Question Itunes and Ipod sound quality

silky320

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Mar 8, 2021
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Years ago I burned my CD collection to Itunes when I got an Ipod classic as a gift.. Many of the songs and albums sound terrible on the ipod.. Question is will I get any better sound playing those albums from Itunes with my pc connected to a dac to an amp?? Or is the music compressed and no longer actual CD quality recordings?? If the music is garbage coming from I tunes what would you suggest?? Re rip all my CDs ???
 
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I got an iPod Mini as a gift back in about 2005 and would rip CDs to MP3 for it way before I ever considered the computer to be a 'serious' source of music. I did that for years and ended up with a mish mash of various bit rate rips all done with different programs. I went back and re-ripped my entire 500+ CD collection to FLAC a few years ago. It took a few months but was worth it just for the lossless backup if nothing else.
 

iMark

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May 16, 2008
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I agree that ripping to a lossless format is probably the only and best way to solve the issues. FLAC however is not the most convenient option when you use Apple equipment. ALAC (Apple Lossless) is a much easier format to use. iTunes is a surprisingly good and convenient CD ripping app. There have been many tests of iTunes over the years and basically you get bit perfect rips if you use error correction. The good thing about lossless files it that you can convert them from one lossless format to another without losing any quality. So if you rip to ALAC now you can convert the files to FLAC, AIFF or WAV in the future.

Incidentally, Apple Lossless (ALAC) is no longer a proprietary Apple format. You can safely rip CDs to ALAC now and still use the files in later years if you change to equipment from other brands.

If you rip your CDs to Apple Lossless (ALAC) with error correction on your CDs will sound fine. I've ripped all our CDs to Apple Lossless. I can copy ALAC-files to my iPhone my iPod nano from my Mac and I can stream the ripped CDs from my Mac to our network receiver via AirPlay. That sounds at least as good as playing them through our Sony UHP-H1 and a digital connection to the receiver.

Apple Lossless is also the format used by AirPlay for streaming audio over the network. The conversion to analogue sound is done by the amplifier.

If you use iTunes (or Music in later versions of macOS) for ripping CDs I strongly recommend using the following settings:
Screenshot 2021-03-17 at 09.52.49.png
The only downside of ALAC files on an iPod is the file size. If the storage capacity isn't large, you can use a setting in iTunes to convert lossless files to smaller files on the fly. The original lossless files remain in the library but you get smaller copies on your iPod.
When the iPod is connected you can tick the option "Convert higher bit rate songs to 256 kbps AAC" You can even use lower settings like 128 or 192 kbps. Obviously you lose a bit of sound quality at a lower bit rate. In my experience 256 kbps AAC is good enough when travelling.
Screenshot 2021-03-17 at 10.10.23.png
 
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Years ago I burned my CD collection to Itunes when I got an Ipod classic as a gift.. Many of the songs and albums sound terrible on the ipod.. Question is will I get any better sound playing those albums from Itunes with my pc connected to a dac to an amp?? Or is the music compressed and no longer actual CD quality recordings?? If the music is garbage coming from I tunes what would you suggest?? Re rip all my CDs ???
Depends how you told Itune to record your music. Think the default was 256 aac been along time since I used that program though
 

manicm

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May 1, 2008
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I’ve had 4 iPods and from experience I can say that they sounded different. After the 3rd generation the Classic sounded rubbish indeed. Why? Cos in fact Apple inserted inferior dacs into them. All the ‘space and air’ got swept away.

So indeed iTunes on a PC will definitely sound better. Tip, also from experience - if you are hell-bent on using iTunes DO NOT RIP IN ALAC, rip in AIFF.
 

iMark

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May 16, 2008
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Why would anyone rip to AIFF in this day and age? It's a waste of storage space. ALAC is the perfect lossless solution when you use Apple equipment.

Ripping to FLAC level 6 is an even worse advice. There is no benefit in doing that. It's actually an even worse waste of storage than AIFF or WAV.

The beauty of lossless compression that it is really what it says on the tin: Lossless! There have been many experiments with lossless compression and transcoding. If you rip a CD in ALAC, transcode it to FLAC, transcode it to WAV and then burn a CD you will have a bit perfect copy of the original CD. It may actually sound even better if the rip is done with error correction on. Your CD player will have less error correction to do when playing. Error correction in ripping works much better than in a CD player because it doesn't have to be done on the fly. The basic principle is: lossless is lossless. Unfortunately there are still people who think the basic principle isn't true.

@millennia_one
I think you're right about the default setting in iTunes being 256 kbps AAC in the past. I started out with that before switching to ripping to ALAC when the prices of storage went down and integrated my Mac into the stereo system with an Airport Express. That was around 15 years ago.
 
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manicm

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May 1, 2008
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Why would anyone rip to AIFF in this day and age? It's a waste of storage space. ALAC is the perfect lossless solution when you use Apple equipment.

Ripping to FLAC level 6 is an even worse advice. There is no benefit in doing that. It's actually an even worse waste of storage than AIFF or WAV.

The beauty of lossless compression that it is really what it says on the tin: Lossless! There have been many experiments with lossless compression and transcoding. If you rip a CD in ALAC, transcode it to FLAC, transcode it to WAV and then burn a CD you will have a bit perfect copy of the original CD. It may actually sound even better if the rip is done with error correction on. Your CD player will have less error correction to do when playing. Error correction in ripping works much better than in a CD player because it doesn't have to be done on the fly. The basic principle is: lossless is lossless. Unfortunately there are still people who think the basic principle isn't true.

@millennia_one
I think you're right about the default setting in iTunes being 256 kbps AAC in the past. I started out with that before switching to ripping to ALAC when the prices of storage went down and integrated my Mac into the stereo system with an Airport Express. That was around 15 years ago.
Cos AIFF just sounds better.
 

iMark

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May 16, 2008
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Storage space is still an issue on iPods: it's limited.

@manicm You can't simply state that AIFF sounds "better" than ALAC. Maybe it does on your equipment. Our ripped CDs streamed via Airplay sound at least as good as the original CDs played through any of my other players.

People have been discussing ALAC and AIFF for years. But unfortunately the same debunked myths are still perpetuated by some people. Here's a thread from 2013. Still interesting and true: https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php?topic=100851.0
 
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manicm

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May 1, 2008
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Storage space is still an issue on iPods: it's limited.

@manicm You can't simply state that AIFF sounds "better" than ALAC. Maybe it does on your equipment. Our ripped CDs streamed via Airplay sound at least as good as the original CDs played through any of my other players.

People have been discussing ALAC and AIFF for years. But unfortunately the same debunked myths are still perpetuated by some people. Here's a thread from 2013. Still interesting and true: https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php?topic=100851.0
Doesn't using Airplay degrade the sound quality? So there's a weak link in the playback chain already.
 

iMark

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May 16, 2008
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AirPlay is lossless CD quality. And as we all know lossless is lossless.

A ripped CD streamed through Airplay is bit perfect. Potentially even better sounding than a CD player because the ALAC file doesn’t need error correction. You only need a decent home network.

I wonder where these misconceptions about lossless streaming and lossless files come from.
 

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