Audacity is a free audio recorder and editor. By default it saves sound recordings as WAV files on Windows PC. Sometimes however you may need a different audio format for sharing and playback on various devices and players. When you go to the File menu, then Export Audio, you have the option to save Audacity project as different file types, such as MP3, AIFF, OGG, FLAC, MP2, M4A, AC3, AMR, WMA, etc. Before you can export Audacity project as mp3, you need to download MP3 encoder first. This is because Audacity audio recorder does not directly encode sound recordings as MP3 files for the lack of a MP3 encoder. The LAME library is the free MP3 encoder it uses to encode your project into MP3 files. Check out the steps below to download and activate the free MP3 encoder in the Audacity for Windows.
Audacity is great alternative to the Voice Recorder or Sound Recorder for Windows. Compared to the stock sound recorder on your PC, Audacity is more feature rich and powerful.
Save sound recordings as MP3 in Audacity
Run Audacity on your PC, click the Record button to record just any thing with Audacity, then hit the Stop button. Go to the File menu >> Export Audio, give your recording file a name, choose MP3 Files from the Save as drop-down menu, then click Save. The Locate LAME dialogue pops up as below.
Audacity needs the file lame_enc.dll to create MP3s. Location of lame_enc.dll. To get a free copy of LAME, click here.
Download LAME MP3 encoder for Audacity
Hit the download button as displayed on previous screenshot, you’ll be taken to the LAME MP3 Encoder download page in your web browser. Click the link to jump to the Installing LAME on Windows section. Follow on-screen tips to download the LAME MP3 add-on to your PC. You can choose to download the installer package in either EXE or ZIP format. The installer of Lame for Windows version 3.99.3 is less than 1MB, very light-weight. Install it on your PC after downloading. When the LAME library has been installed, go to record any sound in Audacity, you can directly save them as MP3 files.
Built-in MP3 support in Audacity version 2.4.2
The software patent on LAME encoding library has expired, so now the LAME library for MP3 export is built-in with Audacity for Windows and Mac. See what’s new with Audacity V2.4.2.
Enable M4A, AAC support in Audacity
Other than MP3, M4A is another popular audio format which is not supported by Audacity by default. Similarly, this feature can be enabled by installing extra library. If you want to import M4A or AAC audio files to Audacity or convert other audio files to M4A or AAC using Audacity, you need to install another library for Audacity, the FFmpeg. We have this issue covered in the following article about converting voice memos to MP3 using Audacity in Windows 10.
Update July 2020: This article was originally published in May 2017 and has since been updated. this update was made to reflect the new features of Audacity Version 2.4.2.