Q: I’ve accidentally ripped about 70 CDs at 48kbps because iTunes wiped my previous settings. My problem is now that I only have sporadic access to a decent internet connection, so ideally I’d like to be able to re-rip those tracks at 192 kbps without losing the track information or album artwork? Is this possible, or am I doomed to another fortnight of Track 01, Track 02, etc.
A: The good news is that as long as you’ve imported these CDs via iTunes itself there should be a couple of features that will work in your favour.
Firstly, if you have labelled your CDs before importing them (ie, either via automatic track information lookup or by editing the track properties on the CD track listing itself), then iTunes will likely have remembered these edits, and should be able to identify these tracks again from its own database, rather than having to connect out over the Internet to Gracenote CDDB. In this case, you would already have the track label information available, although naturally this won’t include the album artwork.
Unfortunately, if you edited the tracks after you imported the CD into iTunes, then iTunes has no way of identifying the tracks on the CD without going out and looking it up online. The good news is that this procedure is separate from the process of downloading album artwork, and since only basic text information is being exchanged, it should be relatively painless even on a low-speed Internet connection.
The second benefit is that as long as you have not changed the track information from what was originally supplied, iTunes will recognize that these CD tracks are already in your library and offer to replace them when you once again attempt to import the same CD. When you attempt to import a CD into iTunes that already has matching tracks (based on track, artist and album name) in your iTunes library, you should be prompted with a dialog box similar the following as soon as you hit the “Import” button:
If this dialog box does not appear, but iTunes instead simply starts importing the CD, cancel the import and check your existing tracks to ensure that the artist, album, and song title information matches between the CD track listing and the tracks that have already been imported into iTunes.
If you choose to import your CDs and replace existing tracks, then iTunes is just replacing the existing file with the newer one and leaving the library database entry untouched. Therefore, any automatically downloaded album artwork should be retained, as well as the track’s position in any playlists that it has been added to and any other metadata such as rating, play count, last played, etc.
As to iTunes “wiping your settings” to default to 48kbps, this is definitely not normal behaviour. Even in a brand new installation, iTunes defaults to using 128kbps AAC as its default encoder. If 48kbps has been selected as a default, it’s far more likely some other third-party program has interfered with iTunes’ preference settings. This could perhaps be software designed for encoding audiobooks, podcasts, or radio programs, since these are the only types of content that 48kbps would normally be acceptable for.