importing songs into I-tunes??

John Mil

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Just downloaded I-tunes and am ready to start importing my cd collection. I already have a few hundred songs in mp3 format in windows "My Music" folder. I will be transferring them into I-tunes to be put on my Ipod. Is there any benefit to changing the format of these songs to Apple AAC format? If the mp3 song is at 128 kbps and I convert it to AAC format at 128 kbps, will I gain anything? Will the file size be smaller? How about if I convert that same 128 kbps mp3 song to AAC format at a higher bit rate like 192 kbps ? Is it possible and if so will the sound quality then be better after it is coverted?

Also, I plan on ripping my cd collection at 256 kbps in ACC format? I see that there is an optional box that I can check called "variable bit Rate". What advantage would there be to use this option and would it affect the file size?
Thanks in advance for any input you guys may have!
 

Chris Lockwood

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> I see that there is an optional box that I can check called "variable bit Rate". What advantage would there be to use this option and would it affect the file size?

It adjusts the bit rate to make a smaller file with the same quality, in theory. I'll let others argue over how effective it is, but I use mp3 VBR.
 

Paul D G

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You won't gain anything by converting the file to a different format. At best you might save a few bits of space on your iPod and the sound quality will be marginally worse (since you're recompressing the file), but probably not to any degree that you will notice.

You'll never be able to get an mp3 to sound 'better'

So, I'd suggest leaving the mp3s as they are, and if you rip any of your CDs compress them to AAC 128k.

-paul
 

Carlo Medina

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Remember the movie Multiplicity? A copy of a copy is not as sharp as...well...the original?

Well the MP3 is already a copy of a file (compressed), so to compress it again to AAC will add another layer of compression on top of an already compressed file.

At 256kbps, I think you'll be fine whether or not you choose to enable VBR. VBR helps with quality at lower bit rates (where it increases the bit rate to deal with more complex passages, the bit rate for VBR I think is the baseline number and it can go up from there). At 256kbps you're already pretty high so I don't think you need to enable VBR.

Others may have a different opinion.
 

David Williams

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If space isn't an issue, you really should use Apple Lossless when ripping your CDs. It's really the best format for CD quality audio on your computer while taking up slightly less space than AIFF format. You can then select the option in the iPod options tab to tell your iPod to convert the files to 128 AAC when it copies them, which leaves your original .m4a files untouched while giving you the most space on your iPod.

Pretty nifty, I say.


P.S. There is a vast world of difference between 128 AAC and 128 MP3.
 

Scott Merryfield

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Personally, for compatibility reasons, I encoded all my music in MP3 -- 192K or 224K VBR using Exact Audio Copy with the LAME MP3 encoder plugin. Not all devices play AAC, while virtually everything plays MP3.

Also, the MP3 encoder built into iTunes is not very good. For better quality MP3's, I would suggest using EAC with the LAME encoder (it's free). At 192K or 224K, I cannot tell any difference with similar sized AAC files. You can find EAC here. You can find LAME here.

Finally, as Carlo already mentioned, do not convert existing MP3's to AAC. You are recompressing an already compressed file, which can only lower audio quality (especially at the already lower quality 128K compression level you have). If you decide on AAC for your new files, there is no reason you cannot have a mixture of MP3 and AAC files in iTunes and on your iPod.
 

JohnRice

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I also go with mp3 for best compatibility. I have always found iTunes to do excellent mp3 conversions though. After screwing around with it for years, I finally settled on just converting everything to 256KB. Storage is so cheap, it didn't end up being worthwhile using higher compression. Then I just swap out stuff periodically. Plus, I store a lot of them on CDs and you can still get about 6.5 hours worth on a disc.
 

MarkHastings

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John Mil, since you mentioned an iPod, you'd be wise to stick with AAC over MP3. The quality improvements are worth it. You can always re-rip at a later date if you ever get rid of your iPod, or want to play the songs on a device that doesn't support AAC's.
 

MarkHastings

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Yeah, he's using iTunes, so AAC is better than MP3.

Plus, no matter how much the two sound similar, AAC is MP4 and MP3 is MP1 tecnology.
 

Scott Merryfield

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I'd re-word that to "more convenient" and "simpler" instead of "better". As long as the music will only be used in a iTunes/iPod environment, AAC is an excellent format. However, if there is a desire to play the music on other devices, AAC may not be supported.

Getting better quality MP3's into iTunes using EAC+LAME definitely requires more steps and is more cumbersome than encoding directly within iTunes. The results, though, should be music files with comparable quality to AAC files of the same bitrate.

So, which format is "better" depends on the individual person's requirements -- essentially simplicity vs. compatibility.
 

Carlo Medina

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Fully agree Scott. Since I am an Apple user (Mac, iPod, etc.) I find keeping things in AAC to be easiest.

I could easily hear differences between original files vs. MP3 (non LAME/EAC) up to around 192kbps (back when I blind tested this I believe that was the highest bit rate available, this was a few years ago). But when I blind-tested myself w/ AAC bit rates at 192/256/320/original file, I couldn't tell the differences between the files. That sold me on the AAC quality. I do understand at higher bit rates, and using the technique you describe, you get similar results from MP3s. For me though, the one-stop convenience for AAC + my Apple products made it a no-brainer. And yes, though it's not fully compatible with other devices, Apple does have, what a 70-80% market share on portable audio devices? Almost all of my friends have an iPod (dear God even my father has one) so I haven't run into the compatibility issue.

Good luck to the OP, whatever you choose to do!
 

Ken Chan

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It should be about half, give or take. That's decent, but obviously not as good as the lossy compression schemes. For comparison, uncompressed CD is about 1400 kbps.

Supposedly, it has been reverse-engineered, so there is a free decoder in FFmpeg/libavcodec
 

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