Managing multiple audio formats in iTunes

Q: I keep a lossless playlist and a AAC playlist and only the AAC list I would like to have on my iPod when synchronizing with iTunes. How do I synchronize and make sure I only get the AAC list? Further, if I want to create playlists with just AAC, can I create playlist(s) in a playlist?

– Dutch

A: When maintaining a library of two different audio formats, the best way to organize and separate the different formats is through the use of Smart Playlists.

A simple Smart Playlist that searches for audio files based on fields such as “Kind” and “Bitrate” can be used to select all of your tracks in a given format. For instance, a Smart Playlist such as the following would select all AAC tracks of 256kbps or below:

(Note that “Less than 257 kbps” needs to be used to include 256kbps tracks, since the condition is “less than” and not “less than or equal to”)

The benefit of Smart Playlists is that they are automatically updated. So a main “AAC” playlist will always contain all AAC tracks which meet the criteria you’ve specified. This can be very handy to synchronize only your AAC tracks to your iPod without including the Apple Lossless tracks as well, which we will discuss further on.

While standard playlists cannot be nested within each other, you can build additional Smart Playlists based on whether a track is in an existing playlist. So you could use a master “AAC” playlist, which contains all of your AAC tracks, as a reference point for building additional Smart Playlists. For example, if you wanted to select only 100 AAC tracks from your Rock genre that you had not listened to in at least three weeks, you could build a Smart Playlist like the following:


Managing multiple audio formats in iTunes

The “Playlist” condition can also be used to select tracks based on standard playlists, so if you already have standard playlists built which contain a mixture of tracks in both formats, you could filter out only the AAC tracks from that playlist by including only tracks that exist in both the AAC Smart Playlist and your manual playlist:


Managing multiple audio formats in iTunes

Once you’ve built these playlists, you can easily control which content is synced to your iPod by choosing to only sync “Selected Playlists” in your iPod sync settings. To do this, simply select your iPod in the iTunes source list while it’s connected and then select the “Music” tab from the top of the main window:


Managing multiple audio formats in iTunes

On your music sync settings screen, choose “Selected Playlists” and then check only those playlists that you want iTunes to transfer to your iPod (ie, the AAC only playlists that you’ve built).


Latest News