Best format for importing?

Discussion in 'iPod' started by luckylisp, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2006
    NY state
    What do most of you use? AAC or mp3? Is AAC smaller than mp3? How big is the sound difference?

    I have been using 128 kbps AAC, but I'm new to this and i'm not sure if it's the best choice?
  2. macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2005
  3. Guest


    May 26, 2004
    Randy's House
    192kbps is good for most people.

    That's what I rip at, personally.
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2006
    NY state
  5. macrumors 65816


    Jan 21, 2005
    Massachusetts, Connecticut
    Can't help but mention my recent blog entry about compression, here. Basically, my view is that 160 kbps is totally indistinguishable from uncompressed. Existing MR thread about it here.
  6. Moderator emeritus


    Jan 19, 2003
    London, England
    As you'll see from Stridey's thread, not everyone agrees...

    AAC is a more musical codec than MP3, and the higher the rate the better the quality, I use 320kbps AAC in the iPod and occasionally Lossless, which is probably overkill.

    The bottom line is simple, if you like the way it sounds at 160kbps for instance go with that.

    Through most standard ear-buds, it's just not possible to hear much change and file size becomes the main issue.
  7. macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    AAC is supposed to be smaller than mp3 but the same quality at the differing relative compression rates, for example (correct me if i'm wrong guys):

    128 AAC = 160 mp3
    160 AAC = 192 mp3
    192 AAC = 256 mp3 etc etc

    I rip at 192 AAC, for me thats the sweet spot of functional compression and musicality (any larger and it starts taking up loads of space - i can only get around 3 and a half thousand songs on my 20gig ipod).

    The point is though, that you should rip at what suits your needs, i'd advise to test a few different qualities and see if you can tell the difference, if you can't, don't worry. ON th other hand, if you don't mind dedicating hard disks to music (and aren't using an ipod), why not rip at 320 or Lossless.
  8. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    Also keep in mind that many digital media players wont be able to play AAC. EVERYTHING can play MP3s, which is why I use 196kbps encoding for my entire library. I totally acknoledge that AAC is a better codec, but I like to keep things future proof. MP3 is just more common and flexible.
  9. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 23, 2004
    I rip everything in 192kbps aac. I do have some older stuff in 128kbps MP3, 160kbps MP3, 192kbps MP3. Maybe some day I will re-rip my older CD into 192kbps aac. I can hear a difference between 128kbps MP3 and the 192kbps aac but otherwise everything else is pretty close(IMO)
  10. macrumors 601


    Jan 6, 2004
    Western US
    I agree that 192 Kbps AAC is very good quality and even with a good pair of headphones (Sony MDR-V6) in a quiet environment, using a high-quality FireWire audio converter, it's difficult to tell differences to uncompressed at that rate. 128 kbps AAC (iTMS) is good quality but there is a significant improvement moving from there to 192. I'd probably buy a lot more iTMS tracks if they were available encoded at 192 kbps. Of course quality is both subjective, to your own ears, and relative, to your gear (converters, amps, speakers/headphones) and listening environment.

    As for MP3, the best MP3 encoders (LAME) can approach the quality of AAC, but in my experience never quite meet or exceed it at the same bit rate. In general I'd say 128 kbps AAC is equivalent to between 160 and 192 kbps MP3, depending on the encoder, so AAC wins either in terms of slightly better quality or slightly improved space savings, take your pick. Although as you get both formats over 192 kbps it gets difficult to distinguish one from the other, or either from uncompressed. Erendiox is also right that MP3 is a bit safer for "future-proofing".
  11. macrumors regular


    Feb 14, 2006
    I use VBR MP3, most of my music is between 190 - 250 VBR Mp3
  12. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 8, 2005
    128 aac...I just kept it the same. I don't have an ear for this stuff...In my personal opinion, 128 on my ipod sounds just as good as a portable cd player...I cant tell the diff. To each his own.
  13. macrumors 65816

    Glenn Wolsey

    Nov 24, 2005
    New Zealand
  14. adk
    macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2005
    Stuck in the middle with you
    I rip at basic 128 mp3. I know it's not the best quality, but you never know what the future holds and if I switch to an mp3 player someday that doesn't support AAC I don't want to have to re-rip all my songs.
  15. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 29, 2005
    Apple Lossless all the way for me. I do Lossless mainly because I want to keep my CD's on the computer not only to listen to, but as a backup.
  16. macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2006
    Just wondering; should there be any difference in quality between
    1) a file originally ripped from CD in mp3 format at 320kps, then converted to AAC 192kps


    2) a file ripped directly off of CD at AAC-192 ?

    Also, is there any way in iTunes to
    1) change the "track number" format from "1 of 10" to just "1"
    2) edit the length of songs; for example, editing out 60 seconds of dead air between the end of a song and the beginning of a "bonus track" that's been added to the track? I've seen this feature in other applications, but not in iTunes.

  17. Moderator emeritus


    Mar 10, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    1) In the info window (mark one or more songs and choose File -> Info or just cmd-I), the Info tab, under Track Number, remove the 'of' number...
    2) Also in the info window, the Options tab, set Start Time and/or Stop Time.

    About the convert from mp3 vs rip from CD, the quality should be better if you re-rip from CD, but if you'll ever notice any difference is more uncertain... ;)
  18. Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    In general yes, the 320 kbps encoding will introduce some artifacts that the AAC encoder will then try to replicate, and the AAC encoder will introduce other artifacts on top of that.

    In practice, you probably won't hear any difference though...

  19. macrumors 6502


    Nov 8, 2005
    mp3 192kbs using lame

    mp3: more future proof than aac
    192: noticeably better sound than 128
    lame: faster encodes on my amd linux box than my g4

    Now if apple would only support flac, than it'd be a whole
    new ballgame...
  20. macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2005
    in the southeast
  21. macrumors 6502a


    May 16, 2005
    i also use 192 aac to rip after doing informal tests on a few songs to listen to the differences between 128-192-256 and aac/mp3 at those rates.

    when i bump the ipod in the car i can really tell if it was encoded at less than 192 aac b/c of distortion, otherwise it sounds pretty damn good at high volumes.

    hope this helps. :cool:
  22. macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    aac is the best for me, it has better sound quality at the same bit rate than mp3. For me, i rip at 192 most of the time, however for jazz or classical, I rip a little higher
  23. macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2006
    Thanks, all these comments have been helpful. I ripped over 1,200 songs using iTunes AAC at 192kps/VBR and loaded on my iPod... now, I've come across something that is driving me nuts.

    I first noticed it after my girlfriend asked me to throw some of her tunes (ripped/copied from various sources, mp3 format at various kps) onto my iPod, and she commented that her songs "sounded better." At first I thought she was trying to tell me my taste in music sucks; but after listening to some of her songs, they obviously play back "louder" and "crisper". My next thought was this was because most of my songs were ripped from older CD's, but I then noticed that even recent releases from my library sounded dull compared to her songs.

    I then made several copies from a CD of the same song and loaded on the iPod:
    1) using iTunes, AAC format at 192 kps/VBR
    2) using iTunes, mp3 format at 192 kps
    3) using MusicMatch, mp3 format at 192 kps

    Both selections #1 and #2 sounded comparable to eachother in loudness (slight edge to #1 in quality), and dull compared to #3, which sounded more consistent with the quality of the other songs created outside of iTunes. It wasn't even close. I looked at my settings in iTunes, but couldn't recognize any settings that would account for this. Am I missing something? Should I be using an app other than iTunes to rip my CD's? I'm not looking forward to ripping all these songs over, but will gladly put in the time to get it right.

    Has anyone else experienced what I've described above?
  24. macrumors 6502

    Apr 29, 2004
    Auckland, New Zealand
    There is something wrong...

    Either that, or people are starting to find the sound of mp3 compression 'pleasing'.
  25. macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    I import CDs at 128 KB AAC, if somebody gives me some songs (on a flash drive for example) that are already ripped, I usually do not re-encode them

    Really there's no difference between CD and 128 KB AAC even on my huge speakers & subwoofer in our livingroom.

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