OS: Win 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP
Installed Size: 26.1MB
Function: Ripping, Encoding, Decoding
Cool Edit 2000 is Syntrillium's newer version of Cool Edit 96, an award winning audio editing software. The program fills a niche for those who are interesting in beginning or continuing with audio recording and creation but don't need the professional features (and price) of Cool Edit Pro.
Since audio editing is the main utility, mp3 features are kind of an aside. To rip tracks from a CD, simply play the track with the CD player controls and then hit record on the lower left panel and hit stop on both controls when finished. Cool Edit will produce a waveform view of the track upon completion. To convert to MP3, choose 'Save As' and choose MPEG Layer 3 under the 'save as type' option. You will be able to encode 60 seconds of the track in the trial version using one of Fraunhofer's codecs in either CBR or VBR modes. Decoding MP3s is just as easy using the same kind of save options to choose the type of WAV file you want to export to.
One drawback to recording (ripping) from a CD is that Cool Edit 2000 seems to record through the sound card rather than digitally extract the audio. This method does not produce an exact bit by bit copy of the audio and is subject to the limitations of the sound card. The copy didn't sound bad during my test, but I am a purist when it comes to extraction, especially if you are going to lose further quality when encoding to MP3. Bummer.
Overall, Cool Edit 2000 is a cool program if you want a mix of MP3 and audio editing. However, if audio editing isn't your thing, I would look elsewhere for an MP3 converter.
April 2011 Update - Cool Edit has been acquired by Adobe and its features and technology bundled into the Adobe Audition software. For more information on this acquisition, please see - http://www.adobe.com/special/products/audition/syntrillium.html