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Burning MP3 CDs

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Q: How do I convert my iTunes music onto an MP3 CD? My car plays MP3 and I want to be able to burn several albums onto a CD.

- Eugene

A: You can burn an MP3 CD in iTunes simply by choosing the “MP3 CD” option when burning a CD. This will take your MP3 files and burn them directly to the CD in a data disc format that should be playable by MP3 CD players.

Note, however, that this only works if the music you want to burn is already in an MP3 format, which music purchased from the iTunes Store will definitely not be, and music you’ve imported yourself may not be. Fortunately, as long as you’re dealing with unprotected iTunes Store content or files you’ve imported yourself, you can easily convert these to an MP3 format directly in iTunes.

To do this, go into your iTunes Preferences, and on the General tab, click the “Import Settings” button and select the MP3 Encoder. You can also choose a bit-rate here; lower bit-rates will produce smaller files at a theoretically lower quality, but allow you to fit more music on an MP3 CD. Note that when listening with most average car stereos while in a moving car, you’re unlikely to hear any differences in quality anyway.

Once you’ve done this, go to the playlist containing the tracks you want to burn to an MP3 CD, select the tracks, and choose “Create MP3 Version” from the Advanced menu. iTunes will convert each track into an MP3, leaving the original track in place. You can then remove the original tracks from the playlist and burn the remaining tracks to an MP3 CD.

Note the original tracks will remain in your library, so you will actually have duplicates of each converted track. As the converted MP3 files will be of a lower quality than the original source files, since they are essentially a conversion of one lossy format into another, when you’ve finished burning your MP3 CDs, you can delete the extra MP3 files and simply keep the originals in your library.

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