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Itunes file conversion from apple lossless to AAC or MP3


bikemig

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I recently re-ripped my entire music library to Apple lossless on my mac mini which is my music server. I need to create a copy of that library in either MP3 or AAC (320kbps) so that I can keep a copy on my macbook with a smallish 160 GB hard drive. I have a few questions that I tried to google without much luck (how did we know anything before google showed up?). I was hoping the collective wisdom of the list would help me out with the following problems.

1. Is there any degradation in the music quality when I convert from Apple lossless to either mp3 or aac? I assume there isn't but I thought I'd ask if anyone has an opinion. I really don't want to re-rip from the CDs again, though.

2. Is there any reason to prefer aac over mp3? I'm leaning towards mp3 as it plays nicely with more devices but my understanding is that aac is considered to be a more sophisticated codec.

3. When I convert the files from lossless to mp3, Itunes keeps a copy of the lossless files which is a mess. I need to go into the folder and delete the lossless files and then eliminate the extra tracks from itunes itself (I guess I could also delete the files from itunes and direct it to trash the unneeded files). In either case, this is tedious and introduces the possibility of operator error! Any suggestions on how to deal with this?

Thank you, Miguel

 

Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)

Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)

Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)

IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

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To clarify, my first question. There is an obvious degradation when one converts from a lossless to a lossy format (although I believe that there are studies showing that it can be very difficult if not impossible to tell the difference between a high bitrate lossy and a lossless but I don't want to open that can of worms here!). What I meant to ask is whether ripping the original CD to mp3 or aac will be better than converting an apple lossless file to mp3 or aac. I assume this won't make a difference but then I'm always surprised by what I learn here! Thanks again, Miguel

 

Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)

Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)

Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)

IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

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No need to re-rip, you can use the lossless file as the source without limitation. Create the mp3 and/or aac files from the alac files.

 

Of course, you have to be happy with your rips for the above to be true, but that's a different question. If you are happy with them as alacs, use the alacs, if not, re-rip the alacs and use those instead!

 

ZZ

 

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1. Is there any degradation in the music quality when I convert from Apple lossless to either mp3 or aac? I assume there isn't but I thought I'd ask if anyone has an opinion. I really don't want to re-rip from the CDs again, though.

 

MP3 and AAC are lossy codecs, so yes, there will be a degradation. You should listen to them critically ro see if you notice, though. They are very good, especially AAC at 320 from iTunes.

 

 

2. Is there any reason to prefer aac over mp3? I'm leaning towards mp3 as it plays nicely with more devices but my understanding is that aac is considered to be a more sophisticated codec.

 

AAC is better. It is the evolution of MP3 (AAC is an Apple Modified MP4, actually). The only drawback to AAC is due to MP3 being absolutely everywhere. If AAC is compatible enough in your world, say if you have only iPods, use AAC compatible music player like iTunes, then you should consider it. The iPod universe is its own Apple world, but it is a huge one. The iPod is by far the best selling portable music player.

 

3. When I convert the files from lossless to mp3, Itunes keeps a copy of the lossless files which is a mess. I need to go into the folder and delete the lossless files and then eliminate the extra tracks from itunes itself (I guess I could also delete the files from itunes and direct it to trash the unneeded files). In either case, this is tedious and introduces the possibility of operator error! Any suggestions on how to deal with this?

 

iTunes has this feature called "Display Duplicates." Choose it in the File menu, then organize the grouping by kind, get rid of all the dupes. Couldn't be simpler.

 

My advice to you: if you use MP3 make sure to use a good MP3 encoder. They are not all the same. LAME is prbably the best MP3 encoder. I used to use the LAME plugin for iTunes, but that was for verison 6 of iTunes. Now we're at iTunes 10. Maybe the MP3 encoder within iTunes has improved. Like I said earlier, give it a try and see how it sounds.

 

Hope this helps.

 

CD

 

 

 

 

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