AAC, AIFF, Lossless, MP3

Hey everyone... In anticipation of receiving an iPod for Christmas I burned all of my favorite songs from my CD collection using iTunes into Apple Lossless. I have about 10 gig worth of songs that need to fit into an 8 gig Nano and would like extra space for future songs, photos, etc.

What is the best option where I won't hear too much of a difference from Lossless format but takes up less space?

On your iPod, you won't hear a difference between Apple Lossless and MP3 (which saves lots of disc space).
That is up to you. Convert a few of the lossless files to MP3 at various rates and listen. Choose the one that sounds OK to you.
I dunno, Tvad...if he has good earphones, he might be able to hear a difference. If he's using the stock pair, then I completely agree with you.

On a separate note, I like how Apple lets you have much more memory at a small price premium. My 80 GB version is literally only $100 more than an 8 GB Nano ($349 vs. $249), and a 30 GB version is only $50 more ($299).
Only you can tell but when I tried all the different formats I found mp3 encoded at VBR 256 offered the best compromise between quality and space. In fact, my entire 40K song library is encoded in this format. In my system, and through the internal DAC of my Cary 306 SACD, I find the sound quality to be very close to the original cd. The difference is in micro details, soundstaging, and imaging.
I agree with Tvad that, if you are taking the sound from the earphone out of the ipod, you likely won't hear much of a difference b/w lossless and a 320VBR. On the other hand, if you take the sound from the line out (which makes a HUGE difference) and if you have high quality cables, headphone amp, and earphones, you will definately hear the difference and you will want less compression than any MP3 codec will provide -- i find that anything other than lossless is a disappointment. One thing I do to preserve space is to selectively synch the music on my computer so that not everything goes to the ipod all the time (e.g., some of those 80s hairbands are in low enough rotation at this point that i don't feel i am losing anything by keeping them off the ipod).

there are a few lossless codecs that are actually slightly more compressed than Apple - such as FLAC -- that i believe ipod will suport. the space savings won't be major, but may give you a few more discs on 8GB of memory.

if you haven't checked it out yet, i suggest you visit www.head-fi.org. you will find out all you ever wanted to know and more about the world of portable music.
Thank you for your responses thus far. So MP3 is arguably the best size v. quality compromise for an iPod? Am I correct in assuming that all you experimented with the different bit rates using iTunes?

Tobooe, I too have a Cary CDP and have been dying to use the DAC input! Are you going from a PC directly into the player?

I choose the Nano because of its size. I use it for running and cycling and can't wait to try it with those Nike sneakers... lol For the time being, I'll be using the regular headphones. Later, I may upgrade...

I really do appreciate any input you may provide!

Thanks again.
portugal11, i actually use the Sonos wireless music system. It has a digital out that I then send into my Cary 306.

For encoding, I use EAC using LAME encoder. I never tested other formats like AAC, OGG, etc.
Portugasl - just so you are clear, there is no iPod output that goes to a DAC. Both the headphone and the line out (USB/dock) provide an analog signal. As far as quality goes, my experience is like Jeffreybowmans - up the quality of the righ and you will hear it. I also agree with him that using the sync feature is the way to manage the content.

Let me leave you with another thought. Like a lot of people you are backing into hard drive based digital. My prediction is that this will replace your transport in the next 24 months. From that perspective spending your time ripping to anything less then lossless means that you will be going back to rerip your CD collection again - soon. Look at the big picture and manage what you carry around as opposed to limiting how you will manage your music in the future.

What I was thinking about doing was keeping everything I already have in Lossless for home playback. And, making copies of the Lossless files in MP3 format for the Nano. It's kind of cumbersome to have two different copies of the same song for an entire collection but that's the only option I see available.

For those of you using MP3 in iTunes, how are you configuring it? I have checked 256, VBR on, what about the other settings? Do I leave those on auto? Also, I didn't use error correction, should I have?

Thanks again!
Portugal11: What you are proposing is very cumbersome, but certainly possible. You will want to make sure that you have configured itunes to selectively synch to your ipod. the best way is probably to specify that itunes only synch "checked" files. Then you could make sure that only the MP3 files have been checked in your music library.

As for the import settings. i highly recommend 320VBR with Highest as the setting for quality. You find these in the Preferences tab. The other settings for importing can be left "auto" (which i believe is the default).

All of this advice is premised on the thought that you will be using the line out with upgraded earphones and an external amplifier. If, on the other hand, you are simply using the stock earbuds that come with the ipod run from the earphone output the, IMHO, it doesn't much matter what settings you use b/c it will all sound like crap anyways. Again, that's just my opinion.
Jeffreybowman2k, I am not the expert but I dont think there is a 320VBR. If you are using the newest version of LAME 3.97, then the highest VBR setting you can use is -V 0 which will give you an average bitrate of around 256. What quality switch are you using?
true enough you cant specify the bitrate in vbr (because, by definition, it is variable) bit if you set itunes at vbr highest quality you can approach 320 avg bit rate. i actually prefer using EAC with LAME or WAVPAC to get best results.
Portugal11: Just a little OT, but you don't have to have the Nike sneakers to use the Nike shoe chip. Just buy a shoe pocket or ShoeWallet that velcros to your sneakers, and it'll work just as well.
Yes - you definitely always want to have "error correction" checked!! This is critical especially when you are doing lossless for archival and hifidelity use.

While the EAC fans will argue that they still get a better rip, in my experience "error correction" gets you 98%+ of the way.

BTW do some searching here in the PC Audio Forum and in Audio Asylums PC Forum - you will find that a lot of people are maintaining dual file formats - not the easiest thing in the world but hardly impossible.

I found myself in similar situation. 800 + cd's ripped to apple loseless on my mac and a handfull of ipods, nano, mini, shuffle, video, etc. for different family members. I found an apple script that takes selected apple loseless tracks, rips them to AAC transfers the AAC to your Ipod, then deletes the AAC from your itunes library. Now there isn't a mixup of which files to toss and trouble keeping track of multiple trascks ripped to different compression ratios. here is the link.


I continue to be stuck on some recurring thoughts every time this conversation pops up in a new thread:

* I still don't understand how someone else knows what I or anyone else can or cannot hear.

* I am sure my ears are not as golden as some on this forum, but for me, the difference between MP3 and WAV was clearly audible using an iPod played through my Nakamich car stereo in a Porsche Boxster S with the top down.

* Hard drives are cheap and getting cheaper so why all the emphasis on saving disc space?

* Given that you might be using your Nano for commuting or going to the gym, do you think that, say, 10,000 songs instead of 50,000 might be sufficient to get you throw your 30 minutes on the elliptical machine or whatever?

* This is AUDIOgon, not CONVENIENCEgon

* In summary, could anyone please contribute more information and keep us updated on how we can have bit for bit, uncompressed WAV files, easily tagged with track information and playable on the hard drive based device of your choice?
Cwlondon: Here, here.

The best solution that i have been able to discern so far is: (1) hard drive to external adaptor (e.g., Trends Audio UD-10 or Empirical Off Ramp Turbo 2 via USB, (2) external adaptor to DAC via your preference of digital cable (both adaptors mentioned above come in different flavors; UD-10 provides multiple outputs), and so on through you system.

I know of no way to utilize WAV files and preserve tagging; seems that you need to convert to some lossless codec (Apple, FLAC, etc.).
Sort of a related question regarding iTunes...

What is the highest quality download that you can obtain from the iTunes store. I don't believe that they offer downloads in Apple Lossless, is that correct? If so, how high up the chain can you go?

Thanks again!
Cwlondon, there is no such thing as a tagged wav file. There are various programs that can manage wav files and maintain a database of the same information that a tag usually contains, but the problem is if anything gets corrupted you can lose the tag info for all of your wav files at once, and this information won't get passed along if you choose another file manager.

Since the compresed formats all maintain the tag information as part of the music file, if one file gets corrupted it doesn't affect any of the others. I went with iTunes and Apple lossles because:

1. it does maintain the tags
2. IMHO the iTunes interface is the best
3. I can't hear a difference between it and wav
4. I can always convert them back to a bit perfect wav
5. I can't imagine trying to maintain and configure something as convoluted as EAC and foobar
6. It does save some space but if I thought I could get better sound I would use something else
7. I've got a lot of files and very seldom get a pop or a click using iTunes with error correction
best you can do in itunes is 128CBR. there may be a few choices at 320, but that's the rare exception.
Wow, 128, I was hoping for a little more resolution! I'm very happy with MP3 at 320 VBR on the Nano. Thanks to all that guided me in that direction. As an experiment, I went from the line out on the dock into my Plinius integrated and while the sound wasn't "audiophile" it's just fine for background music.

To pay $1/song for less resolution doesn't make sense to me. I'll continue to purchase CD's from half.com and convert them myself... I wish Apple would really provide iTunes downloads in Lossless. I would stop buying CD's for just 1 or 2 songs.
You have hit what, IMO, is the MAJOR impediment to PC audio right now. If lossless is the only acceptable format and you must buy still buy a CD to get it (except for a very few opportunities to download mostly live concerts in FLAC), there is still a need for a good transport. As soon as we can start downloading an audiophile-friendly format, it will make much more sense to integrate PC audio into your main system.

For background music, that's a different story