I currently have Audacity. What is better than it yet is still free?
Reaper. You are supposed to buy a license, but it doesn't force you. Also, some people like Kristal , which IS totally free.
ah yes...and the ability to convert to mp3 is crucial to me as well...it'd be nice if that was built into the program
Well I believe you can do that with both, but wouldn't it be just as easy to convert using another program ? There are tons of free ones.