The Skinny on Ipods for the Uninitiated
May 9, 2005 4:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm about to be the last person in the world to get an IPod (Shuffle) and was recently informed that you can only play ITunes music or mp3s ripped from your CDs. In other words, no mp3s from "other sources." I've looked everywhere for the answer, so, is it true? Thanks in advance.
posted by moonbird to Computers & Internet (33 answers total)
No, you can play any MP3, though you do have to copy them to the player via iTunes. Apple have warned that iPod shuffle may not play AAC files that weren't encoded with iTunes , but it doesn't apply to MP3s.

(You also can't play WMAs sourced from anywhere)
posted by cillit bang at 4:49 AM on May 9, 2005

There's no (practical) difference between an MP3 ripped from your CD player and one from "other sources". The one from "other sources" was likely ripped from someone else's CD player to begin with.

What the shuffle, or any iPod, won't play are Ogg Vorbis files, or files from other music stores (such as Real, Napster, etc.)
posted by alan at 4:56 AM on May 9, 2005

Yes, you can play any normal MP3 files. The problem is with DRM-encrypted files from other online music stores, but those files are usually WMA format, which iPods can't read anyway.
posted by mcwetboy at 5:54 AM on May 9, 2005

Whoever told you that is simply wrong.
In iTunes: File > Add File to Library... or Add Folder to Library...
Once in the library, you can do all the usual iPod stuff with your files involving playlists, etc.
posted by normy at 5:55 AM on May 9, 2005

Just out of curiosity, why the Shuffle? It plays your music on random, right, but can't any mp3 player do that while also giving you the option of playing them in order?
posted by Crushinator at 6:22 AM on May 9, 2005

The Shuffle can also play your songs in order.
posted by bshort at 6:25 AM on May 9, 2005

yeah, I came across this BS from Hilary Rosen on Arianna Huffington's new blog, and wish that there was a comment section so I could tell her that ALL of my .mp3s work just fine....
posted by horsemuth at 6:34 AM on May 9, 2005

no thanks to her, of course.
posted by horsemuth at 6:35 AM on May 9, 2005

So why the emphasis on shuffling?
posted by Crushinator at 6:40 AM on May 9, 2005

About a month ago I was faced with the same decision as you. I wanted a player for running (had to be flash based--no moving parts) and was torn between the Shuffle and something else. After much research and rumination I went with the Creative Muvo (also available in higher capacities).

Why? For one, it requires no proprietary software, it functions exactly like a thumb drive. Just drag your files onto it and you're done.

Two, as far as I can tell, it plays all currently used file types and doesn't differentiate them in your playlist.

Three, it uses a single AAA battery. This allows me continued use even when I don't have a USB port and four hours to kill.

Four, the audio quality is great. It uses the exact same Sigma Sound chip found in the iPod.

Lastly, it has a host of additional features not found in the Shuffle, like a 5 band EQ and the ability to listen to NPR while running.

My advice is to skip the Shuffle.
posted by sourwookie at 6:43 AM on May 9, 2005

"Hilary B. Rosen is currently an on-air business and political commentator for CNBC and MSNBC; and a consultant in the media industry. She is the former Chairman and chief executive officer of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group representing the U.S. sound recording industry where she served for 17 years before retiring in June 2003."

Something tells me she isn't referring to CD rips, and is bemoaning the like of online alternatives to purchasing music for play on an iPod.
posted by nthdegx at 6:44 AM on May 9, 2005

Crushinator: It's random, it's unpredictable, it's constantly new, like youth and beautiful people.

I think it's because the device doesn't have a display. And to distinguish it from the other Apple music player offerings. I mean, the iPod Mini already has the diminuative describing it, so calling the Shuffle the Micro or something like that would be kind of dumb and a bit confusing.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:44 AM on May 9, 2005

Something tells me she isn't referring to CD rips, and is bemoaning the like of online alternatives to purchasing music for play on an iPod.

I've never bought a song from the iTunes music store. All my music was purchased from emusic, downloaded from artist/label sites, or ripped from my own CDs. They play fine on my iPod.
posted by dobbs at 7:02 AM on May 9, 2005

That Hilary Rosen blog entry makes me want to break things.
posted by bshort at 7:51 AM on May 9, 2005

A (sort of) related question, not worthy of its own AskMe FPP: I just bought an iBook, and I want to rip all my cds onto it. How do I do this?
posted by nyterrant at 8:24 AM on May 9, 2005

nyterrant - I'm going to assumer that you're serious.

First thing you want to do is go into iTunes, under Preferences, and find the option that lets you switch what format CDs get ripped into. Make sure that's set to MP3.

Then start putting your CDs in. When iTunes asks if you want to import it click "Yes".
posted by bshort at 8:28 AM on May 9, 2005

"assume," even.
posted by bshort at 8:29 AM on May 9, 2005

I've never bought a song from the iTunes music store. All my music was purchased from emusic, downloaded from artist/label sites, or ripped from my own CDs. They play fine on my iPod.

In which case I have no idea what she's banging on about...
posted by nthdegx at 8:35 AM on May 9, 2005

You want an iPod and only an iPod because only the iPod communicates with iTunes. And iTunes is the best music management program, hands down.

Keeping track of things like play count, last played, ratings, etc, matters hugely when you have about 200 gigs of music, like I do. Having smart playlists matters. iTunes does these things better than anyone else.

nyterrant- Do not rip your CDs into mp3. Mp3 is an obsolete format that you only need if you're going to be giving music to people with old-fashioned software or hardware that only understands mp3s. Mp3 never wins listening tests. Mp3 files are larger than the alternatives for the sound quality you get. They stink, stink, stink, and are only useful as a lowest common denominator. I'd go with 128 or 192 kpbs AAC. There will never come a day when a format as common as AAC- which, is, after all, part of the MPEG standard (unlike WMA) will be unplayable, and you'll wish that you ripped your music as suck-ass mp3s.
posted by yesno at 8:41 AM on May 9, 2005

In which case I have no idea what she's banging on about...

Not sure even she knows:
"Why am I complaining about this? Why isn’t everyone?"

Good grief, what drivel.
posted by normy at 8:42 AM on May 9, 2005

Make sure that's set to MP3.

I'd like to strongly second both of yesno's suggestions: I have an obscene amount of music and found that the AAC format is far better in terms of disk space and sound quality. And iTunes really is good for users all along the spectrum: If you just want to rip and listen to music it's fine, but if you want to get into the quite comprehensive filtering abilities that smart playlists provide, it's a thing of beauty. I also own a Shuffle and I find that it's the perfect companion because filling it at random from a large collection keeps the collection fresh by rotating through songs you may have forgotten about.
posted by docgonzo at 9:18 AM on May 9, 2005

For those of you with a Shuffle:
Shuffler is an app that, like iPod shuffle Database Builder, obviates the need to use iTunes to manage music on your iPod shuffle. [link]
posted by piskycritter at 9:28 AM on May 9, 2005

Winamp does the same stuff iTunes does, but it's faster and smaller. Winamp is the sweetness.
posted by baphomet at 10:03 AM on May 9, 2005

Why all the hate for mp3? Hard drives are cheap, mp3s are the most compatible format, and if you're getting audio artifacts just bump up the bit rate.
posted by bshort at 10:03 AM on May 9, 2005

All of this Pepsi Blue talk about the iPod Shuffle is not appropriate in AskMe.
posted by fleacircus at 11:17 AM on May 9, 2005

thanks bshort. I am afraid to admit that I was serious about the ripping question. I just made the switch from PC, and I'm finding these new-fangled Apple gizmos bewilderingly easy to use. So much so that I haven't got the first clue what I'm doing.
posted by nyterrant at 11:31 AM on May 9, 2005

baphomet: "Winamp does the same stuff iTunes does, but it's faster and smaller. Winamp is the sweetness."

But you can't manage an iPod with Winamp. You need iTunes for that.
posted by rhapsodie at 11:36 AM on May 9, 2005

I'm about to be the last person in the world to get an IPod...

I so wish this were true, as it would entail that I had an iPod. Or, I suppose, that I'm not a person. But I'm pretty sure I'm a person.

posted by mdn at 11:54 AM on May 9, 2005

MLiPod allows you to manage your iPod with winamp.
posted by borkencode at 12:33 PM on May 9, 2005

nyterrant, I did this last year. I found it easiest to just put a big stack of un-cased CDs next to my iBook, fire up iTunes and have it rip them while I was doing something else nearby. If you're cleaning the house or something just put your iBook on the kitchen table and turn up the volume.

When iTunes is finished ripping a CD it makes a little "da-da-da-la!" kind of noise (which is nice because you don't have to keep checking the screen for a dialog of something). Pop out the just-ripped CD and pop in a new one. I only did about 200 CDs but with my iBook focused on nothing but ripping, the process went faster than I expected.

You'll want to be connected to the internet so that you can have iTunes "Get CD Track Names" -- that is, so that your MP3s/AACs aren't called "Track 01.mp3" but rather "Red Vines.mp3" (or whatever). I thought there was a way for iTunes to automatically grab the CD info from the 'net when you inserted the disc (without you having to select Get CD Track Names from the menu) but looking now I don't see/remember how. I also think you can have it pop out the CD automatically once it's finished.

I knew I was going to be in a place without internet access when I did most of my ripping -- so beforehand, when I did have net access, I popped each of my CDs into the drive one after the other so that iTunes could grab each CDs' info. (iTunes remembers the album infomation so it's there later when you go to rip it).

posted by blueberry at 1:42 PM on May 9, 2005

Wow, thanks everyone, and thanks to sourwookie as well for the tip on the Muvo- that might just seal the deal, as it combines so many useful functions. I think some of the disinfo I heard floated down from the Hilary Rosen cloud of bile, and I'm grateful for your education. So, I'm torn... Muvo or Ipod?

Thanks again all.
posted by moonbird at 2:37 PM on May 9, 2005

rhapsodie: What you say?
posted by baphomet at 9:35 PM on May 9, 2005

I got the 512MB MuVo TX FM about 5 months ago and have been happily recommending it to my friends.

I haven't run into this problem but I do occasionally run into file-time issues when backing up files between the MuVo (FAT32) and my computers (NTFS). It would be nice to be able to format the MuVo as NTFS.
posted by jacobsee at 10:26 AM on May 26, 2005

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