dBpoweramp for music file format conversion
I had a problem: a library of WMA files that my new iPod Shuffle couldn't play. dBpoweramp is the solution.
I had a problem. Years ago, I bought Microsoft's now-discontinued Digital Media Plus Pack for converting my LP records into digital files. Because it's a Microsoft product from back in the day when Microsoft was gung-ho about Windows Media, it only rips to Windows Media Audio. And of course, it's Windows only. (Other than that, it's a great tool--very easy to use, never messes up line leveling, and has a good algorithm for removing pops and scratches.)
Back when I used iTunes and my iPod exclusively, I'd simply rip the album into WMA, then import the folder from MyMusic into iTunes. It would ask me if I wanted to convert to AAC (the default--it can also convert to MP3), I'd accept, then delete the WMAs so as not to clutter my hard drive with duplicates.
But since 2006, I've been using a Zune (review unit) as my primary music player. Zune plays both AAC and WMA files, and it automatically reads your iTunes library. I got lazy and stopped converting my vinyl from WMA to AAC.
Now I've got a Shuffle. And a library full of WMA files that it can't play. Of course, I could do what I used to do--import the folders from My Music into iTunes, convert to AAC, then delete the originals. But what if I want to convert those WMAs into MP3s to make sure they can play on any device with any software app? OK, I guess I could change the default on iTunes. But what happens when you add a bunch of downloaded FLAC files into the mix? Or Ogg files? What about converting AAC back to WMA--I can't see any reason why I'd want to do that today, but who knows where Microsoft and Apple are heading with their file format support?
I needed to future-proof my music collection, while still maintaining the best quality-to-size ratio possible. (MP3 is one of the lossiest formats.)
dBpoweramp Music Converteris the solution. $18 for the regular edition. (The $28 reference edition has features for professionals and more serious amateurs.) You can download just about any imaginable codec from the associated Web site. By default it performs file conversion within the same folder as the original files, so you can easily keep track of what's where. (Not like iTunes, which moves every converted file into the iTunes library by default.) Or, if you want to export directly to an iTunes folder, it can do that. It even adds a feature to the Windows Explorer so when you hover over a file, it'll display full ID3 tag information for that file--useful for changing mysterious file names to match song titles.