Review: Convert bit rate, stereo mode, and more with MP3 Quality Modifier

Modify MP3 bit rates, mode, and more with this uniquely useful freeware.

MP3 Quality Modifier is a useful, no-nonsense tool for music lovers, audiophiles, archivists, or anyone who has a lot of digital music files. It can upsample tracks to improve their sound quality, convert bit rate mode and sample frequency, and even convert stereo files to mono and vice versa. Presets let you quickly convert files at different quality levels for specific needs, such as Very Best Quality for home digital audio, Portable for your player, and even Very Low Quality for times when space matters but quality doesn't. MP3 Quality Modifier is portable freeware.

When we first ran MP3 Quality Modifier, the program opened with a brief but concise and helpful startup guide. There's also a Help menu with lots of additional information about each step, plus an MP3 Information sheet that explains concepts like bit rate and ID3 tags. However, the program's clean, efficient, and no-nonsense layout and intuitive controls make MP3 Quality Modifier easy to understand. With file conversion software (especially music tools) we always check the settings first. MP3 Quality Modifier's Settings sheet has useful Window, Loading, and Language options, plus an Additional Options sheet that let us set minimum and maximum bit rate; adopt Folder structures, ID3 tags, and File dates; and set processing priority and accuracy. The settings most users will need most often are right on the interface: including Bit rate Mode (Constant, Average, and Variable, with variable range options) and Modus, which let us choose Mono, Stereo, Joint Stereo, or Dual Channel options (see MP3 Information for more on these rare and extremely useful options).

It's easy to convert digital audio files to lower quality. It's much harder to do in reverse (GIGO applies to audio, too) but MP3 Quality Modifier makes the most of what's already there. Our first file grew by 37 percent in size, although obviously not as much in quality, but we were pleased with the results. MP3 Quality Modifier will be of greatest use in standardizing bit rates, for instance, as well as for those times when you need to convert a stereo mix to mono. Much of what it does, no other freeware we've seen can do.

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