iTunes idiot needs some help


Although I've owned an iPod for quite a while now I'm in need of some help. Up until now I've stored approximately 400 WAV files on my iPod. I recently bought two Western Digital 160gb external hard drives and I'm copying 400 CD's on to the hard drives using iTunes, importing the songs as WAV files (I bought all these CD's BTW).

I'd like to rip all of my music on to my iPod. To fit all this music onto a 20gb iPod will require compression, any recommendations as to which compression format to use would be appreciated. Priority is sound quality (I really hate the sound of MP3's) but by the same token I'll need to fit a lot of music on it. I'm very interested in your opinion and will certainly appreciate any advice.

I want to keep the WAV files on the hard drive(s) as is, allowing me to make compilations or copies of my CD's as required. The thing I can't figure out for the life of me: I have the WAV files on my hard drive and want to use some sort of compression to load them on the iPod while I maintain the original WAV files on the hard drive. There must be a way to grab the WAV files off my hard drive and using iTunes compress the files, store the compressed music in a directory on the drive, and then load my iPod with the compressed files. All the while keeping the original WAV files in WAV format on the drive. I'm running XP with the latest iTunes software. Thanks in advance to any iTunes aficionados who can lend a helping hand. Best Regards, Jeff
You should try the Apple Lossless to burn your cd into I-tunes. This should take half the space of a regular cd. You can burn cd-r from the I-tunes program. I belive that in the advance menu there is a way to convert files to the Apple lossless. I also suggest that you check out Very good site for I-pod lovers.
Hope this helps. Hector

Hi Hector,

I searched the archives here and on the iPod lounge before posting this. I'm sure this can be done...

I figure 400 Cd's @ at an average of 600mb each will take up about 240gb of disk space on my hard drives, to shrink the files to fit on my 20gb iPod I'll have to compress 12:1. I don't know which compression utility will compress 12:1 and still sound decent.

Bigger problem is maintaining the WAV files on the HD while converting, the import feature on iTunes doesn't seem to support such a thing. Then again, as the title suggests I'm an iPod idiot.
You can get LAME, which does various mp3 compression types on a standalone basis, and run those on the files to get mp3 versions. You would end up with both WAV and MP3 versions on the HDD and iTunes would presumably see both. Maybe you could have iTunes filter them in some way?

You should have enough storage to store both WAV and MP3--400 CD @ 450 MB/CD (WAV) + 45 MB/CD (alt preset extreme MP3) = 200 GB total, well below your total 160 GB x 2.
First, you need to get realistic. You can't compress 400 CDs to fit on a 20GB iPod with acceptable sound quality. Period. So you either have to get a bigger iPod or leave some of your music off it. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

How much music you have to leave off depends on what sound quality you're willing to live with. When you say you "hate the sound of MP3s," I suspect you mean 128kbps MP3s. My suggestion is that you try ripping MP3s at various bitrates, copying them to the iPod and deciding what you can live with. You might find that 160 or 192kbps gives you a pretty good compromise between compression and sound quality. At 192kbps, you can store almost 250 CDs on a 20GB iPod.

iTunes is not a full-service audio program, so you may have to try other software (like LAME, as Ed suggested) to convert your WAV files to MP3s. iTunes should give you the ability to maintain more than one music library (I know it does on Macs). I'd keep my WAVs and MP3s in separate libraries.
I think I was getting 10:1 compression using the LAME alt preset extreme setting, which, to my ear, sounded far better than similar sized constant bit rate (CBR) mp3s. The extreme setting has been argued by a number of folks to be total overkill, and for an iPod it may well be (I was listening in a home rig). Look at the alt preset standard setting and you may get the compression you need. All of the "alt presets" are variable bit rate schemes with various coding tweaks to maximize sound quality for a given file size.

Think you can also set up LAME to batch process...
I want to do the exact same thing as you. I want to be able to keep my collection on the computer as (Apple) lossless, and somehow sync a compressed version onto my iPod. This will allow me to Airport the (uncompressed) music to my receiver from my computer, yet still be able to fit my whole collection in my (40G) iPod.

Unfortunately, I don't think there's a way to do it without maintaining two separate libraries. I don't want to do this because I've already changed titles, composers, artwork, etc. to perfection. Just can't consider keeping two versions up to date. Hopefully Apple will make an update, but maybe not, since it's sort of a niche capability for audiophiles.

FYI, my encoded files with 128k AAC sound great through my iPod and Ety ER4P earspeakers. I experimented with higher bitrates, and couldn't hear a difference (not one I could identify consistently). I think 128 AAC is similar to if not better than 192 mp3, but of course this depends on many variables, including which encoder is being used.
iTunes can maintain multiple formats of the same song in the same library. Start by importing the music uncompressed (wav of aiff format). Then go to Preferences and change the importing format to your desired compression scheme (mp3 or aac). Highlight the songs you want to format change and choose Advance/Convert Selection to. iTunes will keep the original uncompressed files unchanged and generate new files in the compressed format. You can then use the smart playlist feature to easily sort the two different formats.

BTW, Pableson is right. You won't be able to fit all your songs on the iPod regardless of the compression scheme you use.
"There must be a way to grab the WAV files off my hard drive and using iTunes compress the files, store the compressed music in a directory on the drive, and then load my iPod with the compressed files."

Jeff, Here’s one way. Open up iTunes so you’re in your Library of uncompressed tunes. Go to iTunes Preferences. Under Pref:Importing, select your compression format. Under Pref:Advanced, change your iTunes music folder location to a new folder.

Your compressed tunes will be saved to this new location. Your uncompressed originals will remain where they are, and they will remain in your Library. The Library can point to tunes in multiple locations.

Select an original tune, or all your original tunes, go to the iTunes Advanced menu, and choose Convert Selection To [whatever compression format you chose will show in the menu]. iTunes will start making compressed copies of your originals. Both the originals and the compressed versions will show in the Library. So, you’ll have two of each tune you’ve converted.

At this point you could load your iPod. Go to the iTunes Edit menu and choose View Options. Check the box next to Kind. Then, in the iTunes window you’ll get a column that shows WAV or MPEG or AAC or whatever. You can sort on this column to separate your WAVs from your compressed tunes. Then you can select the whole group of compressed tunes and drag them over to your iPod.

What to do with the compressed doubles in your Library? You could just delete them (from the Library list, not from the hard drive), because if you need to access them again, you can always restore them to your Library by dragging song files or folders straight from your hard drive into the Library icon in your iTunes window. If you delete them, unless you’ve already reset your iTunes music folder location to its original location, iTunes also will ask you if you want to erase the tunes you’re deleting from the iTunes music folder. Answer no, so that your folders of compressed tunes will not be deleted from the hard drive.

The key to all this is to be familiar with the Preferences menus. Each time you import or convert something, make sure you know what compression or lossless format Preferences is set to and which folder on your hard drive is currently designated the iTunes music folder.

Hope this helps. By the way, I like AAC 192 kbps for listening to the iPod through Sennheiser 580’s. That’s where diminishing returns really kicks in for me. I feel kind of stingy about iPod disk space, however, and I know others who are less focused on conserving space would see that point of diminishing returns differently.
Heh heh. Hwy wrote Cliff Notes. I wrote Dummies.
Once you figure out how to do this, perhaps someone can tell me how I can 'compress' my LaScala's to fit in the door panels of my van!

Thanks for all the info, very much appreciated! I'll experiment and see how it goes, I'd rather do that now than before I end up ripping all my WAV files to the HD. Thanks again folks, Jeff
I recently bought a 60 GB iPod. I know it would set you back $600, but I really think it's worth it to hear all your CDs at rates as uncompressed as possible.

Apple Lossless is great, but does eat up a lot of space. I tried Variable Bit Rate (VBR) at 320, which yielded pretty good results. VBR basically only goes up to 320 when it needs to, and employs a lower bit rate when the song hits quiter/simpler passages. I find it vitually indistinguishable from Lossless, but in a far smaller file size.
Wonderful thread! Lots of help here.
One thing to keep in mind when using an I-pod is that playing higher bit rate files eats up more battery and results in shorter playtime. This is do to the way the i-pod runs its hard drive into a memory buffer....larger files run the disk more and that uses lots of power. I think the best solution is to find a lowest bit rate you are happy with given the headphones you are using and go with that rate.

Two programs I like that allow you to process wav to MP3 are


I think both need the LAME encoder installed seperately, but there are instruction on one of the sites. The will make mp3 without deleting the wave if you select that in the options.

Cheers Nik
I didn't have as good luck with audiograbber as I did with EAC.

Just out of curiousity, why do you want *everything* on the iPod? One of the great things about the iPod is how easy it is to load/delete stuff. A 20 GB iPod will hold... er... about 50 CDs in WAV format--totally uncompressed. Even with a lossless compression scheme, you should get at least 100 or so...

I'm happy with my 20 GB iPod. I keep a core group of full CDs on there and throw in some single tracks to form a "core" iPod load. Then, I'll do a playlist with new CDs I've bought, some random theme stuff, or whatever to fill it out. That keeps me happy for a cross-country airplane ride, and usually quite a bit longer...
I think Ed's numbers are a bit off. Figuring 600MB per CD, a 20GB iPod will hold about 30 CDs in WAV format, and maybe 50 or so in Apple Lossless.
I've just finished ripping 730 CDs into WAV format, and seem to be averaging 450 MB/CD...
Ah, well, cheesy old pop records from the short-playing-time LP era, sure...
It can maintain any format on the drive, and will convert on the fly when transfering to a portable device. I have been using it for a couple years and think it is a great product. You can downlaod a free copy, and then pay if you like it.
It seems the expertise on this subject has increased, because I had posted a few of the threads in the archive on iPods and WAV files. Before, there were seemingly unsolvable problems with all of these formats, so I now have 2 iPods collecting dust in my sock drawer.

I'm with Edesilva -- 20 CDs will probably get me through my commute or a short run on the treadmill?!?

But what about

1) battery life
2) "skipping" and
3) "tagging" with WAV files

re Apple lossless

I am suspicious of this format, especially if it is true that there are copying limitations for single users?

and MP3?

Sure, and microwaved food tastes just as good, too.
Cw - apple lossless is just that - lossless. Especially on an iPod. My understanding is that copying limitations are strictly associated with material purchased from the iTunes Store - which as far as I know does not sell either lossless or uncompressed music - which is why I prefer to buy CDs and compress them myself.

Jeff - one other point to consider is that the iPod navigation system is not particularly well suited to surfing through 400 CDs. Tedious at best. Would be very surprised if you actually accessed all the music. One way to make it all a bit more manageable would be to set up themed Playlists.
I am even more of an idiot than Jeff. I am rippping my CDs vis Apple Lossless and have a 60GB IPOD: but even that I am afraid will not be enough. Question 1: how do I use an external hard drive to back things up: once I do, how do I import into my IPOD player? Question 2: I agree I don't need everything all the time but I do go on extended trips due to work: how do I import just certain playlists? It must be possible and if so, all I have to do is import certain playlists I am more inclined to listen to at anytime, then re-sync to other playlists for other trips?
When you rip the cds in I-tunes puts the files in a folder ('my music' or 'itunes library') Once you find where I-tunes is putting things you can move that folder to an external HD or wherever you want. After you move things you may have to reload them into itunes but that is a one time thing.

As for plyalists you just drag them to the ipod. I turn off the sync just use manual load and delete for both my ipod and itunes.
To amplify a bit on Nik's comments. iTunes keeps all the ripped music in a folder called Library. You can keep this on your boot drive inside your machine on an external drive. In iTunes Preferences/Advanced you then "point" the application at the Library. Also check "Keep Organized" and "Copy Files to Music Folder when adding". When you do a backup of your external drive, just back up the Library.

Be worth five minutes to review the documentation just to make sure you have the nomenclature.
Thanks a bunch!
For all you rippin Itunes folks out there>

I highly recommend you use a RAID hard drive for all your music. It is too valuable to loose and very time consuming to replace.

Why RAID? I have all of my music on the internal hard drive AND I have a copy on an external hard drive PLUS the original cd's. Highly unlikely that both drives will fail at the exact same moment. Even if they do, unless my house burns to the ground, I've got the cd's as back-ups.