Converting non-shuffle songs down to 128Kbps

Q: When I recently bought a 1GB Shuffle I noticed an option I’ve never seen with my regular 3G 40GB iPod – “Convert all files down to 128kbps.” This is an option I’d love to have for the regular iPod as I have chosen to rip all the CDs I own at a much higher bit rate to have the best possible quality when played through my high-end entertainment system at home. Is there any way I can do this for all the tracks in my library, and reduce the size of my music files?

– Henry

A: This automatic conversion is currently a “shuffle only” feature, designed to make the most of the iPod shuffle’s limited capacity. However, you can do the same thing with iTunes at any time. Select the iTunes preferences, and click the Importing tab. Change the bit rate to 128 kpbs (or the bit rate you’d like to use). Select any of your tracks, such as an album or playlist, then select Advanced > Convert Selection to [format], where format is the encoding format you’ve selected. A new collection of downsampled tracks will appear.

However, we don’t recommend this; unless the original files were encoded at a very high bit rate, it is probable that the result of decoding and re-encoding the files will result in sound artifacts. Unlike the iPod shuffle-specific feature, this will also force you to keep two versions of songs in your library. So try it out with a few different files and see how they sound before converting your entire library.

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.

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