Convert Plugin

The convert plugin lets you convert parts of your collection to a directory of your choice, transcoding audio and embedding album art along the way. It can transcode to and from any format using a configurable command line. It will skip files that are already present in the target directory. Converted files follow the same path formats as your library.


First, enable the convert plugin (see Plugins).

To transcode music, this plugin requires the ffmpeg command-line tool. If its executable is in your path, it will be found automatically by the plugin. Otherwise, configure the plugin to locate the executable:

    ffmpeg: /usr/bin/ffmpeg


To convert a part of your collection, run beet convert QUERY. This will display all items matching QUERY and ask you for confirmation before starting the conversion. The -a (or --album) option causes the command to match albums instead of tracks.

The -t (--threads) and -d (--dest) options allow you to specify or overwrite the respective configuration options.

By default, the command places converted files into the destination directory and leaves your library pristine. To instead back up your original files into the destination directory and keep converted files in your library, use the -k (or --keep-new) option.


The plugin offers several configuration options, all of which live under the convert: section:

  • dest sets the directory the files will be converted (or copied) to. A destination is required—you either have to provide it in the config file or on the command line using the -d flag.
  • embed indicates whether or not to embed album art in converted items. Default: true.
  • If you set max_bitrate, all lossy files with a higher bitrate will be transcoded and those with a lower bitrate will simply be copied. Note that this does not guarantee that all converted files will have a lower bitrate—that depends on the encoder and its configuration.
  • auto gives you the option to import transcoded versions of your files automatically during the import command. With this option enabled, the importer will transcode all non-MP3 files over the maximum bitrate before adding them to your library.
  • quiet mode prevents the plugin from announcing every file it processes. Default: false.
  • paths lets you specify the directory structure and naming scheme for the converted files. Use the same format as the top-level paths section (see Path Format Configuration). By default, the plugin reuses your top-level path format settings.
  • Finally, threads determines the number of threads to use for parallel encoding. By default, the plugin will detect the number of processors available and use them all.

These config options control the transcoding process:

  • format is the name of the audio file format to transcode to. Files that are already in the format (and are below the maximum bitrate) will not be transcoded. The plugin includes default commands for the formats MP3, AAC, ALAC, FLAC, Opus, Vorbis, and Windows Media; the default is MP3. If you want to use a different format (or customize the transcoding options), use the options below.
  • extension is the filename extension to be used for newly transcoded files. This is implied by the format option, but you can set it yourself if you’re using a different format.
  • command is the command line to use to transcode audio. A default command, usually using an FFmpeg invocation, is implied by the format option. The tokens $source and $dest in the command are replaced with the paths to the existing and new file. For example, the command ffmpeg -i $source -y -aq 4 $dest transcodes to MP3 using FFmpeg at the V4 quality level.

Here’s an example configuration:

    embed: false
    format: aac
    max_bitrate: 200
    dest: /home/user/MusicForPhone
    threads: 4
        default: $albumartist/$title

If you have several formats you want to switch between, you can list them under the formats key and refer to them using the format option. Each key under formats should contain values for command and extension as described above:

    format: speex
            command: ffmpeg -i $source -y -acodec speex $dest
            extension: spx
            command: ffmpeg -i $source -y -acodec pcm_s16le $dest
            extension: wav