Rip, convert, tag, and now burn CDs with FreeRip 4.0 | Download Product Review - CNET Download.com

Rip, convert, tag, and now burn CDs with FreeRip 4.0

The freeware ripping tool adds CD burning to its arsenal of free features. While the program does what it says, the overall impression is underwhelming.

FreeRIP extracts and converts your audio tracks, as well as detecting CD and song info and making all of that info editable right from the interface. It's easy to start right up with FreeRIP, which supports the most common audio formats--MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, and WAV. It can also convert files between any of those formats, play your audio files, and edit tags. With the release of version 4.0, the app now adds burning audio CDs to the mix of features that free users can access.

FreeRIP's bare-bones interface is set up for easy access and maneuverability. You won't find any unnecessary ornamentation, wizards, or other doodads to get in the way of ripping, converting, tagging, and burning. Since the name is FreeRip, I decided to see how its extracting features worked first, especially to see how the product compares to our standard top free ripping software choices.

I was a bit underwhelmed. While FreeRIP doesn't make you hunt down the necessary LAME encoder to convert CDs to MP3, customizing the output isn't as easy as in other rippers. Clicking the "Settings" buttons, all the way to the right, will bring up a tab-based interface. Under the "Output" tab, you can customize bitrate, stereo setting, and tagging format, but it's not the most logical interface. Also, ripping a standard 45-minute CD at 320kbps CBR took more than a minute longer on FreeRip (5:52) compared to Foobar (3:51) or iTunes (3:58)(Download.com's top two free picks for Best Windows Apps for Music).

The interface uses a tall "ribbon" at the top that includes the majority of the program's functionality, such as choosing the Ripper, Tagger, or Converter, but then those selections are repeated in the standard File/View menus as well. Oddly, the "Burn Disc" feature is a separate button. It's not exactly clear how to add tracks to burn to a CD, nor is there any instruction in the linked user manual, which is disappointing since burning audio CDs is the big new feature in version 4.0. I managed to burn a mix by dragging and dropping from Windows Explorer into the tagger

FreeRip includes a fairly mild but persistent reminder to upgrade to the paid version of the app, which promises faster ripping and burning speeds, but it's hard to imagine paying for performance that other apps provide for free. FreeRip also includes a Spigot toolbar in its installer that must be "declined" to opt-out. FreeRip does what it promises to do fairly well, but there's nothing that stands out as fantastic. Stability was also an issue in my testing, as the program crashed fairly regularly and I was unable to use any of the Search, Videos, or Shopping features.

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