Voxengo is a company that has been selling digital audio processing tools online since 2002. The r8brain PRO application is a high-quality sample-rate converter for PCM audio. While it's hard to get excited about a utility, the fact of the matter is many of us rely on these tools on a daily basis. For years, I have been a satisfied BarbaBatch customer; however, the well-respected format converter from Audio Ease runs on Mac OS only, and all of my mastering editors run on PC. Having an extra machine just for conversions became a pain, so I downloaded the free version of r8brain. Within a few days, I was hooked and purchased r8brain PRO, which has more features and better fidelity than the free version. Not all sample-rate converters are made equal. In fact, some downright sound bad-inducing "chirping angels" to "motorboats" to a slight loss of field-width or depth. You have to pay careful attention to the results of the tool you choose for this task. Without naming names, I testify that the sample-rate conversion routines in several popular DAWs range from bad to horrible. [I wish you would name names! -AH] So, do some listening tests on your own. r8brain PRO has no sound, which is exactly what I want! According to the manufacturer, the core algorithm conducts all interpolation and decimation steps without any simplification (e.g., simplified anti-aliasing filters or interpolation formulas). The source material is first resampled to a least common multiple of the target sample-rate, which makes conversion clean, even if it takes longer. You also have a choice of linear or minimum-phase modes. Again, this is a matter of taste as minimum-phase can reduce some of the pre-ringing artifacts that can pop up in some linear conversions; I often opt for minimum-phase processing for that reason. My favorite features include batch processing and the ability to add a suffix to the converted files. For example, adding "_r8bpro" to the end of a filename makes it easy to remember which file was the source and which was the converted data. Another time saver is that r8brain PRO can accept a batch of files with different sample-rates and bit-depths and convert them to a common rate and depth! It must be noted that r8brain PRO is a sample-rate converter, not a "format" converter ("format" usually refers to data or file format-WAV, AIFF, etc.). Consequently, r8brain PRO supports WAV format mainly. In general, r8brain PRO completes conversions in a short amount of time (running on an Intel Pentium 4 running at 3 GHz with 1 GB of RAM), is stable, and provides transparent conversions at rates up to 384 kHz. With a free version out there and a download price of $129.95 for the full version, this is a great deal for those in the market for a solid, PC-based sample-rate converter. ($129.95 direct; www.voxengo.com)
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