FreeRIP: not just a CD ripper
It’s a tough world for CD rippers. Windows Media Player already handles most basic ripping needs all on its own, so developers really need to layer on the extras if they want to attract attention.
It can still be done, though, with a little work -- and FreeRIP is a good example.
The program comes with more than its share of toolbars, as well as trying to set up Yahoo as your browser default for everything. But this can all be avoided, just as long as you pay attention during setup, choose the "Custom install" option when it appears, and clear the checkboxes for everything you don’t need.
It’s not immediately obvious from the interface, but FreeRIP also includes an audio converter (click View > Converter to use it). This doesn’t support drag and drop, but if you manually browse to your files, choose an output format from the same list as before, then you can watch your conversions as they happen.
There’s a simple audio CD burner, which again is very easy to use. Add a few audio files, optionally set your preferred write speed, click "Burn Disc", and that’s really all you need to know.
FreeRIP also includes a simple ID3 v1/2 tagger, and various canned search tools for artists, lyrics, images and so on. And if you do need more control, there are a few low-level settings in the Options dialog. You can choose a default file format pattern, audio quality, output folder and more.
There’s nothing particularly surprising about any of this, and the interaction between the various program modules isn’t always well thought out. Rip a CD, for example, and the "Search" menu will have an entry to "Search lyrics by >that artist<". Switch to the Converter and that Search menu is pointlessly grayed out, so you have to switch back to the Ripper before you can use it.
These are very small points, though, and overall FreeRIP works well, delivering just enough extra audio functionality to make it worth the download. If you need more CD ripping destination formats, in particular, we’d give it a try.