Do you like listening to music? Who doesn't? I prefer quality to quantity, which is why my library consists of audio files in the FLAC format whenever possible.
This comes at a cost, have a couple of dozen albums and you are looking at Gigabytes worth of music. But sometimes you may have to choose between storage space and your songs. If I had a phone or digital music player without a memory card, I would somewhat grudgingly ditch FLAC in favor of lossy MP3 tracks.
The program's GUI may look a bit intimidating, but on the contrary it is quite easy to pick up and use. It has a menubar up top, a toolbar, and a large pane with three tabs with a bunch of options.
Click on the file menu or the toolbar's Add files option to select the multimedia files that you want to convert. You can drag-and drop entire folders to the interface to queue them up.
fre:ac supports many audio and video input formats including FLAC, MP3, AAC, WAV, OGG, OGA, APE, MAC, WMA, MP1, MP2, M4A, M4B, M4R, AIF, AIFF, AIFC, CAF, W64, FR64, AU SND, VOC, IFF, SVX, SF, PAF, PVF, WVE, HTK, AVR, SPX, AC3, MP4, 3GP, AMR, AEA, AT3, AA3, OMA, OMG, DSF, DFF, DSS, DTS, FLC, F4V, M4V, ISMA, MKV, MKA, MLP, MOV, MPG, MPEG, QCP, RA, WEBM, WMV, OFR, AVI, CUE and TAK.
The files that have been added are listed in the job list pane, which is your playlist. It supports the following formats: M3U, M3U8, PLS, VCLT, WPL and XSPF. You can save the job list and come back to it later and convert the songs.
The program displays several columns such as the artist name, title of the song, track number, length (duration), and the file size. Mouse over a track to view advanced information about it including the sampling rate, channels, bit rate, etc. The controls in the top right-hand corner of the Joblist pane can be used to play the tracks.
Select a track to view its information such as the album art, artist name, album name, length, year, genre, track number, etc. Converting tracks to a different format is one thing, but you also need to preserve the tags, and fre:ac can handle this from the Tags tab. You can use the fields in this tab to edit every metadata tag, including the album art cover. It supports APE, RIFF Cart, FLAC, IDV3, MP4, RIFF Info, Vorbis and WMA tags. The Logs tab displays the status of the processed jobs.
Let's go back to the job list tab. Click on the drop-down menu next to "selected encoder", or click on the downwards arrow next to the "Start" button on the toolbar. This brings up a list of output formats that you can choose like MP3 (LAME MP3 Encoder), FLAC, WAV, OGG, etc.
All encoders have preset options which you can choose from, by default the program uses the standard preset. Hit the Encoder settings and select a custom preset and you'll be able to modify the VBR bit rate, stereo mode, and other parameters. Advanced users can also set the filter settings, and signal processing options if required.
Select the Output folder where your converted tracks should be saved by using the option at the bottom of the window. When you're ready, hit the Start button to begin the encoding process. Wait till its completed and your new audio tracks will be ready.
Here's a screenshot of one test where I was able to use fre:ac to compress 210MB worth of music to about 59MB.
And here's one where it did an even better job by reducing 880MB of FLAC music tracks to just over 67MB. This can help you store thousands of songs in a phone with limited storage space.
fre:ac is available for 32-bit and 64-bit computers running Windows, Mac, and Linux. Apart from optional portable versions, it is also available on the Microsoft Store for Windows 10. The program can be used to rip audio CDs and comes with an option to retrieve artist and track information from the CDDB database, since I don't have a disc drive (or discs) I can't confirm how this option works.
fre:ac can be used to merge multiple audio files into one track, to enable the option, click on the checkbox next to "Encode to a single file.
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