From the threads I've read on this subject that's probably the compression scheme I'd start when I get my iPod. It seems many people feel that for the space it saves the Apple Lossless sounds great. I've heard some say they can't tell the difference between it and uncompressed.
Here are some threads I found helpful:
The 70,000 songs that they advertise are definitely not losslessly compressed songs. They came up with that number considering the file size of a typical song using lossy compression.
As for the quality of the Apple lossless compression scheme... if it's true lossless there will be no loss in sound quality! I've been using other more widespread and useful lossless compression schemes (FLAC and SHN) for a while and they do not do anything to the original waveform. The Apple one shouldn't, either, but I have no personal experience. You wouldn't think they would call it lossless if it wasn't, though.
Well, Ketchup, there IS no loss in quality. See John Atkinson's measuremenst in one of the recent STEREOPHILEs!
Audiofankj - I have the same pod and I can tell you that there is space space space even after having imported the comlete Schostakowitch, the complete Schubert chamber music, the complete Beatles, Pink Floyd and Van Morison let alone the complete Brahms symphonies et al.
All encoded in Apple Lossless which works without loss really. With the proper headphones (Sennheiser 600er in my case) it's pure joy to use the iPod.
A hint: check the net for "Podworks" to enable you to copy stuff FROM the pod TO your comp, which is vitally important if you have more than one Mac or PC or at least different hard disks. I also like this feature because I want to store away stuff from the iPod for future use.
Why not do a little experiment yourself and see what you like best. You can upload the same tracks encoded in different formats to iPod at the same time and listen to the differences in sound quality. Personally, through a pair of HD-650, I could not hear any difference between WAV, Apple Lossless, and MP3 VBR at 320bps. But I have a pair of old ears also, you might experience differently.
Think hard, and perhaps experiment, with your intended purpose. I've been a serious audiophile for several decades so I was real worried about getting an iPod mini and using digital at all, let alone compression! Then do I need to drop $300 on better headphones, do I need a headphone amp.... But hey it turns out I use my iPod mini 90% of the time on a cardio machine, where I want something with a BEAT that is DYNAMIC and portrays the EMOTIONAL content of the music. I find that the default Apple AAC format at default rate (128 I think) along with a cheap pair of headphones is fantastic! I tried a more expensive head phone (shall remain nameless) and it was better in every audiophile way (sweet extended highs, better bass, etc) but not nearly as much fun or inspiring as the cheap pair. So consider carefully your intended application!
I agree with Artmaltman... consider your needs.
If lossless is really important, than I'd suggest creating playlists, and managing your CD collection manually. Do you really need access to all 110 CDs at once? Put on as much as you can, and change it up as needed. iTunes is a great management tool for your digital music.
Also, can't remember where I saw it but the 128-bit AAC is actually supposed to sound superior to higher bit-rate AAC.
Thanks for all of the responses. I posted the questions just after I received the iPod... easier to ask than read the maual, eh? :) Anyhow, I didn't realize you can load many albums into iTunes and then "select" which artists, playlists, etc. to load onto the iPod. Very nice. Also, it seems even with lossless format I will be able to fit about 1,400 songs. That should be quite enough, knowing I can cycle through various artists from the iTunes database I have loaded onto the computer.
I am still trying to compare the AAC versus the Lossless format...
has anyone else tried Grado SR-325's on an iPod yet? *grin* you are in for a treat!
I have encoded most of my collection in AAC 320 kbps and play it through the dock to a Musical Fidelity X-Can v3 into Sennheiser 570 headphones. Good for listening at work!
Apple Lossless is a great way to keep file sizes down (I currently have about 160gb of AIFF raw on an external FW disk), but I would recommend AAC 320 as well. The DAC and op-amps in The iPod are QUITE good, but not so good that most would hear a dramatic difference.
I'm also using an X-CAN v3 with some grados and love it...
The way I see things is, you're dumbing it down to some kind of 1/8" plug to RCA, plus the line-out on the dock, so with those kind of limitations, going WAY overkill is silly - unless you are storing music at full AIFF or Apple Lossless, going out via a USB or FireWire cable to an external device with SPDIF to a DAC etc... which I have admittedly done, but that kinda defeats the purpose of having a PORTABLE music player, eh? :D
Plus, I forgot to mention in my 320 AAC endorsement - in addition to allowing FAR greater storage capacity, the smaller 320 AAC files will greatly increase battery life (no big deal if listening thru a doc tho). The RAM buffer in the device is only but so big, if the (Lossless) files are too big to hold it in its entirety, the disk will be reading constantly, which is not only a draw on the battery but more wear-and-tear on the whole unit. It's a very high quality portable, treat it as such, not as a music server. If you want a portable unit that holds a LOT of music, an external firewire disk from LaCie such as the Big Disk (up to 1TB!!) or the sexy, small but rugged "Designed by Porsche" ones (such as the 160 i have) would be more suitable for your needs.