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Slow sync speeds when converting to 128kbps
By Jesse Hollington | 02.27.13

Q: I’m over capacity on my iPod touch so i’ve chosen the convert to 128kbps option. It’s taking FOREVER to sync. Literally, it’s been syncing song 2 out of 1800 for an hour already. Is there any way to speed this up? I listen to a lot of music and I hate it when I remove a song from my iPod and then a few months later I suddenly feel like listening to it.

- Chaz

A: Although the option for converting tracks down to a lower bit rate during sync will noticeably increase sync times due to the necessary time to perform the conversion, it should not be slowing it down as much as you’re seeing. The most likely cause of this may be a track that iTunes is having problems converting to the lower bit-rate for whatever reason.

If you can identify the specific track, you can attempt to convert it down to 128kbps manually. To do this, first choose your preferred format and bit-rate by selecting Import Settings from the General screen in your iTunes Preferences.

Once you’ve done this, select the track in question and choose File, Create New Version, Create AAC Version from the iTunes menu. This will create a duplicate copy of the track in the new format; if there are any problems with the conversion, iTunes is also more likely to notify you in this case rather than simply stalling out as it sometimes does when converting on-the-fly.

Note that if you have enough disk space and don’t mind having duplicate tracks around, you can pre-convert your entire library to a lower bit-rate using the same method above. In this scenario, you can use Smart Playlists to distinguish between your lower and higher bit-rate versions.

 

Additional criteria can be used to filter these down even further, such as by genre or presence in another standard or Smart Playlist. You can then choose to sync only the lower bit-rate Smart Playlist to your iPod to maintain the lower bit-rate versions. The obvious downside to this approach is that you will end up with two copies of everything in your library, but if you normally work from playlists that shouldn’t be too difficult to deal with. The upside, however, is that you won’t need to worry about the time required to convert tracks on-the-fly when changing up the music on your iPod touch.

Lastly, if the only real issue is space on your device and you’re on Wi-Fi often enough, you may want to consider subscribing to iTunes Match. For $25/year, you can basically upload your entire library to iCloud, accessing any track over a Wi-Fi connection while choosing specific tracks, albums, artists, and playlists to store locally on your device. Downloaded tracks will still be stored on your device at 256kbps, but you can stream anything from your library as long as you have Wi-Fi access, and change-up your music for offline listening fairly easily even when you’re away from your iTunes library.

 

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