YouTube has grown from a small community of video users uploading sharable footage of their pets and vacation trips to a massive company owned by Google, often acting as a utility for everyone from videographers to movie marketers to musicians looking to emphasize their videos and content. In fact, it isn’t just small-time and hobbyist musicians using the platform to promote their music on the site—big time record companies, pop stars, and more use the platform to sell their music around the world. Uploading music videos and new singles, all while making money off the ad sales and gaining notoriety for their upcoming albums, concert tours, and more.
Also see our article How to Delete Your YouTube Account
In fact, YouTube was found in 2014 to be accountable for more than 40 percent of music listening around the world. A crazy amount of that music is found using searches and discovery methods to find music you want to keep on your iPhone or Android device for later. And we aren’t just talking about the newest Ed Sheeran or Bruno Mars singles out for listening. Plenty of users upload free or Creative Commons media onto YouTube, making it a great place for creative types to discover media for their next film, episode, or video game. And while YouTube Red does allow users to save these types of files to your phone for offline listening, the only way to grab that copyright-free content is to use an outside download source, especially if the uploader themselves have not officially provided users a download link to use in order to grab the media they’d like.
Luckily, we can help. It’s not difficult to download content from YouTube to use in your own videos—again, either with the copyright holder’s permission, by using Creative Commons content, or by following Fair Use laws depending on your nation of origin—but, as with all media-based content, you’ll want to try to get the highest quality copy of something you can. Say, for example, you’ve found the perfect clip to use in the sketch show you’re filming for YouTube. Instead of using an MP3 or AAC file, you’ll want to spring for something that can hold a bit more fidelity in its digital sounds. Unlike those former two file types, .WAV is the perfect audio file format for amateur content creators, a lossy format that still sounds great without the space requirements of AIFF or FLAC lossless files.
So how do you gain access to a WAV file from YouTube? There’s a couple distinct ways, either involving a specific program installed on your computer to handle the job, or by using an online converter tool (for those of us who don’t often have to download audio files from YouTube). Obviously, the method you choose really depends on how often you’re downloading music and audio tracks from YouTube. If you’re a regular user of the platform, downloading tracks regularly to save to your computer, you might want to look into keeping a desktop application on your PC. This can often be more reliable than other web-based downloading methods. Otherwise, if you’re an irregular downloader of WAV files from YouTube, you can probably save yourself some setup time and just stick to the online-only methods. Let’s take a look at how you can download music files in WAV format from YouTube, both online and with a desktop application.
Things to Keep in Mind When Downloading
First things first: if you’re looking to download a WAV file instead of a standard MP3 file, you’re probably interested in the quality of your product, no matter what you’re actually planning to do with the downloaded track. YouTube videos—even sound-only videos—typically have different bitrates depending on how the video was uploaded. A lot of older tracks, for example, you’ll find were uploaded in the early days of YouTube are presented in 240p or 360p. While these are video resolutions, not audio bitrates, these resolutions can also typically be an indicator of how good or poor-sounding an audio clip is going to sound when played back. Typically, try to find videos that are, at the very least, uploaded at a 480p resolution (if not higher), which often contain higher bitrates and better-sounding audio.
Also try to listen to the audio track before choosing it for your project. If you’re playing back the file on YouTube in its highest possible resolution and the audio doesn’t sound good, the audio isn’t going to improve when you do finally do download the clip. Overall, be smart about your downloads, and try your best to find the best content you can on the site.
For most people, online methods for downloading content are probably the better plans, as it’s quicker, doesn’t require any sort of software, and is operating system-agnostic, meaning everyone from Windows 10 and MacOS users to Linux and Chrome OS users can download WAV files easily. Unfortunately, there are a ton of YouTube downloader sites around, and a lot of them are buggy, ridden with ads and even occasional spurts of malware, and often just give off a poor user experience for most downloaders.
That said, there are plenty of websites you can rely on to give you WAV files of your favorite tracks. Though these websites often change or shutdown, we’ve gathered a list of sites below that are online and active as of August 2017. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on these sites to keep each of them updated, and if one site is taken down, we’ll remove it from this list and try to replace it with another selection. That said, here’s our picks for the best websites for downloading WAV videos as of publication.
Boring name aside, OnlineVideoConverter more or less does exactly what the name suggests. The site allows you to convert media from YouTube into a file format of your choosing, including video formats like MP4, M4V, MOV, and audio formats like MP3, AAC, and yes, WAV. The site’s currently on its third version, and it’s easily the cleanest and easiest site on our list. The ads aren’t overbearing or obnoxious—in fact, other than a banner advertisement, there was little to no ads on the page to begin with. Unlike plenty of other downloading sites, the ads we saw here weren’t inappropriate or anything that could get you in trouble for at work.
Downloading the music clips is as easy as posting the link and selecting your download method from a drop-down menu. Once you’ve selected your file format and tapped on the “Download” button, you’ll see your file processed and the conversion begin. Once your link is ready, you’ll be lead to a page that—if we’re being honest—is loaded with advertisements and can be difficult to see what to do. Within the ads, you’ll see a link to download your video. You can also reconvert if you chose the wrong file format. Clicking on the download link will begin your download, and we did have a popup ad load in the background (for this reason, we recommend using an ad blocker when using OnlineVideoConverter).
That said, the downloaded WAV file sounded good, and the size of the file was a good balance between lossless file types and lossy MP3s. The bitrate for our file was registered at 1411kbps, much higher than even standard 320kbps MP3s, and while the sound quality is really going to depend on your source file, we found our test files sounded great. What’s great about OnlineVideoConverter is the ability to download a dozen different types of files, both audio and video, to be used in your project or kept in your personal library. It’s our favorite download site we’ve tested, and while the advertisements are a little over the top as you continue through the site, overall it’s a solid offering for web-based WAV downloads. OnlineVideoConverter also has an extension available for Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers, which allow you to easily output video clips quickly right from within your browser.
YouTube-to is a series of different websites that allow you to download YouTube videos to specific file formats. The main YouTube-to website is YouTube-to-MP3, probably because that’s how the majority of users download audio files for their phones and iPods. If you’re looking for WAV files, though, you’re in luck. YouTube-to has a specific WAV website available here. While YouTube-to doesn’t promote their WAV file downloader from the site’s main homepage, it’s possible to find the website by either using our link above or by adding /WAV.php to their standard homepage URL.
Unlike something like OnlineVideoConverter, YouTube-to is one of the simplest sites. Enter your URL into the bar on their WAV page, hit the “Download WAV” button, and the file will be instantly downloaded to your computer. Like the downloads from OnlineVideoConverter, our WAV file came at 1411kbps, a great bitrate for use in creative content, and the content sounded great to our ears. As expected, the file size is relatively large—38MB for a sub-four minute song from Incompetech—but it still weighs in smaller than a completely lossless file, while remaining large enough to have some great quality. YouTube-to also has an extension available for Google Chrome, but honestly, we recommend sticking with the website version on this one—it’s so fast and easy to use that there’s no reason to rely on installed software here. This is one of our favorite sites we’ve tested on this list, and it’s definitely worth keeping in your bookmarks bar.
Another site with a strange name, Office Converter actually is focused on providing users with the ability to convert files online in a number of different formats, including the ability to transfer files from file types like .doc and .PDF. With a huge number of document, video, and audio file types available for conversion, Office Converter is one of the top sites we’ve found for all sorts of format needs. If you’re constantly working with different file types and need the ability to quickly convert specific files to other types, Office Converter is a great site to keep on hand—including for WAV files.
Unlike other sites on this list, Office Converter allows for files from both your computer and from YouTube, making it a catch all for downloading content from all sorts of places and sites. If you happen to already have an MP3 file on your computer you need converted into a WAV file, Office Converter can help you out—though remember that converting an MP3 file into a WAV file doesn’t make your content sound better. Files can only go down in quality when converting, not up. You can also use non-YouTube links to download files into WAV, though it’s worth noting that every site will have a different setting and some sites might not allow you to download clips through these websites at all.
Once you click “Download,” you’ll be brought to a new site in a new tab. OnlineYouTube is the site Office Converter uses to convert their YouTube videos, but for whatever reason, the site gave us nothing but error messages when trying to download a WAV file. Even stranger, the error message referred to a broken MP3 link. Overall, we’re keeping the Office Converter site as a recommendation because we aren’t sure if it was an error on our part or theirs—plus, the site has so much other functionality that it would be stupid to ignore—but for WAV files specifically, you might be better off with our first two suggestions.
Clipconverter‘s design isn’t quite as appealing as what we’ve seen from OnlineVideoConverter, but the name is certainly less of a mouthful. The nice thing about Clipconverter is its simplicity—you place your link for the video into the URL bar on Clipconverter’s homepage, select your file output and select download. Unfortunately, Clipconverter doesn’t currently support WAV files—instead, we mention Clipconverter because of its ability to download high-resolution videos, including 4K content, without limits on resolution or quality. WAV files might not be the site’s expertise, but it’s worth keeping this one on your radar if only for the utility factor.
Overall, we don’t recommend using desktop methods because they are often filled with malware and other dangerous software problems. While they’re handy for offering support for batch downloads, they can also be unreliable and generally untrustworthy. They also, unlike online methods, typically cost money, either through a subscription service or by offering a membership or paid download. Obviously, we don’t fully support that kind of financial model, especially since these apps tend to cost far more than they otherwise should. Still, we have a singular recommendation for anyone looking for a desktop YouTube downloader for WAV and other files types, Though you’ll have to pay for it, it’s still by far the most reliable downloader available online. That application is KeepVid Pro.
KeepVid used to be one of our top recommended methods for downloading YouTube videos into video and audio formats, and although the site has recently made changes that limit some of the options for downloading without a membership, KeepVid Pro is still a solid application so long as you’re willing to pay for the software. At $19.95 for a one year subscription (at the time of writing; it seems that price may be a sale price), it certainly isn’t the cheapest application we’ve ever seen for downloading videos. But KeepVid has a solid history behind it of being a great downloader, with unobtrusive ads (not including in KeepVid Pro of course), and having tried and tested a previous version of their software, we can say it works well when downloading content, allowing you to add content easily from YouTube and keeping a full queue of videos to download. You can change your file format on a whim, and the files are saved to a specific set folder on your computer.
If you find yourself using the application often, or you know it’s going to be something you use for years to come, there’s a lifetime license available for only $29.95 (again, that could possibly be a limited-time sale price), which is a bit lower than what we’ve seen from competing services. A free trial of the software exists as well, allowing you to easily test the software without having to worry about compatibility or other issues and accidentally throwing away $20 or $30. The software is available on both MacOS and Windows 10/8/7, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding a computer that can run the software. A full list of the supported file output types can be viewed here, but both the Mac and Windows versions support download WAV files from YouTube and other sites. KeepVid Pro might be a paid application, but it’s one of the best pieces of software for downloading YouTube videos, so if you need a desktop solution, KeepVid Pro is the way to go.
Due to the legal gray areas surrounding downloading YouTube videos—if you haven’t gained permission from the specific user who owns the copyright of a clip, or the clip isn’t a Creative Commons clip, you are technically violating both the terms of service surrounding YouTube and the copyright status of that specific clip—YouTube downloading software and websites often go down for violating YouTube’s own guidelines for videos. That said, there are plenty of ways to download both videos and sound files on YouTube, and since the site is used for plenty of copyright-free pieces of content, there’s no reason not to rely on WAV downloaders for your content.
If you notice one of our recommended sites, or KeepVid Pro for desktop users, have gone down, let us know in the comments below and we’ll be sure to update our list with new downloading sources.