Apple Audio Formats
September 30, 2005 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Which Apple audio format(s) should I use for the greatest flexibility? I want high quality lossless and be able to compress files as needed.

I want to convert my small CD collection to a lossless digital format but also be able to create compressed copies of files when I need them. I want them to play on my new iPod and to share. I don't mind getting an external drive as I need one anyway. Can I store Apple Lossless Encoded (ALE) files and convert them to AAC compressed files, for example, when I need a more manageable file? The "convert selection" command in iTunes only allows me to connvert to the ALE format. How can you convert a compressed format into a lossless format. It doesn't make any sense. Hasn't much of the data already been truncated? I want to be able to go in the other direction, that is, to compress when I need a smaller file size. Any insight would be appreciated.
posted by philmas to Media & Arts (11 answers total)
You can change what the "convert selection" command converts to by changing the "Importing" preferences.

How can you convert a compressed format into a lossless format. It doesn't make any sense. Hasn't much of the data already been truncated?

It's a lossless version of how the AAC file sounds.
posted by cillit bang at 5:43 PM on September 30, 2005

Have you had a look at flac?
posted by bigmusic at 6:00 PM on September 30, 2005

ipods can't pay FLAC files.
posted by sammich at 6:47 PM on September 30, 2005

The "convert selection" command it iTunes changes, depending on the preference you've chosen in the "Importing" section of the "Advanced" tab of your iTunes preferences. So you set that to Apple Lossless when you're ripping your CD's, and then you change it to AAC or MP3 or whatever when you want to convert something to a smaller format.
posted by alms at 6:54 PM on September 30, 2005

Response by poster: Cool alms. That works great. Thanks.
posted by philmas at 7:17 PM on September 30, 2005

This is something I don't fully understand about iTunes. Say I want to rip my CDs to a lossless format for storage on my hard drive. Then how do I convert those tracks to mp3 without losing the original files?
posted by salmacis at 3:32 AM on October 1, 2005

salmacis: Find the lossless files on your hard drive using your operating system's file browser. Make back-up copies of them. (iTunes won't "know" about the back-ups unless you add them to your library, though.) Convert the originals to the lossy format using iTunes.
posted by D.C. at 4:10 AM on October 1, 2005


Actually, itunes on the first conversion makes the lossless copy. Then you'll just convert it again. It shouldn't delete the original unless you delete it.
posted by filmgeek at 4:32 AM on October 1, 2005

DC: That's the problem. The lossless versions are now no longer where iTunes expects them to be - I want to keep the lossless versions in ~/Music/iTunes ... and create new lossy versions in ~. I can't see any way of doing that. And the other key thing is that when I create the lossy copy, I don't want it in my iTunes library.

Filmgeek, I'm sorry, I don't understand you at all.
posted by salmacis at 6:22 AM on October 1, 2005

rip into Apple Lossless Audio Compression (ALAC), and copy your lossless files into ~, so you have one set of ALAC files in your ~/Music/iTunes (and thereby the library), and one in ~.
then open up iTunes, select the ALAC files you want to convert (which will be the ones in your library, because iTunes won't know about the backups), and convert them, using the dropdown menu. I'm running WinAmp on this PC so I can't tell you exactly what menus you have to go through, but it'll be in there somewhere. You'll have an AAC/MP3/whatever file in your library, and an ALAC one in ~.
posted by heeeraldo at 11:09 PM on October 1, 2005


Simpler method (starting at the beginning) for OS X, without the need to muck about in the iTunes folder in the Finder:

1. In iTunes, convert the lossless files to mp3. This should make new mp3's of each song, keeping the lossless file. (You'll see two versions of each song in iTunes.) You may want to add the 'Kind' column to the iTunes window by selecting 'View Options...' (command-j) in the Edit menu.

2. Drag the mp3 versions from iTunes to wherever you want them in the Finder.

3. Delete the mp3 versions in iTunes.

I was being brain dead the other day and forgot that iTunes doesn't overwrite the originals when it converts them.
posted by D.C. at 6:35 AM on October 2, 2005

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