iTunes with AAC - What happened?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Classic, Jul 17, 2002.

  1. Classic macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2001
    Is it me, or is there no support in iTunes for AAC?

    Isn't that what everybody was hoping for - to have higher quality, lower size audio files?

    I don't see anywhere that you can create AAC files form MP3's or rip AAC files from CDs.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong... I've been waiting to rip my CD collection for iTunes 3 wit AAC support.

  2. bigsteve3 macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2002
    There is support for MPEG-4/AAC, however it is only for playback. You have to have use the Pro version of QuickTime 6 Player to be able to make MP4's from CDs (unless I missed some new button in iTunes 3). Playback of AAC files is interesting, however. If you click the info window at the top, the equalizer graph does not appear when playing an AAC file, but they work with MP3s. Also, the equalizer presets do not affect the sound of the AAC file. Not sure if this is something due to AAC or if it's a bug.
  3. billiam0878 macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2002
    Winter Park, FL
    That's right, however, without the PRO version you can covert MP3's to MP4's. I'm not sure if you can rip tracks from a CD in MP4 format though, anyone tried?

  4. bigsteve3 macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2002
    nope, you can't import from CD to MP4. wish you could, but I suspect the whole MPEG-4 licensing issue means that it would be too expensive for Apple to include this feature.
  5. Macette macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2002
    i am very sad about the lack of an AAC ripping feature. I had set aside tomorrow to begin the horrendous task of re-ripping all my CDs. I was looking forward to fitting 3000 songs on my iPod...

    *heavy sigh*

    I have let Apple know of my disatisfaction...

    So can somebody tell me, with authority, whether one can use QT6 for ripping CDs into AAC format?
  6. MPTV-Ti macrumors newbie

    May 2, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    <<<Macette wrote: So can somebody tell me, with authority, whether one can use QT6 for ripping CDs into AAC format?>>>

    I dont know if this answers your question, but this is what I did and it worked fine:

    I put in a CD and imported a track. "Saved As" .aiff That file was 35MB. (I assume that is uncompressed????) Then I exported that file to .mp4 at 80kbs which made it a 2MB file. I can hear no sound difference, which I think is awesome.

    Next, I can import the .mp4 into iTunes 3 and it will play it. However, when I plug in my iPod it says "you have files that iPod can not read" or something to that extent. I assume with the next firmware upgrade, iPod will be able to read .mp4. Ok hope that helps!
  7. menoinjun macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2001
    I am very upset about this. Also, who the hell cares about rating their MP3s?

    I sure don't

    I was really looking forward to mp4 conversions of all of my music. To me, iTunes 3 is just a nice upgrade for the visualizations?

    Has anyone else noticed that the visualizations run great now? I can get almost 30fps on a dual 533 and a 32 ddr Radeon while I was getting 12-18 before in full screen mode.

  8. macfreek57 macrumors 6502

    Jan 1, 2002
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    only 12-18 fps on a dual g4 with a 32 mb radeon?

    there's something wrong there
  9. shermanballz macrumors newbie

    Jul 17, 2002
    apple is starting to suck more than microsoft

    You TECHNICALLY can rip AAC from a CD... but it's not cool at all. Here's the process:

    1. Open QuickTime
    2. Go to the File menu and choose "Open"
    3. Select the file you wish to import - this may be a wav or mp3 on your hard drive, or in your case, the audio on a CD
    4. Go to the File menu and choose "Export"
    5. In the "Export" window, near the bottom, will be the word "Export" and a popup menu next to it. You must choose "Movie to MPEG-4"
    6. Then press the "Options" button, right next to that menu, and click the "Audio" tab. This will let you set the bit rate. I believe mine was set to 96kps by default, but I cannot tell because instead of a menu or a text field to enter your desired bit rate, there is a slider and the only rates notched on that slider are 16, 76, 136, 196, and 256, so you can't be too exact. There is no option for variable bit rate, although I could have sworn on Apple's website that they said AAC provides for "true vbr" - perhaps it is variable and the slider just has the target bit rate. I'm not sure.

    But anyhow, 7. close that window by pressing "ok" and then press save.

    That's it (I meant that sarcastically). Granted, if you've already done this once you can skip steps 5 and 6 because it will use the most recent settings, but I wasn't talking about importing an entire CD here. These are the steps to import ONE SONG.

    On my 400mhz G3 with 576mb RAM it took about 2 and a half minutes to encode a 2 and a half minute song. That speed would therefore be "1x" - if I encode to mp3 it goes at about 2x or 3x.

    So you wanted to change your collection to mp4? So did I. But for my collection of only 585 songs it would take me over 50 hours. And QuickTime doesn't have an option to batch export files. You have to manually do them one by one. There's no way in HELL I'm gonna sit down and convert 585 songs one at a time. It would literally take days of constant exporting.

    And according to Apple, AAC at 96kps is comparable to 128kps mp3 - do the math: 96/128 is 0.75. So unless all your mp3 are encoded at a high bit rate, your collection will only be about 25% smaller. But if ou DO have a high bit rate, then there's one easy solution right there to reduce the size: lower bit rate

    So unless you are REALLY dedicated to your music collection and willing to suffer through poor music quality (because even AAC sounds bad when you get it down past 64kps - which is what you'd have to do to triple your capacity), you aren't going to be able to fit 3000 songs on your iPod.

    But you know what, that doesn't matter because iPod doesn't support AAC. I don't even think the ones announced today support AAC (but I'm not certain on this)

    Bottom line: It would be a pain in the butt on convert even a few of your mp3s, you won't save much space, your iPod won't read the songs, and you would have no other alternatives to iTunes (which honestly is not that great of an mp3 player).

    You know it's funny, Apple hyped AAC big time - they have a whole webpage devoted to showcasing it and another webpage JUST to let you download AAC. Yet if you check the QuickTime help, it has only one mention of AAC (which sheds NO light on the format). All it says is that if you are going to stream audio, here are a few formats which work well - it then lists 6 formats, the last of which is AAC.

    With this and the ".Mac" and integrating iTunes into the OS and other crap like that, Apple is going WAY down hill. And I hate that I think this cuz I REALLY hate Microsoft... but I'm starting to like them more. Maybe I'll have to make one of those switch comercials for Microsoft.... hehehehe
  10. MacUser1 macrumors 6502


    Aug 23, 2001

    i was really looking forward to AAC Audio encoding, but i guess it would be too expensive for apple to do this. maybe in a future update, this will be possible.
  11. G4scott macrumors 68020


    Jan 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    the problem is that Apple has to pay to give out software that encodes mpeg4. That's why you have to pay for the pro version of QT6. Apple doesn't have to pay for the ability to decode it, which is why iTunes can at least play them. When the licensing issues are worked out, then updates to iTunes will probably be made. Also, with the iPod's ability to upgrade its firmware, it's open to new formats, like mpeg4 AAC. We just have to wait and see what Apple's going to do. Right now, I'm sure that Apple doesn't want to get mpeg4 mixed up with music ripping/sharing because it would probably turn out to be one big legal fiasco...

    Just a note, the new iPods aren't able to read AAC either...

    We can only wait and see...
  12. shermanballz macrumors newbie

    Jul 17, 2002
    legal issues

    Yeah, I hate all that legal stuff. But still, those of us who HAVE purchased Pro shouldn't have to jump through hoops just to get a single AAC song.

    Also, I don't know if this really matters at all, but didn't their site say something about being free to stream over the net if it's below 50,000 hits a year or something whacky like that?

    Maybe it's a catch 22 - I can let a limited number of people listen to my AACs and no cost to them or me - I just have to pay to create them.
  13. peterjhill macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Well, I am not an Applescript genius, but a quick look at the Dictionary for iTunes and QT player show that it would be possible to create an Applescript that will export a file as a specified format using different settings. It might be best to use iTunes to get the cdda data for the songs from the disk, and then tag the mp4, if they use tags.
  14. G4scott macrumors 68020


    Jan 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Now that's an idea! If anyone here is good with Apple Script, try it and see if you can get something like this to work... It looks like time I learn how to use Apple Script...
  15. Timothy macrumors 6502

    Jan 2, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    iTunes Pro?

    So if it is a pay/licensing issue...why not just offer a Pro Version of iTunes that will handle AAC? I'd gladly pay a fee to get the functionality. I don't know what the licensing agreement actually calls for, but I'd be willing to pay $29 for a Pro version of iTunes (like QT Pro).

    I thought AAC audio encoding/playback would be a given with the new version of QT and iTunes. Now, I'm considering cancelling my iPod Order (20 gig) and waiting, yet again, for the next release.
  16. Wry Cooter macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2002
    I'm going to assume you were going to rip all your CDs from scratch again right? Because there is the all too common misconception that making an AAC file, an "mp4' from an existing MP3 will make it somehow 'sound better'. At best you will get something that sounds like your MP3 yet is smaller. If you are ripping from AIFF, a CD or some higher quality source, you can get better sound at the same size as your old MP3 of the file. You can't replace the data that has already been thrown away in making the MP3.

    I have over 70 gigs of MP3s from my CD collection so far. I'll be damned if I'm going to rip all of those again....

    There is rumor that AAC ripping might show up when the iPod Firmware update shows up, or with the purchase of a qt 6 pro key, or Jaguar, but perhaps keeping it out of iTunes was a concession in the MPEG Licensing issue (or it would simply have a cost involved)
  17. jelloshotsrule macrumors G3


    Feb 7, 2002
    i would agree in theory. but there is some merit in using the ratings to set up "smart" playlists... i suppose in the time you take to rate the songs, you could just add them to a set up playlist of your favorites....

    in general i agree.... itunes 3 is not as good as i was hoping.... and all i was hoping for was aac.... the smart playlists are cool. but i'd like aac for sure....

  18. Wry Cooter macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2002
    Even pulling entire CDs in at once, seems like this process would take a long time -- have you ever seen the typical AppleScript in action?

    Drag CD to Applescript
    Script looks up CDDB info
    Tracks are pulled from CD to Hard Drive (keep more than 700 meg free on your iBook)
    Script opens Quicktime to convert AIFF to AAC
    saves and names file
    Puts file in new playlist in iTunes library.

    So does the AAC spec presently support ID3 tags? Because iTunes sort of needs those to sort and manage the files.

    And with the typical Applescript speed and the steps involved, you may want to create a folder of several CDs first, so it can work overnight.
  19. elmimmo macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2002
  20. Pepzhez macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2002
    I'm not at all impressed with the quality of QT 6's AAC audio encoding anyway, but neither am I surprised about that. Both QT and iTunes utilize inferior audio compression codecs and, yes, it's true - iTunes is just not a very good mp3 player, period. If you don't believe me, just compare an identical sound file in iTunes and then in Audion 3.0. The difference is night and day. (Plus, Audion has a much better interface and consumes substantially less CPU power under OS X than iTunes.)

    Of course, iTunes is free and Audion will cost you $20 or $30 (I forget which), but if you have your Mac wired to a decent sound system, you'll find that iTunes is indeed lacking in all areas.

    But then what should you expect for free?

    Now I've spent the last couple of days carefully comparing AAC encoded files from QT 6 to mp3 files encoded in Audion 3.0, which uses the PMLAME 3.92 encoder engine - currently the hands-down best mp3 encoder available. (Forget about using iTunes' mp3 encoder for any comparison - it is worthless.) The result? A properly encoded CBR mp3 using LAME @256 kb/s sounds far superior and richer than QT AAC @128 kb/s. And, oh yes, the LAME mp3 will be a smaller file! (Not that much, though - 7.4 MB for a 4 minute song, compared to a 7.5 MB file on AAC.)

    [And I didn't even bother comparing LAME-encoded VBR files to CBR AAC. VBR will result in further improvements and - more often than not - even smaller files.]

    So what is the advantage of AAC? As it is right now, nothing whatsoever. Of course, as soon as someone releases a decent AAC encoder for the Mac (and it won't be Apple, I can assure you of that), then it will be possible to do a true comparison.

    Verdict? QT 6 is pretty much worthless. And don't even get me started about MPEG-4 video ... (Plainly inferior to Sorenson 3 Professional, which can produce smaller files with far superior quality, and has been able to do so for well over a year.)

    This rant isn't so much an indictment of MPEG-4 and AAC technology in and of itself, just Apple's typically half-assed implementation of it. These technologies hold a lot of promise, but , as usual, it will take a third party to do it correctly.
  21. barkmonster macrumors 68020


    Dec 3, 2001
    And you thought you'd be getting thousands of 64Kbps "CD Quality" MP4s on your iPod..

    AAC compression starts lowering the samplerate as you lower the bitdepth.

    I encoded a 30 second drum loop I'd created in protools and bounced to a stereo, 16bit 44.1Khz aiff file.

    Then I encoded it as a stereo AAC/MP4 in every setting from 128Kbps down to 28 Kbps. Here's how much the sample rate falls off as you lower the bitdepth :

    128Kbps or above = 44.1Khz
    64Kbps - 112Kbps = 32Khz
    56Kbps = 24Khz
    40 - 48Kbps = 22.05Khz
    32Kbps = 16Khz
    28Kbps = 11.05Khz

    I stopped at 28Kbps because from 64Kbps onwards, the sound quality really started to suffer, infact I could notice the quality decrease both perceptually and statistically at 96Kbps and below.

    I might also add that rather than use a pop tune that's already had most of the dynamic range crushed out of it by the "louder is better" mentality of pop music mastering, I used a fairly sparse loop I'd created in protools and I didn't add any mastering effects to it other than normalising the overall level of the sound. If I'd crushed the sound to the point where it was as loud as most radio music, the quality difference wouldn't have been as apparent on a perceptual level because even though the original aiff file would have sounded clear, it would have also been very loud and lacking in dynamic range.
  22. Pepzhez macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2002
    Yes, AAC's method of dropping the sample rate is what makes me very suspicious of the codec itself. (However, I am not sure if this is intrinsic to the AAC audio standard or simply a compromised QT 6 implementation.) You may end up with a smaller file size, but at such a price. Obviously, AAC is aimed more at convenience than quality, which may impress ipod users and those who are content to listen to music from built-in Mac speakers or sound sticks and the like, but that's about it.

    Unfortunately, there is very little audio compression design going on right now which takes SONIC QUALITY as its paramount goal. (For example, Sony's ATRAC compression system [implemented on the MiniDisc format] - introduced and constantly evolving since 1992 - is among the oldest of the compression schemes and still the best.) Instead, the concentration is on smaller and smaller file sizes and convenience and little else; audio quality be damned!

    Again, that's OK for most (i.e. - the average computer user); they neither know nor care about good sonic resolution. For those of us who do work with sound (and like things to sound good), I don't think that AAC and the like (.wma, MP3PRO, etc.) is even worth looking into. But then it wasn't designed for serious audio in the first place.
  23. G4scott macrumors 68020


    Jan 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    pepzhez- I think the reason that Apple's encoder in iTunes sucks so much is because Apple doesn't want to pay much for the licensing to allow for iTunes to use the better encoder. That's probably why Audion is better, and costs more. Of course, you have to also remember that Apple makes tons of other products, so they aren't especially good in every category (except for maybe mp3 players, OS's, and video editing) But the MP3's I rip using iTunes sound fine. I encode at 160 Kbps, and I really can't tell the difference between it and CD quality on my speaker system. Of course, it doesn't really matter that much to me...
  24. benjaminpg macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2002
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Another idea might be to use REALbasic. I have used it for some programming I have done and it has a great deal of support for quicktime, or at least it did for version 5. The key feature I think it would need to have would be a batch convert function(i.e. a CD). In case anybody is interested, download a free demo, and I think it comes with an example project that uses quicktime. It might be worth a try.

    Hope this helps.
  25. Pepzhez macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2002
    G4 scott,

    I wasn't trashing iTunes outright. I think for most people's needs, it's just fine. It's fairly decent and functional. I was, however, addressing sonic quality issues, and in that department, iTunes won't really cut it. Again, only an issue if you care about this sort of thing.

    Of course, one could always encode with another app and use iTunes as a player. Except that I (for one) have two problems with this: 1) iTunes just doesn't sound all that great compared to Audion or MacAmp, and 2) iTunes is a real CPU hog, sometimes consuming as much as 40% (!) of available CPU power.

    I did notice that iTunes 3 does indeed consume a bit less CPU power than previous versions did - around 5-10% less on the average, but that's still a bit high, I think.

    The encoding engines in iTunes are obsolete - the very same ones that were there when iTunes was still Sound Jam. Things have come a long way since then,

    As far as I understand it, LAME is an open-source project, and I'd guess (though I could be wrong) that it wouldn't be a big deal or even a financial burden for Apple to integrate it into iTunes if they so desired.

    Nevertheless, command-line OS X/*nix (as well as Windows) LAME encoder engines are available as freeware all over the net, if anyone desires to try it out without forking out $$$ for Audion. Not too long ago I noticed a freeware app - probably a fairly simple script - at Version Tracker that allowed you to use a LAME enoder within iTunes. Can't remember the name of it, but I know it's there. The LAME engine and the script wouldn't cost you a thing.

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