Category Archives: Audio Software

TuneTune – YouTube To MP3 Converter Browser Add-on

imageSt. Patrick’s Day is over for another year – and, thank goodness for that. Along with New Years Eve, St. Paddy’s Day, it seems to me, brings out the worst in the non-drinking drinkers who load-up well past their capacity to handle the juice of the barley. As an Irishman (of some renown   Smile ), I do celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – but, in comfort – at home – with good friends – and, a boatload of Guinness.

Traditional Irish music, along with good craic (conversation), plays an essential role in properly celebrating Ireland’s patron saint. So, this year, as in previous years, I turned to YouTube audio ripping to augment my collection of  traditional Irish music (no, not Danny Boy, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, or the like).

Ripping music from YouTube videos is a quarrelsome question. There are those who consider anything downloaded for personal use to be legal. There are those who consider downloading anything that is copyrighted to be illegal – under any circumstances.

The YouTube audio ripping situation presents a different set of legal issues though, it seems to me. I’m not sure I see the difference between saving a YouTube video to disk (which loads of people do), for later playback – and, simply ripping the audio portion for later playback.

There are any number of ways to extract audio from YouTube videos, but many are cumbersome and time consuming. There is a solution thought, that’s neither cumbersome, or  time consuming – TuneTune, a freeware YouTube to MP3 converter. Once this browser add-on is configured, it’s one click simple – more or less.

Following installation, the add-on will append an icon to the toolbar or status bar. This icon will go from gray to color (as shown in the following screen captures), when you’re visiting a YouTube page.

Non YouTube page:

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YouTube page:

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Clicking on the icon will convert the video from YouTube, to MP3, in one click.

Additional choices are available in the options menu – as shown below.

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Here’s a quick walkthrough which will illustrate how quick and convenient this browser add-0n is.

First up – a visit to a YouTube page hosting the Neil Diamond tune – “Hello Again.”

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Since I obviously have the add-on installed, you’ll notice the TuneTune icon displayed (in the screen capture above), directly on the YouTube page. A simple click on the icon begins the conversion process – as shown below. BTW, pasting the YouTube link is not necessary.

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Following the file conversion, users have the opportunity to customize the converted file, in a limited way – as shown below.

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The following screen shot shows the converted file in the directory which I created specifically for this test.

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Elapsed time (clicking on the icon to file download completion) – under 15 seconds. That’s fast!

Supported browsers:

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TuneTune is available in multiple languages. The current language is changeable by clicking on your language of choice in the footer.

Visit the author’s site – here (TuneTune.net).

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Filed under Audio Software, Browser add-ons, downloads, Freeware, Software, YouTube

Free Nero Kwik – Media Management Application

Nero has just released a free media management application, Nero Kwik Media, that’s definitely worth a look. Richard Carriere, Nero’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing explains the new application this way – “Kwik Media …….. lets you do picture, music, and video organizing, managing, exchanging, putting up on social sites, viewing, and basic editing.”

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The install is a two stage process. In the initial stage, a number of Direct 3D extensions and sundry other bits and pieces, are installed – as per the following screen shot.

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Following the required reboot, the main Kwik Media application is installed. If you’re watching the install carefully, you’ll notice that an Ask Toolbar appears to be installed. The reality is – the Toolbar executable is copied to the HD. However, you will have an opportunity to reject activating the Toolbar.

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The user interface is underwhelming from a styling perspective – a perfect example of form following function.

If simple and unobtrusive is what you want – then, you’ve got it here.

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Media library user interface:

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Media Center user interface:

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Creation Center user interface:

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Burn and copy Disc Center user interface:

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Fast facts:

Move photos, videos and music anywhere – Move all the files your heart desires to and from your PC and mobile devices

Play back Blu-ray movies – View HD video projects on DVD and watch Hollywood Blu-ray movies on your laptop

Burn Audio CDs from MP3s – With just a few clicks, you can create a CD mix from your favorite playlists

Play and rip music – Play back your favorite jams from your laptop and rip Audio CDs to add to your computer

Find and organize friends by faces – Easily organize photos of friends and family by faces

Search and organize – Browse and organize photos, music and videos in one place

Play and rip music – Conveniently create projects to burn and share straight from your library

Edit photos before sharing – Make quick and easy edits of photos before sharing or adding to slideshows

Share videos on YouTube or myNero – Upload your photos, music and videos to social media websites with just a few clicks

Edit slideshows with effects – Add exciting, animated background themes to slideshows

Easy Media Syncing – Sync your music playlists as well as photo and video album contents from your PC to any mobile device with USB mass storage

Download at: Nero

Additional functionality can be purchased (although, some apps are free), from the Nero Store.

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Bottom line:

If you’re looking for a reasonably inclusive free media application, capable of handling videos, music, and photos, then Nero Kwik Media should make your short list.

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Filed under Audio Software, CD/DVD Tools, Connected Devices, downloads, Freeware, Graphic Software, Image Editors, Integrated Solutions, Media Players, Photo Tools, Software, Video Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

To Watch This Video You Need To Install A Codec – DON’T DO IT!

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If you are attempting to view a site’s video content, and you get a popup advising you that you need to download a new codec to enable viewing – DON’T.

A favorite method used by cyber criminals to drop malware on unsuspecting users’ computers, is the requirement that you must first download a “missing” codec, to enable viewing.

If you’re curious, or you’re not convinced that this is a potentially dangerous scenario – go ahead and click. But, before you do, make sure you have:

A current backup CD/DVD, or other media, containing your irreplaceable files – you’re probably going to need it.

Your original operating system install disk – you’ll need this too.

Your system and peripherals driver disks. Without these you’re going to spend hours on the Internet locating (if your lucky), drivers that were written specifically for your peripherals.

You can save yourself all this trouble, and heartache, just by one simple action, or more properly; by a single inaction. Don’t click!

It’s possible of course, that you may be lucky, and you may be able to recover control of your computer if your anti-malware applications are up to date, and the malware signature database recognizes the intruder as malware.

But I wouldn’t count on it. Often, anti-malware programs that rely on a definition database can be behind the curve in recognizing the newest threats.

Consider this: Currently there is an epidemic of so called “rogue software”, on the Internet, with much of it being delivered by the constantly evolving Zlob.Trojan, or the  Zlob.Video Access Trojan, which are often hidden in fake, and malicious, codec downloads.

As the following screen captures illustrate, there is a wide variance in these invitations to install a missing, or “required” codec.

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Common sense should tell you, if a website does not recognize a standard codec, there is something wrong. Ask yourself this question; how long would a website stay in business if a visitor is required to download a specific codec to view content? The answer is clearly – not very long.

Don’t be the type of person who clicks indiscriminately at every opportunity to do so. If you do, I guarantee you – your computer will be infected within minutes.

To ensure that you have a full set of codecs on your computer, consider downloading one of the following free codec packs. With a full set of codes installed on your computer, any request to download a site specific codec, should be viewed with suspicion.

Windows Essentials Codec Pack – Windows Essentials Media Codec Pack provides a set of software codecs for viewing and listening to many forms of media in Windows Media Player. While this program merely enhances a media player, it does a fine job of accommodating many different and unusual types of videos and music.

Download at: Download.com

The K-Lite Codec Pack – There are several different variants of the K-Lite Codec Pack. Ranging from a very small bundle that contains only the most essential decoders, to a larger and more comprehensive bundle.

Download at: Codec Guide.com

Media Player Codec Pack – The Media Player Codec Pack is a simple to install package of codecs/filters/splitters used for playing back music and movie files. After installation, you will be able to play 99.9% of files through your media player, along with XCD’s, VCD’s, SVCD’s and DVD’s.

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Audio Software, Codecs, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Malware Advisories, Rogue Software, scareware, Software, Utilities, Video Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

Download SpeechPlayer Free Edition – Let Your PC do the Talking

Popular guest writer Rick Robinette, has a knack for finding great free applications. SpeechPlayer Free Edition, Rick’s latest find, is a fabulous, free text to speech converter. SpeechPlayer can even read this article to you, if you like!

As a blogger, it is important to convey the written word in a manner that is easily understood.  One tool that I use to proofread my blog posts (read them back to me), is an application called SpeechPlayer Free Edition.

SpeechPlayer Free Edition

SpeechPlayer Free Edition is a player that will read screen text aloud to you; whether it be a webpage, an email, a blog post, a school paper, etc… You simply highlight the text you want read and copy it to the clipboard.

SpeechPlayer will detect this action and will automatically begin reading the text back to you. The “cool factor” with SpeechPlayer is, it not only reads the text back to you, it also displays the text at the bottom of your computer screen (like closed captioning).  This text-to-speech application is one of the better ones that I have experienced.

Features:

Versatile clipboard text reader

Copy and speak

Large TV-like closed captioning

Closed Captioning

Minimalist user interface

Tray icon

You can control the main functions of SpeechPlayer right from the Windows tray!

Convenient mini player

Mini player

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, Windows XP SP2 or better

.NET Framework 3.0 or above

SAPI 5.1-compliant text-to-speech voices (see note below)

Note: Windows 7 and Windows Vista comes with Microsoft Anna (and Microsoft Lili in some editions. Windows XP comes with Microsoft Sam.

Download at: PortableGrove Solutions

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Audio Software, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Multimedia Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Writing Aids

Media Monkey – Media Control to the Max

Guest writer Glenn Taggart is a true music lover, and he has some definite ideas on the best free media player out there. Glenn gives you his views on his favorite music media player – Media Monkey.

In the world of web based music media players, there are many to choose from.  I know many of you are quite content with the pre-packaged media players that come with the Microsoft operating system.

However, if you want to listen to other file types such as OGG or FLAC, or, say you want to sync your iPod, iPhone, or other Mp3 players, Microsoft can be a real bummer.

Enter my favorite music media player – Media Monkey.

Media Monkey will play all music files and will also sync with your iPod. Other great features of Media Monkey include the ability to retag your music collection in case you have music that is tagged improperly. Media Monkey will also rip CDs, and will convert your audio files between the various music formats.

The user interface is intuitive and is easy to set up. Whether you want to have your music collection in file format or playlist format, Media Monkey has you covered.

Did I mention system resource use? As a former XP user on an older machine, CPU and RAM resources were thin. Media Monkey solves this equation and operates on very low system resources.

Of all the music players out there, and I have tried them all, only Media Monkey has all of the bells and whistles and ease of use for the casual and power user.

Media Monkey is compatible with XP, Vista, and Win7


Fast facts:

Organize music and edit tags in your audio library with a powerful, intuitive interface.

Automatically lookup and tag Album Art and other metadata.

Manage 50,000+ files in your music collection without bogging down.

Manage all genres of audio: Rock, Classical, Audiobooks, Comedy, Podcasts, etc.

Play MP3s and other audio formats, and never again worry about varying volume.

Record CDs and convert MP3s, M4A, OGG, FLAC and WMA files etc. into other formats.

Create playlists and let Auto-DJ & Party Mode take care of your party.

Sync iPhones, iPods, & MP3 players, converting & leveling tracks on-the-fly.

Plus much more…

If you have been thinking about downloading a FREE 3rd party music player, give Media Monkey a try!

System requirements: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/Vista/7

Download at: Download.com

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Audio Applications, Audio Software, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Media Player Replacement, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

FreeRip – Free Multi-format Audio-track Ripper

If you’re an audiophile, or a wannabe audiophile, and you love to rip CD’s,  then guest writer Glenn Taggart has some great advice for you.

I have a vast collection of music on CD. I remember buying my first CD in about 1989. Twenty years later, I have hundreds of CD’s.

For the past couple of years, I have been backing up my CD music collection to FLAC lossless audio, which basically copies the music without any discernible loss in quality.

FreeRip is a great CD file ripper that will copy a CD in not only FLAC, but OGG, Wave, WMA, and of course Mp3.

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Like I said, I prefer to rip all of my music to FLAC because most of my listening is on my computer and home stereo systems, both of which support the FLAC audio format.

If you prefer to listen to your music mostly on, say, an IPOD, you will need your music files in the Mp3 format. I also listen to music on my IPOD and have a mirror of my FLAC files in Mp3.

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FreeRip will not only rip music files from a CD but will also convert the files back and forth, to and from, the various audio formats I mentioned above.

Although I prefer another program for tag editing, FreeRip also has a built in tag editor.

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FreeRip is available as a FREE download. The user interface is simple and intuitive which means you can be ripping your CD’s in no time.

Version 3.3 released December 15, 2009.

System requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP/2003/Vista/Server 2008/7/NT

Download at: Download.com

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Audio Applications, Audio Software, CD/DVD Tools, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Guest Writers, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Audacity – The Best Free Multiplatform Audio Recorder/Editor?

image A year or so ago, I needed to record 20 minutes of streaming audio from the Internet, and since I am not an audio hobbyist, and have limited experience recording using my computer, I simply launched Windows Sound Recorder and sat back to watch it do it’s job. I thought!

No such luck. I was surprised to learn the maximum recording time on Sound Recorder is only 30 seconds, which was far too short for my purpose.

A mad scramble to find a freeware/open source replacement for Windows Sound Recorder led me to Audacity which, as it turns out, is the most popular free, open source audio editor/ recorder available. It works with many operating systems, including Windows, Mac, GNU, and Linux.

Audacity has a surprisingly easy to use interface, and I found it to be feature-rich and flexible. The first thing that struck me on launching the program was, it advised me I had several hundred hours of available space on my drives in which to record. Not 30seconds!

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Audacity has the capacity to handle multi-track editing, a good number of audio effects including reverb, delay, compression, echo, phaser, wahwah and reverse. Its audio export functions include MP3, OGG, AIFF, and WAV and more.

One of the more interesting features, for me, is Audacity’s capacity to convert tapes and records into digital recordings. I have a large collection of old 70’s and 80’s albums that I have many times considered converting to digital recordings and burning to CD’s. I now have the application to do just that. Now, if I can only find the time!

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista

The Audacity web site lists the following features:

Recording:

Audacity can record live audio through a microphone or mixer, or digitize recordings from cassette tapes, vinyl records, or minidisks.

With some sound cards, it can also capture streaming audio.

Record from microphone, line input, or other sources.

Dub over existing tracks to create multi-track recordings.

Record up to 16 channels at once (requires multi-channel hardware).

Level meters can monitor volume levels before, during, and after recording.

Import and Export:

Import sound files, edit and combine them with other files or new recordings.

Export your recordings in several common file formats.

Import and export WAV, AIFF, AU, and Ogg Vorbis files.

Import MPEG audio (including MP2 and MP3 files) with libmad.

Export MP3s with the optional LAME encoder library.

Create WAV or AIFF files suitable for burning to CD.

Import and export all file formats supported by libsndfile.

Open raw (header less) audio files using the “Import Raw” command.

Note: Audacity does not currently support WMA, AAC, or most other proprietary or restricted file formats.

Editing:

Easy editing with Cut, Copy, Paste, and Delete.

Use unlimited Undo (and Redo) to go back any number of steps.

Very fast editing of large files.

Edit and mix an unlimited number of tracks.

Use the Drawing tool to alter individual sample points.

Fade the volume up or down smoothly with the Envelope tool.

Effects:

Change the pitch without altering the tempo, or vice-versa.

Remove static, hiss, hum, or other constant background noises.

Alter frequencies with Equalization, FFT Filter, and Bass Boost effects.

Adjust volumes with Compressor, Amplify, and Normalize effects.

Other built-in effects include:

Echo

Phaser

Wahwah

Reverse

Sound Quality:

Record and edit 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit (floating point) samples.

Record at up to 96 KHz.

Sample rates and formats are converted using high-quality resampling and dithering.

Mix tracks with different sample rates or formats, and Audacity will convert them automatically in real-time.

Plug-Ins:

Add new effects with LADSPA plug-ins.

Audacity includes some sample plug-ins by Steve Harris.

Load VST plug-ins for Windows and Mac, with the optional VST Enabler.

Write new effects with the built-in Nyquist programming language.

Analysis:

Spectrogram mode for visualizing frequencies.

Plot Spectrum command for detailed frequency analysis.

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Audio Applications, Audio Software, Free Full Versions, Open Source, Portable Applications, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools