Changing Audio Files So They Work – Review 8

Times exist when a media file is simply unplayable. Perhaps your cell phone can’t decode Matroska videos, or your favourite music tagger refuses to touch wavs. For all intents and purposes, you must choose between abandoning the file and abandoning the media tool. That is, unless you are willing to transcode the file.

XMedia Recode

XMedia Recode Logo

XMedia Recode draws on the power of multiple free encoders and decoders, not unlike LASTAR. However, the programs have separate missions.

XMedia offers a straightforward interface for transforming music files:

  1. Click the Open File button at the top left to pick your input.
  2. Choose the output profile from the extensive dropdown list.
  3. Click the Add Job button when the settings are to your liking.
  4. Repeat the above 3 steps for each additional file.
  5. Click the Encode button at the top of the window.

The new files are placed in the same folders as their sources. This can be changed in the dropdown at the base of the window.

The format tab, shown upon starting the program for the first time. Near the top, under the button bar, is space for a list of source files (audio and video).

The format tab, shown upon starting the program for the first time. Near the top, under the button bar, is space for a list of source files (audio and video).

Multiple audio tracks can be pulled into one file or separated out on the Audio tab of the display. Video effects like color correction, conversion to greyscale, vertical flipping, cropping, and resolution are managed on the Filters/Preview tab. The program also has space for editing file metadata (a.k.a. music tags). Unfortunately, it can be easy to get confused in all the features and menus.

XMedia Recode is not really capable of enhancing audio – that’s primarily LASTAR’s domain. Xmedia’s strength lies in its ease of transcoding files to desired formats.

A small fraction of the different manufacturers supported. A user only needs to choose how the file will be used in future.

A small fraction of the different manufacturers supported by XMedia. A user only needs to choose how the file will be used in future.

Ultimately, I can say that XMedia Recode is near the top of its class. It uses a variety of free libraries to great effect (FFMPEG, FAAC, FAAD2, LAME, XVid, Ogg, Theora, libdvdread, Vorbis, x264, libvpx, and libbluray, according to the about dialog). While not suitable for high-end audiovisual editing, it is more than capable of recoding.

I strongly recommend it to people interested in converting audiovisual media from one format to another.

Price $0 (Free)
Compatible OS‘s Windows XP,Vista,7,8
Licensing Generic Freeware License
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Improving Music Quality – Review 6

Often, music files do not quite sound perfect. The vocals may be too quiet, the drums unintentionally overpowering, or something else entirely. Programs that play music sometimes offer equalisers that can change the relative volumes of individual sounds.

But what of the music players without dedicated equalisers? You will need either to put up with the music file’s quirks, or to perform permanent changes to the music file.

LASTAR

Icon for LASTAR: an ear listening to a stylised microphone.

LASTAR is the fine product of Arnaud Champenois, also known as Arthelion. The actual audio work is performed with the help of a few famous projects: libsndfile, libmpg123, FFTW, LAME, and Qt. That’s not to say that this is just a basic graphical shell over some pwerful components – on the contrary, LASTAR is highly effective. It offers coarse modification of the entire processing process, from file size to maximum volume.

Sample use of LASTAR - The main window shows a log of recent actions, the most common modifications, and even multi-file support.

Sample use of LASTAR – The main window shows a log of recent actions, the most common modifications, and even multi-file support.

High recommendations come from me – LASTAR is a very straightforward tool for changing up the volume levels of a music track. It can even split the file into equal-length pieces and convert it to a different format in the process.

Price $0 (Free)
Compatible OS‘s Windows XP,Vista,7,8
Licensing GNU General Public License 3