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Advice on itunes for a UK starter!


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I have just ordered my Macbook, which should arrive any day! Decided to take the plunge with ADM9s to partner it, but also have my existing system, DAC, etc, to try it with.

 

I was given a demo of itunes and it looks pretty user friendly, but can someone give me a starter's guide to how to rip CDs in at the best possible audiophile quality. I know that I should go for the lossless formats, but I believe there are two - Apple lossless and AIFF - which to use? Also, are there any other settings I should change - bitrate, etc?

 

Just some basic instructions as to what to use as my initial settings would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

Phil

 

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Hi Phil - Some basic settings can be found at http://computeraudiophile.com/node/255

 

Wav and Aiff are two uncompressed formats. I rip all my music to Aiff. Apple lossless is a compressed format that has many fans because it saves space and is bit perfect like the uncompressed formats.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Hey Phil - Glad to see you're importing CDs!

 

The backup question is another topic in itself that has many options and different prices. Check out this article I wrote a little while ago for a little background. http://www.computeraudiophile.com/node/178

 

The article is not all about backup but does discuss some backup options. Do you have a certain direction you wold like to go with backup? For example - very simple = just use a Time Capsule to automatically backup. There are pros and cons to this method but it's simple. More difficult is using NAS and creating your own RAID5 array etc... Anyway, let me know what you're leaning towards.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Chris (or anyone else who may be able to help),

 

Some more itunes-related questions.

 

First of all, there is a volume adjustment option under the Get Info from the File menu. Does this also adjust the volume of the digital output from a Mac? I may use this option to get things a bit louder on my ipod, but not sure if it also applies to my playing music through a DAC to my main system?

 

Second, I read that lossless files or similar could not be imported to an ipod shuffle, but they seem to import to mine OK. Any views?

 

Finally, I find MP3 and similar files seem to be louder than lossless. Any similar experiences here?

 

Many thanks

 

Phil

 

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Hi Phil,

 

There is some debate about the volume, but the safest approach is to leave it set to max. I don't pay much attention to my iPod, but I think you can equalize on the iPod to compensate for odd volumes if need be. Best to use the volume on the preamp or receiver if possible. Keep iTunes/Mac on max. That said, some will offer that the Mac volume works correctly. If it sounds okay to you, then who cares?

 

Shuffle - audio formats supported: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), WAV, and AIFF. Looks like it covers most all but agreed, lossless isn't there. Probably converting on the fly.

 

From Macworld - "Its first space-saving trick is to limit the kinds of files that can be played by the iPod shuffle. Unlike with other iPods, the iPod shuffle can’t play AIFF or Apple Lossless files—files that consume a lot of storage space (wav files, which consume the same 10MB per minute of stereo audio as AIFF files, can be played by the iPod shuffle, however). The next trick is found in iTunes’ iPod preferences. Here you’ll discover the Convert Higher Bit Rate Songs to 128 kbps AAC for this iPod option. When this option is enabled, iTunes converts AIFF and Apple Lossless files to 128 kbps AAC files. Such a conversion reduces an AIFF file to about seven percent of its original size (and compromises audio quality in a way that those with discerning ears may find objectionable)."

 

Re louder, not for me, I do notice some entire CDs are louder than others and that drives me nutz when I shuffle, but I never noticed across the board one format getting louder. Must admit I haven't specifically tested for that either.

 

Regards

 

 

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Thanks very much for this, but I am still a bit confused! When I originally downloaded some music to a shuffle from my Mac which runs lossless or AIFF files, it only imported some 24 songs to fill the shuffle which suggests the large file size songs were being run of the shuffle. But then, when I found the oiption to convert to AAC it imported 240 songs! Anyway, on the move and thru headphones, I can tell little difference between AAC and the lossless/AIFF so I am not going to lose any sleep over it!

 

However, I do have another questions about something that has been driving me nuts. How do you clear the songs just from an ipod (without deleting from itunes).

 

Thanks again

 

Phil

 

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Not sure what happened on the download as lossless isn't 10x the size of AAC, but no matter - for headphone listening (even with expensive cans) AAC is plenty good enough.

 

Now to iTunes. I'll explain it in plain text so if it seems over simplified to you, it is just because someone else may be looking in who has a similar problem but even less knowledge than you and, like I was, been to afraid to ask the simple question.

 

The Library is where your songs are imported to, either from a CD, iTunes Store or wherever. It is from the Library that you can create your playlists. The bottom left corner of iTunes, below the album artwork square, is a + symbol. Click on that + and 'untitled playlist' appears. Just type in something that will suit say a musical style you like eg. 'Garage Greats' or 'Phil's Funk'. Once the playlist has been created you can simply drag and drop songs from the Library into it. You can import multiple tracks by click highlighting (blue lining) whilst holding the shift key down. Click on the name of the playlist and all the tracks you have placed there are revealed. You can drag and drop tracks within the list to different positions and you can also delete by click highlighting then Edit-Delete. You can safely delete as many songs as you like since they are still safely stored in your Library. In fact you could have that same song in a number of different playlists. It will only get deleted from the playlist that you are in at the time. To delete an entire playlist, just click highlight the name then up to Edit then Delete. Again, all the songs you have deleted will still be secure in your Library.

 

Now to the iPod itself. When you connect your iPod to your Mac, iTunes should open up and in the left hand column immediately above playlists it says devices. You may have named yours something really original like 'My Shuffle'! Click highlight the name and then you will be presented with a series of folders. Keep with me on this one, Phil. I know you know all this but I want to cover the whole procedure. Click the Music folder. Now, below Audiobooks and purchased, you should have a copy of the Playlist panel on the left of your iTunes screen. The playlists you have created are the small light blue folders with the black note symbol on the cover.

 

Now back to the top of the Music folder. I suggest you tick the Sync music box and choose Selected playlists. Now to your question. If you tick the little square box to the left of a playlist you will see the Sync button bottom right of the Music folder change to Cancel and below Apply. Click Apply and that playlist will be placed on the shuttle. Conversely, un-tick a box, click Apply, and the contents of that playlist will be removed from your shuttle.

 

Remember, the songs are still in your playlist, just no longer on your shuttle. More importantly the songs will remain secure in your Library. You would have to overide a delete warning to accidently remove an archived song - and even then you may be OK if you have not yet emptied your trash.

 

Hope that helped.

 

Phil, do you happen to live near an Apple Store? If you do then ask the staff about 'One to One'. It's the best value product Apple sell. Some would argue it's the only value product Apple sell!!

 

 

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Guys, fantastic advice and I am sorted with the Shuffle, but now I have another problem with a Nano! My itunes songs are lossless and I want to import them as AAC or similar. The shuffle gives an option to do this, but can you do it automatically with a Nano?

 

Phil

 

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Chris (or anyone who can help),

 

Thanks for your very useful guidelines on audiophile settings for itunes. I used them for a while, but now I am importing as lossless to cut down on file size. Not sure I can distinguish a difference between lossless and AIFF.

 

The question I have now is on sample frequency/bit rate. I don't think lossless gives you any options to vary this, but AIFF does. If I am right, your standard CD is mastered at 16 bit, 44.1 KHz. I have read posts in UK from folks recommending importing in itunes at higher frequencies (48KHz) and changing output side to 48KHz/24 bit. Is there any point in this? Surely, if a CD is mastered at 16/44.1 you can't improve on that by changing settings in itunes - if it ain't there, you can't artificially create it? You can't get back what is not there?

 

Interested in your thoughts.

 

Phil

 

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Hey Phil - You should be answering the questions over on that other forum! You're exactly right that ripping a 16/44.1 cd at 48kHz will not create something from nothing. However, if some people like the sound more this way I am all for it. My goal is to reproduce the music as accurate as possible. So, I rip at the exact rate of the source material. If you rip a CD at a different resolution you don't give your costly DAC a chance to work with the unaltered sound. But again I stress if it sounds good to some people then it is good. Just not for me.

 

I believe ripping to 48 kHz just adds a bunch of zeros to the file and they take up space without doing anything. Not 100% sure, but that is my understanding.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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"if it ain't there, you can't artificially create it" - I'm with you and Chris. If it made it better everyone would shoot for the max. It might even make it worse since it's not an even multiple of the 44.1, which I've read some info about. Kind of like elementary school math where you have a remainder left over.

 

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You might also make it better. Audio and video restoration frequently uses techniques to artificially create what isn't there or remove what shouldn't be there. This may range from laypersons who know how to take the red-eye out of pictures or remove pops and clicks from records to video and recording studios experts that often make the unreal seem very real. Your computer software or your DAC may be better at working with 16/44.1 files or some other bit and sampling rate.

 

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Thanks Guys, Pleased to know I am ripping at probably the most appropriate settings, but sounds like some experimentation may be worthwhile.

 

With some SACDs I have they go on about 24 bit mastering, etc, but I assume the CD is still 16 bit? Anyway, even if the CD was 24 bit and my DAC can also do this, I can see no itunes import option for higher than 16 bit.

 

Thanks again

 

Phil

 

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Yes, please do some experimenting, listen for yourself and get others to listen to your system. At a recent audio meeting I played the same album ripped in iTunes to 16/44.1 and ripped in Cog to 24/44.1. The attendees, though they are intrigued by computer audio, could care less about iTunes or Cog since it all falls short of vinyl. But everyone agreed that the Cog playback sounded better than the iTunes playback. However for me iTunes still provides excellent sound quality on the Mac and is a perfect match for Mac users based on ease of use, convenience, power and flexibility. iTunes does import files higher than 16 bits and I have played my Reference Recordings HRx WAV files at 24/176.4 in iTunes. If memory serves me correctly I once used the iTunes convert function to go from WAV to AIFF files so I could add some album artwork and that changed the bit and sampling rate to 16/176.4 until Chris made me aware of my error.

 

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The Redbook CD payer of an SACD is 16/44.1. Let's make sure we are talking with the same terminology here. iTunes can definitely import up to 24/192. It just can't convert or rip (import) at high resolutions. Importing the HRx 24/176.4 files works just fine and keeps the native resolution.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Chris,

 

Thanks, but I have to admit I am now getting a bit confused! What I assume you are saying is that for any CD imported into itunes from a Mac, the max rate is 16 bit/48 KHz? But if you import from another source, it can handle higher rates? Not quite sure what 24/176.4 is?

 

Anyway, I think I am satisfied that by currently using the Apple lossless format I am ripping at 16/44.1 which is "CD quality". I have to say, it sounds fine to my ears.

 

Phil

 

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