Audio, Video and Multimedia Tools

Many weeks ago we went looking for a free DVD cloning program. While we found many commercial products, the only "free" ones we found were trial versions of commercial programs that allowed 2 minutes of program activity or some other such nonsense. Nowhere in our collections of DVDs do we have one that is 2 minutes long or less. Thus, there was no way to actually see if the program being evaluated performed a complete cloning of multiple tracks or not.

Over several days, we actually worked our way through the first several hundred hits from a Google search for "free DVD cloner" without finding a complete, unemcumbered free program. But we did occasionally find other programs that performed useful functions with CDs and DVDs and began evaluating those. This page is the result. And, after several weeks of searching, we did happen upon a real DVD cloning program which is included in the reviews below.

We want to warn you that there are literally thousands of programs out there that would qualify for a review on this page if all we wanted was quantity. We actually found a site with links to over 600 such programs, but not a single review to guide you away from the ho-hums, come-ons and trash. If you want a video file converter, there are hundreds. We only list a few. Ditto for audio file converters, audio and video rippers and CD and DVD burners.

We are sure we will add programs to this page over time and probably delete a few. You may want to check back in time to decide if another program will better serve you needs. And if you find an absolutely great program that you believe ought to be listed here, visit our Contact Us page.

Accord CD Ripper Free

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In a nutshell, this is a free, fast, reliable CD ripper with an easily grasped interface. It doesn't do everything some programs do, but it did exactly what we wanted it to do. It rips audio tracks to WAV and MP3 files, the latter using the latest Lame MP3 encoder and it does it incredibly fast. It automatically retrieves album and track information from a remote DC database and allows you to edit, revise and save it. It's fully optimized for SSE and Hyper-Thread technology. It rips directly, on-the-fly, without creating any temporary files along the way. It supports all kinds of current CD and DVD drives. A commercial version takes it to the next level.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows Vista and 7

Ashampoo Burning Studio 6 Free

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Some programs we have reviewed have overwhelmed us in technical complication. If were were audio-video-multimedia geeks it would all fall into place, we are sure, but we are not and it often doesn't. Ashampoo Burning Studio 6 Free is refreshing. It simplifies complex processes by selecting optimal settings and then letting you click the button so you feel you are doing it. It provides the capability to burn discs easily without sacrificing content or quality, resulting in fantastic output. It can backup multi-disc files, provide an audio CD ripper, supports Blu-ray format, and handles a staggering 25 GB per layer capacity. It’s a powerful CD, Blu-ray, and DVD burning application designed for ordinary folks. The program can effectively burn data discs, audio CDs, MP3 CDs, video DVDs, video CDs, and even create and burn DVD, Blu-ray, and CD disc images. A simple yet functional interface allows numerous functions, including Burn Files and Folders, Backup and Restore Files and Folders, Burn or Rip Music, Burn Movies, Copy a CD/DVD/Blu-ray Disc, Create/Burn Disc Images, and Erase CD-RW, DVD+RW. We think it is a good one.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows XP, Vista, 7


CDBurnerXP

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Misnamed in our opinion, CDBurnerXP can burn any data on CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM, BD, and HD-DVD, including double layer mediums. You can create bootable discs, burn MP3 CDs, verify written data immediately, drag and drop files to the burn list, and quick- and full-erase. You can create audio CDs from MP3, OGG, FLAC and WMA files, add single or multiple tracks from existing audio CDs directly to your new compilation, gapless audio CDs supported, import M3U or WPL playlists, import CUE sheets, export audio compilations as M3U playlist and CUE sheet, burn ISO files to CD, create ISO files, and save CDs and DVDs as ISO file to disc. Supports most IDE, USB, Firewire and SCSI drives, simple cover printing feature, and LightScribe integration. CDBurnerXP is a very decent replacement for the CD burning software that comes with most computers

Download: Here
Systems: Not disclosed, but works on Windows 7


CDex

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CDex rips audio files from CDs as plain WAV files or compressed using an audio encoder such as Lame MP3, Windows MP3, Internal MP2, APE lossles, Ogg Vorbis, NTT VQF, FAAC, Windows WMA8, and more. It supports many audio file tag formats, which can be automatically inserted as part of the ripping process. It features direct recording of multiple tracks, reading and storing album information from the cdplayer.ini file or remote CD database, is CD-Text compliant, advanced jitter correction, audio signal normalization, conversion of external WAV files, and supports M3U and PLS playlist files.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 7


CDlyse

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This is a compact utility to create a fast, easy and versatile CD/DVD catalog. Just insert the disc in the drive and start the program. An XML file will be created cataloging the contents.

The developer claims XML formatting facilitates easier file sharing of MP3 and other media collections by allowing cataloging, searching, archiving, XML importing, and exporting to Excel, SQL and HTML. You be the judge of that. Its biggest limitation is its age -- it only supports up to Windows XP and 2003.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows NT, 2000, XP, 2003.


Next DVD Ripper

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Next (formerly Cloudy) DVD Ripper can rip movies from DVDs to all popular video formats like VCD, SVCD, AVI, DivX, WMV (Zune, Pocket PC), MP3, iAVI, MPEG, MP4, FLV, RM, MOV, XviD, 3GP, etc. or copy DVDs to your hard drive without any loss of quality. You can then enjoy them directly or burn them to blank DVD using burning software. You can download videos from YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo Video and many others and convert them to other video formats. Easy to use, you just specify the URL for the video you want to download and click the Ok button. With this video converter, you can output the specific video format watched on TV, played on portable media players, loaded to mobile phones, or put on websites, etc. Cloudy DVD Ripper is stable, comprehensive and very easy to use. Just drag the files you want to convert to the list, select the format you want to use and click the start button. We counted 44 video and 19 audio formats it supported. The devices it supports include iPod, iPod Nano, iPod Classic, iPod Shuffle, iPod Touch, iPhone, iPhone 3G, Apple TV, PSP, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360, General 3GP (mobile phone, BlackBerry, etc.), General MP4 players (Archos, Creative Zen, iRiver, etc.), and Windows Mobile device (Pocket PC, Dell Axim X51, HP iPaq hw6500 series, etc.), but not Zune.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 98, 2000, XP, Vista and 7


Next Video Converter

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This is a free video conversion software which can convert video files from AVI, WMV, 3GP, MOV, FLV and more into AVI, MOV, ASF, WMV, MP4, 3GP and others. This is an easy and powerful DVD backup program, as well as a file converter. It can convert DVD to VCD, SVCD, AVI (DivX), WMV (Zune, Pocket PC), MP3, iPod and PSP formats or backup DVD to hard drive without any loss of quality. You can use it to download videos from YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo Video, and many others and convert them to other video formats. Just specify the URL for the video you want to download and click the Ok button.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 98, 2000, XP, Vista and 7


dBpoweramp Music Converter

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We said up front that we would not review programs with a "trial period," but we just could not pass on this one. Nicknamed the Swiss army knife of audio, dBpoweramp Music Converter has already been downloaded by over 20 million users worldwide and is considered the fastest of the fast, the securest of the secure, the most accurate of the accurate. It will digitally and accurately rip audio CDs as fast as your CD drive can spin. It can convert more audio formats (30) than we care to type. It searches four internet metadata providers simultaneously to grab the most accurate data, and both preserves ID tags and allows you to edit them. Multi-CPU encoding uses all available cores to do more things at once than any comparable program and delivers a broad range of DSP effects. Place your mouse on just about any audio (and many video) file and practically everything you want to know about the file (or track) will be displayed (artist, title, album, type, size, lenght, channels, sample rate, sample size, bit rate, audio quality, encoder, encoder settings, etc.). This, quite simply, is the Cadillac of audio converters. You can download it for a 21-day free trial and then work your butt off for the next three weeks.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7 and Linux Wine


DSPlayer Lite

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DS stands for Direct Show. This is an all-in-one media player. It appears to play any kind of digital audio or video file and supports all popular formats. We'll take their word for that, as we only have a limited number of formats -- but it played them all. The interface is skinnable and multilingual and not overwhelming. The program does feature drag and drop play lists, audio crossfader, 10-band equalizer, video controls (brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, aspect ratios, etc.), and plug-in filters for XivD, 3ivx, GPL MPEG-1, GPL MPEG-2, AC3, DC-DVB, and ffdshow. On the other hand, we were unable to stream and rip our favorite radio stations, a listed ability (there may have been a firewall issue, but we were unable to figure it out). However, your mileage may vary considerably.

Download: Here
Systems: Not specified, but worked under Windows 7


DVD Backup Xpress DVD Ripper

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DVD Backup Xpress DVD Ripper is an easy to use DVD Ripper tool for Video DVD devices , designed to make perfect-quality backup copies of all your DVD movies using your own DVD writer. And let's face it; with few exceptions, unless you bought a stripped down machine without a manufacturer's bundle you have an installed DVD writer. But, what you probably don't have bundled in your systenm is a resident ability to copy a video DVD and then write the file to another DVD. Operating system developers tend to avoid creating conditions where they might unwittingly aid and abet the violation of copyright laws. Therefore, they shy away from providing the ability to rip a movie from a DVD and install it on another DVD, even if it is for legeitimate backup purposes. DVD Backup Xpress DVD Ripper simply provides you the means to do what Windows does not.

DVD Backup Xpress DVD Ripper developers say you end up with a DVD clone of the original, with same files, same tracks, same scene divisiona, and same menu. We would be more willing to concede this point if the program inculded its own DVD burner program. But we must admit the three DVDs we backed up appear to be clones of the originals. Three DVDs do not constitute a sufficient test in our opinion, but it is a good sign. And it lends credence to the developers' claims that the program will rip from most NTSC and PAL formatted video DVDs, with different encryptions, and output to most of the usual video types (AVI, MPEG, MPG, ASF, WMV, MPE, MOV, MP4, MPEG-2 [ES, PS, TS]) and convert to any of about 25 supported video, audio and subtitle codecs.

Download: Here (look in upper left navigation bar)
Systems: Windows NT, 95, 98, 2000, ME, XP, and Vista (it ran for us under Windows 7)

Final Burner Free

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This is a lean program that creates data, audio, and video disks and burns them onto any type of media, such as CD R/RW, DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD DL, HD-DL, and Blu-Ray. It burns WAV, MP3, OGG, MID, WMA, AAC, MP4, M4A, VM, MOD, S3M, IT, MTM, MO3, AVI, DivX, XviD, MP4, MPG, WMV, ASF, MOV, FLV, captures from Web cams, TV tuners, DV, etc. It also rips audio CDs and has an autorun menu designer. Finally, you can also create an ISO image of a disk. There are no tedious or confusing configurations needed. You just select a few main settings and start burning. The program finds the optimal recording balance.

Download: Here (look in upper left navigation bar)
Systems: Windows 2000, XP, 2003 Server

Free Easy CD DVD Burner

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This program allows you to burn data and audio (from WAV, WMA, MP3, OGG, FLAC, MPC, APE) CDs, DVDs and BluRay. Burn your personal files, burn MP3 CDs so that you can listen to them in your car, copy your CDs and DVDs, copy your favourite audio CDs in MP3 onto your computer, etc. It will create and burn ISO images (from your hard disk, from CDs or DVDs). It adheres to the normal standards -- ISO 9660, Joliet, buffer underRun protection, multi-session support. It supports dual-layer DVD formats, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and BluRay Discs.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, and 7


Free iPod Video Converter

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This program allows you to convert all your videos to the iPod video format. You will be able to convert your videos from a large range of formats like FLV, DivX, DVD, XviD, MPEG, MP4, VOB, AVI, WMV, ASF and many others. It will allow you to download your favorite videos from YouTube and other online video sites and convert them to iPod video format. Simple interface, fast conversion.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista and 7


FreeStar Free DVD Ripper

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FreeStar Free DVD Ripper is fast and provides excellent quality ripping of DVDs to VCD, SVCD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, AVI, DivX, and XviD formats. Back up your favorite DVD movies to various formats and extract soundtracks from DVDs tp MP3. Default settings for the beginner and ample optimization setting for the expert. Select audio tracks or subtitles. Very good program.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, and Ubuntu


FreeStar Free iPod Video Converter

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FreeStar Free iPod Video Converter can convert most all kinds of video files, for instance, DivX, XviD, MOV, RM, RMVB, MPG, MPEG, ASF, VOB, VCD, 3GR, AMR, FLV, FLIC, SW, DVD, SVCD, and AVI, to Apple iPod MP4 files. It can also download and convert YouTube files. It is very easy to use without any special settings, as it automatically can detect your hardware configuration and select an optimized conversion scheme for you. Supports iPod Nano, Touch and Classic, iPhone, Apple TV H.264, and Apple TV MPEG-4.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 98, Me, 2000, 2003, XP, Vista, 7


Free Videos to DVD

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This is a fast and easy program to convert and burn your videos to DVD. Create a menu in just a few clicks and backup videos to DVDs in just a few clicks. It supports most popular formats like AVI, DivX, XviD, MPEG, MP4, VOB, WMV, MTS, M2TS, FLV, etc. It converts files into a compliant set of DVD video files and burns it on a DVD or saves it as an ISO image file. The output can be configured to aspect ratio, NTSC or PAL formats. This is a simple program for those of us who are not video techies.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista and 7


MediaMonkey

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Billed as "the music organizer for the serious collector," MediaMonkey is every bit of that and much more. It can rip CDs, convert file types, burn new ones, find and fill in any missing album or track data from a remote CD database, organize your collection and synchronize your PC's music collection with your iPhone, iPod, or almost any portable audio player. You can edit album and track tags, assign new ones, catch podcasts, download plug-ins, change skins, build play lists and reports, and tweak settings so your own "jukebox" plays whatever you want. It can even level the playing volume across all tracks for consistency when listening. Once we began playing with it, we did not stop for several hours. It organized our 6,686 ripped tracks in seconds and then went out and found missing album, artist, track, album art and other data for about 1/10th of the collection that another program had missed. We were more than pleased.

Naturally, MediaMonkey supports MP3, AAC, M4A, OGG, WMA, FLAC, MPC, WAV, CDA, M3U, PLS, etc., and we could write about all the technical features it possesses (such as utilizing the high quality LAME MP3 encoder, M4A encoder, OGG encoder, WMA encoder, or FLAC encoder). But take our word for it that the technicals will suffice for all but the geekiest audiophile. Instead, we are going to mention three capabilities that impressed us (and there is a commercial version that supposedly puts the free one to shame).

First, three other programs had previously organized our music files and we were quite happy with them. MediaMonkey’s auto-organizer examined our collection and offered us several options. We then decided to reorganize them into folders and filenames of our choosing based on artist, album name, track title and track number attributes. In this way, albums by various artists were dealt with the same was as albums by a single artist. And you can still search by album name and it will construct the album directory for you, or by genre and it will redo it all.

Second, any additions, deletions or reattributions made to your collection by any other program will automatically be recognized by MediaMonkey and reflected in your library.

Third, you can create play lists in three ways (that we know of). You can drag and drop tunes into a list, build one based on simple or multiple search criteria, or have the Auto-DJ automatically create a mix for you based on your criteria. We built one based on "psychedelic rock" and it found 617 tracks in about 2 seconds. Really. Can't you just hear Gracie Slick singing, "One pill makes you larger / And one pill makes you small / But the ones that Mother gives you / Don't do anything at all / Go ask Alice / When she's ten feet tall."

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, 7

MP3 Ripper

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MP3 Ripper is a free program that rips audio CD tracks to WAV, MP3 and OGG formats. It is incredibly fast and fully optimized for SSE and Hyper-Thread technology; it gets an get extra speed boost on multiprocessor systems. It retrieves album info from remote and local CDDB (Compact Disc Database) servers and this CDDB info can be edited, revised and saved. It does on-the-fly ripping (no temporary file is generated) and has an elegant and intuitive user interface that is very easy to use. You can write metadata of the output audio files and create an M3U playlist file. It utilizes a built-in Lame MP3 encoder, generally considered the best MP3 encoder in the world. It supports plain audio CD players and all kinds of CD and DVD drives, including IDE, SCSI, USB, etc. It has full unicode support, multisession (CD-Extra) support, and all events are logged for future diagnosis. Very clean little program.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows XP, Vista and 7


Rip Blu-Ray to X

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We do not have a Blu-Ray player, but if you do you may want this well-featured program. It allows you to directly rip Blu-Ray to FLV, MPG, MKV, MOV, AVI, SWF, MPEG, PSP, MP4, RM, WMV, ASF, 3GP, 3G2, etc., as well as to iPod, PSP, iPhone, PMP, GPhone, Apple TV, XBox, Mobile Phone, Windows Mobile, etc., and includes High Definition. We did not test drive this software.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 7; support for Mac is coming


Sothink Video Converter

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This is an all-in-one video converter that is simple to use, performs with great speed and quality, and supports iPad, iPhone, iPod, Google Android mobiles, Nexus One, BlackBerry, PSP, Zune, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Apple TV, and many other hot mobile platforms. It can convert videos between all popular formats, such as H.264/AVC, AVCHD, M2TS, AVI (DivX, XviD), MP4, WMV (Zune, Pocket PC), MKV, MOV, MPG, 3GP, RMVB, etc, Flash Video (FLV), MP3 and more audios. In all, it converts from 48 formats to 30 formats, not bad for a freebie. It contains good editing and preview options, and you can even convert video to images (JPG). Finally, it has a clear and user-friendly interface. The commercial upgrade expands the capabilities tremendously, while the commercial DVD Ripper is oneof the better ones out there.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows XP, Vista and 7


Video DVD Maker Free

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This is a pretty nice program. With it, you can take captured video from TV tuners, Web cameras, DVs, as well as imported video from any video files, including AVI, DivX, XviD, MPEG-4, MPG, WMV, ASF, and MOV and burn you own DVDs using any DVD format.

Some of the programs we have reviewed have been, well, intimidating. Not so with Video DVD Maker Free. It's simple, easy to use, doesn't try to be everything, and is free. It walked us through making high-quality DVDs, and believe me we don't really know the technical subtleties involved. An intuitive interface took us step-by-step through a comprehensive set of logical processes to the finished DVDs. Best of all, it's a small, compact program that won't hog the dimenishing space on your PC. The small size is achieved by not including all the possible codecs imaginable. You simply go to Codec Packs and download the one(s) you actually need.

Download: Here (look in upper left navigation bar)
Systems: Windows NT, 2000, XP, Vista and 7

WinX DVD Ripper

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WinX DVD Ripper is an excellent and respected program. It rips, converts or transfers DVDs to regular video formats such as AVI, MPEG, FLV, MOV, MP4, WMV (Zune, Pocket PC) and audio to MP3. Allows the capture of stills from DVD videos as JPG or BMP files. Video and audio parameters are adjustable to optimize quality. Supports DVD 5, DVD 9, DVD ROM, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW. Supports Hyper-Threading, single or batch ripping and subtitle enabling or disabling as desired. A commercial version defeats various copy protection technologies.

Download: Here
Systems: Windows 98, NT, 2000, 2003, XP, Vista, 7