At a Glance
fre:ac (formerly BonkEnc)
Formerly BonkEnc, this audio converter is free, offers granular control over output, and provides a command line option.
BonkEnc rips CDs and encodes the resulting .wav files to MP3, MP4, AAC, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, as well its own native Bonk format. This is all done with the LAME, FAAC, FLAC, and Ogg encoders, which is how the authors manage to keep it free. You may also transcode any of those formats to any other, as well as convert from AIFF and sun (.au) audio files. Although my test PC has Real Alternative installed, BonkEnc program still wouldn't load Realmedia .rm files--so apparently there's no DirectShow support. That's one from my standard battery of tests, but .rm files are so rare these days that most users (including me) won't care. There's no library function as such, but the program does grab and save info from the free online CDDB database.
BonkEnc did a great job ripping CDs or transcoding all of the file types the program supports. It's fast, the interface is nicely suited to task (if utilitarian appearance-wise and a tad arcane in spots), and it didn't crash on me once. There's not a lot more else to say other than that it's replacing Nero Burning ROM as my primary ripper/encoder/transcoder.
Note: While BonkEnc is free, there are $5 and $10 donation buttons at the Web site to support the programmers. If you find the program useful--and just about everyone who tries it should--you might consider a financial pat on the back.
--Jon L. Jacobi