NCH's Switch Sound File Converter v4.47 has a lot going for it, including the ability to configure encoders and compatibility with a wide range of audio formats. It's a fast, no-nonsense, pro-level tool that extracts audio from CDs, videos, and other files, individually or in batches. It can normalize audio levels, adjust bit and sample rates, and convert audio streams.
Switch is a compact program that downloads and installs quickly. We could also download some extra tools with it, including WavePad, which we've used before and that the publisher recommends. A businesslike user interface makes Switch easy to use: Click "Add Files," select an output folder and format options, and press "Convert." A check box let us save converted files to their source folder, which is handy if you've specified a different default destination. Switch handles more than 20 file formats, each with its own encoder options (some formats have more options than others). We started by converting an MP3 into a VOX file, which is similar to the WAV format except you must specify the sample rate and channels to play it back, successfully. We used the default settings, 16-bit PCM Stereo at 44.1 KHz. We could open the output folder when the task finished. Switch has some other welcome touches, such as three different options for right-click integration with Explorer shell menus and online fetching of track data. The Convert menu accesses the Normalization tool, which evens out volume levels, and opens the Convert Audio Stream Wizard, which uses SoundTap Streaming Audio Recorder.
Switch Sound File Converter handles formats other tools can't, including streaming sources, and its audio codec options can yield dramatic differences in sound quality. Some features included with the free version of Switch expire 14 days after you install the program, unless you register it and pay up, but we like Switch enough to recommend trying it in any case.