iPod capacity and bit-rates
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: According to Apple, my nano is supposed to hold 1000 songs. However, when I try to sync over 900, I’m told that there is not enough room. Some songs that are less than 3 minutes long are 20.3 MB while some songs that are more than 3 minutes long are 3 MB. What causes this and can it be fixed?
A: The amount of space a song takes up is directly proportional to its bit-rate, which is the amount of data that is encoded for each second of audio. This is normally expressed in kilobits per second, or kbps. A higher bit-rate normally means a higher quality audio file, since there is more data (bits) available to encode the sound you’re listening to. Of course, this also means a larger file. As you might expect, a 256kbps audio file would take up twice as much space as the same audio file encoded at 128kbps, since there are twice as many bits of data for each second of audio.
In this case, the likely problem is that you may have your music encoded at higher bit-rates than what Apple considers to be typical. Apple’s storage calculations are still based on four-minute tracks encoded at 128kbps, which would work out to roughly 4MB of storage required per track (and therefore roughly 1000 tracks on a 4GB nano by extension). However, it is not uncommon with today’s digital music to find tracks encoded at higher bit-rates from various sources. In fact, even the iTunes Store offers “iTunes Plus” tracks at 256kbps—twice the bit-rate traditionally offered by the iTunes Store.
In the example you’ve provided above, the 20.3 MB 3-minute track is obviously encoded at a much higher bit-rate. In this case, it sounds like this track is in Apple Lossless format, which produces very high audio quality (technically indistinguishable from the original CD), but produces significantly larger files. If you are encoding your entire library in Apple Lossless format, you will be able to store significantly fewer tracks on a 4GB nano, and may want to consider a higher-capacity player.
You can check out our iPod Storage Calculator to help you determine how much content you would be able to fit on a given iPod model at various bit-rates.
Of course, if audio quality is not critically important to you, then you can re-encode these tracks into a lower bit-rate by using the built-in conversion option available in iTunes. Keep in mind that generally only the most extreme audiophiles are concerned about putting Lossless quality files on their iPods—most average users will likely not be able to hear the difference between a Lossless file and a high-bitrate MP3/AAC file, and even this distinction is further diminished if you are not using high-quality earphones with your iPod.
To convert your files, first check your default format settings by going to iTunes’ Preferences, and check the Advanced, Importing tab:
Ensure that the preferences here are set to your preferred encoder (MP3 or AAC) and a lower bit-rate of your choice. If you’re only using the stock Apple earbuds with your iPod nano, chances are that 128kbps will be more than sufficient in this regard, although you may want to choose a slightly higher bit-rate if you also plan to listen to your digital music library on other higher-quality devices. Bear in mind that any discussion about bit-rates will always be largely subjective—there are many users who swear that Apple Lossless is the only acceptable quality, and others who are more than happy with 128kbps files. The best way to determine your own ideal setting is to try converting into a few different bit-rates and determine for yourself which bit-rate is best for your own use through blind testing (ie, listening without knowing which file is which).
Once these settings are configured, simply select the tracks that you wish to convert, and choose Advanced, Convert to MP3/AAC (depending on the format you’ve selected), and iTunes will create a copy of that track in the default lower-bitrate format. You can then select that copy for transfer to your iPod, and/or simply delete the higher-bit-rate file.
- 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?
- Apple offering hands-on demos of Super Mario Run in stores
- Report: Apple pursuing studio agreements for early movie rentals
- Apple releases seventh beta of iOS 10.2 to developers
- Apple makes its picks for best iPhone, iPad and Apple TV apps of 2016
- Apple acknowledges Apple Music now includes ‘all the benefits of iTunes Match’
- Apple Music tops 20 million subscribers
- Apple blames ‘external factors’ for iPhone fires in China
- Rumor: 2017 iPhones won’t include glass chassis or wireless charging; will add red color
- Top Apple supplier Foxconn planning U.S. investment
- Apple enables Single Sign-On across all iOS 10 and tvOS 10 devices
- Elgato Eve Light Switch
- iHome iPLWBT5 Docking Clock Radio for iPhone and Apple Watch
- Brydge 12.9 iPad Pro Keyboard
- Sen.se GuardPeanut
- iHome iZBT10 Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Speaker
- Twelve South HiRise Duet for Apple Watch and iPhone
- IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitor
- JBL Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Headphones
- Edifier e235 Luna E Speaker System
- Clamcase ClamCase+ for 9.7” iPad Pro
- 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