Best Free Audio-Video Format Conversion Program

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Introduction

There are many different audio and video formats out there, and most devices (such as iPhone, iPad, Android phones, etc.) and programs (such as Windows Media Player) are only compatible with a few specific formats. An AVI or WMV movie will not play on an iPhone, for example, without being converted into an MP4 file first.

There are quite a few programs that will do this for free, with more popping up all the time. They tend to fall into a few general categories:

  • To gain control over basic settings (such as framerate, frame size and bitrate) and experience a quick conversion where most guesswork is done for you, try our General Converter Picks.
  • To convert without fiddling with any settings, using as few clicks as possible, try our Device-Specific Picks, especially suited to conversions for a portable device.
  • To have complete control over every detail of conversion and fine-tune your output using settings for advanced users, look at our Custom-Oriented Picks.
  • To convert audio files with more audio-specific functionality, then try our Audio-Only Picks.

While some are better than others overall, which one is best for you will depend on what sort of program you need.

 

General Converter Picks

Freemake Video Converter  

A stable, flexible and powerful video converter


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free
Great interface, very flexible, support for almost every type of conversion, easy to use.
Bundled toolbar (you can opt out, but it's a multi-click process), bundled OpenCandy.
Read full review...

Format Factory  

An excellent choice with presets for conversion and a DVD ripper


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Stable with many device presets. Supports all video file formats. Rips DVD's & Music CD's. Very powerful software.
Installer is bundled with a toolbar (you are able to opt out), interface is non-linear and somewhat confusing.
Read full review...
Also recommended:
 
  • YouTube Downloader HD: This program is a gem in the world of YouTube ripping. It allows you to copy/paste a YouTube link, choose your video quality, and download it to your computer for future viewing. In the latest version, you can now choose to have it automatically convert the .FLV file to an iPod/iPhone compatible .MP4 file, or an XViD .AVI for playback on many devices.

 

Device-Specific Picks

Pazera Free Audio Video Pack  

A collection of portable audio and video converters


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free
Excellent presets, easy to use, custom profiles.
Looks intimidating, separate programs for each output type, no advanced tweaks. Contains unwanted bundled components. Take care to avoid these during the install process.
Read full review...

Miro Video Converter  

A multimedia converter with a dozen device presets


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Open source)
Brutally easy-to-use device conversion.
Only one file at a time, no profile or generic tweaking, only MP4.
Read full review...
Also recommended:
 
  • Handbrake: A long-time favorite of mine, when I need to convert from just about any format to a nice, no-nonsense iPod/iPhone compatible video (encoded in H.264). It has a queue, and supports multiple Apple presets including Apple TV.
  • WinX Video Converter: More up-to-date than iWisoft. Support converting videos to 100+ devices including newest iPhone 6/Plus, S5, HTC, PS4 with many preset profiles. Adjustable video audio parameters. Clean and simple. Please note though on the top there's YouTube URL entry, it is just an upgrading recommendation which can be skipped easily. This freeware doesn't support converting YouTube videos.

 

Custom-Oriented Picks

FFCoder  

An audio-video converter with highly advanced configurations and rendering settings


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Solid preset list, highly advanced tweaks, sleek interface.
Dependencies, no installer.
Read full review...
Also recommended:
 
  • XVID4PSP: Supports very many tweaks. Impossibly fragmented interface. Solid AviSynth support.
  • MediaCoder: Great for tech obsessive because of the tons of customizable features to convert from and to video audio formats. Support MP4, AVI, MP3, WMA, WAV, etc. and allow to adjust parameters. But if you're not familiar with the jargon and just want a hassle-free, simple-to-use free video converter, you may turn to others.

 

Audio-Only Picks

Pazera Free Audio Extractor is the audio-only program in the above-mentioned Pazera Free Audio Video Pack. It supports both video and audio input and output to many audio formats, and is slightly simpler than some of its sibling programs. Otherwise, it is perfectly identical.

 

Notes: Tested and not recommended:
  • MPEG Streamclip: very powerful for MP4, but single-file, ugly/laggy, has dependencies
  • Avidemux: great video editor, lousy video converter

 

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these reviews too:

 

Editor

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Comments

I've been very happily using iWisoft for occasional conversions. However, today it couldn't read one of a set of TS files. It saw it as 00:00.

I downloaded Freemake, but it included a sea of switches fora toolbar, game, Opencandy, and then noticed it also wants .Net4. I cancelled that one. .Net requires constant updates do I'd rather stick with one version. And not support a product that spams its customers like that.

I'll try FormatFactory next.

The FormatFactory download was blocked by my AV program as "potentially unwanted app", probably from reports of unwanted "extras".

Wow - ESET AV really doesn't like quite a few of these programs due to the installers they use. After trying a couple of others, I bypassed ESET to get Super installed, a program I've successfully used in the past. I had to deselect 3 different sets of things again! And even after this, it wanted to upgrade immediately. (sigh)

Although Super has a busy interface, its easy when you get the hang of it. I see it also has a built in Recorder now to do pod and webcasting, etc. (recording from your internal mic and webcam)

While slower than iWisoft, it is handling the problem TS file. And it can merge the files afterwards into one file. Ah - I see iWisoft also squashed the video aspect ratio. It didn't do this to other files. In Super, you can double click the file, read its settings and match the output to them if you want a straight conversion. Am re-encoding the files now.

For me DVDVideoSoft apps are the best. This developer provides its users with really good, free, very easy to use applications. To my mind its Free Studio contains all programs that one may need for simple video and audio editing.

I had a bad experience with DVDVideosoft as nagware. Then I saw it listed on an Adware list, so I pulled it.

A video converter that could be a real contender to the top picks here could be Softpedia Editor's pick XviD4PSP..... It has a cool interface, not to mention Full HD conversions too...

Thank you SO MUCH for this post, you don't know how much it is a relief it is to find something like this. I became very close to resorting to [something not entirely in my moral values] after hours of searching. I swear I'd would pay to see detailed info like this.

And "your welcome !!" I fell in love w/ gizmo many years ago and use it all the time. Just recently I needed an SSH client and again, gizmo came through. cheers tpg

Just updated Freemake to 4.0.0.1. I didn't see any OpenCandy stuff bundled with it. However, they have now disabled drag & drop from the initial screen and instead have replaced it with a big button to get you to install Gold Pack by either donating or changing your Home Page/Search options in your browser. After doing a conversion, you can drag & drop (as long as you don't close the converted files info, in which case the screen reverts back to the Gold Pack install button.)

Quick followup. Looks like the main screen gets rotated a bit; sometimes it's a bit annoying, but I guess the authors have to monetize it somehow. Overall I'm quick happy with this options & the ease of use for this program. For a more sophisticated converter, folks should try MediaCoder. The number of conversion options can be daunting, but there is a large support community,

Thanks for a terrific article. I am transferring 5 to 15 year old analog 8mm home videos, the sample tapes I viewed still look good, into my computer. I am linking my old 8mm Sony to a recently purchased used Sony digital camcorder to my computor, I have all the connecting cables. The Sony camcorder will do the analog to digital conversion. I am looking to store my digital videos onto a large external harddrive and also burn DVDs for each of my kids. I figure that I may only have one good play with some of these old tapes, so I am trying to troubleshoot every step before I start. I am just confirming that in your opinion is the FREEMAKE program a good choice for me to build files that I will be able to edit and update in new formats later? Thanks for your kind input.

Dear "Tape Guy"; as the new moderator for this forum, let me welcome you. I've been re-writing this article only because I wanted to add a few new programs. While I do like FREEMAKE and find it a good fit for what you want to do, when it comes to creating the DVD, I find it lacking in two areas. First, the level of menu options is low, but more importantly, it won't actually burn your DVD ... it just makes an ISO ... and frankly, I don't want the hassle of sitting around waiting for the formatting to finish, and then starting the burn process. To me, they should all be integrated (and YES, I acknowledge that it's a personal preference). Thus, for DVD's I like DVD Styler http://www.dvdstyler.org/en/ I find it handles all the formats I've thrown at it, and it burns the DVD when done. I'll be including it in the new re-write that is in work now. cheers ... and thanks for using Gizmo. tpg

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