App Showdown #2: Linux Media Converters (Part 1: The Apps)

I’ve been struggling to search for something that resembles XMedia Recode, my favorite media converter, for Linux. Something easy to use that allows me to convert audio and video files to other formats and to edit videos, preferably with a preview pane.

I don’t want a preset-based converter, like Arista or WinFF. Presets can be useful if you want to play a video on other devices, but most of the time I only want to convert from one format to another, without any changes.

I have found three media converters that seem to be promising: Curlew, FF Multi Converter, and dmMediaConverter.

All of these apps use ffmpeg to convert and edit files. I can actually do all these tasks without the need of installing any applications, but like most of you, I prefer to do anything with as few brush with the command line as possible.

Curlew Multimedia Converter

At first sight, Curlew reminds me of WinFF. The size of the icons might be too large, but I think it’s pretty well-designed.

main

Curlew has a long list of available formats and presets on a drop-down menu. It can be pretty tough to search which preset/format you’d like to use, but you can create a list of your favorite presets/formats using the favorites button next to it.

formats

favorites

It also has a collapsible, tabbed advanced settings pane.

settings

After adding a file into Curlew, right-click on it and you can see some informations and preview the changes you’ve made. Those are pretty useful features.

info

FF Multi Converter

FF Multi Converter is different from the others; not only it’s a video and audio converter, it could also convert images and documents.

main

The format and presets selection are separated (formats from dropdown, presets from button). You can also create your own presets.

presets

formats

FF Multi Converter has a text input bar where you could type custom ffmpeg commands. Like Curlew, it has a collapsible Advanced Settings pane, although it has less features (mostly relating to video settings) and looks less organized.

settings

dmMediaConverter

dmMediaConverter is a relatively new media converter, and interface-wise, it’s the closest thing to XMediaRecode. It has 4 main functions: converting, merging, splitting, and editing.

main

Using dmMediaConverter, you could view the streams a video/audio file came with. There are two checkboxes for each streams, Enable and Copy.

‘Enable’ means that the selected stream would be shown on the conversion result (example: if you untick the ‘Enable’ checkbox for the audio stream, the conversion result would have no audio.). Ticking the ‘Copy’ checkbox means that on the conversion process, the selected stream would only be copied instead of re-encoded, so if you want to do any editing or converting, you need to untick this box.

1pref

Unlike other converters, you can’t choose between formats from a dropdown menu; you should type them directly on the ‘Save as’ dialogue.

I have created two tasks for these apps to do, which shows their ability to convert and edit videos. I’ve written about it on the second part of this article.

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