Converting lossless tracks for iPod
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Q: I’d like to rip all my CDs with a lossless compression format, but then upload them to my iPod nano in a compressed format to save space on my iPod. My server is directly connected to a HiFi amplifier and I use my iPod for travelling. Any idea how I can achieve that without ripping all my CDs twice?
A: While this used to be a very cumbersome process requiring two copies of your tracks or even two entire libraries, the good news is that with iTunes 9.1 this is a lot easier than it once was. As of the latest version, iTunes can now automatically convert higher bit-rate tracks such as lossless down to 128kbps AAC during sync to an iPod or iPhone.
To enable this, make sure you’ve updated to iTunes 9.1 and then simply connect your iPod and look for the option in the “Summary” screen for your iPod nano:
Clicking this option and hitting “Apply” will convert all of your lossless tracks to 128kbps during sync to the iPod. Note that this is an all-or-nothing option that will affect all tracks synced to your iPod.
Further, you can’t customize for a specific bit-rate or format—the setting is fixed at 128kbps AAC. If you want to use another format such as MP3, or load a higher bit-rate onto your iPod, then you will need to keep a separate copy of your music in the lower-bitrate format for iPod use. Note that you don’t actually need to rip your CDs twice to accomplish this, however—you can rip to lossless and then have iTunes convert your tracks from there. This does, however, mean that you’ll be maintaining two copies of each track, so it’s probably not worth it unless you really have a problem with the 128kbps AAC format for use on your iPod nano.
Q: I just purchased a fifth-generation iPod nano. After I had imported some songs from my CD collection, I noticed there was an option on iTunes to “convert higher bit rate songs to 128 kpps.” I selected this option, hit “Apply” and my iPod began synching. I soon realized I did not want to do this, and unchecked the box. However, the iPod continued synching and, I believe, has converted the song into 128 kpps. Now that the conversion process is through, is there a way to “unconvert” these files, so they go back to their original, higher bit rate?
A: Just to be clear, this setting only converts the tracks as they are synced to your iPod—your original tracks in iTunes remain in whatever format they were originally imported in. In fact, the process doesn’t even save the new versions on your computer—the tracks are converted in memory and then saved only onto the iPod in the 128kbps AAC format.
That said, if you’ve decided that you’d rather place the original, non-converted versions back onto your iPod, this setting is easily undone. Just uncheck the option and click “Apply” and iTunes will remove all of the converted tracks from your iPod and replace them with the original versions.
Remember that none of this affects the original tracks that are in your iTunes library—these will be in whatever format you imported them in originally. Only tracks placed on your iPod get converted when this setting is enabled.
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