BannonB, I batch converted about 250GB of ALAC files into 50GB of 128kbit VBR AAC and put it on 64GB microSD card. I use it in my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. MAX is for Mac but there are similar programs for Windows.
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I have started ripping music with MC17 to FLAC, because it doesn't like some of the naming conventions iTunes adds to Apple Lossless rips; MC17 names and files some artists differently, for example PJ Harvey. I had to re-rip all of her stuff because JRiver mis-named and mis-filed the apple lossless iTunes rips.
Have researched this issue, maybe the answer is DB powerAmp, maybe apple lossless rips from that will import correctly into iTunes and JRiver, who knows. Otherwise you have to use after-market software (free) to convert the FLACs into Apple Lossless files, then import them.
If you are simply managing iPhones and iPods and iPads, iTunes is fine. Once you get into PC audio, you need to use JRiver on a PC or use a plug in on a mac with iTunes.
I don't know anything about playing 24-bit, high-resolution music in iTunes or on phones/ipods/ipads, so I cannot comment on that...
BannonB, one sentence appears to be missing in my post. MAX is a free utility program for Mac that allows to rip CDs (better than I tunes) and batch-convert any format to any format.
Ideal program should rip CD as data (I set MAX in that mode) forcing to read the same sector over and over again until right checksum is obtained. Itunes reads CD as music meaning that scratches up to 4mm along the track will be error corrected, 4-8mm will be interpolated and >8mm will result in gaps.