Converting MIDI Files to MP3 on the Mac OS

I often need to convert a bunch of MIDI files to MP3 for teaching and lecturing. I used to use the venerable Timidity++ on Linux, but since switching to the Mac I could never quite get it to work. There are a few commercial graphical apps for the Mac and you can even use Garageband, but I always wanted to be able to convert MIDI files using the command line since it’s easier and I can automate the whole process. On the Mac we can use Timidity++ or Fluidsynth, both available using homebrew.

Fluidsynth

The easiest way to generate a MP3 from a MIDI on the Mac is by using fluidsynth. You can install it easily with homebrew:

If everything is working properly, when you run fluidsynth -T help you should see something like the following:

With fluidsynth working, the conversion is simple. Just pass a SoundFont and a MIDI file as parameters and you should be good to go:

If you are lazy, check this bash script. It accepts multiple MIDI files and removes the intermediate WAV file.

Timidity++

Timidity++ is my go to program when using Linux and I’m super happy it’s available on homebrew.

You may need to create a configuration file at /usr/local/Cellar/timidity/2.14.0/share/timidity/timidity.cfg and list where your SoundFonts are. For instance, in my timidity.cfg file I have:

You can read more about the configuration format by using its man page: man timidity.cfg.

There you go. We have two ways to convert MIDI files to MP3 on the Mac using free software.