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macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 12, 2010
I have a modified ipod that has 32gb of flash storage on it, and I am loading music onto it for someone. They have quite a bit of music 100+ albums, that I have tipped in flac format.

I will be converting these to mp3 to put onto the ipod, but would like to know of the lowest bitrate I can go to get the most music on the device.


macrumors member
May 21, 2014
That really depends on a load of variables. How good are your friends ears and headphones? You could have FLACs on the device and crap headphones. It'll sound as good as the lowest common denominator. I wouldn't even try to fit all the albums on. 32GB isn't a lot of space. A nice iTunes library and regular plugging in and swapping playlists over would be a better option with this much storage. Encode your FLACs to 320 .MP3s, it'll still sound as good for most people
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macrumors 6502a
Apr 16, 2015
San Jose, CA
For MP3s, 224 kbps is the lowest I would go as anything below that starts to sound pretty nasty. I would recommend encoding them as 256 kbps AAC files though, the quality is comparable to 320K MP3s and they take up less space than MP3s do.


Staff member
Jul 1, 2014
What @Muttznuttz said.

Personally, all my music is in 256 AAC, but, when listening to music, I'm not using audiophile headphones, more than likely piping through the car stereo (read: tire noise, fans, traffic), so, not ideal listening conditions. Or working out and getting outside/ambient noise.

Add in age, where hearing might not be what it once was.

Might be over thinking this, imo.


macrumors 6502a
Aug 22, 2015
All depend of the headphones that is going to be used to listen to the music. Good headphones will show the difference between 192, 320 and Flac. There are headphones that make music sound good even if those mp3's are recorded in 128 or 192. There's others that reproduce every single bit of those sounds and if music is not recorded in 320 or Flac it causes fatigue to the ears. For my ears 320 is good enough, that is CD quality.


Jun 30, 2007
For my ears 320 is good enough, that is CD quality.

Theoretical CD bitrate is ~1400 kbps, although most disks don't reach that rate. I avoid encodings <320 kbps as they are just unpleasant. Sweet spot for me is in the 700-1000 kbps range. Prefer high bitrate, such as DTS-MA movie soundtracks (which theoretically can go to 24 Mbps). If you don't have a good recording, good headphones/speakers, a good dac in your device you won't hear the difference.

You might want to encode the same track at different bitrates for your friend. Have them say which one sounds best, or where they don't hear the difference with a higher bitrate. Then encode at their preferred bitrate.

rui no onna

Oct 25, 2013
I don't have good headphones but I ran a blind test on PC a while back. I stop hearing any difference around 240-320 kbps MP3 (128, 160, 192, 240, 320, FLAC).
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