which format for Itunes

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Hello all



AAC

MP3

or other..and maybe why you prefer one format over the other any comments on bitrate?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    I use LAME instead of iTunes (because frankly iTunes the encoder is weak), and I use MP3s because I can drop it onto a CD and have it play as an MP3 CD.



    Oh, and I used LAME in the beginning because it did VBR and iTunes didn't. Now of course iTunes can do VBR, but it's still not a very good encoder.





    To use MP3s you have to accept the size trade-off to match AAC quality though. I do 160 kpbs as a floor and no ceiling, my penalty in size versus say 128k AAC files is around 25%, but they do sound better because of my letting the VBR go to 320k if it needs to.



    I notice the difference between that and AAC files at 128k, but (subjectively for me) the difference between my MP3 settings and CDs is unnoticeable.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    use to use AAC but MP3 is more compatible with phones and other devices so i switched back to MP3
  • Reply 3 of 8
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    AAC is objectively the better codec, particularly at lower bit rates. Also does a better job with higher frequencies and complex very complex waveforms. There's a reason it was ratified by the MPEG group as the successor to MP3.



    If storage space and bandwidth are no object, it's still sort of a toss-up, since a high bit rate MP3 can do a good job on most music. But if you're going to go with, say, the iTunes Store default of 128kb/sec files, AAC is going to sound better, on most music. (All this assumes one of the higher performance AAC profiles).
  • Reply 4 of 8
    Hello, short-time reader, first-time poster... Wow, I was literally seconds away from posting a question about this exact topic.



    I've only been set up on iTunes a short while, and I've judiciously imported a fair amount of music from my own CDs (only 1500 tracks). Not being aware of the options, I left the import settings at the default, i.e. AAC @ 128 bitrate. When I tried to burn my first MP3 disc a week ago it was an unpleasant surprise to find out, I can't do that with AAC files.



    So, what I would like to do is have at least some sort of at least medium-range thinking of how I need to import and wanted to ask for advice and any stories, good or bad. Being relatively naive with the options again, my iTunes thru the stock Dell speakers has been sounding fine with the 128 AACs. What I want to *avoid* is importing lots and lots more music, then finding out in five years when I get some sort of upscale, household-wide networked iPod server, or an 8th generation iPod, that it all sounds like pure crap, and I need to reimport 15,000 tracks or more.



    If I'm used to the 128 AAC - is 160 MP3, or 192 going to give me plenty of margin for "I can't tell the difference from the CD."? Should I go even higher? If I'm not a sound engineer, is it even possible I'll hear the difference between 128, 160, 192, 256, 360? Should I try some lossless codec like flac? Should I enable the VBR and what are the best settings for that? Is the advantage of AAC such that I should just forego the ability to burn MP3 discs?



    Right now I'm leaning towards re-importing everything as MP3s at 192... is this likely to result in a happy, satisfactory iTunes collection for the next long while, until a new codec becomes widely popular?



    Thanks a lot, appreciate all responses.

    -- davidzLA
  • Reply 5 of 8
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by davidzLA


    Hello, short-time reader, first-time poster... Wow, I was literally seconds away from posting a question about this exact topic.



    I've only been set up on iTunes a short while, and I've judiciously imported a fair amount of music from my own CDs (only 1500 tracks). Not being aware of the options, I left the import settings at the default, i.e. AAC @ 128 bitrate. When I tried to burn my first MP3 disc a week ago it was an unpleasant surprise to find out, I can't do that with AAC files.



    So, what I would like to do is have at least some sort of at least medium-range thinking of how I need to import and wanted to ask for advice and any stories, good or bad. Being relatively naive with the options again, my iTunes thru the stock Dell speakers has been sounding fine with the 128 AACs. What I want to *avoid* is importing lots and lots more music, then finding out in five years when I get some sort of upscale, household-wide networked iPod server, or an 8th generation iPod, that it all sounds like pure crap, and I need to reimport 15,000 tracks or more.



    If I'm used to the 128 AAC - is 160 MP3, or 192 going to give me plenty of margin for "I can't tell the difference from the CD."? Should I go even higher? If I'm not a sound engineer, is it even possible I'll hear the difference between 128, 160, 192, 256, 360? Should I try some lossless codec like flac? Should I enable the VBR and what are the best settings for that? Is the advantage of AAC such that I should just forego the ability to burn MP3 discs?



    Right now I'm leaning towards re-importing everything as MP3s at 192... is this likely to result in a happy, satisfactory iTunes collection for the next long while, until a new codec becomes widely popular?



    Thanks a lot, appreciate all responses.

    -- davidzLA



    Depends on how good your imagined future system and your ears are.



    A lot of people claim to not be able to hear the difference between 128kb AAC and CD, even on good systems. I think that's a stretch, but generally most people seem to agree that somewhere in the 256-360kb/sec range it gets hard to hear further improvement. Audiophiles with very revealing, very expensive systems would of course disagree, and it depends somewhat on what sort of music is being encoded. Orchestral music with broad dynamics, complex, dense passages, and wide frequency content suffers more from low bit rate compression than rock or pop.



    If you want to absolutely sure and you have the disc space, you can use the lossless codec in iTunes, but most consider that overkill. With cheap disc space I think 360kb/sec imports from CD are a good compromise between 128 and Apple lossless.



    As far as AAC vs. MP3, definitely AAC is the future. It is, in effect, "MP4"-- a more advanced and capable codec ratified by the same standards group that puts the "MP" into "MP3".



    You can burn your AAC tracks to standard CD from iTunes, of course-- any advantages to MP3 discs? And, anyway, shouldn't you be getting an iPod?
  • Reply 6 of 8
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox


    A lot of people claim to not be able to hear the difference between 128kb AAC and CD, even on good systems. I think that's a stretch, but generally most people seem to agree that somewhere in the 256-360kb/sec range it gets hard to hear further improvement. [...]



    If you want to absolutely sure and you have the disc space, you can use the lossless codec in iTunes, but most consider that overkill. With cheap disc space I think 360kb/sec imports from CD are a good compromise between 128 and Apple lossless.



    As far as AAC vs. MP3, definitely AAC is the future. It is, in effect, "MP4"-- a more advanced and capable codec ratified by the same standards group that puts the "MP" into "MP3".



    You can burn your AAC tracks to standard CD from iTunes, of course-- any advantages to MP3 discs? And, anyway, shouldn't you be getting an iPod?



    Well, sure, but the budget is late as usual :-) Over the next month to a year I plan to get the 80GB iPod, a ~$150 iPod dock ring speaker thingy and maybe next year, a ~250GB external hard drive mostly for music.



    Major question, is there a linear relationship between bitrate and file size? Meaning, since 256 is 200% of 128, would a 256 bitrate file take up twice the space of a 128 file? Any advice about VBR would be great too.



    The major use of MP3 discs would be mixes for friends, sourced off my CD library. In an iTunes universe I'd rather not give them audio files with >20 tracks ("Track 1, Track 2, Track 3", etc.) but rather more tracks with all tag info. I'd just burn AAC discs if that were an option.



    From what I read it seemed MP3 might have a very long life ahead because of the massive installed base, despite some advantages with AAC. It reminds me of VHS and Beta: Beta was better, but VHS wasn't so bad as to go out and buy a whole new machine and tapes. We were a Beta family... would rather not wake up in 2009 and find out it's time to re-do everything. I'd rather put that off until the *next* spanky new codec, whenever it pops.



    I know I'm probably over-thinking it, just want to make sure I'm putting the right kind of gas in the only Ferrari I'm likely to buy this decade :-)
  • Reply 7 of 8
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by davidzLA


    Well, sure, but the budget is late as usual :-) Over the next month to a year I plan to get the 80GB iPod, a ~$150 iPod dock ring speaker thingy and maybe next year, a ~250GB external hard drive mostly for music.



    Major question, is there a linear relationship between bitrate and file size? Meaning, since 256 is 200% of 128, would a 256 bitrate file take up twice the space of a 128 file? Any advice about VBR would be great too.



    The major use of MP3 discs would be mixes for friends, sourced off my CD library. In an iTunes universe I'd rather not give them audio files with >20 tracks ("Track 1, Track 2, Track 3", etc.) but rather more tracks with all tag info. I'd just burn AAC discs if that were an option.



    From what I read it seemed MP3 might have a very long life ahead because of the massive installed base, despite some advantages with AAC. It reminds me of VHS and Beta: Beta was better, but VHS wasn't so bad as to go out and buy a whole new machine and tapes. We were a Beta family... would rather not wake up in 2009 and find out it's time to re-do everything. I'd rather put that off until the *next* spanky new codec, whenever it pops.



    I know I'm probably over-thinking it, just want to make sure I'm putting the right kind of gas in the only Ferrari I'm likely to buy this decade :-)



    Yes, bits per second have a linear relationship to the final file size.



    VBR is certainly an option, but: takes longer (more computationally intensive) and won't necessarily result in dramatically smaller file sizes-- depends on the content.



    I would suggest importing a piece of music you're pretty familiar with, encoding at various bit rates, including VBR, burn to CD, and playing same on the best sound system you have access to. A lot of this is pretty subjective and your particular middle ground between file size and fidelity is going to depend on what sounds good to you.



    As far as beta and VHS go, those were similar, competing technologies released at the same time. AAC is the successor to MP3 and is really more like DVD to MP3's VHS (the relative quality differences aren't as obvious but it's the closer analogy). It wouldn't be entirely incorrect to refer to AAC as "MP4".



    Remember, AAC isn't a proprietary Apple format that you have to give something up to adopt. The only part that is proprietary is Apple's FairPlay DRM scheme, which only applies to iTS downloads.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    idaveidave Posts: 1,283member
    I did some listening tests a couple of years ago and couldn't hear any difference between 128 and 160 AAC. Since the necessary storage space for the slightly higher bit rate was minimal, I decided to encode all of my CDs at 160 (just in case my hearing or sound equipment gets better).



    Not using MP3 presents the disadvantage of not being able to burn discs with hundreds of songs to play in your car (or home) stereo. As a solution, I have an iPod and a car stereo it interfaces with.



    As others have said, sound quality is subjective. If you can't hear a difference, don't bother with high bit rates. It requires more storage on your computer and iPod and it takes longer and more storage to back it up. (You might not feel the need to back it up if you have the original CDs.)



    Many people have iTunes now. If you must, you can burn (unprotected) AAC discs for your friends they can play on their computers. But that's illegal.
Sign In or Register to comment.