Storing multiple bitrates in iTunes
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 would like to import my CDs into my library at 320kbps in order to preserve them at the highest possible quality. However, I would like to transfer them onto my iPod at 128 kps in order to fit the most songs onto it. Do I have to rip my CD’s twice - once at 320kbps, and again at 128kbps, or can I change the bitrate of the tracks when I transfer them onto my iPod? If I do have to rip the CD’s twice, is it possible to have 2 separate libraries - one for the 320kbps bitrate, and one for the 128kbps?
A: Unfortunately, the only iPod model that offers on-the-fly conversion during transfer is the iPod shuffle, which offers a fixed downconversion to 128kbps. Other iPod models do not offer this option, and will simply transfer your tracks onto the iPod at their original bit-rate and format.
It is possible to maintain two separate iTunes libraries, although keeping them both up to date in terms of playlists and other metadata may become more trouble than it’s worth. To do this, simply hold down the SHIFT key (Windows) or OPT key (Mac) when starting iTunes, and you will be prompted to choose or create a new iTunes library. You can toggle back and forth between libraries using this method.
That having been said, you may want to consider whether you really need 320kbps music stored on your computer if you are not going to be transferring it to your iPod. Most of the significant quality differences between different bit-rates are only noticeable when listening to music through a good set of earphones in a relatively quiet listening environment. Unless you also plan to play your music directly from iTunes through an expensive home audio system, or use quality earphones with your computer itself, the 320kbps tracks on your computer will simply be an unnecessary use of storage space. The greatest benefit from the higher bit-rate will likely come from having these files also stored on your iPod.
Our usual recommendation when discussing bit-rates is to do some proper blind comparisons to determine what bit rate you find acceptable for your own use, since this is an entirely subjective decision. There is seldom any point in encoding music at a higher quality than you can actually hear in your normal listening patterns, and you may find as a result of this that a mid-range bit-rate such as 192kbps or 256kbps is a more than acceptable compromise between iPod capacity and having to maintain two separate libraries. Further, there are many users that find even 128kbps to be perfectly acceptable for any listening conditions.
So before you decide to go to the trouble of using a higher bitrate and maintaining two libraries, your best bet is to try ripping some of your favorite tracks at different bitrates and play them “blind” (without knowing which is which) and try to determine at which point you can actually hear a difference in sound quality.
- 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 hires ex-Nest exec to aid in health initiatives
- Apple loses exclusive ‘iPhone’ trademark in China
- Apple to reveal ‘sweeping changes’ to Apple Music interface at WWDC
- Apple releases fourth developer betas for iOS 9.3.2, tvOS 9.2.1
- Bowers & Wilkins acquired by EVA Automation
- India rejects Apple’s plan to sell used iPhones
- Rumor: Purported iPhone 7 component photo shows headphone jack intact
- Families fight in court over missing teen’s iPhone data
- Court allows police to force woman to unlock iPhone with Touch ID fingerprint
- Coach reportedly releasing bands for Apple Watch
- August Doorbell Cam
- August Smart Lock HomeKit enabled + Smart Keypad
- ecobee3 HomeKit-enabled smart Wi-Fi thermostat
- Zagg Now Cam
- Yantouch EyE Portable Wireless Speaker
- Netatmo Wind Gauge
- Incipio Stashback for iPhone 6/6s
- Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt with HomeKit support
- ClamCase ClamCase Pro for iPad mini 4
- Brydge BrydgeMini II Keyboard for iPad mini 4
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app
- Inside the betas: What’s new in iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 (Updated)
- Life with HomeKit: Our experiences with Apple’s home automation system
- Under the Radar: 10 ‘hidden’ details about the new Apple TV
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.0
- Under the Radar: A closer look at smaller iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus changes
- A First Look at iOS 9’s Transit in Apple Maps (Updated for watchOS 2)