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I have to agree on the converting and ripping side Lame is the best by far. Most of my tools are front ends on Lame. I do a good bit of recording and would LOVE to get Ardour working or Rosegarden to do much more than open on a machine. I've failed to get either to make a peep on either Fedora or Ubuntu distros. Audacity while it lacks many important features and mix down is broken at least talks to devices and for down and dirty single track stuff is excellent.
Rezound (despite crashing if you look at it cross-eyed), GWC, shntools are all very useful, but the real "Audio Authoring Application of the Year" (2005, to be exect) has to be postfish. Not officially released & not highly intuitive, but well worth the time to track it down (http://svn.xiph.org/trunk/postfish/), compile & learn. De-clipping(!), synthesized stereo from a mono source, real time monitoring of eq & effects, there is just nothing else like it.
I suppose it would not be fair to list VLC under both Video and Audio. However I've recently become aware of the flexibility of this product for both playing, and converting audio files to different formats.
Most impressive to me is that almost any audio file I want to play will play with VLC.
Audacity has a tendency to lose control of the Audio destination. It seems like hit or miss whether or not I'll be able to listen to a file, even though it has the ability to slice and dice Audio tracks.
Movie player complains a lot about missing codecs.
Also using VLC it is possible to change sample rates so that a file that might sound like a screech in Audacity, can be converted to a file Audacity can play. I was never able to match up the bit rate selection in Audacity to make the file sound right.