Does iTunes suck for ripping?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Gunhaver, Aug 11, 2007.

  1. Gunhaver macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2006
    I've tinkered around with the importing settings forever and ripped some cds over and over, yet it still seems like most of the mp3s I rip sound quite muffled and quiet compared to the original cd, and even compared to most mp3s I download from the net.

    Is there some magical combination of settings to make imported audio files sound just right? (without being about 30mb each of course) Or some alternate program out there that gets better results?
  2. techlover828 macrumors 68020


    Jun 28, 2007
    I, too, was looking for something to rerip my library in a higher bitrate.
  3. rockthecasbah macrumors 68020


    Apr 12, 2005
    Moorestown, NJ
    I haven't had any complaints about iTunes whether it is AIFF, mp3, aac, or lossless at different bitrates. I'm not sure what your problem could be.
  4. AJ Muni macrumors 65816

    AJ Muni

    Aug 4, 2005
    Anyone who knows about ripping/encoding from CD's knows that iTunes is meh, it's got nothing on LAME. There's a Plug-in for iTunes so you can use LAME. The best setting is -V 0 --vbr-new. I think it keeps the bitrate on an avg of 260 kbps. Remember ya'll..the lower the bitrate, the crappier it sounds. Highest you can have on mp3 is 320, so 260 is'nt too bad.

    Here: This is your bible.

    Edit: And heres a quote from my favorite website in the world. Talks about a transcode..

    What is transcoding?

    Put simply, a transcode is any audio file that wasn't encoded from an original lossless source, such as a retail CD (not created from lossy files) or a properly made lossless rip.

    Why is transcoding bad?

    Whenever you encode a file to a lossy format (such as mp3, m4a(AAC), ogg, or mpc) information is permanently lost. It doesn't matter what you do, it's impossible to get this information back without making a new rip from the original lossless source (The original CD). If you re-encode it to a different format or bitrate, all you're doing is reducing the quality. This applies to any lossy to lossy conversion, so even if you convert down from 320kbps to 192kbps (Mp3 to Mp3) the final file will still sound worse than if you had just ripped from the original CD to 192kbps in the first place.

    In other words, rip from CD's for best quality.

    And to the OP, you wont get 20mb files unless it's a FLAC file(LAME nor iTunes can do this, only EAC). The higher the bitrate, the better it sounds, but unfortunately the bigger the file size. You can't have the best of both worlds.

    Cliff notes:

    Put in CD > iTunes >Open LAME plug-in > Choose -V 0 --vbr-new = Enjoy good quality mp3 ~260 kbps, and ~ 9 MB.

    Put in CD > iTunes encoder > Choose 128kbps (Just like what you buy from iTMS) = Yuck, what a waste of time/space.

    Next time listen to the same file thats 128kbps (or even a 192 kbps) vs 260 kbps. You'll thank me later.

    When you use LAME, it rips a lot slower. This is the norm.
  5. Gunhaver thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Thank you for that quite helpful answer!

    Except what do you mean "Open LAME plug-in"? I installed it, is there some new menu I'm missing?
  6. WCunha macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2007
    Apple Lossless Encoder

    How does this compare to ripping in iTunes using Apple Lossless Encoder?
  7. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    I decided on 256 Kbps mp3 as a final compromise between acceptable sound and size. I use the media expander option on my Alpine head unit when playing these songs in the car and it helps quite a bit. The trouble with mp3 and AAC is that they throw away things to save space, including some of the dynamic range.

    I don't think there is a magic combination but that was the magic compromise and it works okay for me, whether listening to the iPod or the mp3 disc in the car.
  8. scamateur macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2007
    At the risk of sounding like a troll...

    ...most people cannot consistently hear a difference in the the different HIGH-bitrate compressed audio files. Most cannot hear the difference between the compressed file and the original souce, either. I would refer you to any of the not-very-numerous comparison tests you can find posted on the 'net.

    Apparently, the audio challenge is to make low (below 128 kbps) bitrate files sound acceptable, and everybody has an opinion about how well each format and encoder does. Most seem to like the LAME encoder for MP3, though AAC and WMA are newer, "better" codecs.

    You won't find comparison tests of your favorite ripping program/encoder above 192 - 216 kbps, however. I believe this is in part because, in a blinded test, no one can consistently tell them apart.

    So, if you're ripping a 256 kbps in iTunes AAC or MP3, LAME MP3, WMA, or whatever, you're going to get great sound. Especially in a non-critical environment like a car, it will sound just like the CD. It would probably sound just like the CD at a much-lower (160 - 192) bitrate , too.

    If other posters know of blinded A-B-X tests that contradict, I'm sure they'll chime in. I would also love to read some other published studies if they are out there.
  9. Morris macrumors regular

    Dec 19, 2006
    London, Europe
    If you want a better ripping practice I'd suggest to try Max.

    iTunes rips very fast but uses hardly any error/fault detection. You could end up with noticeable clicks or pops after you've encoded and have to do the whole thing again. If you want to be on the safe side, the slower but more secure method of Max (both 'comparison' and 'Paranoia' are a bit slower but more secure) reduces the risk of read-errors ending up in your files.

    It supports a lot more audio formats than iTunes does. The AAC encoder is identical but the MP3 encoder is the higher quality LAME-encoder. Furthermore, it can encode to multiple formats at once. Rip a CD to FLAC (for backup) and MP3 (for portable) at the same time...

    Oh, and don't be afraid to try the 'unstable' version. It is a lot better than it sounds.
  10. SactoGuy18 macrumors 68030


    Sep 11, 2006
    Sacramento, CA USA
    I've used iTunes' own MP3 encoder and found no problems with ripping CD's at 160 kbps data rate (VBR/HIGH quality). They sound pretty good with my 2G iPod nano using Etymotic Research ER-6i headphones. :)
  11. DaftUnion macrumors 6502a


    Feb 22, 2005
    I second Morris and also say that if your actually serious about CD ripping you use this.

    End of story. Converts CD audio to any format, or any format to any format with the best encoders. The LAME encoder sounds so much better than the built in iTunes one. I'm in the process of redoing my whole library into LAME.

    Plus unlike the plugin for iTunes it uses the recommended and current version of LAME (Lame Ain't An Mp3 Encoder) which is 3.97.
  12. Rizvi1 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2006
    Laurel, MD (Baltimore, MD / Washington, DC area)
    Thanks for this post AJ Muni I but I have the same question as Gunhaver here:

    I installed from the link you said to, but there's nothing new in iTunes. Is it because I'm on Leopard?

    Also I saw the advice from Morris:

    .. and DaftUnion...

    .. but when I downloaded and installed Max on my MBP, I put a disc in, it reads it. Then, I can select all the tracks and encode.. and I see them ripping, but I'm not sure where they go. In the preferences, I can't do anything with Formats. I click on it, and nothing changes, while the other menu items ("Output", "General", etc.) I can do stuff with.

    Again, is this because I'm on Leopard?

    For now, I'm just importing with iTunes, VBR w/ 128kb/sec and set to highest.
  13. DaftUnion macrumors 6502a


    Feb 22, 2005
    Yes, this is because your on Leopard. Currently on the forums on the website for Max, there isn't Leopard compatbility for the program...yet. This is a known problem. Works fine on Tiger, doesn't work yet on Leopard.

    When it does though, that's the best program for ripping/encoding audio though. I'm sure you'll agree when they update it.

    put LAME encoder into google and see what pops up. It's generally regarded as the best/highest quality encoder.
  14. iApplemasteru macrumors newbie

    Nov 22, 2007
    oh yes

    yes itunes is horrible 4 rip use something else:eek:
  15. Sesshi macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    Not a troll at all. You're absolutely correct. The stated superiority of LAME (mainly by the nerd contingent due to it's community driven nature) is mainly at intermediate bitrates, and even then AAC is not worse. You could say the apparent superiority of LAME is at bitrates where the discussion of absolute quality is not all that relevant.
  16. schoolme macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2007
    importing cd's

    i've got around 200 cd's i want to load onto a macbook pro and 80G iPod classic. in addition to playing music in my car, i want to use my ipod on a relatively high end home stereo.

    what settings would any of you recommend? seems like storage space shouldn't be too big an issue for me with the devices i have. right?

  17. iHerzeleid macrumors 6502a


    May 5, 2007
  18. c-Row macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    Or get yourself two external 400GB HDDs and rip it to Apple Lossless like I did. ;)
  19. todd2000 macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2005
    Danville, VA
    And get yourself 10 iPod classics to hold it all while your at it! :D

    FWIW, I personally think that the 128K AACS from the iTMS sound fine. All of my files that I have ripped are 192 or 256K MP3s. I haven't ripped a CD in a long time though. I ripped most of my files years ago, some with Music Match Jukebox in Windows. I still have most of the original CDs (lost or scratched some). One of these days Im gonna sit down and re-rip them in 192AAC to save soem space and possible get slightly higher sound quality.
  20. c-Row macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    iPod Cluster FTW!!! :cool: ;)
  21. Azurael macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2005
    I find iTunes with error correction on is fine for ripping at 192kbit/s VBR AAC, which is what my entire music collection lives at. I use relatively high-grade audio kit (Though I'm not an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination) and I can rarely tell the difference between that and the original CD. The only thing that annoys me is quite how treble-heavy the iPod's amplifier is. Sibilance is sometimes quite unpleasant at higher volumes and detracts from the original recording substantially compared to my opamp-swapped SoundBlaster X-Fi running through my home hi-fi.
  22. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Why would you import as MP3? Just change to AAC, use a decent bitrate, and that's it.
  23. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020


    Jul 21, 2004
    If you want to use your files with other devices then mp3 is the best option.

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