I tried different options from forums, but most of them are out of date (ffmpeg tells me about it, like with -sameq option). Im trying to understand the docs, but I can't.

I want to know how to convert recursively with ffmpeg from wma to mp3 with a for example max bitrate of 192kbps in output (but not 192 this if the original was 128kbps)

I have unless 14K wma files spread in many directories. So, I don't want to move them. Just convert them keeping filename and metadata, and delete them, if it would be possible to read the list of the files to convert from a txt file that I can create, one file per line. With this, I would manage to make the recursive search, an paste into it.

Thanks for any help. And still more thanks for any explanation about Ffmpeg.


PS: Soundconverter used to be good, but slow. Now neither one or the other. Doesn't work in 14.04 in many cases, like mine. I'm using Soundkonverter but is very slow. So, all this for preventing this recommendations. And I want to learn to use this powerful ffmpeg! and the CLI

NOTE: The script here below, was working in the first convertions. But for any reason that I cant explain, suddenly deleted the wma's in conversion, without leaving the mp3. So, I changed again to "unsolved" (to prevent occasionally problem to someone's else). The problem seems coming from avconv " Application provided invalid, non monotonically increasing dts to muxer in stream 0: 23606 >= 21720"(there are pastebins in the comments if there is someone interested in developing this bug). So, no avconv in the future.

  • no need to use a text file just use a wildcard like *.wma to convert all the files in the directory recursively.
    – mchid
    Dec 26, 2014 at 22:34

6 Answers 6


This is the command I use for ffmpeg all the files in the current directory (works if names have spaces in them) on Mac where brew doesn't have avconv:

for file in *.wma; do ffmpeg -i "${file}"  -acodec libmp3lame -ab 192k "${file/.wma/.mp3}"; done

In a terminal, first browse to the folder that contains all of your music using cd, for example:

cd /home/username/music/wma-to-convert

The following will make a list of all files in the current folder and all subfolders ending in "wma" and store the list in a text document called wma-files.txt:

find . -type f | grep wma$ > wma-files.txt

Or you could create the text file manually if you want. Then type the following in a text editor and save it in the same directory of wma-files.txt, for example naming it conv-script:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

readarray -t files < wma-files.txt

for file in "${files[@]}"; do
    probe=`avprobe -show_streams "$file" 2>/dev/null`
    rate=`echo "$probe" | grep "^bit_rate" | sed "s:.*=\(.*\)[0-9][0-9][0-9][.].*:\1:" | head -1`
    ffmpeg -i "$file" -ab "$rate"k "$out"

You probably have to set the executable bit on the script:

chmod +x conv-script

Then just run it:


You also have the option of adding this to the end of the ffmpeg line, but be careful:

 && rm "$file"

For those who don't have access to avprobe, you can use ffprobe which does the equivalent (i.e. getting the bit_rate). To do that:


probe=`avprobe -show_streams "$file" 2>/dev/null`
rate=`echo "$probe" | grep "^bit_rate" | sed "s:bit_rate=\([0-9]\+\)[0-9]\{3\}:\1:" | head -1`


rate=`ffprobe -v error -show_entries format=bit_rate -of default=noprint_wrappers=1:nokey=1 "$file"`

Once this is done, all your files should start converting and the wma originals should get deleted! This worked great for me converting flac files to mp3. Unfortunately I don't have any wma to test, but I expect it should do fine for those as well.

NOTE: While I don't foresee any problems, it would be a good idea to copy a few files to a new directory and test it on them.

If you plan to often convert Wma to mp3, the below script automatically convert and delete everything in the folder given as an argument, It improves a bit the above-mentioned. In addition, the ffmpeg command is a bit different than the first proposed, if the first one does not work, use the below one.

#!/usr/bin/env bash

cd "$1"
find . type f | grep wma$ > wma-files.txt

readarray -t files < wma-files.txt

for file in "${files[@]}"; do
    ffmpeg -i "$file" -map_metadata 0:s:0 "$out"
rm wma-files.txt

Then, you simply call it by typing in you terminal as:

./convScript /home/username/music

Thus, all the music folder and its subfolders will have its wma music automatically converted in mp3.

As before, you can add this to end of the ffmpeg line for file removal:

&& rm "$file"

EDIT (2017/06/23): don't make rm the default

  • Thanks @TheSchwa. Seems like working. Just have two questions. 1- There is an error issue, that as goolge says, seems another 14.04 spread issue. It says "[mp3 @ 0x8c58000] Application provided invalid, non monotonically increasing dts to muxer in stream 0: 23606 >= 21720" .... But the conversion seems to be ok anyway. I listen unless one complete song, and it listen ok (maybe I should try with some other less noisy, for better apreciating). and 2nd- Why converted files become larger than original? If original wma is 4.3M, the same track in mp3 is 6.4M . Is there any way of making this better?
    – CaRoXo
    Aug 7, 2014 at 21:37
  • I just see that the original wma was in 128kbps. So maybe is there the explanation of why is bigger. This gives me another question. Its possible to set a maximun bitrate, but not forcing to it? Like, if its 128, keep 128, but if it is higher than 192, just make 192kbps.?
    – CaRoXo
    Aug 7, 2014 at 21:45
  • I modified the conv-script to keep the same bit rate in the mp3 as the wma had. Again, I would test it on a few files first to make sure it works on your system, but I think this should do what you want it to.
    – TheSchwa
    Aug 7, 2014 at 23:39
  • Thanks for the upgrading. But, no, it doesn't work, shows an error: pastebin.com/BekpwWyE . I have a huge work in front, so any help is a huge help. Huge thanks, so.... :)...... Also: Just a detail. In your upgrade there is an error with the text file, you put the flac version in the script.
    – CaRoXo
    Aug 8, 2014 at 11:52
  • Oh whoops, had it as flac for when I was testing it on my files. One more update, hopefully fixes the problem. I was making an assumption in the code that the bit rate in the wma files was a normal number like 128000.000000 or 192000.000000. Now it should work correctly for the files that caused the error, which had bit rates of 128016.000000.
    – TheSchwa
    Aug 8, 2014 at 19:59

For any version

I found a neat way to do this with mplayer. This script will rename the files to remove all blank spaces in the names of the files and will recursively convert all .wma files in the current directory to .mp3:

for f in *.wma; do
 newname=`echo $f | tr ' ' '_' `
 mv "$f" $newname
 mplayer $f -novideo -ao pcm:file=tmp.wav
 lame -V 0 -q 0 tmp.wav ${f/.wma/.mp3}
 rm -f tmp.wav

Here's a one liner version:

for f in *.wma; do; newname=`echo $f | tr ' ' '_' `; mv "$f" $newname; f=$newname; mplayer $f -novideo -ao pcm:file=tmp.wav; lame -V 0 -q 0 tmp.wav ${f/.wma/.mp3}; rm -f tmp.wav; done
  • worked like a charm. did a brew install mplayer and ran this script. After it was done I did a rm *.wma if you want to remove the old wma files
    – teradyl
    Jul 27, 2017 at 6:23

I rewrite TheSchwa script (thanks TheSchwa!), with these changes:

  • avprobe detection works (at least on ffprobe version 2.5.2 from current Debian unstable).
  • Don't delete files with rm (convertors usually don't delete files, this can be a big surprise!).
  • Load wma files in script.
  • Help when missing binaries.

which ffmpeg > /dev/null || { echo "Install ffmpeg, with 'sudo apt-get install ffmpeg'" >&2; exit 1; }
which avprobe > /dev/null || { echo "Install libav-tools, with 'sudo apt-get install libav-tools'" >&2; exit 1; }

find . -type f | grep -i wma$ > $file

readarray -t files < $file

for file in "${files[@]}"; do
    probe=`avprobe -show_streams "$file" 2>/dev/null`

    rate=`echo "$probe" | grep "^bit_rate" | sed "s:bit_rate=\([0-9]\+\)[0-9]\{3\}:\1:" | head -1`
    ffmpeg -i "$file" -ab "$rate"k "$out"

Note: the following does not apply to 15.04, 15.10 or 16.04


ffmpeg is deprecated in 14.04 anyhow and you should now use avconv instead.

sudo apt-get install avconv

Use this command to convert wma files to mp3 recursively:

for i in `find . -type f -name '*.wma'`; do avconv -i "$i" "${i/.wma/.mp3}"; done

Then, once you have verified the quality of the files, you may run this command to remove or delete the original .wma versions recursively:

for i in `find . -type f -name '*.wma'`; do rm "$i"; done


Here's how to use the command in a script instead (named "wma2mp3":

sudo nano /usr/local/bin/wma2mp3

copy and paste this into the file:

for i in `find . -type f -name '*.wma'`; do avconv -i "$i" "${i/.wma/.mp3}"; done

Press ctrl + o and then press enter to save the file and use ctrl + x to exit.

Then, make the file executable with the following command:

sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/wma2mp3

Now you can simply run the command wma2mp3 to recursively covert all wma files to mp3.

Just do the same with the script to erase all wma files and name it whatever you want.

BTW, if you just want to convert all the files in the current directory only (not throughout all other subsequent recursive directories), you can use this command instead:

for i in *.wma; do avconv -i "$i" "${i/.wma/.mp3}"; done

and of course, to remove the wma files in the current directory only, just use this command:

rm *.wma
  • 4
    Note ffmpeg is reinstated in 15.04
    – ChrisV
    Dec 8, 2015 at 14:32

This is a bash script, using parallel:


parallel -i -j$(nproc) ffmpeg -i {} -acodec libmp3lame -ab 192k {}.mp3 ::: ./*.wma
rename 's/.wma//' *.wma.mp3

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