iTunes - What is the best format & bitrate to encode music?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by holdtight, May 1, 2004.

  1. holdtight macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2004
    Just wondering what bitrate gives a good overall quality while at the same time not using too much space and what format is best used to encode.

    I know this is a broad question and really depends on what kind of space you have on your hard drive or iPod, but at the moment I have over 2000 songs encoded in AAC at 128 and the quality in some tunes (especially in songs with a lot of bass) sounds terrible both on my iPod (40gb) and iBook.

    At first I thought it was my headphones but after using a decent pear I still had the same problem. I hope I don't have to re-rip my collection again it took days!! Im just trying to figure out what is the norm for most people and if they are happy with it.


  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    Personally I find that 160Kbs AAC is fine for usage on my iPod.
  3. vollspacken macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2002
    Boogie-Down Berlintown
    It's certainly not the best quality, but I rip everything in 192Kps MP3...

    yeah, blahblah - AAC might be better, but I like to have it all in the same format.., weired isn't it??? :confused: ;) :p

  4. jacg macrumors 6502a


    Jan 16, 2003
    Depends on use

    Used AAC, then I bought a CD player for my car that could play mp3 CDs. This is quite cool, but AAC files needed reencoding or reimporting.

    Plan ahead!
  5. jamdr macrumors 6502a


    Jul 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I also encode all of my songs in 192 kbps MP3. It sounds very good, and I wouldn't go any higher because I don't think the extra space it would take would be worth it. I may start using AAC 160 when I eventually buy an iPod, though. I refuse to buy music from the iTMS because they only offer AAC 128. Hopefully Apple will someday release songs encoded at higher quality. but I doubt it.
  6. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    There was a thread here with a link to a site that did tests on the AAC 128 compared to CD's. The result was that the AAC 128 was hard for many to see a difference from the CD's.
  7. Mac|caM macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2004
    If you have iTunes 4.5, I'd suggest that new Apple Lossless Encoder, that is, if you have the space. It takes up about half the space of a CD, which is still several hundred megabytes an album. If not, I think AAC 128 sounds pretty good. Sometimes I do get that nasty distortion on songs with lots of bass, but hardly ever.
  8. aricher macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2004
    I'm with jacg - I encode in mp3 at 256 using VBR - the VBR usually jacks the bitrate up to 260-275 depending on the source CD. I use mp3 because currently it's a more uniform format - usable on car/home CD players, streaming receivers, TIVO media as well as all my friends PCs that I swap with - granted, my PC friends use iTunes now but they like to burn CDs for their cars.

    Yes, an AAC at 256 may sound a bit crisper (and will be smaller) than the equiv. mp3 but until AAC becomes a standard I'll be sticking with mp3.
  9. 3-22 macrumors regular

    Nov 19, 2002
    I use 192kbps and MP3 format. It's not that I have anything against AAC, what I have in that format sounds great. Problem is I have other devices I use sometimes for listening to my music that only support MP3. This is getting to be less of an issue as my iPod is becoming about the only thing I listen to lately. But old habits die hard and AAC is just too new for me. ;)

    Besides I'm too lazy to re-rip everything from CD again... :D
  10. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Yep, I'm on the 192 kbps mp3 bandwagon as well. And its funny because I don't own an iPod, an mp3 player, an mp3 CD player, or any other device to listen to music other than a stereo and a portable CD player, but I'd still rather have everything in mp3 format because I want to buy an mp3 player later (not an iPod.......I have lots of good reasons for that decision), so mp3 is what I need to encode in unless I don't mind re-encoding everything again.

    I never trust these types of "tests" unless its a blind test that's done particularly well.
  11. abhishekit macrumors 65816


    Nov 6, 2003
    akron , ohio
    well..i use 128 kbps vbr and i thought it was sufficient, until reading this thread :rolleyes: ..but then i only have 30 gb harddisk, besides the songs i download from internet are gernerally 128 kbps, so its consistent, and it doesnt sound that bad on the speakers... :)
  12. dvdh macrumors 6502


    Apr 6, 2004
    I originally used 192 k MP3, but switched to 192 AAC about a month ago. With my headphone (*cheap*) I can't really tell the difference, but when I have my machine playing through my stereo the MP3s are noticeably poorer than the AAC.

    As an alternative, I have some of my music encoded in OGG, which at 192 is wonderful. The only problem is encoding. I have done some on Sound Forge, and others with Quicktime, but that is a lot more time consuming than the pure convenience of itunes. Playback through itunes is great though (you just have to install an OGG codec in quicktime to enable this) but I don't suppose that would be any good for you people with ipods. As another note, OGG files will also not allow you to assign album art . . . not really a big deal.

    On another note, does anyone have a suggestion of a good software program to clean up imported vinyl?
  13. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    I'm using 256Kbps mp3 format but I've not encoded any classical music. I listen to just about everything but country. I'm pretty particular about my music and this seems to be a good compromise with storage in mind and goes straight to an mp3 CD-ROM for the car.
  14. Squire macrumors 68000


    Jan 8, 2003
    I just use the default 128 kbps rate but I'm having second thoughts- because of this thread and an experience from the other day. I tried burning an mp3 CD for a friend. After making a playlist of a bunch of tunes and selecting the "mp3 CD" option, I hit burn. Only the mp3 files burned to the disc- none of the imported AAC files. I just incorrectly assumed that iTunes would convert everything to mp3 and then burn the CD. Wrong. (Any suggestions?) So, to answer the question, I'm also starting to think that high bit-rate mp3 might be the best approach.


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