.AC3 File Extension

Audio Codec 3 File

Developer Dolby Laboratories
3.8  |  29 Votes
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What is an AC3 file?

An AC3 file is an audio file saved in the AC-3 (Dolby Digital) audio format. It can include up to six channels of audio (DD 5.1 surround sound with subwoofer output). Cinema movies, DVDs, Blu-rays, and video games often use audio saved as AC3 files.

More Information

Screenshot of a .ac3 file in VideoLAN VLC media player
AC3 file open in VideoLAN VLC media player

Dolby created the Dolby Digital format for use in cinemas and home theaters with surround sound capabilities. Each of an AC3 file's primary audio channels is meant to be played on a different surround sound speaker (left, center, right, left surround, right surround). The sixth channel, known as the low-frequency effects (LFE) channel, contains intense low-frequency sounds meant to be played on a subwoofer.

However, televisions, PCs, and other devices can also play the audio an AC3 file contains. To do so, these devices downmix the AC3 file's audio, playing multiple channels worth of audio out the same output device. For example, a computer with only left and right speakers will play an AC3 file's center channel out both speakers, to approximate surround sound playback as best it can.

How to open an AC3 file

You can open an AC3 file with many media players, including VideoLAN VLC media player (multiplatform), Microsoft Media Player (Windows), and Apple QuickTime Player (Mac).

How to convert an AC3 file

Several audio conversion tools, including Movavi Video Converter (Windows, Mac), FFmpeg (multiplatform), and VideoLAN VLC media player (multiplatform), can convert AC3 files to other audio formats. For example, VLC can convert AC3 files to:

  • .MP3 - MP3 Audio
  • .OGG - Ogg Vorbis Audio
  • .FLAC - Free Lossless Audio Codec

Programs that open AC3 files

Verified by FileInfo.com

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