Burning iTunes purchases to an MP3 CD
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: I wondering about the difference between “Protected” and “Purchased” iTunes Store purchases in regards to burning them to a CD. I know I can’t burn “Protected” songs to a CD in MP3 format but what about “Purchased” or iTunes Plus songs? When I try to burn I get a message that only MP3 format can be burned to a MP3 CD. If I convert the song to MP3 format I get a second copy. Is this in fact a copy and what are the downsides or other ramifications in converting these AAC audio files to MP3?
A: The main difference between a “Protected” track as opposed to a “Purchased” track from the iTunes Store is the digital rights management (DRM) protection. “Protected” tracks, as the name implies, have DRM on them which limits what you can do with these tracks, including the ability to convert them to other formats or listen to them on devices that do not support Apple’s FairPlay DRM.
“Purchased” tracks, on the other hand, are “iTunes Plus” tracks which do not have any DRM protection, and are in fact normal AAC files, with the only minor difference being an embedded header which identifies the iTunes Store account that was used to purchase the item. As a result, “Purchased” tracks can be played on any device which supports the AAC format, or converted to any other format.
Standard Audio CDs can be burned from any track purchased from the iTunes Store, whether it is protected or not. “Protected” tracks have some fairly loose limitations on how many times they may be burned to an audio CD, but these limitations are based on playlists and not on individual tracks, and it is very rare for the average end-user to ever encounter this limit.
iTunes also provides the ability to burn MP3 CDs which can be played in certain CD players that can read MP3 files directly. Since “Protected” tracks cannot be converted to another format due to the DRM, these tracks cannot be burned to an MP3 CD at all. “Purchased” tracks can be converted to MP3 in the same way as any other AAC file, but unfortunately iTunes does not do this automatically when burning an MP3 CD—you have to do it yourself. In fact, even if you have AAC format tracks that you have ripped yourself or acquired from other sources, you would have to convert them manually before you could burn them to an MP3 CD.
You can convert the tracks using iTunes itself, or a third-party conversion tool. To convert a track in iTunes, you simply ensure that your default format is set to your preferred MP3 format under Preferences, Advanced, Importing and then select the track(s) you would like to convert and use the Advanced, Convert Selection to MP3 menu option.
Converting from one lossy format (ie, AAC) to another (ie, MP3) will generally result in a loss in audio quality in the converted file, which is probably why iTunes makes a copy when converting the file, rather than replacing the original. The higher the bit-rate of the original source file, the better the results will be, but there will still be a quality loss. Whether this is perceptible or not will depend on your equipment and your own ears. “Purchased” iTunes Plus tracks use a higher 256kbps bit-rate, so you may get reasonable results if all you’re looking for is a 128kbps MP3 file as the target.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- New Puff Daddy Documentary will be another Apple Music exclusive
- Apple releases fifth beta of iOS 10.3.2
- Report: Apple’s Jimmy Iovine still has ambitious video plans for Apple Music
- Apple executive talks using AI to boost human memory
- Apple rolling out ‘Today at Apple’ educational courses starting in May
- Smart home device maker iDevices acquired by Hubbell
- Apple delays ‘Carpool Karaoke’ release to ‘later this year’
- Dutch court rules Apple can’t replace broken iPads with refurbished models
- Chinese blog claims Apple is only releasing two iPhone 8 models, no iPhone 7s or 7s Plus
- Apple releases fourth betas of iOS 10.3.2, watchOS 3.2.2, and tvOS 10.2.1
- Advanced Evo X & M4
- Advanced Mezger aptX Bluetooth Receiver
- iDevices Wall Switch
- iDevices Wall Outlet
- Koogeek Wi-Fi SmartSocket for Apple HomeKit
- Sony MDR-1000X Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
- FiiO i1 Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Adapter
- Blue Ella Headphones
- Apple iPad (Fifth-Generation)
- AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon Headphones
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10