Help Choosing Bit Rate for Importing CDs in ITunes

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Vashti, Jun 20, 2004.

  1. Vashti macrumors member

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    #1
    Hey y'all. I'm trying to figure out what bit rate I should be importing CDs at. Currently, I listen on my 15" powerbook speakers and stock earphones - but I am certain that I will upgrade both as soon as I can. I've read a couple of threads about this, but nobody discusses what kind of music they listen to, and I'm guessing this is important. I listen to a lot of vocal and instrumental jazz and showtunes and some classical, world music, and pop, all music where catching as much nuance as possible is important. I listen to very little rock. I can definitely hear a big difference between AIFF and everything else, but AIFF files are just too big for me. I can't hear very much difference between the rates 192 and over, but I'm thinking this might change when I have better speakers/earphones.

    I have a 40 gig ipod and about 1000 cds. Music quality is definitely more important to me than getting everything on, but I also want to fit as much as I can on to the ipod.

    So, what have others found? Especially folks who are listening to similar music? How will it be different when I upgrade my speakers and earphoens? Thank you so much for the help!
     
  2. FattyMembrane macrumors 6502a

    FattyMembrane

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    #2
    you could always try the lossless codec. it is the same sound quality but averages about half the size. i listen to a lot of classical (some orchestral, but mostly solo piano and guitar) and if i don't use lossless, i rip at 192kbps AAC and have found it to be quite good (i can't tell the difference). i'm sure that at around 256kbps AAC, you really couldn't tell any difference unless you had some really really really good headphones and superhuman auditory acuity.
     
  3. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #3
    Another suggestion might be, rip the same couple of songs at different rates, burn it back to a CDR, and play it in a stereo you consider to be "good". Then pick the lowest bit rate you feel comfortable with on the stereo. That should be a fairly good method, no?

    I guess the problem is that style of music matters, but so does your personal sensitivity and what you listen for. I think I have sensitive ears and I find opera at 128 AAC acceptable, but that's not the same thing as saying it sounds like the original CD (it doesn't). But I can hear what I want to well enough. So I guess it's complicated?
     
  4. crees! macrumors 68000

    crees!

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    #4
    I agree with Fatty. Though I don't listen to what you do I rip my CDs at 192 AAC. Also the lossless codec would be a good choice... just like AIFF but a little smaller. I ran some comparison tests regarding file size with the lossless codec. They weren't exactly 1/2 the size of the original but they were smaller.
     
  5. FattyMembrane macrumors 6502a

    FattyMembrane

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    #5
    the lossless codec has varying efficiency for each file (it depends on the waveforms, quality, etc of the actual song). I've had lossless files be anywhere from about 35% to 80% the size of the AIFF - it all depends on the individual track.
     
  6. Vashti thread starter macrumors member

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    #6
    Thanks you guys. One more question: How does importing at higher bit rates affect the battery? I've been listening a lot today, trying to test this. It seems like I might need to bite the bullet and import at 224 or even 320 on much of my music. Does that drain the battery faster?
     
  7. rendezvouscp macrumors 68000

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    #7
    Well, the bigger the files are, the more the iPod has to spin up the hard drive, and the less battery life you get. If you listen to a "CD," at 224, you'll probably spin up three different times, whereas at Lossless you'll be spinning up at least once for every song. That wears out the iPod and your battery. If I were you, I would import at 320, but the exceptional tracks in Lossless. Good luck deciding! It took me forever (btw, I ended up importing in all Lossless, but using 256 for my iPod).
    –Chase
     
  8. musicpyrite macrumors 68000

    musicpyrite

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    Cape Cod
    #8
    There have been reports of the iPod having trouble playing 320 Kbps.

    If I were you, I'd at least rip the songs at 192 AAC. I can tell the difference between 128 and 192. And also 192 and 224. But after 224, it all sort of sounds the same, and I want to have as many songs on my iPod as possible. In the Terminal, /dev/disk3s3 is my iPod.

    Lol, only 2.3 MB of space left on my iPod. Muahahha!

    Code:
    [Daniel:~] daniel% df
    Filesystem              512-blocks      Used    Avail Capacity  Mounted on
    /dev/disk0s9             160821336 119112312 41197024    74%    /
    devfs                          190       190        0   100%    /dev
    fdesc                            2         2        0   100%    /dev
    <volfs>                       1024      1024        0   100%    /.vol
    automount -nsl [323]             0         0        0   100%    /Network
    automount -fstab [345]           0         0        0   100%    /automount/Servers
    automount -static [345]          0         0        0   100%    /automount/static
    /dev/disk3s3              29229312  29224624     4688   100%    /Volumes/Yoda
     
  9. rendezvouscp macrumors 68000

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    #9
    What reports? I would be interested in reading them.
    –Chase
     
  10. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

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  11. ChrisFromCanada macrumors 65816

    ChrisFromCanada

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    #11
    I have used 320 for 2 years and have only had one minor problem with my ipod (required restart, and then fixed) which was probably not even related to the fact that it was 320 so if thats what you want to do I say don't worry about it.
     
  12. AHDuke99 macrumors 68020

    AHDuke99

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    #12
    I use 192 AAC, if I duplicate a CD i lossless it and then delete the large files...

    I wish iTUnes offered lossless in the store to tell you the truth
     
  13. Vashti thread starter macrumors member

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    New York, NY
    #13
    For those of who who import at 320 or 224, how long does your battery last?
     
  14. maradong macrumors 65816

    maradong

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    #14
    If you analyse the streams of a 128, 192 and a 256 kbit aac file, and if you check the delta between the peaks for high and low frequencies, you will see that encoding at a kbit rate of 196 will bring you about 98% of the peak delta of an acc file encoded at 256.
    So basically encoding at more than 192 kbit aac isn't (IMHO, as always) affecting the sound quality for normal humanoids anymore, and is therefore bs. ;-)
    That may sound harsh, but the extra MiB just weight to much to justify the 2% gain.
    Anybody interested in telling me how on earth to encode using the lossless encoder? I litterally never understood how to do so :( :rolleyes:

    €dit: Made my statement a whole lot easier to understand ;-)
     
  15. rendezvouscp macrumors 68000

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    #15
    Yeah, there is a new option for iTunes when you select what to code in. Apple Lossless Encoder. Happy encoding!
    –Chase
     
  16. MacFan26 macrumors 65816

    MacFan26

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    #16
    so. 192 AAC is supposed to be the same quality as Apple's lossless encoding, just a larger size?
     
  17. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030

    johnnyjibbs

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    #17
    No, it approximates to it, depending on who you are and how good your ears supposedly are.

    Lossless doesn't lose any data and so should be as good a quality as the original AIFF (probably just gets rid of the blank bits).

    To be honest, for normal Rock/Pop stuff, I can't tell the difference between 128 AAC and the original CD AIFF so I just stick with 128 AAC. Any difference there may be you will become accustomed to anyway if you constantly listen to the AAC.

    192 AAC is just a less compressed version of 128 AAC so should be slightly better quality. I bet no-one could tell the difference between 128 and 192 AAC though.
     
  18. neoelectronaut macrumors 68020

    neoelectronaut

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    #18
    Myself, I use 192 MP3.

    I considered using AAC, but I wanted to be able to make MP3 discs and discs that will play on my MP3/CD player.
     
  19. ionas macrumors regular

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    Old Europe
    #19
    Go for OGG

    Go for 320KBs OGG - that should be indentical to lossless for any human being but will need lot less space.

    And if you got space issues go for 256KBs OGG - Most people will never ever
    hear differences anyway. I would not go below though.
    You can hear the difference between 128 and 192. In some "scenes" you might hear the difference between 192 and 256 as well.
     
  20. ionas macrumors regular

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    Old Europe
    #20
    if the iPod doesn't do OGG

    320Kbps VBR will do it as well. (VBR is great, it will go to maximum quality if needed (means if the sound spectrum is very wide) and will keep the quality low if there is nothing to save (e.g. passages with no sound at all, pauses for example, or very clear sounds; at least i understood it that way))
     
  21. MacFan26 macrumors 65816

    MacFan26

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    #21
    Thanks. Most of my stuff is 128 AAC, I'll probably be sticking with that. Even though I listen to quite a bit of classical music, I can't tell the difference between that and lossless. Oh well, maybe I just have bad ears :) Hm..I can't really tell the difference between Pepsi and Diet Pepsi either, is this a sign? ;)
     
  22. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030

    johnnyjibbs

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    #22
    It would be interesting to make a CD of one song, but with each track in a variety of bitrates (as someone mentioned earlier) - e.g. AIFF, Apple Lossless, 192 MP3, 128 MP3, 128 AAC, 192 AAC, 320 AAC, etc - shuffle them around and then ask an "audiophille" which one is the AIFF (best quality). I bet you 9/10 times they wouldn't get it right. :p ;)

    You may decide the extra disc space isn't worth it.
     
  23. Bruce Lee, PhD macrumors member

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    Jun 10, 2004
    #23
    Hi,

    I listen to rock, bluegrass, jazz, and classical. I generally find that 128 is pretty good. Although I can tell a difference at higher bit rates, it's just not worth it to me personally to use the extra space. When I want an audiophile experience, I don't listen at my computer. :) The one exception to that is when I'm listening to large-group works, like a big band or an orchestra. In those cases, the lower-bit-rate encodings seem to get confused and will randomly bring the raspy sound of a bow, or a particular horn, or someone's chair creaking (I'm not kidding), right to the front of the mix. When the groups are smaller (jazz combo, rock band, etc) and individual instruments are more distinct to begin with, I don't notice this. I suspect this is a direct result of the way these encoders work and how they choose to allocate bits. However, I haven't done much A/B of one piece encoded multiple ways. At this point I only know that, say, Beethoven's 5th or "Sketches of Spain" sounds noticeably weird when encoded at 128.

    For non-orchestra music, my issue is that at any bit rate you can still hear the swishy high-end and other artifacts induced by the current codecs. So even though 320 is sometimes a noticeable improvement over 128 for rock/jazz, you can still hear the same sorts of problems, just less so. So the extra space just isn't worth it to me; the problems don't go away. I will have to try re-encoding some orchestra music at 320 to see if parts stop jumping out though.

    It's tough to say what will change with better headphones since I don't have your ears. IMO you'll probably hear things about the same as now. I doubt you'll hear much improvement between 192 and even 320, since I don't think things get much better (with aac or mp3) until you go to lossless.
     
  24. Vashti thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 24, 2003
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    New York, NY
    #24
    Thanks so much. This helps A LOT. I've decided to wait until I buy some better speakers before making any big decisions, or importing any more cd's. I imported a jazz vocal cd last night on the apple lossless setting and even on my powerbooks speakers, the music was incredible - much better. I can tell I'll be reimporting the things I did at 128. That's just not enough for me. We'll see where I end up. I'm leaning toward 256 for things I care about a lot and 192 for most stuff. Of course, there'll be a few albums that need to be imported lossless. I guess I'll just have to see what things sound like on decent speakers. Thanks everybody!
     
  25. Rantipole macrumors 6502

    Rantipole

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    Boston
    #25
    I'm in a similar predicament. I would like AAC for my purposes, since it sounds better bit-for-bit than MP3. However, there are times I would like to make an MP3 CD for playback. I have not yet gotten my new computer, so I don't know: with the latest version of iTunes, is it easy to just convert a bunch of AAC files to MP3? Or, would the conversion just ruin the sound quality?
     

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