Short Version: I now rip CD's as AAC's with a bitrate of 192, check the VBR box, and check the Use Error Correction box. This seems to be the sweet spot between quality and file size. Do you agree? I know the Use Error Correction option slows down the rips, but I read even with all new hardware that has no errors anyway, this option helps prevent those occasional loud pops & noise... Longer Vesion: Being in the IT field for 13 years, I consider myself fairly knowldegable on things like this. Before Apple came out with the iTunes version that supported AAC, I used to rip my CD's in iTunes as MP3's with a bitrate of 192, VBR. I knew for sure that that was the sweet spot for playing MP3's on my iPod, or even PC w/ good Bose speakers. No question on the VBR being a good idea. When they first released the iTunes version that supported AAC, I was an instant convert! No debate [for me anyway] that AAC was the way to go. I ripped my CD's as AAC's with a bitrate of 192. Bummed there was no VBR option, I read up on the finite details of the AAC codec, and learned that it was, by design, VBR in nature, so I gave up worrying about it. Later an iTunes version came out that offerred a VBR checkbox, but I assumed it was pointless. Last time I checked it, and sure do think I noticed an improvment in sound quality!!