using iTunes to create a digital archive of audio CDs

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by ghanwani, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. ghanwani macrumors 6502a

    Dec 8, 2008
    I've been wanting to create a digital archive of all my music. I want to accomplish two things

    1. Put all my CDs in their original quality on my hard drive and regularly back it up. Hopefully, once this is done, I can discard all of my CDs or put them away in a hard to reach box, thereby reducing clutter.

    2. Have all of my songs easily accessible via a iPod/iPhone/etc. I have only about 150 CDs.

    I'm a PC user, but am thinking about getting a Mac Book Pro. As of now, it looks like iTunes and Windows Media Player would let me accomplish #1, but since I want to get #2 as well, I've decided to use iTunes. But I have a ton of questions and am hoping to get get some answers.

    Right now, I just pop the CD into the drive, and get iTunes to Import the CD with the only changes to the default being that I ask it to import to WAV (which is not the default). However, I use the default WAV settings.
    Am I doing the right thing with respect to importing for best quality?

    Why does iTunes offer additional configuration for importing to WAV files? There are settings for sampling rate and such, although I'm just using the defaults for those.

    Would there be any difference at all between a rip using Windows Media Player and a rip using iTunes?

    I have enabled error correction in the "import settings". Is there a way to tell if there were no errors, if an error was encountered and corrected, or if an uncorrectable error was encountered, while importing a CD?

    For many of the CDs that I've imported so far, Apple does not seem to have the artwork. Is there a recommended place to get artwork for iTunes and what would be the procedure for adding artwork?

    After I have imported a CD in WAV, how do I convert that to something smaller that I can then download to an iPod? Is it possible for iTunes to keep the song in multiple formats?

    Thanks for any help!

  2. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Have a look in the iTunes prefrences for importing and select apple lossless format. That gives you a like for like copy that will play on your iPod perfectly.

    Also make sure your pc is online and it'll download the album art and track names for you ;)
  3. ghanwani thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 8, 2008
    So you're saying no need for storing the WAV files? I wanted to keep those so they can be accessed by any other player. Let's say some time down the line I decide to stop using Apple and go with Windows/MP3; then the WAV files would be readily readable by any other player.

    When using Apple lossless format, are the files typically as big as the WAV files?

    My PC is online. It does get the track names, but I'm assuming it gets those from the CD. For artwork, I usually have to right click and ask it to download the artwork for a given album. This usually works only if the album is available on iTunes. For albums not available on iTunes, it says it can't find the artwork.

  4. kiranmk2 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2008
    Any of the lossless codecs will produce an exact copy of your original CDs. In addition, an lossless archive can be encoded to whatever the popular standard of the day is. For example, you can rip in (for example) Apple Lossless. You can then compress them down to 256 kbps AAC variable bit rate (which is the standard of today) for everyday use. In 10 years if the standard is different, you can go back to your Apple Lossless files and compress them to the new standard.

    The benefits of Apple lossless over WAV are that you can add metadata to Apple Lossless which will be carried over to any compressed files. In addition, all the modern lossless codecs (such as Apple Lossless, flac etc) tend to take up ~50% the space of a WAV (depending on track complexity - classical music often gives even better compression.

    In addition, I recommend your use an accurate ripper (something like DBPowerAmp in Windows or XLD on Mac) to rip your CDs as this ensures the rip results are compared to an online database to ensure they have ripped correctly.
  5. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)

    In iTunes 9 there's a checkbox (on the iPod page I believe) that directs iTunes to compress the tracks as they're synced with the iPod. You don't get to choose the compression settings, though, and I've forgotten what they are pre-set to be.

  6. ghanwani thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 8, 2008
    I just tried dbpoweramp. The wav files are definitely different in size. The ones by dbpoweramp are slightly larger. Any idea why this would be the case? Is it because they are encoding more information into the wav file? In general, dbpoweramp seems to give a heck of lot more control over the entire process including file naming, even though I actually prefer the naming used by iTunes over the default setting in dbpoweramp. Thanks for the suggestion.

  7. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Mar 19, 2008
    Warrington, UK
    No, and I find it strange that in these days the information isn't on audio CDs. However, the track names come from the Gracenotes database:

    There are various ways of getting artwork. I tend to find the CD on Amazon, and copy the artwork from there.
  8. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Quite a bit of high resolution artwork is at
  9. UpDownAeroplane macrumors member

    May 21, 2010
    the best place to get album artwork is at

    it has the highest quality, imo. multiple resolutions for some images too.
  10. UpDownAeroplane macrumors member

    May 21, 2010
  11. johnryjr macrumors regular

    Oct 12, 2007
    I recently re-encoded all of the physical albums I have into a separate lossless library. I have my main libraries music encoded in 256 AAC with error correction. Is VBR better? Space doesn't matter to me so I didn't think it did. I guess the entire song is encoded at the same exact rate no matter how complex that part of the song is or isn't where VBR adds or removes bits where appropriate. Does this really make a difference besides space? I am ocd haha and would hate to redo stuff again.

  12. B Gallagher macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2008
    New Zealand
    I found this tutorial really useful:

    Granted, it's only really relevant in this case for extracting .wav files, but what I like about xACT is that it tells you whether there have been any encoding errors when importing from CD.

    From there I import the files into iTunes, fill in all the track/artist/album etc. details, and convert to AAC.

    However, I haven't been doing this much for songs that I previously had in my iTunes library as .mp3 files. The reason being is that the option in iTunes to replace existing files is much more convenient.

Share This Page