Today’s freeware is Xrecode II isn’t technically freeware, but rather an unlimited, fully functional trial with a pretty minimal nag screen (Similar to WinRar or WinZip… though there are better, free programs for compression anyway). It’s a bit of a heavy purchase for $15, given that you’re not likely to use it too often, but good software does deserve some monetary support.

Xrecode II is very nice because it supports a HUGE array of file formats, can be set up to do bulk processing, and it transcodes pretty quickly. For instance, I was able to transcode 500MB of 320KB CBR MP3s into q5 Ogg Vorbis files in about 15 minutes. Ripping a 60 minute CD directly into q5 Ogg Vorbis takes about 7 minutes. This is rather good speed even when compared to some rather expensive (~$40) encoders I’ve tried previously. Additionally, there are several preprocessing jobs that can be added to the whole shabang if you want to do more than just transcoding.

The only real drawback I’ve found (and this might be because I’m using 64 bit Windows 7) is that Xrecode is extremely slow at reading the file structure, especially when trying to load multiple folders into the queue. In fact, if you try to do too many folders, the program just freezes and has to be killed at the process level. This seems to have to deal mostly with the seemingly custom file browser that is used by Xrecode. I’m not entirely sure why the programmer opted to write his own file browsing operation when Windows’ native browser is easy to call with most programming languages and doesn’t seem to suffer from the lag this program has. Again, this may also be due to the program being written primarily for a Windows XP x86 platform rather than my Windows 7 x64 platform.

For me this lag issue isn’t a big deal, since it’s on the front end of the processing step and really isn’t all that bad. Since Xrecode isn’t the kind of software that you have to use a lot, I much prefer the long list of format compatibility and bulk processes than I do any kind of speed when browsing and loading folders. If you have several gigs of music that you’re trying to do all at the same time you might have an issue here, but for me, I find doing them in 500MB chunks is more than sufficient for my needs.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?