From outward appearances, the latest version of Audio Ease’s professional audio-conversion utility, BarbaBatch 3.0, seems hardly different from the last version, and BarbaBatch continues to produce the finest-sounding conversions on the Mac. Converting audio files is still a simple four-step processadd files to the Input window, determine the formats you’d like your files converted to, select a destination folder for your processed files, and click on the Start button. Beneath the surface, however, version 3.0 sports some dynamic new features that are sure to appeal to those who use audio in their multimedia, sound-design, and Web work.
BarbaBatch’s most obvious improvement is the number of file types it supports. In addition to supporting the same wealth of file types as version 2.5.2, BarbaBatch 3.0 can convert files to all the formats QuickTime 4.0 supports, including the basic and professional editions of QDesign Music Encoder 2.0. BarbaBatch also supports RealNetworks’ SureStream and Singlerate formats for the G2 player. If you’re willing to spend $99 for Fraunhofer’s MP3 encoder, you can also convert your audio files to MP3s. Regrettably, BarbaBatch can’t convert any variety of MPEG or RealAudio file to another format. Another drawback: the program is still copy-protected.
Because the latest version of BarbaBatch is compatible with Apple’s Navigation Services, you can now add multiple files to the Input window by clicking on the Add button and then, in the dialog box that appears, shift-clicking on the files you’d like to add. Of course, you can still easily add files and folders to the Input window by dragging and dropping them. BarbaBatch 3.0 also adds an AppleScript command for executing batch-processing requests.
Using BarbaBatch (with the Fraunhofer encoder) simply to encode MP3 files would be not only a waste of the program’s extensive conversion capabilities but also an indication of how poky it can be with certain types of files. Although BarbaBatch creates some of the best-sounding MP3s we’ve heard, it takes a long time to do so. On a 450MHz Power Mac G3, BarbaBatch took more than 20 minutes to rip a 33.3MB AIFF file at 128 Kbps (the highest quality). At the same settings, Xing’s Audio Catalyst took just over a minute. Thankfully, this disparity isn’t as broad with all file types. Importing an audio-CD track and compressing it with the QDesign Music Encoder, for example, took just 10 seconds longer with BarbaBatch than with QuickTime Player.