Downloading the program

First you must download the program using this link. You should save it somewhere on your PC of your own choice.

NOTE: Some (poorly written) AntiVirus scanners claim this file to be various trojans and/or vira. If yours does too, you can download an alternate version here, but you will lose the auto-update functionality (since this would download the version of the file that is wrongly detected as a virus/trojan).

I have found a couple of reviews of the program on the 'net, which you can read:
Audio Conversion Using PopCorn Audio Converter (alternate link) by Michael Healy.
Popcorn MKV Audio Converter by Damien Bone (rather old review, from before auto-download of utility pack).
There's also a french guy who have written a short tutorial in french here.
And here's one in Russian.

If you have published a review of the program somewhere on the 'net, let me know in the support thread (see below for link), and I'll add a link to it here...

The first time you run the application, you are asked up to three questions:


The easiest way to install all the required utilities is just to answer "Yes" to this question. This will download all the utilities in one big package and unpack it to a subdirectory "Tools" under the directory that AudioConverter has been saved to.

Note: This will simply download the utilities and unpack them. Some of these utilities have their own installation program and by using this step, you are bypassing these. I am not aware of any problems in doing so, but if possible, you should use the manual download and install of the utilities instead of this!
Since AudioConverter is just a plain executable file without any installation program, it can "install" itself by creating an icon on your desktop to run it. This question is only shown if the program has not been saved to the desktop itself.
Finally, you are asked if you want to read this short tutorial. Since you are already reading this, you can easily reply "No" to this question.
Support is available here


Setting up the program


If you have chosen to download all the utilities on first run, you should be ready to go. If not, you need to specify the locations of all the external applications manually. You can see four tabs at the top left, "MKV Tools", "Audio Tools 1", "Audio Tools 2" and "Temp". On the first three you must specify the locations of the external utilities. If you have downloaded the files earlier, all you need to do is to press the "Browse" button to the right of each utility and tell the program where the program is located. If you haven't downloaded the utility yet, you can click on the globe button () to the left of each missing utility to go to a home page where you can download the utility. It is your own responsibility to download, unpack and install the utility and then return to AudioConverter and tell where you have done so.

You will notice that some utilities are with a red background. These are the utilities that need to be defined in order to do the conversion you have selected (more on this selection later). Some of the utilities are disabled (dimmed), and these are the utilities not needed for the conversion you have selected. So if you change your conversion options, you may notice that some utilities are dimmed and others appear suddenly in red. All red utilities must be defined before you can proceed with the conversion.

On the right side of the screen you will see another set of tabs. These are for specifying the options for the conversions that AudioConverter can do:


This tab is used for processing DTS audio tracks.

In the top left you can choose whether or not to process DTS tracks. If you have chosen to process these, you can fine-tune what to do with them by using the other options.

First of all, you need to decide what to do with DTS tracks. You can either remove them completely from the file without conversion ("Remove track"), or you can convert them to AC3 (Dolby Digital) tracks, which your PopCorn Hour can process internally, giving you sound where you before had none.

If you choose to remove the track, it is simply stripped out of the file (unless it is the only audio track in the file). If you, however, choose to convert the track to Dolby Digital, you need to decide what bitrate you want the new Dolby Digital track to be encoded at. The higher the value, the better the quality, but also the bigger the file. DTS tracks are normally encoded at either 768 kbit or 1536 kbit, whereas AC3 tracks have a maximum bitrate of 640 kbit. Generally, I would select 448 kbit as the bitrate for new Dolby Digital tracks. This is on par with what commercial DVDs use.

You also need to decide what to do with the original DTS track. Should it be removed from the file, or should it be preserved? If you preserve the audio track, the resulting file size will increase with the size needed for the Dolby Digital track - perhaps even above the size available on the DVD disc. In order to monitor this, AudioConverter will do an estimate of the resulting file's size. If the file is estimated to be able to be put back on the same size DVD as it could before conversion, the file size will be green. If it cannot, the file size will be red.

You also have the option of downmixing the DTS audio to 2-channel (Stereo) audio. You could use this, if you know that you are going to play the file through a TV's stereo speakers anyway. You don't need to do so, however, as your PopCorn Hour is capable of downmixing 6-channel AC3 to Stereo internally.

Finally, you need to decide which decoder library you want to use. Generally, you should leave it at libav, as this is the decoder library built into the decoder that AudioConverter uses (eac3to). However, if you have purchased either the Nero or Sonic DTS decoders, the decoder can utilize these for higher-quality conversions, but at the cost of speed.

This tab is used for processing OGG/VORBIS audio tracks.

Once again, you can completely disable the processing of these tracks by unchecking the checkbox at the top left corner.

If you choose to convert these tracks (since PopCorn Hour can't decode these internally - yet), you can specify which audio format you want it to be converted to, and which bitrate (quality) you want the conversion to be done at. Once again, the higher the bitrate, the greater the quality, but at the cost of a bigger resulting file.

Please note that OGG/VORBIS tracks are removed from the resulting MKV file if you enable their processing, as these tracks are completely useless on your PopCorn Hour.

You can also choose to downmix these tracks to mono (1-channel) and/or to increase the volume to maximum during the conversion. Notice that Mono is not possible in all combinations (it will be disabled in the cases where it is unavailable).

The final tab is used for processing AAC audio tracks.

Your PopCorn Hour is designed to support some forms of AAC audio. Most notably, it doesn't support an encoding extension known as "SBR". If it encounters such an audio track, there will be no sound available.

But AudioConverter comes to the rescue .

You can convert these AAC audio tracks to another format, and - like when doing OGG/VORBIS conversion - need to specify the quality of the conversion as well as optionally downmixing to mono and/or maximizing the volume during the conversion.

AAC audio can also be full 5.1 surround, and your PopCorn Hour cannot play these in 5.1 Surround (I am not even sure it can play it in simple Stereo), so you have the option of converting these 6-channel AAC audio tracks to AC3 (Dolby Digital).

Once again, you need to choose the quality of the conversion. The "Downmix to Stereo" option is not implemented and is reserved for future use.


In the "Other settings" part of the left side, you can specify some options that are not related to any particular audio encoding, such as "Re-sample low-sample-rate audio tracks" which will re-sample audio tracks with a sample rate less than 32 KHz (which is the limit for audio transfer via digital outputs). If you use the analogue cables to transport your audio you don't need to concern yourself with this, but if you use HDMI or Digital Coax to connect your PopCorn Hour to an A/V receiver, you can fix the audio tracks for the files you are converting.

If AudioConverter encounters a low-sample-rate audio track, it will upconvert the sample rate to either 44100 Hz or 48000 Hz depending on the original sample rate of the audio track. If the original sample rate can be converted to 44100 Hz by a simple multiplication (say, 22050 Hz) then it is converted to 44100 Hz. Likewise with 48000 Hz. If none of these two options apply, it is converted to 48000 Hz if the original sample rate is x000 Hz (ie. 14000 Hz), or 44100 Hz in all other cases.

You can also have AudioConverter shut down your PC after conversion is done (it will display a countdown dialog for 10 seconds allowing you to abort the shutdown if you are still at the PC when conversion has finished).

Specifying what to convert


Single file mode


Once you have set up HOW you want to convert files, it is time to select WHAT you want to convert. AudioConverter can run in Single File Mode or in Directory Mode, selected by the options "Single File" and "Directory" in the left part of the screen.:


When in "Single File" mode, the two input boxes list the source (input) file that should be converted, and where the reulting target (output) file should be stored. You can use a file browser to locate the file(s) with the use of the "Browse" buttons to the right of the input box.

If the source and target file name is the same, you can check "Overwrite Source" to overwrite the source file with the new file, meaning that you lose the source file completely.

Directory mode


In "Directory" mode you specify a source (input) and target (output) directory, and all files in the source directory will be converted and the new files will be located in the target directory. If the two directories are the same you can decide to either Overwrite the source file with the converted file, or - if you don't and the target directory is the same as the source directory - the target file will be named <SourceFileName>_<OutputType>.MKV, ie. if you are converting a VORBIS file named TEST.MKV to .AAC format, the target file will be called TEST_AAC.MKV in the same directory.

In "Directory" mode, you can also check the "Prompt" option, which will present you with a list of .MKV files found in the source directory, allowing you to select exactly which files are to be converted, and which are to be ignored.

Selecting among multiple files


When you have chosen to be prompted for which files to convert (in Directory mode), you are presented with a dialog like the one on the left.

Here you can select the files to convert (by clicking on the checkbox next to the file name), or you can have AudioConverter scan the files to see if they have either DTS tracks, OGG/VORBIS, AAC SBR or 6ch, or if it has a low-samplerate audio track.

The actual conversion


Once you have specified everything (incl. source and target), you simply press the "Run" button and let AudioConverter do its thing. It will take the files one at a time, and convert them according to your settings. You can follow along in the process in two places. At the top of the window (overlaying the area we have so far documented) is a high-level progress log which tells you the steps AudioConverter takes.

At the bottom of the window you can see the program output from the various external programs that AudioConverter uses to do its thing. Please note that for some reason I can't fathom, some of the programs only update the bottom screen in big "chunks", f.ex. the Nero AAC encoder, so do not be alarmed if the screen update only comes every 5-7 seconds.


The "Options" menu


If you check the option "Check for Update on Program Start", AudioConverter will check to see if there's an update available every time you start it up, and if there is, you will be given the option of downloading and installing it (overwriting the older version in the process). You can also manually check for an update by selecting the "Check for update now" item.

If you decide to re-install the program, you probably won't have the prompt as to whether or not you want to download the external utilities pack (since it isn't a first-time-run), but you can manually download these utilities by selecting the "Download external utilities" item.

License


By selecting the "Help"->About (Alt+I) menu, you will be presented with the screen to the left. As you can see, AudioConverter is FreeWare, which means that you can use it in any way you want within the privacy of your home, but may not distribute it for profit of any kind (not even bundled with other software or hardware), as the sole distribution right belongs to me.

If you want to show your appreciation of my efforts, I'd like a post card with a typical picture from your local area. You can send it to the address listed on the screen, and you can even click the address to have it copied to the clipboard and subsequently paste into another application.

I hope you can use the program - if not, you are entitled to a full refund .