Choosing MP3 Encoding Software for Your Home Recordings - dummies

Choosing MP3 Encoding Software for Your Home Recordings

By Jeff Strong

You have a lot of MP3 encoding software choices. Some software encodes from various file formats as well as from CD, whereas others don’t encode directly from a CD. Not being able to encode directly from CD isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, because the process of lifting music from a CD (also known as ripping) can cause audible artifacts (noise, clicks and pops, and so on).

If you encode from a WAV or an AIFF file, you can first make sure that the sound going into the encoding process is as good as possible.

If you get an encoder that doesn’t encode from CD and you use a stand-alone or SIAB system that doesn’t support file importing (or you don’t have your recorder connected to a computer), you need CD ripping (copying) software as well.

A few popular MP3 programs that both encode and rip are as follows:

  • iTunes: iTunes is free and can rip from CD into MP3 format, among other things. It’s simple to use and, if you have an iPod or if you buy music from the iTunes store, you already have it loaded onto your computer.

  • Musicmatch Jukebox: You can download the basic version for free, which allows you to play, rip, burn, and convert MP3s and audio CDs.

  • Toast Titanium: This is the most common Mac-based program. This program costs about $100 and allows you to not only create MP3s but also to burn your mixes to CD.

A lot of MP3 encoders are available, so if you’re looking for a little more variety, check out these sites:

  • This site contains shareware of all sorts, from games to word processing software to MP3 encoders. From the main page, just type MP3 into the keyword search function and choose the computer platform that you use (Mac or PC). You can find a bunch of matches from your search.

  • This site has MP3 rippers and encoders for Windows-, Mac-, and Linux-based computers. You can find everything from simple freeware applications to full-featured programs for which you pay a fee.

  • This site claims to have the most complete list of MP3-related software products available for download. You can find freeware and shareware versions in this site.

  • MP3 for the Mac: This site contains tons of software programs (some free, some not) for Macintosh computer users. You may find one or more programs that meet your needs.

If you record using a computer-based system and you use one of the more full-featured popular programs such as Pro Tools or Logic Audio, you can probably create MP3 files without getting additional software. Most decent programs offer this capability.