On the past few weeks I have been "forced" to use Audacity to process audio on some video files.
Some of them, like converting from DTS to AC3 I had previously done with AvsP/Avisynth, and even before that with eac3to.
But Audacity has proven to be more universal and open all kind of files.
What I wonder is how it does compare in audio quality with those mentioned and other programs, particularly when video is not involved.
Right now I have to convert an ape file onto wav in order to burn a CD, and I wonder if Audacity is the best choice.
I'm not talking about being practical or easy to use, but mere audio quality, transparency. Usually, after conversion to wav, I pick from there and process things in Soundforge 8. Unfortunately Soundforge will not open ape files.
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Thread: Opinions on Audacity
Unless something is broken, they should both decode to the same data. But if you've got a multichannel track and are mixing it down to stereo using the decoder, there could be differences in the mixing.
The encoder side quality will vary. All Dolby-certified encoders are supposed to produce the same output, but the freeware encoders have no oversight from Dolby.
I don't use Audacity much so I can't really comment on quality, but I'd imagine vaporeon800 is correct. They should all convert to wave the same way.
MeGUI's audio encoder uses AVISynth. I can't say I can recall having tried to re-encode an audio file it wouldn't open.... if all else fails it'll use DirectShow for decoding. You can easily re-encode just an audio file. It doesn't need to be part of a video encoding job. MeGUI won't output a wave file but it will convert to FLAC (lossless).
I do most of my audio converting with foobar2000 as it makes batch encoding as simple as a few mouse clicks. Just load a bunch of files into a playlist, right click the ones you wish to convert, pick a conversion preset, and foobar2000 will re-encode as many files at a time as you have CPU cores until it's done. It's got a DSP for downmixing which can be included in the process and saved as part of a conversion preset. The one thing it won't do is normalize, which isn't something I care about as I try to avoid it anyway. For conversion without downmixing I usually just encode "as-is". For "downmixing", the presets I've added to foobar2000 also included a -6dB gain reduction to prevent clipping. I think Dolby specifies 7.5dB for AC3 but 6dB seems to be enough. As foobar2000 is an audio player it'll play/convert pretty much any type.
Because I'm fairly set in my ways I haven't used TAudioConverter much myself but I have it installed and I've been meaning to play around with it...... I just haven't as yet, but I'd be pretty confident it'd be worth looking at.
Except that it's free, the big plus for Audacity is that it can open and process any audio file which is supported by ffmpeg, so all popular types. In comparison with other audio editors, I find Audacity GUI a bit slower but quite stable on less powerful computers.