Why would anyone need a program to convert sounds from one format to another? When you rip your CDs to compressed audio, don’t you set the CD ripper to use the format (be it MP3 or AAC or WMA), that you use most often? Of course you do! And isn’t that format – more than likely – the same format you use with any portable devices you have? I’d bet that it is.
So, I ask again… why would anyone need to convert music from one format to another?
There are a lot of reasons, such as sharing music with friends, moving music from one portable player to one that doesn’t accept your original format. Some people like burning music (saved as MP3 files) to a CD or DVD for playback in a stand-alone DVD player. Other people maybe want to make sure that their music isn’t “locked in” to a particular company’s favorite format.
As I said… lots of reasons.
Knowing this, I recently took a look at a shareware program for Mac users called Sound Grinder. Sound Grinder is available for $39.00, and can be purchased (and downloaded) directly from its home page. But there are a ton of different audio converters out there. Heck, iTunes and Quicktime itself can do a lot of converting, so what makes Sound Grinder so great?
The first thing that I noticed right off the bat was how different audio files could be converted – at the same time – to different formats. With most audio converters, this is not possible. You’ll often need to go back to the same program again and again if you want to convert different files to different formats, but not so with Sound Grinder.
As well, Sound Grinder uses what it calls Droplets. Droplets are fantastic little presets that you drag your audio files on top of, which starts the conversion process. The trick is that you create different droplets based on what audio parameters you want. So, if you want to convert to MP3 with 192 kbps bitrate, 48.000 kHz Sample rate and Joint Stereo, you would simply set that up and save the options as a droplet. From then on, every audio file you drag and drop onto that droplet will be encoded with those choices. Simple!
Sound Grinder supports a lot of formats. It supports every options Quicktime does (including plugins, so if you’ve purchased the Flip4Mac plugin to encode to Windows Media Audio files, Sound Grinder can do that as well), plus some open source libraries, such as FLAC, LAME, Ogg and Vorbis. For a full list of formats Sound Grinder supports, see this page.
Finally, Sound Grinder not only supports meta-data (information embedded directly into the music file so that players know the name, album, artist and other song info), but you can alter those tags right from within Sound Grinder. This is a nice feature, as I’ve too often encoded music from one format to another only to find that the tag information was stripped during the encoding process, necessitating that I do all that again.
As mentioned, Sound Grinder is shareware, costing $39.00 (or free if you’ve purchased an older version in the last few months). In my view, that’s a pretty good deal, if converting audio is a big part of your work flow. If not, then there are other options available, such as the slightly cheaper Switch Audio File Conversion Software, or if you don’t have a ton of converting to do, you could try out Zamzar.com, which converts – completely free of charge – to and from a dozen or so common formats.