Finding a strong application to do a job isn’t necessarily a case of heading to your nearest PC World replete with a Visa card that’s been warned to expect the worse. The growth in broadband Internet access has led to more and more applications being made available solely online, and often they can do a good job at a value for money price. MP3 Surgeon 2003 isn’t the best example of this, but it’s not without its selling points.
The program itself isn’t anything special to look at, and that’s likely to be your initial reaction. Some key buttons around the screen give access to some of the more useful tools. However, the non-conventional layout of the interface does require a bit of working around, although it’s pretty straightforward once you know what you’re doing. The program’s aim is to let you operate on your MP3 files quickly and easily, without the need to re-encode them afterwards. It fulfills this aim, albeit with a few niggles.
Once you’ve opened up the MP3 file you want to play around with, you’re faced with a visual waveform display of the file, and a cocktail of options around the screen. Sadly, from here, you’re left to struggle a little. While there are some useful options dotted around the program, it’s really quite hard to at times to find out how to do particular things. Matters are made worse by an unsatisfactory help file; it covers some of the basics, but when you click on ‘Tutorials’ you’re greeted with a list of would-be helpful topics, only to find that they’re all ‘Coming Soon’. Not soon enough, really.
Still, on the positive side, the program is adept at trimming, splitting up and joining MP3 files together, and that’s very easy to do. You can choose, for instance, in how many parts you want the program to output your MP3, and selecting where the cuts are is a simple job of laying down markers and making a couple of selections from a drop down menu.
You can tag files in some detail should you so wish, and the program will also automatically standardise the sound and levels of your files should you select the appropriate option (with a batch option allowing you to apply the same settings in one go). That way, every track in your collection can have the same volume settings, for example.
There’s one other option up its sleeve: MP3 Surgeon 2003 will convert your MP3 files to WAV if your CD burning application has trouble with the former. That said, most CD writing packages worth their salt now can happily deal with both.
Let’s cut to the chase. It you’re searching for more detailed editing tools, this isn’t the right application. MP3 Surgeon 2003 is best viewed as entry level MP3 manipulation, focusing on a few tasks and doing them with ease. Its interface may confuse the absolute novice, but when you factor in what you get for the low cost, it’s not a bad little package. There’s a good chance you could quickly outgrow it, though.