Audio File Formats Compatible with the iPod

Q: I am about to buy an iPod and was wondering which file format the iPod uses? Can it convert other file formats, such as Windows Media Player and Real One Player so that they will play on my iPod?

– kmgough

A: The iPod plays a variety of formats: AAC, MP3, AIFF, WAV and Apple Lossless. The first format, AAC, is the one that the iTunes Music Store uses, and you can also use this format for music you import. You can play any MP3 file, including variable bit rate (VBR).

AIFF and WAV are two versions of music files that are non-compressed; you can use either of these, but they take up as much space as the original CDs, or about 600 MB per hour. Finally, Apple Lossless is a compression format that loses no audio quality, and takes up about half the space of the original music.

WMA files (if they were not store purchased and thus do not contain DRM information) can be imported into iTunes on Windows, and converted into any of iTunes’ native formats.

You currently cannot import Real Player files into iTunes directly, but there are separate applications to convert Real One files into formats that the iPod can recognize.

Kirk McElhearn is the author of several books including iPod & iTunes Garage. His blog, Kirkville features articles about the iPod, iTunes, Mac OS X and much more.