Fre:AC 1.0.20a - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Fre:AC

CNET Editors' review

To test the latest version of Fre:AC, the free, open-source audio converter, we had to uninstall the previous version since we were already using it to create high-quality MP3s. The BonkEnc Project's Fre:AC (smile when you say that, pilgrim) is the best tool of its type we've yet tried for ripping, converting, and encoding MP3s with the best possible audio quality, including LAME. Fre:AC also converts files between different types of MP3 encoding with minimal loss. Suppose you have a large collection of tunes in an odd (OGG?) format. With Fre:AC, you can convert new tunes to your favorite format, or make them all compatible with your mobile devices. Fre:AC is open-source freeware and the result of a collaborative project, so all kinds of updates and new stuff gets added all the time.

When you install Fre:AC, you can also obtain the source code immediately. We just installed the tool, though. Fre:AC's user interface is plain and businesslike, and though it offered language options, we didn't see a means to change its look in the General Settings under Options. That's OK; skins are for players, and this is a ripper -- though it plays tunes extremely well, too. We started by creating an output folder, which of course we called freac_out. Next we selected an Encoder. Since we were ripping CDs to MP3s for our desktop, size wasn't as important as quality, and we chose the LAME MP3 Encoder (v.3.99.5) from a drop-down list offering many interesting and unusual codecs like the Bonk Audio Encoder, Ogg Vorbis, FAAC, FLAC, WMA, and WAV. Fre:AC also lets you fine-tune the encoding by clicking Configure encode and setting quality levels, VBR, and other parameters, including Expert options.

We have a longstanding habit of creating labeled folders for albums before we rip them (to avoid New Foldering) but Fre:AC makes editing labels, tags, and other data easy. It's fast, too: we were popping up to put a new CD in the tray every few minutes, and processed stacks of CDs in one evening into neatly organized albums of music files that sound noticeably better than standard MP3s.

Publisher's Description

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    4.3 stars

    out of 88 votes

    • 5 star: 55
    • 4 star: 21
    • 3 star: 5
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 7
  • Current version:

    4.3 stars

    out of 9 votes

    • 5 star: 5
    • 4 star: 2
    • 3 star: 2
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 0
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-9 of 9

  • 3.0 stars

    "Almost Ready For Prime-Time"

    July 13, 2013  |   By Smeaga31

    Version: Fre:AC 1.0.20a

    Pros

    Easy and fast install.
    Many Codecs to choose from.
    Makes great quality sounding rips/conversions.
    Very intuitive layout and options.
    One of the better ones I've tried but......

    Cons

    When I converted some properly tagged and labeled FLACs to MP3s it didn't carry over completely. My album art was missing. The Album Artist Was Left Blank. It Doesn't Tell you what disc number it is and doesnt tell you the total tracks. All of this information was included in the source files and other converters I've tried work better in this regard.

    Summary

    This really does create some very high quality rips/conversions but the tagging is just to incomplete for me. I have worked literally hundreds of hours tagging and labeling my rips. I even make my own thumbs for album art purposes and embed them in the rips. I don't want to have to recreate the wheel. It is very important to me to have all possible data in the tags. This just doesn't do it. Let's just say Fre:AC is almost ready for prime-time! For now I'll just stick with Easy CD-DA Extractor even if it cost a little.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Free and Competent Converter AND RIPPER"

    May 6, 2013  |   By rodmoyer

    Version: Fre:AC 1.0.20a

    Pros

    This is a competent and user friendly audio file converter supporting a great many formats. Some of the popular & free media converters out there do well with video and audio both. I use one such, but it does not rip audio from CDs. This software does that, well, with extensive configurability.

    Cons

    Have not discovered any issues yet.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Quick ripping software"

    May 2, 2013  |   By vex1

    Version: Fre:AC 1.0.20a

    Pros

    I was up and running within 5 minutes.

    Cons

    Doesn't allow you to skip ahead in the track while playing. It only has go a full track forward or back.

    Summary

    It accomplished what I needed within 5 minutes.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "It is ok but still has flaws"

    April 14, 2013  |   By RedNeckRaider

    Version: Fre:AC 1.0.20a

    Pros

    This program is fast.

    Cons

    Fails to see many mp3 files.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Kind of a small screen/font/workspace, but works well."

    March 22, 2013  |   By jpmcneil

    Version: Fre:AC 1.0.20a

    Pros

    Works, pretty intuitive.

    Cons

    Small/kinda crowded.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Good alternative to Windows Media Player."

    December 22, 2012  |   By richteral

    Version: Fre:AC 1.0.20a

    Pros

    Small download, fairly intuitive use, reasonable choice of codecs. Obtains information on albums/tracks perfectly.

    Cons

    GUI fonts too small; no possibility to increase the size in settings. Without the right command, tracks may be thrown in out of order, arranged alphabetically.

    Summary

    Helps where WMP would fail, notably in obtaining correct, detailed information on sound tracks. That it provides also WAV output for lossless copying is welcome.
    Not for those expecting a fully automated facility and/or effortless ripping; some input may be called for.

    Second note to Admin: If you do not remove the graphic design idiocy of having to write a review in grey font on grey background, I shall be bothered no more.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Does the job I needed"

    September 2, 2012  |   By 8.E_Z

    Version: Fre:AC 1.0.20a

    Pros

    Very easy to use

    Cons

    None so far.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Good, free, batch converter, maintains folder structure"

    May 28, 2012  |   By RazzMcTazz

    Version: Fre:AC 1.0.20a

    Pros

    * Able to batch convert/transcode audio files and duplicate hierarchical folder structure!!!
    * Also able to flatten hierarchical folders to single folder.
    * Fast and lightweight.
    * Flexible settings for quality, file-naming, ID3-tags, etc.
    * Pretty intuitive user interface.
    * Free and open-source.
    * Community forum can answer questions.
    * Can automatically create a playlist from the transcoded selection.
    * Can rename files based on ID3-tag info.
    * Has song-information database lookup.
    * Can save and load batch encoding jobs so that you can quickly re-run batch jobs with different settings.

    Cons

    * I couldn't find an online manual or tutorial but the program is very intuitive and there is an online forum that you can search or ask if you have questions.

    Summary

    Years ago I ripped my 500+ CDs to WMA lossless (using Windows Media Player) to my home-theatre-PC so that I can have high quality (SPDIF-to-amp) audio in my house. However, those lossless files are too big for portable devices (like smartphones) so I wanted to batch convert (transcode) to a compressed, portable format like MP3. But I wanted to duplicate the same directory structure (artist-folders/album-subfolders) in the new portable music directory. There are several paid programs (like DB PowerAmp) that can do this, but Fre:AC is the only free, open-source program that I found that can do this.

    If you're interested, here's how...
    1) Drag your source music directory onto Fre:AC and choose your desired output format (MP3, WMA, MP4, AAC, FLAC, Ogg, Bonc, etc.) and quality level.
    2) Under "General settings setup" ("Encoders" tab) browse to your desired output directory (folder).
    3) Enter the following output "Filename pattern": <directory>\<filename>

    Duplicating the folder structure wasn't intuitive, but everything else about Fre:AC was very intuitive. No manual needed.

    If you don't want to duplicate the outputted folder structure, by default, Fre:AC will "flatten" the source directory by outputting all transcoded songs from the source directory (and its subfolders) into one target directory.

    Fre:AC has a bunch of other nice features, some of which I described in the "Pros:" bullet points above.

    Fre:AC works great and does everything that I need.

    Happy transcoding!

    Updated on May 30, 2012

    Oops! Contrary to my "Con" point above, there is actually a built-in barebones manual that can be accesses by hitting the "Help" button in the upper right hand corner of Fre:AC.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Da*m good ripper"

    April 11, 2012  |   By a51ufo

    Version: Fre:AC 1.0.20a

    Pros

    Quick quick quick and did a fine job. Clean rip, enough options to please the majority, it's FREE and did I mention fast?

    Cons

    No real instructions, but doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out this one

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Results 1-9 of 9

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