Langa Letter: Converting Audio Files? Let 'Er Rip!

Readers suggest more MP3 and audio-file tools than you can shake a memory stick at!

Fred Langa, Contributor

July 22, 2005

9 Min Read

Easy CD-DA Extractor
Fred: One I have used and love is actually an mp3 RIPPER (from a CD) but I have found it has a great built-in burner as well as being good at it's "real" function...making MP3s from CDs. It also has an audio format converter. It is called "Easy CD-DA extractor 7.7" and can be found here. It has a free 30-day trial, then the full version is $30. I hope these suggestions help.
-- Darrin Ross

K3b K3b If you don't have Linux installed, you can use any Linux Live-CD that includes K3b for burning (it rips, too). Works great, even better than Nero for burning those cheap CDs that tend to give burning errors. Check out the K3b features here.
-- Jose J. Rodriguez

Fred, For free CD burning, you might consider a different approach; open-source software on a Linux platform. Before anyone grumbles about the pain of partitioning and installing a new OS just to burn some CDS, I am talking about using a LiveCD here. That is a CD that boots an entire operating system, complete with tons of software, from the CD; when you are done, you log off, remove the disk, and your original OS boots back up off the hard drive. The best one I have found so far is Knoppix 3.6 and/or 3.7. The free download is a .ISO image file, any CD burner software's "burn image to disk" function will give you a bootable CD. If you don't have any software to burn CDs (and something should have come with the CD burner when you got it), you can also order a pre-burned CD from places like for around $3 plus shipping, or I have booted from both 3.6 and 3.7 in several machines, had it recognize both a USB CD-RW and an internal DVD-RW, read music files off both FAT32- and NTFS-formatted hard drives, and burn both CDA (normal Audio CDs) and playable MP3 disks. It also converted file formats on the fly, so I could use MP3s to make audio CDs, or WAV, CDA, or OGG Vorbis files to make MP3 playable disks. All with no configuring or setup; you boot from the CD and it goes. It has a lot of other software built in, like Audacity to record from the audio in port on your soundcard or edit WAV, AU, and MP3s files; and GRip, to let you rip your CDs to hard drive, so you can include them on your MP3 disks. And a whole lot more; through compression, they manage to fit a couple gigs of free software onto a single CD. It does have one drawback; since the operating system is on a CD, you need a 2nd Write or ReadWrite device to burn to. There are a number of other LiveCD builds that will do the same job, like Dynebolic (for the true multimedia fanatic, lots of audio and video tools) or Morphix. But Knoppix is the only one I have tested for burning CDAs and MP3 CDs so far.
-- Jer

Fred, I've been using Nero on my Win2k machine at work, and we at home use K3b (Free, for Linux) on our machines at home with no problems.
-- Dave Kiwerski

Cheetah Burner
Cheetah. Fast, free, simple, hasn't failed yet even burning at 1x speed thru an old usb1 CD burner.
-- Mike Ochsman

I use Quintessential Player for ripping audio files to the hard drive. It's not the very best but it's free, easy to use, and works well. I use RecordNow Max to burn. It's not free, but I have never had a problem burning anything with it. I have a version that was published by Stomp -- RecordNow is now owned by Sonic Solutions, which has merged with Roxio, so I'm not sure of current availability. I still use version 4.5 (Sonic is up to version 7.2) and it has worked flawlessly for me. I have used (or tried to use) just about everything else, with little luck.
-- Everett

Shorten Files
Hi, Fred: Friends do not let friends source audio CD's from MP3's -- they are garbage. Point your reader to the loss-less compression community Shorten Files here or ape Files here. Those guys at etree would string a guy like your reader up. MP3, although good to listen to, degrades the quality of the audio when made into CD's.
-- Fred Freely

J. River Media Center
Hi, Fred- I have used J. River Media Center 10, MediaMonkey, and JetAudio to manage my collection of mp3's, oggs, and Flac files, and they all burn well, although I think they use the Nero burning engine. MediaCenter is by far the best of the bunch, but it's not a free program, while the other two both offer free versions. I think it's worth mentioning that Nero produces the software that sets the industry standard for burning, and that either it or competitor Roxio software comes bundled with most CD-burners. It's worth paying a few extra bucks when buying a burner to get this software.
-- Jason Turgeon

Audio Catalyst
Fred, I successfully use Audio Catalyst to rip the MP3s and Nero burning to burn the MP3 CD.
-- John J. Dion

Free Rip
Fred, Free Ripis a neat little program.
-- John Weidner

Cakewalk Pyro
I feel your reader's pain. CD burning has given me more than my fair share of trouble over the years! I've had good results burning MP3's with CakeWalk Pyro. It's not free, but a new copy is only around $25 (from My version officially only supports Windows 95/Me/98 but, it works on XP for me. Pyro 2004 is around $40 (from, and officially supports Windows Me/2000/XP/98. The Cakewalk product pages are here. You can download it from their Web site (for $49).
-- Kevin Davidson

Disc Master
I use the free trial program interVideo Disc Master. I haven't had any problems with it.
-- Mary Aman

CD'n'Go has worked quite well for me. Here's CD'n'Go's Web site.
-- Mr. Jiggs

CD Extreme
I just use the CD Extreme software that came with my Sony Spressa Pro burner. It's an older SCSI unit, but the software translates MP3 files on the fly to standard audio files. I just use regular Verbatim ValuLife blanks and the disks play everywhere I try including car and portable units. I do use the Musicmatch Jukebox to do the MP3 conversion and build my playlist. Then you just drop the files into CD Extreme and burn as an audio disk. Very simple and straightforward. My .02.
-- Quinton Lee

Burn Quick
If you have a compatible burner, I have 2 registered copies of Burn Quick. Burn about 60 CD's a month. Average 60 good burns. Not free. $19.95, Excellent.
-- Richard Courter

Fred: I really feel for Ken as I also have tried quite a few MP3 conversion packages, but initially, I used Windows Media Player (not the current version). I have been using two free programs which have zero junk in them; both are excellent: Audacity, a great editor/burner. This program allows splitting-up of WAV or MP3 files into separate files. For instance, you rip a vinyl platter into a single file, and this program lets you break it up into individual tracks ... it will even attempt to do it for you. Great stuff, and for free! Also, dBpowerAMP. The CD Writer software portion is shareware, only $14.00 after 30 days, but this program is an excellent format converter, too, and that part is in the free download. I would also suggest downloading, and installing, the free LAME MP3 encoder. I would install LAME before either of the above programs, although dBpowerAMP has a copy supplied with it. Even the older versions of Windows Media Player do a fairly respectable job of burning CD's from MP3 files, and Roxio's burner (not for free except with some CD-burner drives) does a good job.
-- Wilson A. Caselli

What's your favorite MP3 and audio tool? Join the discussion!

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Fred Langa's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Fred Langa, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

About the Author(s)

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights