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Top 15 Media, Video & Audio utilities

Our pick of the web's best & mostly free tools

AUDIO SOFTWARE

These three applications give you superb control over myriad sound-related activities.

Spin It Again

If you have a vinyl and cassette collection gathering dust in the basement, you'll want this program. It can record your obsolete-format oldies to your PC, and then clean up the hiss, clicks, pops, and other audio flaws that mar so much analogue music. What's old and waxy becomes new again

Spin It Again walks you through the process of connecting a turntable or cassette player to your PC, and offers plenty of advice along the way. Multimedia wizards show and tell what needs to be hooked up where. The software includes automatic track detection, so it can properly split your album into individual files for playing on your PC or transferring to your iPod, Zune, or other multimedia player. It cleans up your files, lets you record music to a variety of formats, and more. This shareware is free to try; it costs $34.95 (£17) to register.

Download Spin It Again.

Focus MP3 Recorder

Few audio tools are as multifaceted as Focus MP3 Recorder. It can do everything from recording audio from a wide range of sources to splitting audio files to joining them - along with ripping, burning, and more. Though the program can play audio files, too, that's not its strength. Its fortes involve recording and similar tasks.

The program labours under a number of artificial constraints until you register it. For example, the hobbled version limits recordings to 120 seconds per track (better focus on Minutemen tunes if you want whole songs), and it lets you join no more than three files. The registered version, which costs $29.95 (£15), imposes no such limits.

Download Focus MP3 Recorder.

AV Music Morpher

For aspiring sound editors, the free AV Music Morpher is a godsend, offering a remarkable suite of tools for editing music. With this program you can add countless special effects - including 3D sound, the intriguing "shaman" effect, and the "tipsy singer" effect - to any audio file. You can change the file's pitch and timbre as well. And you can even create different voices from the same artist, and have them sing simultaneously.

Further tools in the package support ripping music, burning music to CDs, and creating CD covers. But the editing tools are what make AV Music Morpher special.

Download AV Music Morpher.

Freelance writer Preston Gralla is author of Windows Vista in a Nutshell.


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