iTunes Questions
November 20, 2004 9:50 AM   Subscribe

iTunes question: I am currently using old musicmatch to hold my music collection & playlists and synch with my iPod (I have an gen2.) If I load iTunes, I have some questions:
1. Can I still burn CD's from my music collection once iTunes is loaded?
2. If I download a tune from iTunes, can I burn that to a CD or just transfer it to my iPod?
3. Does it encode my music collection so I can't remove it from iTunes if I want to quit using it? (encrypt all my already existing music so I can't burn it/copy to cd, etc.)
4. Is there a way to transfer my playlists to iTunes from Musicmatch?
5. what do you all think of iTunes? Do you use it? Do you like something else better?
posted by aacheson to Technology (17 answers total)
1. Yes
2. If by download you mean from the iTunes Music Store, yes, you can burn it to a CD. I think there are limits to the number of times you can burn a single playlist. I'm not sure what those limits are currently or if those limits will change in the future.
3. No, you can move them from iTunes or open them in another player or even directly from the Finder.
4. Not Sure
5. I like iTunes as a music player/manager. I won't buy anything form the iTunes Music Store because I'm not willing to buy music encumbered by DRM of any kind.
posted by willnot at 10:04 AM on November 20, 2004

Response by poster: Willnot, and DRM is the encoding that does what exactly?
posted by aacheson at 10:09 AM on November 20, 2004

1. Yes
2. Both (unlimited transfers to ipod, burn to cd = 10 times max)
3. Yes, it encodes it, but there are tons of open source applications out there that will decode the songs for you letting you play them wherever you want.
4. Not that i know of. most likely i would guess.
5. As an apple user, i love itunes, once you start using it all the time, you cant let go of it. When music store first came out i would never buy anything, but alas, i gave it, and to tell you the truth, its not that bad. I burn the CD about 2-3 times, throw one in my car, one in my house, and one for backup. And i also throw it on my ipod. Then i use IpodDownload to unencode it and throw it onto a second harddrive for further backup in case my ipod goes bezerk.
posted by meowchow at 10:22 AM on November 20, 2004

When you buy songs files from the iTunes Music Store, you're buying locked AAC files, not free and open MP3 files (or some other kind of unlocked file type). You can only play those songs on a limited number of machines that have been registered with Apple.

Now people will tell you that the restrictions placed on those files are very lose restrictions that won't get in your way. That's true to an extent. You can convert those files to CDs and then reconvert them to MP3s and do whatever you want with them. I've been told that you can do this without much in the way of noticeable sound degradation. However, if you keep them in the AAC format that you originally purchased from Apple, you are locked to a limited number of computers. You're locked to only the iPod as a portable player. If you upgrade a machine and reformat a hard drive and do a couple of other things that takes you past the number of registered computers you are allowed without first remembering to deauthorize your previous computers, you are at Apple's mercy as to whether they will reset your restrictions for you. If they decide not to do that, then all of the music you purchased form them may suddenly be unplayable and worthless. There is also no guarantee that the number of computers you can play your purchased music on or the number of times you can burn a song off to a CD to be converted to a more open format won't be changed at some point or eliminated altogether. If that happens, you would either need to accept the change, or just not upgrade your equipment/software.

Basically, I reject DRM on principal even if Apple's specific implementation of it can "currently" be worked around without much bother.

Again, this only applies to the songs you buy from them. All of your existing music will stay in whatever form it's currently in. They don't alter those files or restrict them in any way.
posted by willnot at 10:29 AM on November 20, 2004

3 is No. iTunes plays your existing MP3s without touching them.

The only consideration would be that if you rip a new CD, and you use iTunes to do it, I think it defaults to using unprotected AAC to encode it, instead of MP3. That would be an issue if you didn't have an iPod, which is really the only player that knows how to play AAC.
posted by smackfu at 10:44 AM on November 20, 2004

5. Yes. But then, I have a Mac, so everything works pretty flawlessly.

willnot is absolutely right, IMHO, but honestly, unless you're the kind of person who actively takes privacy and security very, very seriously, you're not going to notice the drawbacks of iTMS. Any other electronic means of obtaining music that it any way pays the actual artist is going to have DRM of some sort. I've bought a bunch of music from Apple- it sounds great, it's mind-numbingly easy, and I've never burned a CD of anything. I can stream to other computers, the license covers my work machine as well as my girlfriend's- how many places to you have to be able to play your music, at the absolute fullest-possible quality? Burn a CD for archiving, if you want. Unless you're a hardcore audiophile, you're not going to notice the audio loss when you re-rip (and therefore completely unlock, permanently) a protected AAC song.
posted by mkultra at 11:00 AM on November 20, 2004

the only problem i've encountered with iTunes is the annoyance that comes when i want to upload an iTunes song to webspace. this is a great tutorial that turns your iTunes Store songs into usable mp3s.
posted by amandaudoff at 11:16 AM on November 20, 2004

5. I really like iTunes, and find it much more intuitive than Music Match, but I have had one problem with it: Over the last year as I ripped my 1200+ CD collection, my computer locked up several times. It happened often enough to cause me intense frustration, since I usually had to power off my computer (Compaq Armada M700 laptop running Windows 2000), and in a few cases, I even had to let the battery drain to get it to shut off. iTunes is the only program I've ever used that locked my machine up this badly.

It was impossible to predict which CDs would cause iTunes to hang, so I now use Music Match to rip, and use iTunes for everything else
posted by JeffL at 11:35 AM on November 20, 2004

You can easily set iTunes to rip your CDs in any format you want -- a range of quality for MP3 or AAC, as the Apple Lossless format (same quality as a WAV, supposedly, with half the file size), or WAV. You just do it in the Preferences menu.

You can burn any single iTunes Music Store TRACK an unlimited number of times, but you can only burn a PLAYLIST ten times (it might actually be seven now). All you have to do is change a playlist very slightly (swap one song's place in the order, add one more track, etc.) to reset that. It's just an anti-mass-piracy measure, and you don't sound like someone who's going to burn and sell three hundred copies of DESTINY FULFILLED to me.

One thing to watch out for is that iTunes really likes to reorganize and move your MP3s into new folders, based on the tags for artist/album/etc. you've got for them. If you deal with your MP3s primarily through your jukebox app, i.e. iTunes or Musicmatch, then that's not really a problem, since iTunes knows perfectly well where they are; but if you need to find them again on your hard drive they might not be exactly where you expect, since iTunes might have copied them into its own folder. Personally, that's a feature, not a bug, to me, because I store all of my music on an external hard drive and iTunes copies everything over there automatically as soon as I open it...

I'd certainly recommend iTunes over Musicmatch without any hesitation.
posted by logovisual at 12:34 PM on November 20, 2004

[aacheson, can you clarify whether you're using iTunes on a Mac or a PC?]
posted by lodurr at 12:46 PM on November 20, 2004

Up there somewhere, meowchow mentioned the 10-burn limit on songs purchased from the iTMS. There's actually no limit on the number of times you can burn an individual purchased song, but there is a limit on the number of times you can burn a playlist of protected AAC files. (Not sure if that includes a playlist of mixed AAC/other format files.) Change the order, add a song, etc., and then you can keep burning your playlist of purchased music as many times as you wish. Apple figured that, realistically, no one would need to burn the same 10-song album over and over and over and over. Anyone who wants to do that probably wants to sell some pirated CDs.

There's a great iTunes tutorial here
posted by emelenjr at 1:54 PM on November 20, 2004

Oh well, I missed it on preview because I didn't bother to read, but logovisual already covered what I said about the burn limits.
posted by emelenjr at 1:56 PM on November 20, 2004

hymn decrypts your iTunes Music Store songs with no quality loss. The tutorial amandaudoff linked to above uses it.
posted by zsazsa at 2:11 PM on November 20, 2004

iTunes blows away MusicMatch. I still use Winamp though, because I don't have an iPod.
posted by keswick at 2:17 PM on November 20, 2004

There's an option you can set in iTunes to make it not copy around your mp3 files. I forget exactly what it's called, but it's pretty self-explanatory and it's in there.
posted by neckro23 at 2:42 PM on November 20, 2004

I'd stick with MusicMatch 7.2, which is a robust piece of software. In my experience, iTunes for Windows laces mp3s with a noise ripples about 2 seconds into every song.
posted by dydecker at 12:39 AM on November 21, 2004

Late addition: MusicMatch has very bad whole-number releases. As a rule of thumb, you should never use the x.0 release. (OT: They tend to suck in a particular way, too, that leads me to believe that they don't bother to optimize for performance until the minor version releases.)

I agree about v. 7.2, though. I made the mistake of upgrading to 8 to solve a problem I was having with it on my system. Now I'm stuck.

Of course, this only matters if you're using iTunes on a Windows box. On a Mac, any of this MusicMatch prattling is useless.
posted by lodurr at 11:20 AM on November 22, 2004

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