Much like Blanche DuBois, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. And I am routinely amazed — and heartened — to discover just how generous people can be with their knowledge. Take members of
this site’s forums, for example.
Were it not for the kindness of one
Billeblast, I wouldn’t have twigged to an obvious (now that he or she has mentioned it, of course) solution for creating smaller audio files from older recordings.
Do it in mono.
Most music committed to vinyl before 1960 was recorded in mono (and many records were issued in both mono and stereo versions through much of the rest of the 60s). Even when released in a two-channel version, some records employed stereo in very odd ways. Many of the Beatles’ records, for example, feature vocals shoved into the right speaker while the instruments play from the left speaker. To my ears, these albums sound better in “transistor radio mode” (i.e., mono) when played through a personal digital player.
Not only can you improve the quality of your listening experience by going one-channel, you can save a load of storage space on your computer and digital player. When you rip a tune in mono, you cut its file size in half as compared to a stereo rip.
Interested? Here’s how to use iTunes to rip a mono track:
1. Launch iTunes and select Preferences from the iTunes menu on a Mac or the Edit menu on a Windows PC.
2. Click the Importing tab.
3. Click on the Setting pop-up menu and choose Custom.
4. In the resulting window, choose Mono from the Channels pop-up menu and click OK to dismiss the window.
5. Click OK to dismiss the Importing window and you’re good to go.
6. Insert your favorite Beach Boys CD, rip it, and enjoy the music in the way Brian Wilson originally intended.
This technique works for all of iTunes’ encoders save Apple Lossless, which doesn’t allow you to customize its settings.
And all this because of the kindness of strangers. Thanks, Billeblast! If others of you are feeling similarly generous, I hope you’ll post a tip of your own.