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NoteBurner Review: A Virtual CD Burner That Removes DRM

NoteBurner 2.17 Reviewed

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating
User Rating 3.5 Star Rating (5 Reviews)

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NoteBurner Review: A Virtual CD Burner That Removes DRM
© NoteBurner Inc.

NoteBurner has been updated! Read the NoteBurner 2.31 Review for more information.

Introduction

NoteBurner is an audio tool that removes DRM copy protection from audio files. Purchased songs from digital music services can come with DRM restrictions. NoteBurner installs a software driver that emulates a CD-RW drive which works with your media player software to remove DRM protection.

Pros:

  • Well designed user-interface
  • Fast conversion speed
  • Good choice of encoding presets

Cons:

  • Built-in player needs more features
  • Not as feature-rich as some competing DRM removal software

NoteBurner – Getting Started

System Requirements:

  • Operating system: Windows XP / Vista
  • Hard drive space: 1GB minimum
  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Monitor: Capable of displaying XGA (1024x768) or higher
  • Software: Media player software with CD burning capability

Interface: NoteBurner has a clean and simple interface that is easy to learn. When first run, you will be greeted with a startup screen that gives you basic tips on how to get started. At the top of the screen there are four icons to click on that quickly get you to all the features of NoteBurner; incidentally, hovering your mouse pointer over each one displays a tooltip that describes what each icon is for. On the main screen there is a convenient feature where you can click on an icon to launch your default media player. Overall the interface is user-friendly, and efficient to use.

Configuration: The settings menu has a reasonable set of configuration options so that you can tweak how NoteBurner deals with your audio files. You can set the default folder that music is saved to, change audio formats, choose various CBR and VBR encoding bitrates, select ID3 tag versions 1 and 2, and enable NoteBurner to automatically run every time you start Microsoft Windows.

NoteBurner - Audio Conversion

DRM processing: When converting DRM protected audio files do keep in mind that your computer must be authorized to play the music before the conversion process can take place. Unlike Tunebite 5 that records the output from the soundcard, NoteBurner emulates the process of burning a CD to make a DRM-free copy.

Audio file conversion: NoteBurner's big advantage is that once you have set it up you can use your favorite media player (iTunes, Realplayer, Winamp, Windows Media Player etc.) to queue the music up for conversion. When using your media player all you have to do is configure it to use the virtual CD burner rather than the physical one that is installed inside your computer.

  • Output Audio Formats: MP3, WAV, WMA, WMA Pro, WMA Lossless

Built-in Player: NoteBurner has a basic built-in player that has the usual controls but sadly lacks the 'bells and whistles' to make it truly user-friendly. For instance, volume control, playlist shuffle, and fast-forward/reverse options are completely missing that puts it at a disadvantage when compared to other competing DRM removal tools like Tunebite 5. This lack of basic features makes the built-in player annoying when you can't skip through a particular song, or adjust the volume level after conversion.

Edit ID3 Tags: You can manually edit the ID3V1 and ID3V2 metadata if you need to which is a useful feature for organizing your music library.

Conversion Quality: The quality of the converted audio was tested using the different audio formats and all yielded good results.

Conclusion

Is it Worth it?
NoteBurner's simplicity makes it a joy to use and it does an excellent job of converting different audio formats, including DRM protected music. When compared to Tunebite 5 though, it does fall short on features. Tunebite 5 has a built-in CD burner, ringtone maker, streaming audio capture tool, more output audio formats, and can synchronize tracks with your MP3 player. That said, NoteBurner beats Tunebite 5 easily on speed when converting DRM protected files and so if you have a lot of DRM'ed downloads that you need to convert, then NoteBurner will save you a lot of time and is worth considering.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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