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iTunes 10.6 adds option to sync 192kbps, 256kbps quality audio to devices

post #1 of 22
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In the newly released iTunes 10.6, Apple has quietly added the ability for users to select higher quality audio conversion bitrates when syncing to an iPhone, iPod or iPad.

Previously, users were given the option to down-convert higher bitrate songs to a low-end 128kbps. The smaller, lower-quality files allowed users to save space on their portable device and fit more music and files onto it.

But in earlier versions of iTunes, 128kbps was the only quality option for downgrading audio. Apple changed that last week with the release of iTunes 10.6, giving users two new options.

Now, with the latest version of iTunes, users can also choose to down-convert audio to quality levels of 192kbps or 256kbps, giving users a total of three bitrate options when syncing music to their mobile device.

Purchases from iTunes are encoded at 256kbps, but users who rip their own CDs might do so at a higher quality bitrate of 320kbps. The new setting would give them an option to slightly reduce the quality of those files to 256kbps when synced to a mobile device, while still retaining the higher quality 320kbps copy stored on their Mac or PC.




Music encoded as 256kbps AAC files first came to the iTunes Store in 2007 with the launch of Apple's iTunes Plus. That marked the debut of DRM-free music tracks encoded at a higher quality bitrate that Apple claims is virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings.

Earlier this year, legendary rock artist Neil Young indicated that he was working with Apple on producing a new super high-definition music format that would offer users uncompromised studio quality sound in the form of digital music downloads from iTunes. And in early 2011, there were also indications that Apple was interested in offering 24-bit music on iTunes, up from the current 16-bit quality.

And in February, one rumor claimed that Apple was working on a new audio file format to improve its iCloud service. The new file is rumored to improve the quality of streaming music to mobile devices like the iPhone, while also improving the quality to a high-definition copy when users have more bandwidth or storage available on their device.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 22
Glad for this. I've been wanting to use the feature for a while, but always wanted to use 192kbps (small enough it saves space, but high enough quality that I don't get hissing or flatness). Glad they added it.
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post #3 of 22
I've been wanting the 256 option for years. Thank you Apple.
post #4 of 22
I sync Apple lossless on my iPhone and iPad so that's not really an option for me to downgrade it to any less than lossless.

I have been waiting for 24/96 for years though.
post #5 of 22
Oh, I will try this when a bug fix for 10.6 is out. iTunes seems to fall into a circle of constant crashes in certain configurations :-(. Not having the latest iPhoto may have to do with it.
Some claim it's your rooted iPhone - but I only have an iPod nano 7th gen. But I never bothered to pay for an upgrade of my iLife Suite ('09, came bundled with my machine. Since they did not improve on the SD-video import bug in iMovie, and kicked iDVD, I skipped that upgrade to iLife '11).
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SuAlfons View Post

Oh, I will try this when a bug fix for 10.6 is out. iTunes seems to fall into a circle of constant crashes in certain configurations :-(. Not having the latest iPhoto may have to do with it.
Some claim it's your rooted iPhone - but I only have an iPod nano 7th gen. But I never bothered to pay for an upgrade of my iLife Suite ('09, came bundled with my machine. Since they did not improve on the SD-video import bug in iMovie, and kicked iDVD, I skipped that upgrade to iLife '11).

iTunes 10.6 works fine for me and I don't have the latest iLife. I'm running 10.5.8 and iLife '08. Have you tried the usual first step of trouble-shooting problems like this by creating a new user, logging in as that new user, and seeing if the problem persists?
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post #7 of 22
If I choose one of these, will it help even out the volume for different songs? Some songs I bought from iTunes have low volume, which gets annoying.
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedGeminiPA View Post

If I choose one of these, will it help even out the volume for different songs? Some songs I bought from iTunes have low volume, which gets annoying.

I think you're looking for "sound check". It normalizes volume across all songs. Look for it in preferences.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In the newly released iTunes 10.6, Apple has quietly added the ability for users to select higher quality audio conversion bitrates when syncing to an iPhone, iPod or iPad.
...

Converting from a compressed lossy music file to a compressed lossy music file tends to lose even more information. Where this would be great is people who rip their CDs to ALAC (compressed but not lossy) but want to save space on their iPod.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedGeminiPA View Post

If I choose one of these, will it help even out the volume for different songs? Some songs I bought from iTunes have low volume, which gets annoying.

For iTunes, Preferences->Playback->Sound Check. I believe there is a similar setting for iPods.
post #10 of 22
Great. Now why are iTunes Match/iTunes in the Cloud users still stuck with just one unnecessarily high-bitrate option for syncing to mobile devices from the cloud (256kbps)? It should work the same way whether you're doing it through iTunes or Apple's servers.
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aegean View Post

I have been waiting for 24/96 for years though.

You've read this right?

Excellent scientific breakdown of why anything above 16/44.1 isn't necessary for music downloads. Useful for those doing audio mastering/editing, yes, but for purely listening to music, no.
 
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post #12 of 22
No 320? Why? It's like 1/4 line of code.
post #13 of 22
I didn't understand this article. So if you've ripped your CDs into iTunes at 320 you don't need to manually convert them to 256 before syncing them with your iPod? Is that what they are saying? Who does that. If you're going to rip a CD you would do it at 256 or lossless surely.

What if you've ripped everything in lossless? We still have to convert manually and keep two copies on our hard drive?

C'mon Apple if you can sell HD movies there is no reason you can't sell ALAC music.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun, UK View Post

I didn't understand this article. So if you've ripped your CDs into iTunes at 320 you don't need to manually convert them to 256 before syncing them with your iPod? Is that what they are saying? Who does that. If you're going to rip a CD you would do it at 256 or lossless surely.

What if you've ripped everything in lossless? We still have to convert manually and keep two copies on our hard drive?

C'mon Apple if you can sell HD movies there is no reason you can't sell ALAC music.

My understanding is that iTunes will convert the audio file on-the-fly when copying it to your iPod, it will not store two versions of the song in iTunes. So one should rip their CD to a lossless format, and depending on the amount of storage available on your device, select the appropriate codec to conserve space on your device. Nothing else manual to do. I imagine it will take longer to sync (the first time?) depending on the number of songs and your computer's processing speed, but if you got the time it will save you space.
post #15 of 22
It's great to finally see this option, but it is flawed. There should be an option to only transcode files, when necessary. It makes no sense to transcode lossy files. This is something RealPlayer (of all apps) has offered for nearly 10 years. If I only have a handful of purchased tracks, I don't want them transcoded to 192Kbps; that will only make them sound worse! Transcoding lossless files to a lossy format is the same as if you are importing the files from the original CD.
post #16 of 22
It autoconverts on-the-fly as suggested. I maintain a lossless library that serves out to various amplifiers throughout the house, but also feeds into my iOS devices. I like the feature and have been waiting for it for a long time.

HOWEVER, I am not using it because it frequently fails to take artwork with the downsampled files and dumps them on my devices with the ubiquitous black-square-musical-note avatar.

I wanted it because downsampling files myself has also always prevented Genius from working on my iOS devices and I was hoping that with iTunes doing the down-conversions itself, the genius results would start working. Of course, that wouldn't have been an issue if Genius referenced artist/song info in its calculations rather than song ID #s. But then Genius has been effectively useless lately anyway with its inability to make playlists from newer releases, so I'm ready to call a loss. I've only ever seen it really effective at making lists from Bob Dylan songs, so you can tell who pushed the technology to begin with.

Also... No VBR. Which means the files are larger than what you might down-convert yourself. Since space savings is the point, it renders this as a feature somewhat half-hearted.

I hate to say this but I wish Jobs was still around, firing people for making stupid oversights like these.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

There should be an option to only transcode files, when necessary.

That's how it works. It doesn't reconvert files unless their bitrate is higher than the preferred bitrate. Smaller files go right on in original form.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelbird View Post

That's how it works. It doesn't reconvert files unless their bitrate is higher than the preferred bitrate. Smaller files go right on in original form.

You misunderstand what Galley was saying. He was saying that it should only downconvert lossless files, not lossy files that happen to have a higher bitrate than the conversion setting.
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post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

You misunderstand what Galley was saying. He was saying that it should only downconvert lossless files, not lossy files that happen to have a higher bitrate than the conversion setting.

It's been some time since I did it, but I've knocked a few 320kps files down to 256kps and they sounded equal to those natively converted from the original CDs. I understand the principles at work here, and I know that with some software there is some real mangling occurring but I've not experienced this personally within iTunes (at least not lately). Then again, I never go below to 256, and don't keep anything smaller in my library, so maybe I never tested it as suggested either.
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelbird View Post

It's been some time since I did it, but I've knocked a few 320kps files down to 256kps and they sounded equal to those natively converted from the original CDs. I understand the principles at work here, and I know that with some software there is some real mangling occurring but I've not experienced this personally within iTunes (at least not lately). Then again, I never go below to 256, and don't keep anything smaller in my library, so maybe I never tested it as suggested either.

Apple's AAC encoder is widely regarded as the best there is. I've never tried it myself but I can certainly believe that most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a file that had gone from CD source -> 320 kbps -> 256 kpbs and one that had gone directly from CD source -> 256 kbps.
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post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shogun View Post

I think you're looking for "sound check". It normalizes volume across all songs. Look for it in preferences.

Thanks, but "sound check" is even more annoying, as it lowers the volume for everything. I guess I'll have to live with it... until Apple updates the songs, if/when it ever happens, and there's a way to update accordingly.
post #22 of 22
I meant to mention this earlier.

I am forced to use Windows in my office environment. One thing that has really made me crazy has been the awful implementation of iTunes in the 64bit version of Windows 7. For me at least, it just did not work.

Typical features that I loved on my Macs or iOS devices were spotty or completely dysfunctional. Thankfully, all that seems to be a thing of the past, as I have yet to have a single issue with 10.6. I finally have a matched library of all my library across ALL of my devices.

Thank you Apple!
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