So how can I convert a WAV or MP3 File to a MIDI file format?
Use free software such as the Bear File Converter or MiniTool Movie Maker.
Or paid software such as Logic Pro (Apple), Ableton Live, FL Studio, Widisoft Software and Intellisoft.
Let’s have a very brief overview of the filetypes involved here
What is an MP3 filetype?
The MP3 format was developed in the 1990s to store audio tracks. It uses a compressed audio format and the quality of sound is dependant on the bit rate used for compression. It’s typically 10% the size of an uncompressed WAV file.
What is a WAV filetype?
An audio file developed in the 1990s by Microsoft and IBM. Largely used to save uncompressed audio in MS Windows. WAV is an acronym for Waveform Audio File Format.
What is a MIDI filetype?
It does not contain audio sound data, but is made up of musical notation data. Such as the note to be played, the length of the note and the power of each note. It can control software applications or a controller for a hardware device. It can for example swap musical instruments during playback of a piece.
Why Convert WAV MP3 to MIDI?
WAV and MP3 files contain audio that can be played back, it is very difficult to alter the characteristics of the sound. When converted to a MIDI file the music can be edited and rearranged to the users liking.
I am going to write up the applications that are being listed on other websites as providing this MP3/WAV to MIDI conversion. As we shall see, some do and some definitely do not.
Free Solutions to Convert WAV MP3 to MIDI Files
- Bear File Converter
- AVS Audio Converter
Paid Solutions to Convert WAV MP3 to MIDI Files
- Logic Pro (for Apple)
- Ableton Live
- FL Studio
- Digital Ear
- WidiSoft Software
Bear File Converter (online)
This is the page for the Bear Converter.
As the page is full of ads (hey, everyone’s got to make a living, right) the image below is what you need to find on the page.
Just upload the file you want to convert. When that’s uploaded click the Convert button and download the final mid file.
Conversion – Input an MP3 file size 315KB, output a 10KB MIDI Sequence file.
ConverterLite (not recommended read below)
The website for ConverterLite states that it converts to the MIDI format.
I downloaded this app from its website and on install it prompted me to download the latest version. That does beg the question why wasn’t I given the most up to date version initially.
This is where all the problems started.
The interface is nice and clean but there is not an option to convert to MIDI or MID filetypes.
I thought that maybe it was included in the latest version so I followed the update prompt and went back to another page on their website to download it. At this point, my paid antivirus solution threw its toys out of the pram and told me the page actually contained a Trojan virus.
If you choose to use ConverterLite, then it’s your choice but our evaluation of it stops here. I created a system restore point before installing this software and I shall be rolling it back immediately.
Zamzar converts from MIDI to MP3 or WAV format. However, it does not format the other way, to the MIDI filetype.
So as a solution to provide a conversion service to MIDI it falls a little flat.
Now Audacity is a great piece of freeware. I’ve used it in the past for a project I worked on.
However, it simply cannot convert MP3 or WAV to MIDI. Period. It can export to MIDI if you import a notes files. But that isn’t what we’re after here.
To be fair it can output an sds file but that’s only a header MIDI Standard Dump Standard. Not very useful if you are looking for a full MIDI export.
AVS Audio Converter
Another program that does not convert to MIDI, although numerous online websites report that it can.
MIDI files can be worked on in this software but only if they are imported first.
From their support team: We regret to inform you that MIDI is only supported as an input format in AVS Audio Converter
Find this at evano.com. Yes, this does work and does it quickly and without fuss. It’s my favourite free offering in this list without a doubt, before getting into the hundreds of dollars pieces of software.
It converts MP3 to so many filetypes
It can convert WAV files to MIDI too. It’s free to use unless you want to convert some very large files and then it’s a paid service. $9 a month going up to $25 a month depending on the max upload size. Free gets you an upload limit of 100MB, $9 500MB and $25 1000MB.
Conversion – Input an MP3 file size 315KB, output a 10KB MIDI Sequence file.
Logic Pro X
Now we come to the first paid option on our list. And what a difference Apple makes in this space.
A slick, well-crafted piece of software that excels at the job it was intended for.
I could write a few hundred words to describe how to use it to take your input files, from recordings of your instruments and convert easily to MIDI. But once more that is not the conversion we are after. A full song MP3 to MIDI is proving elusive.
I really thought this software would be the answer, but no (spoiler alert: jump to the Melodyne plugin for this software)
The short answer, because you must all be losing faith by now, is Yes, Intelliscore converts both WAV and MP3 to the MIDI file format.
It is a paid software costing just over $100.
The application uses a wizard approach to help you set up your project and get started quickly.
As a piece of software, it does look somewhat dated. However, if you can see past that then it does a respectable job of conversion. Get it here.
FL Studio is another quality piece of paid software with a bit of a silver lining. The trial version is not time-limited and it can convert audio tracks to MIDI. However, these tracks would have to be already split into audio tracks, so guitar track, percussion track etc. It does a great job of converting these into the MIDI format.
To be honest many of the tools in this list can convert separated tracks into MIDI. But converting a complicated file like an MP3 or WAV file seems to be beyond almost all of them, including FL Studio. On to the next.
Digital Ear works well for single performer sessions. So for example it can take the MP3/WAV of a solo guitarist and convert it quite well into a MIDI file. Again the mixes of sounds in an everyday MP3 chart-topping song emphasize the limitations of this piece of software.
Starting at $89 for the full version, this climbs to $129 if you want to throw in real-time conversion.
Take a look at the reviews of this software here, they are all very positive.
I like this software. It’s been built to transcribe MP3 files into music notation via the MIDI format.
It recognises the complicated nature of what it is trying to achieve and admits its shortcomings. To this end it does provide a solution.
It bundles the TrueTone editor to tidy up any areas that need addressing manually after the software has made the first pass at it. This compromise is about as good as you’re going to get as none of the applications mentioned so far can take a complicated audio file and transcribe it 100%. All are going to need working on post-conversion.
I’m waiting on Ableton’s support team to get back to me on this. But at first glance, it doesn’t look any more promising than the other offerings in this report.
In that, it will convert simple single instrument tracks but will struggle with polyphonic sources. I eagerly await a response.
I may just have saved the best until last.
This is the big daddy of MIDI converters. Capable of converting MP3 and WAV to MIDI, Melodyne acts as a standalone product, compatible with either Windows or Mac, or can be purchased as a plugin for the following applications
- Pro Tools
- Logic Pro
- Studio One
- Digital Performer
- Sound Forge
Almost all of the software mentioned above can convert simple audio tracks into their MIDI equivalent. With good results too.
However, when it comes to a full-blown MP3/WAV file with multi-instrument, complicated patterns then it’s entirely a different matter.
Whichever you choose I would seriously suggest getting a trial version, if using paid software, to evaluate it for your needs first.
Otherwise, simply use Envato. And if the 100MB upload limit is too small then consider upgrading to the $9 a month.
The technology to convert sounds in an audio file into music notation has been around for quite some time. But, the limitations of working with complicated pieces of music still hasn’t quite been ironed out fully. The engineers are getting closer all the time and eventually will crack it, possibly with AI, who knows.