This guide makes use of a great many audio programs and utilities which do everything from extracting audio through to recording it, editing it, converting it, playing it in various audio formats and even burning it to CD. All of the programs I use in this guide are free to download, but in some cases may have a limited period of use before registration is required. I have carefully selected the audio tools so that you need not purchase them to undertake the tweaks in this guide. It is ultimately up to you whether you purchase the full version of any of these programs after their trial period has expired, or whether you seek out better or cheaper versions of this type of software. Please however don't email me asking where you can get serial numbers or cracks as I won't provide that sort of information. I'm not really in the mood for an FBI pre-dawn raid.
Download and Installation
Below is a list of each program used in the guide, where you can download it, and installation and setup tips. Note the version number of each program, as you'll need to have at least the version number listed to ensure the program will work as described in the guide:
Winamp 3.0 - This free audio player will play all the popular music formats such as MP3, WAV, WMA and even OGG. Provides many customization tools, a graphic equalizer and so on. Installation is straightforward, however pay attention during the install screens to make sure that if you don't want Winamp to be your default player for some audio types it doesn't automatically take over them. Full version is 3.2MB [Download Here]
RealPlayer 8 - This audio player is similar to Winamp and will play all the popular music formats. It is one of the only players to play RM (Real Media) format, however it won't play OGG files, and requires purchase to enable a graphic equalizer and other touches. RealPlayer 8 is not the latest version, which is now called RealOne Player. I personally dislike RealOne as it doesn't seem any better than RealPlayer 8 yet is a lot more intrusive. The following link is to a site called OldVersion.com which has older versions of popular software before they became bloated. Once again, pay attention while installing as you may want to disable a lot of the functions/settings. Full version is 4.9MB [Download Here]
Audio Conversion Wizard 1.4 - Handles conversion of file formats between WMA 8, MP3, OGG and WAV PCM. It has a simple to follow wizard interface with full functionality, however it is limited to a 14 day trial period. Full version is 3.9MB [Download Here]
Extractor 2.34 - A great program for extracting audio files embedded within larger files. While it is free and fully functional, the unregistered version is limited to extracting 30 files at a time. Note that when you extract the contents of the downloaded .zip file, create a new folder for it first (e.g. C:\Program Files\Extractor). Next extract the contents into this empty folder, make sure you tick "Use folder names" in the WinZip Extract options. This is because the program doesn't "install" as such, it simply decompresses all its files and folders into wherever you choose to extract it. Full version is 0.6MB [Download Here]
Creative Recorder 2, Creative WaveStudio 4 - These tools are extremely handy, but only work if you have a Creative SoundBlaster Live or Audigy series soundcard. Creative Recorder is especially useful because it lets your record sound from any source in the "What U Hear" mode. Creative WaveStudio is a useful WAV file editing tool, similar to the one which comes with Nero. Both these highly useful tools and several others come as part of the Creative LiveWare package, which you should have on a CD which came with your Creative soundcard. If you don't have it, or you have an older version, download and install the latest one for free. Full version is 377MB [Download Here]
Game Audio Player 1.32 - This program handles conversion of EA Games format audio the best, especially their special ASF format, however it can convert music from a range of other games also. It's completely free and fully functional. Installation is similar to Extractor (see above) in that it requires the creation of a new folder for the program, and extraction of files to this folder. Full version is 1.6MB (including plugins and playlists) [Download Here]
MafiaXTractor - A program which allows extraction of files from the Mafia .dta resource files. This is one of the only programs to allow extraction of music from Mafia. Full version is 26KB [Download Here]
Nero 5.5.10 - Nero is an excellent CD burning program which makes burning audio CDs extremely easy. For example you can drag and drop MP3 files into a new Audio CD compilation and it will automatically convert them into the correct CD Audio format, ready for burning. Nero Wave Editor is also a useful part of the package, as it lets you edit WAV files. If you didn't get Nero with your CD burner I recommend you try the demo version as it is fully functional for a limited trial period. Full version is 12.3MB [Download Here]
RAD Tools - Provides playback and conversion tools for BIK format video/audio files. Many modern games have their introductory and in-game movies encoded in BIK format, and this completely free and fully functional toolset allows you to view them and convert the video and/or audio from them. Full version is 1.2MB [Download Here]
Sndview 0.42 - This utility which needs to run from a DOS command prompt is tiny and free, and can convert EA Games music formats into WAV files. It's handy to have in case Game Audio Player fails. As with Extractor, you'll need to extract the contents of the downloaded .zip file into an empty directory to "install" Sndview. Full version is 0.1MB [Download Here]
Super Audio Converter 3.3 - Handles conversion of file formats between WMA 8, MP3, OGG, VQF and WAV PCM similar to Audio Conversion Wizard. It has a straightforward user interface with full functionality, but is limited to a trial period. Full version is 2.7MB [Download Here]
I recommend you download as many of these tools as possible as we will be using each and every one of them in this guide.