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BillB
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Advise on this real world format decision

I basically understand the pros/cons of non-compressed, lossy, lossless. For iTunes purposes, with just ONE household computer (iMac) serving 4 iPods of various capacities (1 g, 4g, 20g, 60g), my compromise has been ripping to 320kbps MP3. Any higher than that really compromises the library sizes as carried by the iPod users. Also concerned (rightfully?) about cross-platform usage as follows...

We may soon become a TWO computer family. The upcoming laptop may well be a PC, so I think I need a format that works on both Mac and PC. Is it correct that lossless AIF and ALC won't work on PC, and lossless FLAC or WMA won't work on Mac? I want to continue to use iTunes, and sync our iTunes library between the 2 computers (that can be done, yes??)

mrlowry
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Re: Advise on this real world format decision

The formats that iTunes is capable of ripping and playing are the same for the Mac and PC platforms. Unfortunately, FLAC and WMA is not available through iTunes as a standard for either platform, though I believe that iTunes will convert some WMA files. There is third party software that will convert FLAC to ALC too.

linden518
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Rockbox?

Although I haven't used it, I heard if you Rockbox the iPod, you can play FLAC & WMA files on iPods. I'm interested in this question myself... how does the conversion work when you Rockbox the iPod? I'd figure there has to be a certain loss in fidelity in translation, or am I totally wrong? I'd love it if Rockbox would let me play the FLAC or WMA without loss of SQ...

jazzfan
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Re: Rockbox?


Quote:
Although I haven't used it, I heard if you Rockbox the iPod, you can play FLAC & WMA files on iPods. I'm interested in this question myself... how does the conversion work when you Rockbox the iPod? I'd figure there has to be a certain loss in fidelity in translation, or am I totally wrong? I'd love it if Rockbox would let me play the FLAC or WMA without loss of SQ...

As you most of you well know by now I'm not a fan of iTunes or most things Apple however I do like the iPod (and based on just how unbelievably bad Windows Vista is - and yes I follow all the recommended tips and tricks to make Vista more user friendly, but let's face it, you can't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse - chances are my next laptop will be a Mac) Unfortunately my hard disk based music is 99% flac so I decided to RockBox my 80gb iPod. Here's my take.

RockBox is an open source application developed (and updated) by a group of volunteers and while the software does work as advertised the user interface leaves much to be desired. It's nowhere near as slick as iTunes or the iPod's native user interface nor is it intuitive or easy to use but, as I said, it gets the job done. In addition, RockBox is rather buggy and since I don't use my iPod all that often I tend to overlook RockBox's many shortcomings. If I used my iPod on a daily basis, such as commuting to work, I would definitively go back to using iPod's native interface and live with 320kb mp3s.

I'm sure that you can find much more information on the pros and cons of RockBox on headfi.org and other audio forums.

The other option is to get a copy of dbPoweramp and convert one's flac files to Apple lossless for use in an iPod. I don't use Apple lossless because there is no native support for this format with my Slim Devices music streaming devices (Transporter, SqueezeBox Classic and SqueezeBox Receiver). If one is using iTunes and one of Apple's devices to stream music then by all means go with Apple lossless rather than flac.

Confusing? Yes

Needlessly confusing? Yes (squared) - which is why I don't like proprietary codecs like Apple lossless and WMA lossless.

linden518
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Re: Rockbox?

Very helpful. Thanks, jazzfan. The reason I was curious about Rockbox was b/c I have a large # of lossy wma files - most of them in 192 - from my pre-enlightened days. I still want to listen to them. I know that if you convert lossy to lossy, you'd incur even more loss in SQ, if I understand it correctly.

I'm no fan of proprietary codecs either. I'm thinking of converting Apple Lossless back to WAV, but WAVs are more inconvenient, no? In terms of tagging, album art, etc? I also remember reading that WAV on iPod doesn't do gapless as well as ALAC?

jazzfan
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Re: Rockbox?


Quote:
Very helpful. Thanks, jazzfan. The reason I was curious about Rockbox was b/c I have a large # of lossy wma files - most of them in 192 - from my pre-enlightened days. I still want to listen to them. I know that if you convert lossy to lossy, you'd incur even more loss in SQ, if I understand it correctly.

I'm no fan of proprietary codecs either. I'm thinking of converting Apple Lossless back to WAV, but WAVs are more inconvenient, no? In terms of tagging, album art, etc? I also remember reading that WAV on iPod doesn't do gapless as well as ALAC?

Lossy to lossy: bad idea regardless of how one goes about the converting, i.e. from lossy to wav to lossy.

Yes wav files do not support tags without jumping through major hoops. ALAC does support tags and works just fine with iTunes and an iPod.

I don't know about gapless playback on an iPod with wav files so I can't answer that question.

BillB
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Re: back to iTunes

Thank you...so, since iTunes is cross-platform -- (and I do NOT want to get into rockbox, foobar, dbpoweramp, 3rd party software, or other stuff that make our system/iPods more complex) --
it seems like doing ALC might be a solution, correct?

Or could do WAV or AIF if all our iPods were higher capacity but they're not...

Is there any greater chance of ONE of those (ALC, WAV, AIF) going "kaput" in the future, thus leaving us with a useless library?

linden518
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Re: back to iTunes

Well, if you have Apple Lossless, you can always convert them back to WAV without losing anything, and WAV is not going anywhere, as it's pretty platform-neutral. If space is an issue, as well as convenience, I'd say save in Apple Lossless, especially if you use iTunes & iPod family products. Even if Apple somehow gets dragged down into the pits of hell & Lossless goes down with it, you'll just convert back to WAV & the world will still be in order.

BillB
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Re: back to iTunes

Cool - thanks.

mrlowry
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Re: back to iTunes

Avoid WAV because it doesn't support Tags (embedded information such as "artist" and "album") so if you physically move a file on the HD by dragging it iTunes will lose track of it. When it does find it again there will only be the song name (no artist, album, or composer.) That's why you'd want to stick with Apple lossless (which is truly bit accurate according to my tests) Apple lossless files in my experience are about 60% of the size of the original (they claim half but it never seems to work out that way.) AIFF is also an option it's basically a WAV file (which is an exact copy of the CD) but it DOES allow Tagging so that if files get moved around information isn't lost.

ROLO46
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Re: back to iTunes

Why the agony?
Go for another Mac
Or an external HD on the original
Apple lossless makes sense
Quality not quantity and with tags
Don't confuse your Tunes with 2 different platforms.
Roger

struts
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Re: Advise on this real world format decision


Quote:
I want to continue to use iTunes

Hey BillB, It's a great program up to a point but don't say we didn't warn you!


Quote:
and sync our iTunes library between the 2 computers (that can be done, yes??)

Sharing iTunes libraries between two computers is extremely limited and fraught with gotchas so check very carefully that it does what you want before committing to this route. In fact this is an excellent example of how iTunes treats your music as its music which is the root of many of its problems. This article might shed some light on the world of compelxity you are about to enter.

mrlowry
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Re: Advise on this real world format decision

Perfect points Struts. It might be a good idea to have copies of the files on each computer for that reason and sync the folder every once in a while. That way the second computer is also acting as a de facto backup too. Backups are never a bad thing.

struts
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Re: Advise on this real world format decision

Hey Sam,

Problem is I don't think it's that straightforward. The audio files themselves can doubtless be copied without problems, and possibly even (some of) the metadata. However album art, ratings, playlists etc. are stored in the iTunes library file (the format of which is completely proprietary and undocumented) not the individual audio files, so you can only share/copy it to other machines if Mr Jobs wants you to.

So the regime you describe is almost certainly possible at some level of functionality, you just have to figure out if that level is sufficient for your needs.

Don't get me wrong, iTunes is a great program, especially when you're just starting out, or if you only ever intend to use it in the context of an all-Apple ecosystem. I used it myself for all ripping, tagging and library management duties and some replay for over two years. However my ecosystem is not all-Apple, in fact it is almost completely Apple-free, and as the technology evolved to offer more possibilities and I learned more my expectations and demands for flexibility outgrew what iTunes is designed to permit. It was first then that I realized that iTunes is neither open nor standardized and having now migrated off it I realize with the wisdom of hindsight that isn't so damn straightforward either.

What Mr Jobs giveth, Mr Jobs taketh away!

BillB
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Re: Advise on this real world format decision


Quote:

Hey BillB, It's a great program up to a point but don't say we didn't warn you!

Consider me warned, thank you!


Quote:
and sync our iTunes library between the 2 computers (that can be done, yes??)

Sharing iTunes libraries between two computers is extremely limited and fraught with gotchas so check very carefully that it does what you want before committing to this route. In fact this is an excellent example of how iTunes treats your music as its music which is the root of many of its problems. This article might shed some light on the world of compelxity you are about to enter.

Thanks. I re-read the linked forum thread as well as the other link and conclude again that streamed music sharing is still not a ready-for-the-mass market prime-time thing. Pity.

So if I get a 2nd computer, I will have to turn somersaults to have it use the iTunes library we already have on the "home base" computer? Damn....
guess I'll read some more but I don't want library sharing/trouble shooting to become a whole new hobby.

BillB
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Re: back to iTunes


Quote:
Why the agony?
Go for another Mac
Or an external HD on the original
Apple lossless makes sense
Quality not quantity and with tags
Don't confuse your Tunes with 2 different platforms.
Roger

Yeah, might go for another Mac. But Hark! I do have an external HD (for backup) on the original computer. How do I make that a solution?

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