As it’s May 1st, and therefore the day set aside to assist my comrades in their world-wide struggle against music-encoding kafufflement, I present this query from blues-man, Steve Hall:
I’m a professional Blues musician, and while I design and build tube-type guitar amps, I know very little about recording, especially digital formats. I do know that AIFF is the format in which music comes on factory CDs. Some time ago I spent several weeks building an iTunes library one disc at a time, including scanning their art work (over 300 discs). I thought I was bringing them in as AIFF files, but, in fact, I brought most of them in as AAC. If I understand how this works, these are files made smaller by removing frequencies that the human ear supposedly can’t hear due to their level within the total mix. I spent several more weeks using the “convert to AIFF” command located under the Advanced menu in iTunes to make them AIFF again.
So here’s my question. Can this command actually make the song files true AIFF files with all the original data, or do I need to feed the discs back to the computer with Import as AIFF selected to get the true entire program that was on the original audio CD?
Normally, the answer I’m about to provide would sadden the recipient. But, given that you’re a blues guy, and therefore only benefit from bad news, I’m happy to provide the service.
If you want these tracks to be true AIFF, you’ll have to start over and re-rip all your CDs.
You imported the CDs in iTunes’ default settings, which is AAC at 128kbps. These files are about 9-percent the size of the original, unencoded file. This format is great for saving space but, as you suggest, they lose a little something because this is a “lossy” encoder — one that strips out audio you supposedly can’t hear. Given your line of work, you might very well be able to tell the difference — particularly when listening to higher frequencies.
Regrettably, you can’t put back in that which has been taken out so converting to AIFF buys you nothing except larger files — the sound that was stripped out is gone forever. So, if you want the complete “my baby done me wrong” goodness from your CDs, you should return to iTunes, open its Preferences, click the Advanced tab, choose the Importing button, select AIFF from the Import Using pop-up menu, click OK, and then start re-ripping your discs.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for is great sounding audio as well as some reduction in file size, I’d suggest you consider re-ripping those tracks using the Apple Lossless encoder (this is another option in that Import Using pop-up menu). As its name implies, Apple Lossless makes files smaller without reducing fidelity — resulting files will be around 50 – 60-percent of their original size.
5/1/07 9:13AM Updated entry to include information about Apple Lossless encoding