAV format, and you can straightly import a WAV file. Go to "File" > "Convert", and choose "Create Apple Lossless Version".

convert to m4a itunes

2) Can I convert WAV audio to M4A using Afconvert?

The answer is yes.

Afconvert can be an app or a command-line utility built into the macOS. When it specifically refers to a converter app for Mac, the output format can only be M4A, MP4, and AIFF. If it's a command-line tool similar to FFmpeg, you can try the command: afconvert -f WAVE -d LEI24 Audio File.wav Audio File.m4a.

3) Can QuickTime change WAV to M4A?

QuickTime can do it too. You only need to open WAV file with QuickTime Player, and head “File” > “Export As” > “Audio Only”. The output audio format will be M4A. But it doesn’t support other video and audio formats.

The Bottom Line

There are too many ways to convert WAV to M4A on Mac. This article focuses on 4 types of solutions, and several ways are also mentioned in FAQs. But not all of them are perfect. I still think that a professional converter like Cisdem Video Converter is the best. Compared with other tools, it’s easy to make audio & video conversion among any format in batch and without losing quality, plus, it’s packed with some other useful features for multimedia.

Peter William
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Peter has always had great enthusiasm for writing, programming and web development. He likes writing about software and technology, his works are featured on some tech blogs or forums like Tom's Hardware, CNET, etc.

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