Does re-ripping a lossy track the same way lower the quality?
September 27, 2010 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I have a number of DRM-ed iTunes songs that are not available to upgrade to iTunes Plus. If I burn the songs to CDs and re-rip them in AAC format (i.e., the original codec) at the same bitrate as the originals, will I lose sound quality? If so, is there a better way to strip off the DRM?

I know that ripping to a lossy format normally results in some lost information (by definition), but I don't know if that's true if you re-rip the song with the same tools as originally created the lossy version.
posted by philosophygeek to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yes and there's probably a utility that'll just strip the DRM from the original file.
posted by alex_skazat at 5:53 PM on September 27, 2010

Seconding alex_skazat. Lossy compression is by definition always going to degrade your signal no matter the source. I know there are some DRM-stripping utilities out there but I don't have personal experience with any to recommend one.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 6:05 PM on September 27, 2010

Tunebite will do that, but it has to be done on windows XP (or older, not sure about mac) since vista and beyond are very hardcore about blocking anything that resembles a drm stripper..
posted by Esefa at 6:10 PM on September 27, 2010

I've used the burn-and-reimport technique many times. Sound quality is excellent.
posted by markmillard at 6:11 PM on September 27, 2010

Tunebite involves a lossy-to-lossy transcode and does not simply strip DRM. You want Requiem or similar.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:16 PM on September 27, 2010

I could be wrong, but newer version of iTunes have a "make mp3" button. Last time I was forced to buy something not "plus" I just pressed this button and it spat out mp3s.

I used to use the "burn cd" method though, and there was no audible loss of quality.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:24 PM on September 27, 2010

Have you thought about burning them then ripping them in lossless? The burning isn't where you lose quality, it's the ripping in the original bitrate instead of an uncompressed bitrate.

Yes, the file will be larger uncompressed but it's a quick, easy way to get these files in their original quality.
posted by arniec at 6:26 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far. I tried Requieum, but I couldn't find a version that would work with my version of iTunes (10). As far as the lossless re-rip, the problem there is simply space on the iPod hard drive. Otherwise, that solution would be perfect.
posted by philosophygeek at 6:55 PM on September 27, 2010

it's a quick, easy way to get these files in their original quality.

That's kind of a slippery definition of "original". Original to many people would imply the lossless version of the track before it was compressed with AAC in the first place. This method only gets you a copy of the track that was degraded once instead of being degraded twice. A lot of music sharing/trading communities strictly ban this kind of lossy-inside-a-lossless-wrapper type of shenanigan because it's quite misleading, as people tend to think that lossless means lossless.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:56 PM on September 27, 2010

I wouldn't feel much guilt about torrenting the FLACs and then converting to AAC.
posted by Mitheral at 7:14 PM on September 27, 2010

You could go with a higher bit rate- say 192; yes it will be recompressing, but compression isn't multiplicative. You prolly wouldn't hear muth a difference from the actual original at 320- and you could always use that bit rate at the cost of size.
posted by filmgeek at 8:07 PM on September 27, 2010

I could be wrong, but newer version of iTunes have a "make mp3" button

Thats what I do - under the advanced menu is 'Make MP3'. I'm not sure if it strips DRM but it certainly allows me to play the tracks on my non-ipod MP3 player...
posted by meech at 8:08 PM on September 27, 2010

A lot of the compression in mp3, etc, happens by removing sounds that most people have difficulty hearing. Once that's been done, compressing it again (especially to the original bitrate) isn't going to be removing much that wasn't already gone.

I've done this for songs I've played at DJ gigs.... it always sounds fine to me.

Honestly, though, just buy it on itunes so you're legit then search on filestube or something for a better quality copy.
posted by empath at 6:08 AM on September 28, 2010

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