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DannyE
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iTunes Bit Rate

I'm new to this facet of the audio world. My question is; when you rip redbook cd's into your iTunes library, is it only 128 Kbps, or is it the Apple Lossless, I keep hearing about?
If it's 128 kbps, and your collection is big(mine is 510 songs) can it be changed, or do you have to re-rip the music?

bobedaone
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

Hi, Danny! I know a thing or two about iTunes, and think I can help you out.

128 kbps is the default bitrate for importing. If you have not told the program otherwise, any CD you rip will be limited to that quality. If you are on a Mac, you can modify your import settings like so:

iTunes>>preferences>>advanced>>importing

I'm not familiar with the PC interface, but it's sure to be something analogous to the above.

Apple Lossless is an option, but not the default. Apple sets the default to satisfy the iPod masses, rather than our audio geek minority.

The stink with lossy formats (like MP3 and AAC) is that they reduce file size by removing musical information. Once the track has been imported at a lower bitrate, there is no way to ever get those bits back. You could convert all the files to Apple Lossless, but they would only eat more hard drive space, not sound any better. I'm afraid, my friend, that you have to re-rip your collection. You weren't doing anything next weekend, anyway, right?

DannyE
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

Hi Erik,

Thanks for your reply. Damm, I feel stupid!! I wish I had thought about this before. I guess I jumped the gun, before doing my homework!
I have been trying to decide what to do about a possible upgrade with my cd player, since I have a LOT of cd's. I have a NAD T-532 DVD/CD player. It's 24b/96khz, but I thought I may be able to get better sound if I bought something like a Rega Appolo, or the new Cambridge Audio, Azur840C, which I've heard is so good.
Then, I discover that devices like the iPod, and Slim Devices Transporter, will be the standard. That's why I ripped all that music onto my iPod, I thought that later, I could by one of those devices, or maybe just use my iPod, with something like the MSB iLink. Krell has the KID coming out soon, but I'm not sure exactly how it will work? I guess I will have to bite the bullet, and re-rip my music, so that when I decide what device to go with, at least my iTunes library will be at a high bit rate, and ready to go.

I have a 20GB iPod; what rate do I want to use on iTunes, to get cd quality, or better, and how much space will I loose by ripping at this rate? I ripped 510 songs, and it said I had 16GB of space left.

In all, I probably have 1200-1300 songs that I will want to transfer. Will my 20GB iPod hold all of this, at a high bit rate?

Editor
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate


Quote:
what rate do I want to use on iTunes, to get cd quality, or better, and how much space will I loose by ripping at this rate?

Apple Lossles is the minimum true "CD quality" but a CD will shrink down to half-size, around 300MB. However, you can set your preferences differentrly for your iTunes libary and for your iPod. SO if you rip with ALC, these files will be converted to, say, 320kbps AAC (which I recommend) when they are copied to your iPod. An ALC-encoded song that take up 30MB in your iTunes libary on your computer will thus only be a 10MB file on your iPod, enabling the latter to hold many more songs.

But with the new 160GB iPod, you can stick with ALC all the way, of course!

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

bobedaone
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

Apple Lossless, though very space-frugal relative to uncompressed formats, will burn through your iPod memory like wildfire. Consider that one average lossless track is about 30MB.

I have a 4GB Mini, and it holds somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 songs. Not all of the music on my iPod is lossless, but the majority is. Bottom line: Your 20GB iPod is not going to hold all your music in lossless quality. Fear not, though; Apple has just released the new 160 GB iPod ($350).

Apple Lossless is the most efficient way to get CD-quality files onto your iPod or computer. Uncompressed AIFF and WAV are about twice as large, and anything less than lossless compression is not CD quality. 320kbps AAC comes close, and is more than adequate for portable listening, but you might kick yourself later for not upping the ante with lossless, especially if you do end up getting something like a Transporter.

I have ripped my CD collection three times. I ripped it all in 192kbps AAC first, then re-ripped at 320, then finally went completely off the deep end and re-ripped in Apple Lossless.

Just do lossless this time. Don't be an Erik!

By the way, my library stands at 141 GB. And you think you might be running out of space!

bobedaone
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

Right on the money, John!

DannyE
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

Thanks guys, I appreciate the crash-course!

Since I started this thread, I have been searching the web, and have come accross the Cambridge Audio, Azur 640H music server. It looks like a nice unit. I could rip all of my cd's to the internal 160 GB hard drive, and the internal DAC should give me the sound quality I want.

I'm a little confused....is Apple Lossless, a higher bitrate than 320 kbps? The Cambridge unit goes up to 320 kbps.

My main objective here, is to be able to transfer my entire CD collection to a 'server', so that I can play my music through my home, 2 channel system, which at this point is made up of a Krell, KAV-400xi Int. Amp, and a NAD t-532 DVD/CD player, and Axiom speakers. In the next few months I plan to purchase a pair of Canton, Ergo 609DC speakers, as an upgrade to the Axioms. Once I get my Cantons', all I should need is something like the Cambridge unit to act as my music source. That is my plan.....any thoughts, or suggestions?

Since you say my 20GB iPod, won't hold all of my colection, in Apple Lossless format, the Cambridge 640H seems like a good option. I could keep the iPod for traveling etc.

Sorry for rambling....I just want to learn more about this, so I can make an intelligent decision.

Thanks

bobedaone
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

The bitrate on an audio CD is 1141.2 kbps. Uncompressed formats (AIFF, WAV, PCM) share that bitrate because they contain the CD data bit-for-bit.

Lossless formats (ALC, FLAC) include every piece of information from the disc, but save space by operating analogously to a Zip file. They are compressed on the hard disc, but "unzipped" before playback. The bitrate of an Apple Lossless file varies, but is generally around 900 kbps.

The 640H looks like a nice piece, and does support uncompressed PCM and WAV. You might also have a look at Olive's hard drive players if you decide to go that route.

Personally, I see components like the 640H as "almost" products. They are on the right track, but aren't quite there. Here's why I feel that way:

1.) The hard disc is not portable, and thus less practical than an iPod.

2.) You are paying for a hard drive and all the associated parts.

3.) The drive is in the same box with the audio circuitry.

4.) I'm sure they installed the quietest drive possible, but it will not be absolutely silent.

If I were in your position, I would build a computer-based server system. Rip all your music to your computer's hard drive, and stream it to something like a Slim Devices Transporter. The computer system will be easier to update and modify. The Transporter also supports a more diverse array of file formats, including FLAC and ALC (the 640H offers compatibility with both lossy and uncompressed formats, but no lossless compression). Also, since you're essentially paying for a wireless receiver/router with a DAC inside, you get more for your money. There are no moving parts (except loudspeaker drivers) in your listening room, so quiet is assured.

I don't have Transporter money, so I use my iMac G5 as the server, stream music to my Apple Airport Express, and send the optical signal to my Audio Alchemy DDE v1.2 DAC. It's inexpensive, but embodies what I see as a somewhat future-proof arrangement (ie computer as server, with music streamed to listening room).

Your mileage may vary, and you might indeed decide on a hard disc player. I think there are better options, though.

DannyE
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

Wow, that's a lot to chew on! Seems very complicated. So, what is better about the Olive servers?
Since iPods need to have the signal 'cleaned up', it seems complicated to go that route, and team it with an external DAC....? Yes, the Transporter is a little pricey!

I have time to think about it, so who knows what I will end up buying!
Write more later...getting tired.

Thanks!

DannyE
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

It seems that most of these servers only provide up to 320 kbps. Is this as high as it gets, with these servers, or am I missing something?
You said the bitrate on a cd is 1141.2 kbps, and that ALC is about 900; so how can 320 be considered 'audiophile' quality? I'm confused.
I guess that's one thing good about the Transporter, it plays what's in your collection, good, or bad.
Can you recomend a place I can go, to learn more about all the different file formats?

tomjtx
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

Consider getting a Squeezebox which is 300.00 . It's the non audiophile version of Transporter.
It's DAC is actually quite good.
You can later buy an out board DAC like the Benchmark or LavryDAC10 or PSdigilink3 and get sota performance for a max of 1300.00

The olive is very pricey for it's SQ and tiny harddrive.

You can buy an external, 500 gig drive for as little as 100.00

stereophillips
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

I'd also like to point out that you do not have to carry your entire libarary on your iPod. That's the beauty of playlists -- once you've constructed them, loading task specific playlists to your iPod is just a matter of minutes and you can store and listen to your ALC files at full resolution.

bobedaone
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

320 kbps is the highest bitrate for mp3 and mp4 ("AAC"), but you must be overlooking the compatibility that most of these players have with uncompressed formats as you peruse the specifications. The Cambridge will play PCM and WAV, and presumably rips to these formats as well. I'll make a list of formats to the best of my ability:

Full CD Quality and Size

PCM
WAV
AIFF

Full CD Quality, Approximately 1/2-3/4 Size

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec)
ALC (Apple Lossless Codec)
WMA Lossless (somewhat less common than either of the above)

Lossy Formats

MP3 (ubiquitous, almost guaranteed universal compatibility)

MP4 (referred to as AAC - slightly superior, IMHO, to MP3)

OGG Vorbis (I know very little about this one)

WMA (Windows Media Audio - common codec for PCs running Windows Media Player)

320 kbps is not "audiophile quality", but it's fine for portable/less critical listening and, as JA suggested, it might be wise to create two libraries - one for home use, and one for iPod (to accommodate more songs)

I didn't mean to rag on the 640H (and other HD-based players, like those from Olive). I'm just crazy about the Slim Devices products, and think you will be, too, as you learn more about this server business. If the Transporter is a stretch, you could always pair a Squeezebox ($300) with a nice DAC (like the Benchmark DAC-1, $975).

DannyE
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

Erik,

Thanks for the break down of the file types...that was helpful.
I think that I like the idea of having everything I need in one package(Cambridge 640H). I don't subscribe to that mentality with all audio equipment.

Cambridge doesn't specify how much music it will hold in PCM, and/or WAV format, on it's 160GB harddrive. Is there an easy was to estimate this?

I'm going through this process of upgrading my stereo system, Krell amp, NAD T-532 DVD/CD player, and soon, Canton speakers. I would like to try to improve on the capabilities of the NAD, for my music source. So, yes, I want a quality playback device(server), so that I can have true high end sound, and not have to keep switching cd's.
I guess the question is; will this Cambridge unit, actually accomplish this?

What sucks is that this is a new field, just like the cd was in the 80's, therefore it will change rapidly for the next several years. What you buy today will soon be obsolete!
I'm also waiting to see what this new Krell KID device is all about. My guess is that it recieves the output from the iPod, and 'polishes' the signal, then sends it to your amp, and speakers. This obviously allows you to use your iPod, and get that true high end sound that everyone is after. Has anyone heard any details on ho wit will operate?

Mono
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate


Quote:

Since iPods need to have the signal 'cleaned up', it seems complicated to go that route, and team it with an external DAC....?

Is there an advantage to having your iPod modded to have a digital output over just connecting your computer to a DAC via the Apple wireless USB?

I don't know if I'd spent the $2K on an iPod.

Elk
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate


Quote:
Is there an advantage to having your iPod modded to have a digital output over just connecting your computer to a DAC via the Apple wireless USB?


Only if you want your source to be easily portable.

My assumption is that those that are sending their iPod to MSB to get the mod are listening to lossless files on their iPod and want to also easily listen to them at home or office with high fidelity.

struts
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate


Quote:
However, you can set your preferences differently for your iTunes libary and for your iPod. SO if you rip with ALC, these files will be converted to, say, 320kbps AAC (which I recommend) when they are copied to your iPod.


John,

Can you explain? I have trawled through iTunes (7.5.0.20 on Windows) but I can't find the preference settings you mention either in Edit/Preferences/Advanced/Importing or Edit/Preferences/Syncing, nor any mention of it anywhere in the help system.

I currently have two iTunes databases under two differerent users on my PC, one ripped to ALAC for home listening and one to 320kbps AAC for mobile listening. I have the ALAC library (but not the AAC one) indexed in the Sonos so I don't accidently end up playing any lossy compressed music on the big-rig. This gives me the result that I want but at the cost of having to rip everything (and mess about with tags, cover art etc.) twice.

Do you mean I could avoid this embuggerance and have iTunes automatically convert to the lower sampling rate for syncing to my iPod?

Pray how!?

BGLeduc
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

I am not John, but I am a fairly experienced iPod/iTunes user, and if there is an automatic conversion in iTunes that takes place during file transfer or sync, I have missed it as well.

The only iPod that I am aware of with a similar feature was the original Shuffle. Not sure about the newer shuffles.

FWIW, I started out ripping everything to 320K AAC, but once I got a higher capacity iPod, I switched to ALC for everything. My 60g is now full, and I find that I do have to occasionally delete some stuff to make room for new music, but I don't find that to be a big deal.

At some point, I may upgrade to the new 160g Classic....that would allow me to copy everything I currently have ripped onto it.

Brian

Elk
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Re: iTunes Bit Rate

160g in a portable player.

Astounding concept.

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