We've tried tons of freeware MP3 converters. They tend to fall somewhere in between Easy Enough for Beginners and Feature-Filled for Experts. DVDVideoSoft's Free Audio Converter definitely registers on the "Easy" end of the dial, but it offers enough options to enable you to encode your MP3s in several different formats, including three levels of LAME. A Preset Wizard makes it easy to save your settings for future use. It can access compatible audio files on your hard drive or stored on a CD, but it doesn't rip CD audio.
Free Audio Converter shares a basic interface style and background with DVDVideoSoft's other audio/video freeware, with a colorful abstract design and a minimum of controls. You can add files by clicking Add Files and browsing or by dragging and dropping files directly into Free Audio Converter's main window. A Save To field is easy enough to understand, as is the Quality button, which let us select the type of encoding we wanted, including AAC, APE, FLAC, WMA, WAV, and OGG (MP3, too!). A drop-down list offers further refinement, including not only three levels of LAME quality (Insane, Extreme, and Standard) but also Original Audio and even Audio Book, the CD audio standard. Free Audio Converter uses handy pop-ups to edit tags and file names. Clicking the Magic Wand icon opens the Preset Editor, a handy wizard for saving presets for a variety of different file types and situations. With it, you can create different profiles for your best tunes and your podcasts. Basic options include ATI-based acceleration, interface languages, and a selection of attractive themes that improve on the basic look.
We browsed to our music archive and selected some MP3s, which appeared in the main window in a list we could edit with Up/Down arrows. We made our selections and pressed Convert. Free Audio Converter did its thing quickly, and the finished tunes played normally in our usual player. Free Audio Converter can handle WAVs, which gives it an advantage over similar tools that require external help (such as Winamp) to encode and convert MP3s to WAVs for editing.