SoundConverter 1.5.3 Review

excellent
key review info
application features
  • convert mp3
  • (5 more, see all...)

Remember those days when we used to put together a music mix for someone special, either on tape or CD? In 2010 we don't just have different mediums (CDs, flash drives, FTPs, etc.), but there are also different file format options out there, some better than other. So we've reviewed a tiny tool that helps you convert media files in your desired audio compression algorithm. SoundConverter is an application that can convert from a multitude of filetypes (mov, avi, mpeg, ac3, dts, alac, mpc, ogg, aac, flac, etc.) into 5 different audio formats: wav, flac, aac, mp3 and ogg.

To install it, open a terminal line (Ctrl+Alt+T in Ubuntu) and type sudo apt-get install soundconverter. Feel free to write us if you encounter any errors, but in our case, the installation was flawless. It took up less than 1 MB space to install and it loaded in a couple of seconds. In our case (Ubuntu 10.10), the launch icon was in the Sound & Video menu entry.

At a first glance, the program looks intimidatingly simple: one toolbar (convert, add file, add folder and clear) and the menu bar. The rest of the window is blank. To convert a file or group of files, you first need to add it to the list. To do so, either click on the add file/add folder icon or go to File -> Add Folder/File. Before converting them, make sure you indicate what format to convert them in and where to store them. This is done by going to the Edit -> Preferences menu. Once you've added the desired files in the  list and clicked the Convert button, all the files in the window are converted. Note that SoundConverter is configured by default not to delete the original files.

In one of our tests, it converted twelve mp3 files into Ogg Vorbis format in less than one minute. Compared to other applications we've used, SoundConverter has a decent to fast speed conversion even at high quality. This makes the application even easier to use, particularly since its simple interface and small size make it a fast loading program.

Flexibility

In order to convert into mp3 format, you must first install the GStreamer mp3 encoder on your system (if you haven't already done so for your distribution). To do this, simply go here and select the right package for your distribution. This will install a useful software called gstreamer plugins from the “ugly” set (gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse). It is a small group of plugins that let you do various things with media files, from real time sound processing to playing videos. After installing it, restart SoundConverter to apply the new changes. This will add the mp3 entry to the "Type of Result" section in SoundConverter's preferences menu.

Everything about changing the conversion options is done from the Edit -> Preferences menu. To choose what format to convert the files in, go to the "Type of Result" area in Preferences and select one of the 5 possible choices: Ogg Vorbis (.ogg), MP3, FLAC Loseless (.flac), AAC and MS Wave (.wav). To change the folder where the newly converted files are stored go to the "Where to place results" section of the window.

Each music file format available for converting comes with it's own settings. When converting to MP3 you have the option of changing the bitrate (constant, average and variable) and the quality (ranging from very low to insanely high). If you prefer Ogg Vorbis files, the quality option is enabled, while FLAC and MS Wave (.wav) are much less flexible in changing the quality of the converted file. Below this area, SoundConverter gives you an estimate of the target bitrate, based on the quality option you chose. For example, when selecting insanely high, Ogg Vorbis's compression algorithm target bitrate is high as ~500 kbps, while .mp3 and .m4a is ~320 kbps.

Naming

Soundconverter has the ability to name the files based on a predefined pattern from the Preferences menu. The most elementary one is that of replacing the suffix. However, you can also create a custom pattern, configuring the program to add the track number followed by the artist's name and then the title. To do this, select Custom filename pattern and type {Track}_{Artist}_{Title}. You can choose to replace the underscore character "_" with a different character in the filename pattern.

Bugs

We feel it would have been easier for the main window to display the selected file format and where it'll store the converted files. Particularly since there's plenty of free space in the toolbar. This would save some effort from going to the Preferences menu entry every time.

Conclusion

SoundConverter is a friendly,  simple and fast application. Because it's designed to handle multithreading, it uses all possible cores to speed up the process of conversion. Most of all, it allows for a casual "translation" of both video and audio files into audio formats, making sound converting accessible to any user, not just sound-experts.


user interface 5
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 

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