What are the best tools to have for audio/video encoding and conversion, media copying/burning/ripping


Oct 11, 1999
I've seen so many recommendations from all over on this. I'm trying to consolidate my multimedia programs. I'm mostly looking for freeware/opensource things, but a shareware demo might do if it's 30 days or so, or if something is very good I'd consider the $30-40 for it.

So there's all kinds of types:

Copying: CloneCD,CloneDVD,AnyDVD,Blindwrite, DVD Decrypter. I'm not sure what the Slysoft products offer, considering AnyDVD removes protection, but IME DVD Decrypter has been able to rip any kind of DVD I've put in there. Problem is, if I want to make a backup of a DVD movie I own, the resulting rip comes in at > 4.7GB, even if the original isn't a dual-layer (AFAIK). Plus it doesn't seem as easy if I wanted to keep the extra features to it. If I get or borrow another DVD-ROM drive, I want to be able to put in a game or movie DVD, a blank in the burner, and have it make a 1:1 just like that. Or if I don't have another optical, I'd want to use my hard drive as a temp to hold the rip, but again it seems like all of the rips from DVD Decrypter come out to larger than 4.7gb, so I'm dealing with encoding to some other format and losing quality.

DVD Decrypter even made perfect ISOs of game cds like BF2 and UT2004. So how would Alcohol 120% fit into that?

Yet, an old ass game like RB6 Raven Shield I was unable to ever find a program that would make a copy of the second disc. Nothing worked to get by the copy protection! If the game requires me to have the CD/DVD inserted all of the time, I want a backup of it so I can leave originals in the case and box. Like Race Driver 3 for example, with that damn Starforce, it needs the DVD no matter what I've tried.

Encoding/conversion: TMPGEnc, WinAVI, SUPER, Fairuse, AutoGK

Burning: Convert X to DVD, DVDXCopy, Cucusoft Converter, etc.

Authoring: ? I checked out the DVDLab trial, though its certainly powerful, any authoring I need to do would be simple menus with chapters leading to each episode (like I want to burn TV eps I have to a couple of DVD discs with menus). Anything failyr simple and free to do this?

So that's not everything, but any recommendations on the best of each category to consolidate what I have or am considering. I'm looking for relative simplicity, but not where I am sacrificing quality. Or any good websites dedicated to reviewing this stuff?

How well do the big "studio" ones work? Like Video Vault or the Ulead products? Would they take away the need for a lot of smaller programs, or do they not do as good of a job?

Please give me recommendations on what you guys use and find works well for various audio/video encoding tasks, as well as CD/DVD copying, authoring, etc. This isn't something I need to do a lot, but it seems like some tasks I don't have the right software, and others I don't know what to use to do it quickly but with good quality.