YouTube got its start as a small online community of folks sharing videos of their pets and vacation trips, but it’s now a huge company under the Google umbrella that has become the go-to site for video of almost every description. Everyone from filmmakers to corporate marketing departments to garage-band musicians is using YouTube to showcase their videos and content. A whole new generation of YouTube video channels has arisen, filled with people making real money in all sorts of ways. One of the biggest sources of YouTube content is the music industry – it’s not just small-time and hobbyist musicians using the platform to promote their music on the site. Major record companies and stars use the platform to sell their music around the world.
In fact, in November of 2018 YouTube reported that it had paid out $1.8 billion dollars to the music industry as a whole in the previous year. That’s an astonishing amount of music content being moved through a “video” site. Millions of people find music on You Tube and decide that they want to keep it. We aren’t just talking about the newest Ed Sheeran or Bruno Mars singles; 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.
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. WAV is an older format but still a standard. It’s 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 , 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, but it does cost money for the application. Otherwise, if you’re an occasional 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. Once you have a WAV file downloaded, it’s easy to ascertain its bitrate – just right-click on the file and select Properties.
If you aren’t planning on downloading WAV files every day, then using an online tool probably makes the most sense. It’s quicker, doesn’t require you to install any software or pay anyone, and will work on any operating system that can open a web browser, whether you’re using Windows 10, macOS or Linux. There are a ton of YouTube downloader sites around, but unfortunately a lot of them are buggy and full of ads and malware.
However, there are some good solid websites that can help you download a WAV of your favorite track. Though these websites often change or shutdown, we’ve gathered a list of sites below that are online and active as of June 2019.
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-WAV is an overseas site without an English interface, but fortunately if you use Chrome you can just hit the ‘Translate’ button and have the user interface appear in English. The YouTube-to-WAV website is available here.
Unlike the complexity of 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 instantly begin downloading to your computer. Like the downloads from OnlineVideoConverter, our WAV file came at 1411 kbps, a high-quality bitrate for use in creative content, and the content sounded good to our ears. As expected, the file size is relatively large—25 MB for a two and half-minute video clip – but it still weighs in smaller than a completely lossless file.
SaveClipBro is functional, easy, and funny. (Watch the processing messages as the site converts files and you’ll know what I mean.) Best of all, SaveClipBro can process your YouTube video into multiple video and audio formats, WAV is just one of many. Like YouTube-to-WAV, our test file came back at 25 megabytes and a bitrate of 1411 kpbs. The processing was quick and easy. Highly recommended.
On balance, 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. We used to recommend a package called KeepVidPro, but that application appears to be online-only now.
However, there is an option for those who really want to have a local application to do their conversions with. That application is called Any Video Converter Free, and it really is free. Note that when you install it, it will ask you to install extra software but you can opt out of those installs or uninstall them later. Any Video Converter, like SaveClipBro, supports a wide variety of input and output types, including WAV files, and it is free, so it’s worth taking a look. As with
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 has gone down, let us know in the comments below and we’ll be sure to update our list with new downloading sources.