Sep 06


Importing songs into iTunes is easy – you just INSERT the CD, SELECT it in iTunes, and press the ‘Import’ button!

But… the default setting on iTunes is not the best setting to use when importing songs. It’s far better to use the ‘Apple Lossless’ setting which will keep your music at CD quality. If you must compress the music (e.g. you want to fit it on your iPod or a laptop) then use the  bitrate of 320kbps rather than the default 128kbps of iTunes.

This article describes how to import songs into iTunes with the better quality bitrate.


If you go to the ‘iTunes:Preferences’ menu  and click on ‘Advanced’ then ‘Importing’ you will see some options like ‘Import Using’ and ‘Setting’.

This raises a few questions.

1. Why does Apple allow me to use different formats like AAC and MP3? Which one is better?

2. How good is the default setting of 128kbps (high quality)  (See picture below – click to enlarge).

Ituens prefs

Unfortunately I assumed the defaults were the best, so I used the built in defaults in iTunes to import my entire CD collection. But if you listen carefully to your iPod through your stereo, and compare it to a CD, you will hear a significant difference in audio quality at 128kbps.

It’s not that listening at 128kbps sounds really bad, but if you compare it to the original, you will notice that it’s different. It’s not as clear and some details are missing.

Best Bit-rate for compressed audio – 320kbps.

If you want better quality music you should use a higher bitrate than 128kbps. When Apple first launched iTunes the songs on the store were encoded at 128kbps, but from 2010 even Apple now use 256kbps on the iTunes store which is an immense improvement. The difference between Apple’s upgrade of 128kbps and 256kbps is very noticeable and it is worth upgrading all your existing iTunes purchases, but 256kbps is not as good as 320kbps though, so if you have a CD I recommend importing at  320kbps if you choose to import as AAC.

Better still: Apple Lossless

When this article was first written in 2008 I suggested 320kbps AAC as the best setting. There have been significant increases in hard drive size in that time and hard drives are now large enough to easily cope with the size of Apple Lossless files. I now suggest you use Apple Lossless Encoder for all importing of songs from CD. It gives the best possible quality.

 I now recommend the Apple Lossless Encoder as the best way to import your CDs for general use. (I’ve written about it here.) It compresses an audio file without any deterioration in audio quality at all.

So why does iTunes allow lower settings? Well, a lower  setting will give a smaller file, so in the days of small iPods and small hard drives it was necessary to have very small music files. But  if you want good quality sound it’s better to go with a higher setting.

 The best of both worlds

If you do have one particular iPod or iPhone that is a bit small and you don’t want to fill it up with Apple lossless files,  there is a setting that you can set independently for each iPod that will reduce the file size just for that iPod.   You can change the settings for a particular iPod to put lower quality files on it to save space,  but  still have the Apple lossless files on your computer . Just tick the ‘Convert higher bit rate songs’ box. You can find it under the settings tab that appears when you plug the iPod in – it is the  bottom box in the picture below.  This  can be turned on or off  independently for each device that you have.


What are the differences in filesize?

A 3 minute song at 128kbps will use approx 3MB. (poor quality)

A 3 minute song at 320 kbps will use approx 7MB. (excellent quality)

A 3 minute song at Apple Lossless will use approx 15MB. (perfect quality)


Error Correction

There is an option that says ‘Use error correction when reading audio CDs’. You  should always have this option ticked. It will improve the quality  of the resulting audio.  The way information is written to an Audio CD is different to a CD-ROM, and so it is possible to read audio from a CD imperfectly.  This setting helps avoid mistakes when reading the audio from a CD.


169 Responses to “Best iTunes settings for importing songs from CD”

  1. Paul says:


    The quality improvement is GREAT!

    Thanks for easy to follow explanations & instructions.

  2. Paul says:

    Is it possible to use LAME when purchasing / importing from the iTunes store?

  3. wayne says:

    To quote from apple “Purchased songs are encoded using MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format, a high-quality format that rivals CD quality.” Apple AAC files at 128kbps are approx equal in audio quality to 160kbps mp3, so not as good as LAME insane or extreme. I buy CD’s from for $10 and import into itunes!

  4. wayne says:

    Good news itunes is now giving you the option of paying more for better quality downloads, but still not as good as with LAME!

  5. paul says:

    itunes LAME’s newest version is 3.97 which works well… but is hard to access through iTunes… no extra window item … got to go into the library/itunes/scripts folder to open the app.

    any suggestions?

  6. Wayne says:

    Well itunes 7.1 did cause problems with LAME and so lame was upgraded with this:

    TO get it back in the menu is a bit messy you need to make an alias of the “Imoprt with lame” script file and move it into the itunes scripts folder.

    right click on and select show package contents
    open contents
    open resources
    make alias of “Import With Lame…..scpt”
    put alias into User/library/itunes/scripts

    will be back in your menubar of itunes.

  7. Andrew says:

    Just noticed a typographical error in the first question in ‘Introduction’. You ask why Apple allows you to use different formats like ACC and MP3. It should read AAC.

  8. aliza says:

    thank you for the step-by-step! not being a coder, that makes all the difference for me. now i’m happily importing cds into itunes on the insane setting and it’s sounding excellent.

    i have one curiosity: is it possible to have folders of music on one’s hard drive and somehow get itunes/LAME to recognize them as something to import? sorry if i’m exposing untold ignorance by asking, i’ve just been copying cds onto my hd for easy portability and sharing, and now i want to import them into itunes with LAME to free up the space. what would be the intelligent way to do that (that wouldn’t create duplicates in itunes)?

  9. wayne says:

    First go to itunes preferences, the Advanced tab, and make sure that the box that says “Copy files to itunes Music folder when adding to library” is NOT checked. This stops it creating duplicates in itunes.

    Then make a new playlist, and drag all the CD audio files that you want to convert into that playlist.

    Now select them all and import using lame.

    Then delete the playlist, and, if you are game, after you’ve checked the import worked, delete the original files to save space.

  10. Donna says:

    Nice tutorial, just what I was looking for. But in Step 1 you say, “Download LAME version 3.95.1” but the link leads to a page to download version 2.0.9t4. I couldn’t find any other versions on their site.

    I’ve also seen other references to the 3.x versions thru the same website, so I know it’s not just a typo on your site. I’m a bit confused what happened to the 3.x versions of the LAME encoder. Do you know what’s going on?

  11. wayne says:

    You can get the latest version of lame from here:

    Click on “get lame”, then click on the link that says “file area”.

    It looks like the latest version is 3.98, but 3.97 is the recommended version.

    There is a great discussion about lame here:

  12. Donna says:

    I’m new to Mac, new to Ipod and overall confused. I’m on a Mac OS X v 10.4.11 with the new Itunes v 7. In my research in how to import my CD collection to Itunes I came across your site. Very informative, but every time I try to follow your instructions it doesn’t work. I’m not sure if I’ve got the download saved properly. For whatever reason, it keeps going to the desktop. I searched and found some bundles with the enabling software for the Lame Encoder but still nothing. I don’t get that “added” tab between Window and Help, I don’t see in Preferences where I can change it from the AAC to LAME. I’d wait to ask my kids but since they are only 3 & 4 yrs old, and can’t read yet – I’ll be waiting a long time. I’d really like to be up with the times, era, before they beat me to it. Thanks Wayne!

  13. Mark Schafer says:

    Dear Wayne,

    I just followed your directions for installing LAME on my Mac, and when I click “here” the version of LAME I get to download appears to be 2.0.9t4, not 3.95.1. Then, when I download this LAME what I get on my desktop (iMac PPC) is the iTunes-LAME icon, rather than the four icons where I move the iTunes-LAME icon into the folder icon. I have tried putting the icon into Library/iTunes/Scripts, but this doesn’t seem to accomplish anything. At the same time, the iTunes-LAME window appears, but it doesn’t seem to do anything. In addition, when I go to switch the alt-prest to “insane” it is not an available option (nor is “extreme”). What do you suggest?

  14. Mark Schafer says:

    By the way, I have iTunes 7.7 (43).

  15. admin says:

    Donna and Mark.

    I have totally rewritten the instructions and also provided an installer folder. See how that goes and get back to me.

  16. Frank says:

    to get the best quality would it better to start again importing all my library with each original CD?

  17. Martin Eriksson says:

    I just wanted to say a huge thank you for posting this how to and providing the install scripts. It worked beautifully!

    I have been looking for a good solution to ripping my CDs for a long time and this is just perfect. Combining the power of the LAME encoder and the Gracenote database in iTunes means I can rip through them much faster and with excellent quality than with other LAME encoding programs that use the frankly limited freeDB or MusicBrainz databases…

    You guys rock!

  18. Frank says:

    Can someone tell me where to find my music folder

  19. Steve says:

    Frank, I only have my best CD’s done at insane quality, and the ones I don’t listen to much at lower quality. But, yes, if you really want good quality, go again!

    Your music folder is in your home folder, then a folder called Music, then iTunes. But the simplest way do delete ones you don’t want is just to delete them from within itunes.

  20. Juan says:

    I just downloaded 3.98 from Soundforge, but when I unpacked it, there are a bunch of files & not just the 1 file like the old one. I’m currently using the Lame Encoder from step 1 but how can i install this new one?

  21. […] has now doubled so that the music is better quality. (I suggested the itunes bitrate was too low here, and how to get round it, but now apple have ‘fixed’ […]

  22. Emma says:

    i have a netbook and it doesn’t have a cd drive. I recently managed to use another computer to download my cd’s to memory stick save them to my computer and put them on to itunes but this morning my iTunes won’t let me add the new files on my memory stick onto my iTunes. Any suggestions to another way to get around it?

  23. Heidi Yates says:

    My son is in the army. He bought a jump drive and had it sent to me so I could put all of his music…over a hundred cds…on it. The first two took 30 minutes each! I was just reading about using Lame and am wondering if it will help speed up this process or if you have any suggestions.

    • admin says:

      Nope LAME will make it better quality, but if anything slower as the files will be larger.

      If you and he both have macs, it will be faster if you reformat it as a mac drive using disk utility, but then you can’t read it on PC’s.

  24. esta says:

    how do i save a song onto my itunes library. I have tried the add a file button but when i add d file i just cant find the song anywhere.. is it possible to help me.. thx

  25. Teresa says:

    Can you tell me roughly how much space I will need on my hard drive to copy a cd to itunes? I want to transfer all of my cd’s over but would like to know before I do it if I have space or need an additional drive. Is there a formula? thank you

    • admin says:

      Well depends on the CD of course, but about 7-10MB per song at the insane settings, about 3-4MB at 128kbps, about 6-8MB at 256kbps.

      If you want a rough formula:

      Minutes of music * 60 seconds * bitrate/8 (because 8 bits in a byte)

      So for a 72 minute CD at 320kbps

      72 * 60 * 320/8 = 172MB is the maximum for a CD at insane quality.

      A 40 minute CD at 256kbps:

      40 * 60 * 256/8 = 76MB.

  26. Adam says:

    Hi, thanks letting me know about LAME. Up until today I have had no problems importing CDs but today after clicking import I get the following error:

    An error occured during import:
    LAME failed (255)
    Arguments:–alt-preset, insane, /var/folders/Y4/Y4+DPN1HFZ89+qBmeAzLsE+++TI/-Tmp-/lame_input_0001.aiff, /Users/lisajones/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers/Greatest Hits/American Girl.mp3

    Nothing appears after Data:

    Any idea what might be wrong? I am using LAME v 2.0.9 (34) and Mac OS X 10.5.7

    Thank you.

  27. Jim Freudenburg says:

    Wonderful site, just stumbled across it while I was looking for ways to import my new remastered Beatles CD’s into iTunes without losing all that extra fidelity.
    I’m using iTunes 8.2.1, Mac OS 10.5.8
    All went perfectly UNTIL I selected the little extra “Import with LAME” item on the iTunes menu.
    The little iTunes-LAME window popped up just fine, but my only two choices are “–alt-preset standard” and “-h -b 160”. Nothing about “Insane”.
    Now I’m really bummed, hate to spend bucks on re-purchasing the Beatles music I already own, only to degrade the sound quality as I put the music into iTunes.
    Any help you could provide would be very welcome! Thanks!

  28. Roman says:


    Maybe anyone can help me. It all worked fine on my Mac so far too but today I got the same error message as Adam states two postings above. Unfortunately that doesn’t get me any further… tried several encoding options but nothing happens…

    Mac OS X 10.5.8
    iTunes 8.2.1
    LAME v2.0.9 (34)

    Any help would be very much appreciated…

    Regards, Roman

  29. Stephen says:

    I had the same problem. I clicked on the “?” mark in the iTunes-Lame application and scrolled down to the presets, then cut and paste the insane option – including the leading double dashes – into the pop-up. It then worked, and has remembered my settings.

    My question (as I too want to import my new Beatles collection) is: Is Lame at the insane setting better than AAC at 320 (with VBR turned off)? I’ve used the latter through iTunes in the past, and recently imported some CDs using Lame/insane. I can’t really hear a difference. Searching the net seems to imply it is up to my ears. Has anyone run some tests?



    • admin says:

      Probably not a great difference. LAME is better than AAC at lower bitrates but the higher you get the more debatable it is. I can’t tell any difference on my setup. From what I read (do a google search on AAC vs LAME insane) LAME has the edge. There is an article form 2003 saying AAC is better but remember LAME only just started in 1998 and has improved a lot since 2003.

  30. Daniel Brewer says:

    I am getting the same lame error as the others. Any fix?

  31. Paul says:

    Since I installed Snow Leopard – same error message 255 as mentioned above in Adam’s post on July 18. 2009. No longer works. Was working perfectly before Snow Leopard install.. Any answers?

  32. richsadams says:

    I recently installed iTunes on two of my Mac’s (24″ aluminum iMac and Mini), both running Snow Leopard and it’s working fine.

    Excellent write-up. Thanks and much appreciated!

  33. richsadams says:

    I recently installed iTunes LAME on two of my Mac’s (24″ aluminum iMac and Mini), both running Snow Leopard and it’s working fine.

    Excellent write-up. Thanks and much appreciated!

  34. Geoff says:

    How do I import only selected tracks from a CD please ?

  35. Geoff says:

    Doh ! Sorry just worked it out RTFM …………..

  36. Gorilla says:

    I just wanna tell that I also got the error:

    Import Error

    An error occured during import:
    LAME failed (255)
    Arguments:-v, -V, 2, –vbr-new, -h, /Volumes/Songtitle/Filename.aiff, /Users/Username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/ArtistName/AlbumName/Songtitle.mp3

    Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.2
    iTunes 9.0.2 (25)

    This is the only place I found were this is mentioned. If i find a solution I will come back.

  37. Chado says:

    Hello, and thank you for all the info. Just wondering how LAME compares to Apple Lossless or WAV formats? Looking for the best quality of course and have noticed a lot of of downloadable music is Lossless, and those are both already available on iTunes. Would it be worth it to aquire LAME? Thanks

  38. Chado says:

    Oh yeah, MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone!

  39. Why can’t latest iTunes 9.0.2 convert MP3 files to AIFF
    files anymore(from the ADVANCED drop down menu)?
    OR am i missing it somewhere?

    reply to Mark at

    • admin says:

      You first need to go to iTunes preferences | General | Import Settings and chose AIFF as what you want to use, then ‘create AIFF version’ will appear in the advanced menu.

  40. Jonny says:

    I’m getting the same import error as others:

    An error occured during import:
    LAME failed (10)
    Arguments:–alt-preset, insane, /Volumes/Lorraine Hunt Lieberson At Wigmore Hall/1 Mahler: Rückertlieder – Blicke Mir Nicht In Die Lieder.aiff, /Volumes/MyBook/MP3/Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Roger Vignoles/Lorraine Hunt Lieberson At Wigmore Hall/01. Mahler_ Rückertlieder – Blicke Mir Nicht In Die Lieder.mp3

    Has anyone got a solution?

    It works OR rather…appears now in the ADVANCED drop down when i change(d) it in iTunes prefs!

    You’re THE ONLY Mac Help Site that was able to help in a fast, easy to understand way!

    Your site is bookmarked!

    Take care – Mark

  42. Barbox says:

    Hi! I am trying to import a music file which has the following characteristics:
    – 320 Kbps
    – 2 Channels Stereo
    – Sample rate of 44 Hz

    It’s a 5 minutes with 11 MB of size song but iTunes does not recognize it at all!

    I tried drag and drop, importing through the “Add File to Library” features and nothing…

    Has this ever happen’d to anyone?

  43. Nicole says:

    I’m having a few problems, I downloaded the software and I was unable to locate it on my computer. My laptop crashed a few months back and I lost all my music in itunes. I was able to copy the music I had on my ipod but now it is too times comsuming to add it all back one by one. Can you help????

  44. Anna says:

    I’ve imported the songs from the CD onto iTunes, and I’m able to play the songs from the CD but when i try to copy the songs from the CD folder and into a playlist to put on my iPod, it doesn’t copy over. I’ve tried a lot to fix it, so I really need some help over here. Any pointers?

  45. kira says:

    i have recently got a netbook and was wondering how on earth i could import cd’s onto my itunes, but without a cd player? any ideas?

  46. steve says:

    Will these steps work for a pc? If not, would anyone know what my best option is?


  47. Troy says:

    I appreciate your knowledge. Thank you

  48. Glenn says:

    My Itunes library is on an external drive. When i uncheck the “COPY FILES TO ITUNES MUSIC FOLDER” it creates a duplicate in the default Itunes library. I just downloaded this software and would like to convert my entire music library. Problem is, my library has 55,000 songs. How could i go about converting all with Lame without having any duplicates?

    • Glenn says:

      i may have figure it out by using the following
      –alt-preset insane –delete-source

    • admin says:

      This will only work if your original library was copied using Apple lossless. If your original library was ripped at a lower bitrate you can’t convert it up. Well you can, but it won’t improve the sound quality. In fact ANY RE-COMPRESSION OF A SONG WILL WORSEN THE QUALITY – EVEN IF YOU COMPRESS AT A BETTER BITRATE! You need to use the best settings WHEN YOU RIP THE SONG OFF THE CD.

  49. Jools says:

    Hi Wayne,

    I’m a bit of a Luddite when it comes to this sort of thing, so many thanks for this very easy to understand explanation of importing CDs at the highest quality! An excellent article!

    I have a couple of questions:

    1) Although I use iTunes, I run WinXP (32-bit Pro version) (sorry!!!). I followed the link to the LAME encoder, but couldn’t find an easy way to install it on WinXP. If I eventually do, I’m not sure I understand how I import my CDs in a way that I can play them using iTunes. Do I simply import them into a folder and then ‘point’ the iTunes ‘default music folder’ (or whatever it’s called) to that folder?

    2) If I decide not to use the LAME encoder but stick with importing CDs using iTunes, am I better off using the AAC encoder (with the settings you describe above) or, if I want to export my iTunes library to my mobile device (an HTC Desire running Android), will I be obliged to use iTunes’ MP3 encoder (in case Android/HTC Desire doesn’t recognise the music encoded by the AAC encoder)?

    Apologies for such a long post!


    Jools (Tonbridge, Kent, UK)

  50. Every time I insert a CD, iTunes asks if I want to import the songs, but it does NOT give me an option to not import duplicates. I skimmed through all these pages and don’t see a way to not import duplicates from inserted CDs. Also checked preferences in iTunes and cannot see how to keep these dupes from being imported. Is there a way? Thanks, by the way, for posting all this.

    • admin says:

      Yes this is true. I think though if it’s the exact same CD with same compression settings, it will do the duplicate alert thing, otherwise it just adds them to your collection alongside the others. So if you are upgrading lower compression and want to overwrite duplicated, just delete the old album from iTunes first.
      There are apps to find and remove duplicates. eg:

      • Srab says:

        If you go into the “File” menu on the newest version of iTunes (, think this is newest update), there is actually a tab that reads, “Display Duplicates”. To delete the duplicates you have to go through an arduous task of selecting the extra copy. iTunes needs to fix this so there are no longer two songs exactly the same, because it is incredibly irritating to have two, three, or sometimes four copies of one song.

  51. Chato says:

    How do you update the latest version of lame v3.98.4 in itunes?

  52. SAW says:

    What effect does optimize for voice have??

    • admin says:

      Optimise for voice will make a better quality recording for spoken word, but worse for music. Speech and music are different in terms of the frequencies involved, so if itunes knows what you are compressing, it can aim to optimise it. It defaults to music, but if you are recording spoken word click this option.

  53. Erik says:

    I’m confused. I’ve followed all your steps but am only given two importing options, – alt-preset-standard, and -h-b-160. I don’t see any other options and the Lame website is useless.

    • Joel says:

      I just got a new computer that runs Lion and noticed that I can’t rip “insane” anymore; just the two options you noted. I guess I’ll rip lossless instead.

  54. Randy says:

    Erik. You need to type it in the field just as in the example. you can also use extreme instead of insane. Click the “?” for the syntax but it is all there

  55. Cleve says:

    I want the biggest bang for the buck. meaning, i want to import my songs at great quality, but at the same time i dont want to use up a lot of memory doing it. I have my Itunes import settings currently at: AAC encoder–320 kbps, 44.100 kHz. is there a better option?

  56. Kate says:

    I have my settings in iTunes as you describe in this article — AAC / 320kbps / 44.100kHz, etc.

    I’m a big audiophile, so the idea of the best possible quality using Lame is preferable. However, there is the size issue.

    Before I decide whether to go for the Lame option — can you give some rough parameters… for a 3 minute track for example — how big will the file be a) max iTunes settings, vs b) insane Lame settings?

    Thanks for posting this info, extremely useful.

  57. Kate says:

    I have my settings in iTunes as you describe in this article — AAC / 320kbps / 44.100kHz, etc.

    I’m a big audiophile, so the idea of the best possible quality using Lame is preferable. However, there is the size issue.

    Before I decide whether to go for the Lame option — can you give some rough parameters… for a 3 minute track for example — how big will the file be a) max iTunes settings, vs b) insane Lame settings?

    Thanks for posting this info, extremely useful.

  58. Bob T says:

    Hi, Wayne; what a great source of info you’ve shared. My question regards what you said about downloading CDs into iTunes in Lossless vs the highest bit rate downloading using LAME. “Apart from copying your CD into iTunes with no compression (apple lossless encoder) which takes 650MB per CD, this is the best quality you will get in iTunes.” Hmmm. I am confused. Does the LAME / insane program offfer better, same, or less sound quality than Lossless? Could you please explain the difference including file size and sound quality comparisons (yeah, getting into the subjective region there, perhaps)? My entire library is in Lossless and I’d hate to try to redo it all unless there is a discernable difference available. I am using a Red Wine iMod and a headphone amp with Kleer Audio CT7 in ear monitors so I may be able to hear an improvement if there is one to be had. Thanks very much.

  59. Jeff D says:

    Guys, I appreciate the information you have here, but if your philosophy is great quality, with space not such an issue, why not use the Apple Lossless encoder? I find you still get 2-3x compression over a direct CD disk image. Granted, most non-Apple devices won’t play Apple Lossless format, but neither will they play 320kbps AAC… Most cap it at 256.

  60. Nick says:

    Hello, is there a way to implement this software on Mac OS Lion as this software is proving defective. I have a need for enhanced quality music as you can see.

    • Bruno Vieira says:

      I’m also looking forward to a way ti install the LAME encoder on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion… HELP!

    • Richard says:

      Here’s how I got the iTunes LAME bridge working in Mac OS X Lion:

      1) I downloaded the latest iTunes LAME (2.0.9-34) from the project page

      2) I installed the latest lame binary where iTunes LAME would find it
      and use it.

      Why this works:

      In order to allow you to upgrade the lame install you use, iTunes LAME
      will find and use the lame in /usr/local/bin/lame or /sw/bin/lame in
      place of the lame included in its own contents.

      Here’s how to get the latest lame into the right place:

      You can most easily install and keep updated with new lame versions
      using the Fink Project or MacPorts

      Both Fink and MacPorts will require that you first download and install
      Apple’s Xcode from the Mac Store (Xcode 4 is free now on Lion).

      If you install lame with Fink, it will put lame in the /sw/bin/lame
      location, where iTunes LAME will find it.

      If you install lame with MacPorts, it will put lame in
      /opt/local/bin/lame. From that point, you can just soft-link it to the
      /usr/local/bin/lame location for iTunes LAME to find. To do so run this
      command in a window:
      ln -s /opt/local/bin/lame /usr/local/bin/

      Final note:

      You may want to add –nohist to your lame options in the iTunes LAME
      encoding setup. LAME 3.98 added a histogram display to its output,
      which confuses iTunes LAME into displaying incorrect progress bars.
      –nohist turns this display off, and avoids confusing iTunes LAME.

  61. ben says:

    hows it bru? was wondering if there is a way for itunes to recognize that i dont have all the tracks imported on the cd and have it only import those tracks? I know you can use the tick box and import that way but i’m looking for a way to have itunes do it on its own.


  62. Sean Bailey says:

    So after reading All of your information I am still wondering which is best, the AAC at the settings described above or Apple Lossless? Just the 2011 update states that Apple Lossless is the best, so a little confused. Also how much space does the average CD take up when importing at the best settings? I have quite a big cd and mp3 collection. Great information on this website, have you told your findings to Apple?

  63. Ron says:

    “STOP PRESS 2011 – I now suggest you use Apple Lossless Encoder instead of AAC as it gives even better quality.” –

    I imported the same track twice, once as a 50.5 mb AIFF file at the automatic setting that came thru at a 1411 bit rate, and the other as a 33.3 mb Apple Lossless compressed file at a 929 bit rate.

    The top statement copied from the above article says the lossless encoder will sound better. How could this possible based on the numbers I listed?

    • admin says:

      Lossless uses a compression algorithm to compress the file in a way that when it is uncompressed it is exactly the same as the original, hence no loss of quality in the audio, but a smaller file. For example, zip is lossless compression – you can get the original file snack perfectly even though the zip file is smaller. jpg is lossy – you can never get the original photo back.

  64. Ron says:

    ooooops… disregard my late night comment as I clearly did not read the original statement clearly. I confused AAC & AIFF!

  65. Jamie Katz says:

    Helpful information, clearly explained: many thanks.

    Question: I often enter additional info into the “get info” fields—personnel, recording date, and so forth. Do you know if it’s possible, if I re-download my collection, not to lose all these entries?

  66. Misty says:

    it’s sad that only mac users can have this good quality. i have windows xp and having to switch between the volume dial for every other song has almost driven me mentally insane!!!!!! I need something to make all songs the same volume without distorting it.

  67. Moshy says:

    Great info above!!!

    I originally imported my entire CD collection using the following settings -:

    Import Using – MP3 encoder
    Setting – Custom (With the below selections) -:
    Stereo Bit Rate – 320kbps
    Sample Rate – Auto
    Channels – Stereo
    Stereo Mode – Joint Stereo
    Smart Encoding Adjustments was ticked.
    NOT ticked/selected are Variable Bit Rate Encoding (VBR) & Filter Frequencies Below 10Hz.
    Also NOT ticked was “Use error correction when reading audio CD’s’.

    From here on in i’ll be now using Apple Losless Encoder (ALE) as per your recommendations. But what I would like to know, is there likely to be a noticeable difference in sound quality over the above mentioned import settings, if I re-import all my CD’s using ALE? I also notice if I right click on a song there’s an option to ‘Create Apple Losless Version’ is this possible? If this actually works, it obviously saves having to re-import several hundred CD’s. Without knowing exactly how it’s compressed, my feeling is the info is possibly lost & can’t be retrieved by just clicking a button. Hope the above makes some kind of sense.

    Thanks in advance for any help!!!


    • admin says:

      No you can’t create a lossless version from an MP3 version, well you can but the quality will not improve. Once it’s lost, you can’t get it back. You need to re-import.

  68. nikolai says:

    Got this running fine, importing all the wife’s cds at 256, BUT when imported I don’t get track numbers attched to tracks, only names. Any way to fix this?

  69. mizkat says:

    When I imported a music cd into itunes, it separated the tracks thus 19 albums instead of 19 tracks of one album. I tried deleting and re-installing and tried to integrate in the info without luck. Any suggestions?

  70. mellia says:

    This is so helpful; thank you!!!

  71. Just a note in support of the “Hard drives are cheap, use Lossless” plan. I’ve been ripping AAC for a few years but any new rips are going to be Apple Lossless. I resisted that change because I don’t want to fill up my iPod 4x faster than normal, but the last few versions of iTunes have a checkbox to automatically resample songs to 128MP3 when transferring to an iPod.

  72. Rich from Sydney says:

    Having read the above article and comments I can add the following to the debate:

    In the past Ive used MP3 on High Quality settings and have been generally happy with the odd disk copying over badly. More recently I have been using AAC set on iTunes Plus setting (256kbps) which is a noticeable improvement both using my iMac speakers and when feeding it through my Hi-Fi. I have tested using Apple Lossless (ALL) a few times and generally although ALL sounds SLIGHTLY better than ACC it is so minimal that it takes some concentration to detect it both through the iMac and Hi-Fi. The price you pay is file size for this nominal improvement. Here’s and example: Me & Mr Johnson by Eric Clapton in ACC format is 96.7Mb and in ALL format is 340Mb. On my iPhone and iPod I generally use the ‘Convert to…128AAC’ option as I prefer more songs to higher quality and it is not detectable through earphones (even decent Sennheiser ones).

  73. Bertan says:

    What should we choose for these four settings: Channels, Stereo Mode, Smart Encoding Adjustments, Filter Frequencies Below 10 Hz?

    • admin says:

      Stereo because you have 2 ears and everything is recorded in stereo, and unless you are compressing everything at a very low bit rate stereo sounds better.
      Smart Encoding Adjustments doesn’t really do anything. It just automatically adjusts the other settings according to the bit rate, so if you are selecting options manually it makes no difference.
      Filter frequencies below 10 Hz – you can’t hear anything below 10 Hz, no speakers reproduce sounds that low, 0Hz is DC and can mess up your amplifier. There would never be a case when you would want frequencies below 10 Hz.

  74. Bluesfan Dave says:

    Great site! I have aorund 9,000 (probably 7000 from my cd’s)songs loaded in iTunes, unfortunatley most at the 128 kbps. I have since changed to MP3 320 kbps. I saw in your string here that I cannot do a mass upgrade with existing music in iTunes to Lossless, or even the 320 kbps, and just wnated to confirm. I use my iPod mainly to distribute whole house to any/all of 47 speakers through a Control 4 dock. You seem on top of your game with this, and I wonder what you’d do

  75. Bluesfan Dave says:

    I also should mention that I have been rating the songs for about 10 years (to create playlists, etc.), and asume I’d lose those if I end up re-importing all of my cd’s? Can I also assume I can’t create a lossless or 320 mbps version from an AAC 128 mbps? Again, the old once it’s gone it’s gone?

  76. Sascha says:

    Very practical clear instruction. This music lover is very grateful! Thanks!

  77. felix says:

    first off thanks for the tips and info. great little site you got here.

    quick question: is the built-in iTunes mp3 encoder still as shabby as it used to be or have apple improved the quality in the meantime?

    the reason i ask is that i’m about to start encoding all of my CDs. i want to encode them all as mp3 (320kbps) rather than aac, simply because the mp3 format is so much more universal. and who knows what i might wanna play my files on in a couple of years time.

    The LAME encoder doesn’t seem to work properly under 10.7 and the “Max” audio ripper can’t seem to get the right metadata for the CDs. at least not with albums that comprise more than 1 disc.

    and i haven’t found any other audio rippers for osx that really conjure much confidence.

    any pointers much appreciated.

    • admin says:

      I think it’s at the lower bitrates that the different encoders make a difference. At the higher bitrates they are all pretty good. But why not go with Apple Lossless, it’s perfect quality and no loss of data, especially if you are looking forward to ‘the next couple of years’. Then just convert to lower bitrate when needed to copy to your iPod.

  78. Craig says:

    Great info. Thanks!

    My other question about importing CD’s is not about quality, but about compatibility. If I import CD’s as either AAC or Lossless, and one day I want to stop using iTunes (if some other game-changer music app/device shows up), are there any restrictions about playing AAC files in some other music player? I suppose it depends on the player itself and whether or not its compatible with AAC.

    Is that common, or rare, for other music players to support AAC or Lossless?

  79. Many says:

    Hi , i am getting a new computer with a ssd hard drive with a window 7 , and i like to burn all my favorite cds as original into itunes window to be able to use tthe remote on my iphone to select songs to play it in my hifi true a usb DAC , so for me quality is important , please what will you suggest me the import setting on itunes .?

  80. robert says:

    …and how to convert aiff to mp3 with lame in iTunes?

  81. Erik says:

    I was wondering the same thing with Craig, are there any compatibility issues concerning the AAC format?
    Also, if i create a custom music cd with songs in AAC format, will I be able to listen to it on all devices just like mp3 music cds?

    Thanks for all the info!

  82. Ronald says:

    Compatibility of AAC on non-Apple devices has increased massively over the last few years. Even Windows has native support for AAC. For me I have Androids, Windows Phones, iPods, Blackberries, etc because I love collecting gadgets and from my experience AAC is actually more supported than MP3. To illustrate what I am trying to say. Album artwork and tagging in AAC files is supported by all the devices and is the QuickTime scheme is the de facto standard for most devices because the tagging scheme is the same throughout unlike MP3 which has various ID3 tag versions supported differently which may result in wrong display of data. Another thing to consider is when you are ripping the reason why you raise the bitrate of a given file is to ensure that there is faithful reproduction of the audio as it is on the disc. For the lossy codecs note that the reason why we say that MP3, including LAME, performs worse than AAC is because for it to start being competent with AAC it has to have Joint Stereo enabled and this alters the stereo image. Joint Stereo is not Stereo because of its nature. In the age of better speakers and headsets there will be need to use Stereo for music becuase Joint Stereo will not represent true stereo. A good number of you would like to play their files on Hi Fis but do you consider the technology used for getting the most out of your hardware? Dolby Pro Logic II is a technology that builds 5.1 Channel Surround Sound from stereo. And for it to work the audio must be stereo and not joint stereo. So to avoid going over this again a few years down the line use stereo because soon enough joint stereo’s problems will be exposed the same way 128 kbps artifacts were exposed

  83. Thomas says:

    The question I want to ask has partly been answered, but I’m still not totally sure.

    Basically, like many others, I am about to import all my CDs again at a higher quality level. Anything above 320Kbps MP3 is not an option because I simply have too much music for anything higher.

    My question is this, despite the fact that I like the idea of iTunes-LAME, common sense tells me that a LAME encoder version over 4 years old can’t be as good as the current default iTunes MP3 encoder? But maybe I’m being naive about the quality of Apple “Updates”.

    I’ve tried looking into the methods of updating to the newest version of LAME (3.99.4) for iTunes-LAME to utilise, but it seems too complex and time consuming for a (Just above) average Mac user as myself. I can’t even figure out how to install or compile the LAME 3.99.4, let alone get it into iTunes-LAME. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    What I really want to know though is, LAME 3.97 (In iTunes-LAME) vs iTunes 10.5.3 (3) encoder for 320kbps MP3? Is one better or are they the same?

    Also, I know that a lot of people feel Joint Stereo can never be as good as normal “True” Stereo, but I have read that “Mathematically” Stereo wastes bits on separation while Joint Stereo does not. Therefore Joint Stereo contains more bits dedicated to sound quality than normal Stereo. Again, I’m undecided, so opinions would be welcome.

    Thanks a lot for the page and info! Hope to hear from someone soon.

  84. Jeff says:

    I just uploade in apple lossless, now my cars hard drive won’t play, it played fine in aac 128, is there anything I can do about this?

  85. Lynne says:

    Wow this is all great but way too technical for me, I am brand new to itunes n now got my 1st iphone lol!

    My iphone is only 8GB and I have lots of CDs I want on it (70+ albums), what is the best setting to use?? and can i copy them onto itunes on my pc at a higher kgb but reduce it again to put it onto my phone?

    Please keep it simple as this is all way to techincal for me, thanks x

    • Wayne says:

      Import into iTunes as lossless (best possible quality) then tick the box on your iTunes iPhone “Summary” settings that says ‘Convert higher nitrate songs to 128kbps AAC’. This will store as best quality on your computer but reduced quality on your iPhone to save space.

  86. Karl says:

    Thanks for the detailed info, but unless I’m incorrect, is LAME not suppose to or have the ability to encode my CD’s into ACC format into itunes? I have set up LAME exactly as you have stated above, but find that after LAME encodes my CD’s in itunes, the encoded tracks are encoded to MPEG-1 quality mp3, which is the lowest quality one can achieve. The only reason I know the quality has been degraded is by selecting a song in tunes and getting the info from it. (control “i”).
    Note: I have the LAME preference setting as ‘insane’.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  87. Ron says:

    I have been importing cds using the mp3 encoder setting per an apple store instructors directions. Is this wrong, should I use the AAC setting and if so do I need to redo my recordings?

  88. A recording guy told me a better way to bring the music into iTunes was to copy the CD into a folder on the desktop, then import that folder as opposed to importing the CD. Is there any validity to this????

    • Wayne says:

      Hmmm. Good question. My understanding is that when you copy a ‘data’ CD it makes an EXACT copy, because a data CD has extra built in error correction that an ‘audio’ CD does not have. So I think the i-tunes import with the ‘Use error correction when importing Audio CD’s’ is the same as the first method IF you have an audio CD. BUT if say you are mastering and you want perfect reproduction of an audio file you are better off saving it to a data CD as an aiff, then copying it back to the computer, rather than burning it to an audio CD.

  89. Chuck58 says:

    Looking for some help from any Apple knowledgeable person.
    When I burn a music album from an iTunes Playlist to a CD as an audio file for playing in my car CD player I do not get any of the information displayed on the my car’s “enhanced radio” such as track name, album title, artist name. My car radio can display 3 lines of text. Why doesn’t this transfer? Should i be using a different setting when transferring the album tracks? I just get “no information” or “blank” on the car radio display. The music plays just fine but I would like to see the extra information as my radio has the ability to do this. Apparently using “import as audio CD” is not working for me. I am using the latest iTunes version on a MacBook Pro. Thanks for any help.

  90. BGBVCBC says:

    I have the same problem as Chuck58 – with iTunes encoder none of the ID3 tag info shows up in my car stereo, using either MP3 cd, or playing MP3’s on USB. If I use Lame encoder, they all work fine. Must be some bug in apple encoder with the ID3 tags.

    From now on, I will use Lame encoder even though apple is slightly higher quality for same bit rate.

  91. BGBVCBC says:

    On the original question in this thread, I use MP3 at 320. It is essentially cd quality to my ear (cannot tell the difference) and uses much less space than any lossless encoding. Never use anything below 192. 256 is ok but 320 is worth the extra space needed.

    • Wayne says:

      Yes 320 sounds pretty much the same as CD. BUT note that if you want to re-compress later say to 256, then you’ll need to re-import from CD, but with Apple Lossless you can re-compress to a lower mp3 bitrate later from the lossless file.

      • Mike C says:

        Wayne – I must commend you for the time and effort you have put into this thread for over a year now. You are a trooper. Anyway, I am a newbie and proud owner of an iPhone 3 (now 0.99 cents at AT&T). Aside from dropping it the first week I had it and cracking the screen, I really like it. I would consider myself an “average Joe” in terms of music storage and playback but do have an EE degree so I understand the technical aspects of the process. My current project is to copy all of my CDs into the latest version of iTunes (10.6.1) then sync with my iPhone and have the library available for the widest range of other playback media options.

        That said, I’m trying to determine the best input method for inputting songs. After reading this entire tread I think I have determined the settings for my “average Joe” application:

        Input using: AAC
        Setting: Custom
        Stereo Bit Rate: 320 kbps
        Sample Rate: 44.1 khz
        Channels: Stereo
        Use Variable Bit Rate Encoding (VBR)
        Use Error Correction when reading Audio CDs

        I picked AAC based on Ronald’s comments on Jan 25th. Also, I didn’t go the LAME route b/c it seems to add a level of complexity that I really don’t need. So, my question is – Do you think this is a fair assessment/summarization for my “average Joe” application? Any guidance/comments is appreciated.

        One other question – I have 3 kids and 5 computers with different iTunes libraries on all of them. What is the best way to consolidate all of the libraries?

        Thanks in Advance.
        Mike C

      • Wayne says:

        If you are going to sync your music with your iPhone at 320 then that’s probably the best option, but if you are going to click the option that says ‘Convert higher bitrate songs to 128kbps’ then you are better off importing your CD’s as lossless so that when they are compressed down to 128 you are going from the lossless version rather than re-compressing from the 320 files.

  92. Goze211 says:

    I have been ripping discs into iTunes with Apple Lossless and am a believer in the lossless concept. Howver many tracks ripped with this codec sound just plain bad on my iPhone 4; harsh, fizzy, distorted. Nort always, just some tracks. I am looking for a happy medium that will sound good on my iPhone (connected to a car stereo), play through my networked Xbox, and not take up huge file harddrive space. I’ve been re-importing some discs on the iTunes Plus setting. Works ok. Haven’t tested it on the Xbox but suspect it won’t play an AAC file. Still trying to find the silver bullet.

  93. scjr says:

    I’m kind of of a noob here. Firstly, I wanted thank you so much for all the excellent information! Maybe a dumb question, but can you choose Apple lossless in iTunes if installed on a PC?

    I would like to rip my CDs with lossless and then convert to 128 to save space on my iPhone like Wayne recommended. Thank you.

  94. Damien says:

    Hi, I’m trying to import CDs on a friend’s laptop but each album is taking half an hour to import. I’m using the same settings that I have on my own machine. Any ideas????

  95. Rob says:

    Have opportunity to download the new live Robert Plant concert that we attended. It has options on the format. Which one do I choose if I want to play on itunes and then burn to a disc to play on my CD player ?

  96. Jerry says:

    Wayne – thank you so much for your insights. Very helpful. Couple questions: What is the “iTunes Plus” setting all about under ACC format and what would be the reason for using the iTunes Plus setting? Also, since all of the music that you import from your CDs rest on a PC computer’s “My Music” hard drive, isn’t all the music also saved to the hard drive as WAV files? Help . . .

    • Wayne says:

      You can see in the information box below the presets, iTunes Plus is just a preset for 256kbps, the same as they use on the iTunes store. Good but not best.

  97. jb says:

    This might be a really stupid question but the thing is I’ve lost a lot of the CD’s that years ago I imported using the original settings. If I copy the albums onto a disk and then re-import them using the advanced settings is the quality likely to increase or is the high quality sound lost forever?

    • Wayne says:

      This will decrease the quality. You cannot get back quality after a file in compressed. And any re-compression makes it worse, even if you expand it first.

  98. will says:

    Why are some cd’s I have imported such poor quality that I can’t listen to them, when I imported them the same was as all the rest?


  99. Christine says:

    Thank you. Very Helpful!

  100. james braselton says:

    hi there tooth tunes holds 2 miniutes of music in tooth brush that means the tooth brush has 16 mb flash storage on board

  101. Cybershaman says:

    @james braselton: You might be right but how can we figure out what level of quality they encoded the songs at? I’m guessing it’s not very high since it’s hard to hear the subtle nuances of music when it’s being transmitted to your ears through bone conductivity. Heh, heh. So, music encoded at low quality is about a megabyte a minute which would thus mean the tooth tunes brush has a 2MB chip in it. Maybe a wee bit more to hold the “Operating System”. Again, who really knows? Since they didn’t need all that much space, I’d be willing to wager that they just used the cheapest RAM they could find regardless of the size. So, since popular RAM sizes range from 1MB, 2MB, 4MB, 8MB, 16MB, 32MB, 64MB, etc. etc. etc….you just might, in the end, be right even your conclusion was reached erroneously! ;)

    (Your comment caught my eye because I only recently found out about the Tooth Tunes brush. Yeah, I guess I’m living under a rock. A rock with high speed Net access. And I’m disabled so I have a lot of time to kick back and write long, wordy responses to comments about RAM chips in toothbrushes. Heh, heh.)

    PS: Very helpful article, btw! Thank you, Wayne! :)

  102. OneRepublic Soldier says:

    PLEASE HELP!!! when i import music from an album the sound is way lower than music i buy from the itunes store….why!!??? please help and thanks in advance

  103. GEGJr says:

    Thanks for information. It is very helpful. I have a question, though. It is important to me not to have to import music twice. So can AIFF files be converted to lets say MP3? Then there is the question what is best Sample Rate, Sample size 8 or 16 bit? I know from photography that a 16 bit file holds much more information but is a bigger file. What are the Automatic settings in iTunes for the AIFF format?

  104. Ryan S says:

    Thank you so much for clearing this up! As a relatively new Mac owner (and music professional) this article provided great information that the online/print out Mac manual lacks. As per usual, Apple products may be infinitely modern and full of visual delight but the info here has really explained what I need to do to get the best of the product.

  105. barefootpilots says:

    If using Parallels, suspend parallels desktop as on mine the cd defaulted to windows when my itunes is on the mac side. When i did this, all was as published above, ie CD appeared in Devices on itunes, then it asked if I wanted to import via itunes, etc. Just finger trouble, and when its really dumbed down, as is required with me, it works.

  106. Michelle says:

    LOVE YOU! Heading to a long train ride…was having major issues. Totally worked.

  107. FGZ LINK says:

    absolutely awesome guide! definitely everyone should go for the higher bit rate and error check! I reloaded 27 CD’s doing it, and so glad i did. I usually have my iphone playing at parties and work on the steroes, etc. So really needed decent quality to nod . Thanks so much bud. :)

  108. FGZ LINK says:

    Thank you so much! I highly recommend using high bit rate! at least 288 but i love 320 or losless. Really great article for explaining in detail what each bit does *bit of irony there, in the word bit XP
    Anyways really needed this since i use my iphone alot at parties and work on the stereo and some songs werent up to scratch.. have reloaded 27 cd’s onto itunes so far! brilliant!

  109. e-Medsys says:

    Barefootpilots, I also run parallels and have found that its best to shut it down and then try to import. Funny things happen when both systems are running.

  110. Alex says:

    Very helpful, thanks

  111. this is exactly the answer i needed , thanks MHT !

  112. much appreciated says:

    This was exactly the info I needed. Finally was able to import a CD that kept coming in distorted. Thank you!

  113. Mike Kirby says:

    Seriously, 4 years and no solution to the “LAME Failed (255)” error?

    LAME was great when it worked, I’m sorry to see such an excellent project die. I guess the future belongs to AAC.

  114. Jack Wilborn says:

    Thanks, but… When I load CD’s, I can see the import speed as multipliers, like when the CD is 2 x or higher speed. Mine will start at about 6x then slowly make it to over 40x if there are enough tunes. Can I just set it to use the max that the CD player is capable of? It seems like it’s learning each time for max speed.

  115. Emil says:

    I want to drag and drop from already copied cd’s. So for example, I have one library with “apple Lossles Music” and I want to drag and drop cd’s into “automatically add to iTunes” folder to convert to a lower quality (320kbps) so I can add these on my iPhone. Or I am open to suggestions.

  116. Christopher says:

    This article really helped!!! I did exactly what was done, and it was a ‘night and day’ difference. I have a tested this setting on low end Sony earbuds and noticed a better sound quality. Needless to say I am ‘reloading’ all my cd’s…but is well worth it for better sound quality.
    Thank you so much for the information…YOU ROCK!!!

  117. Robert says:

    I hear people saying that they are reloading their CD’s to improve conversion rate. When I right click on any ACC (256) uploaded audio file one of the options in the drop down menu is “Create Apple Lossless Version”. Would it not be redundant to import anew each CD (I have hundreds in my iTunes and iPod), since this method is so much faster and simpler? Or is there something about it I am missing?

    • Robert says:

      This is AAC of course! (above)

    • Wayne says:

      Once a song is compressed )converted to AAC or MP3, quality is lost, and you cannot get back to the original quality. You can move it back to the ‘Apple Lossless’ format but it will not go back to the good sound quality tat it was.

      It would be like having a CD, (good quality) then copying it onto an old cassette tape (bad quality with hiss etc) then playing the song back from the cassette tape and recording it on to a CD again. Putting it back onto a CD won’t make the song nice to listen to again. All the bad sound qualities of the tape will now be on the CD.

      Or it would be like taking a very large high quality photo (Apple Lossless Audio) printing it onto a very small piece of paper (mp3) then taking a photo of that and blowing it up to a large photo again. it will be all dotty and will have lost lots of resolution. Once the file is compressed, using a lossy compression, going back to the original format will not improve the quality.

  118. Ray says:

    I have imported using i-Tunes for years and have changed the bitrate of the imports as well as file types. I have over 12,000 songs in my library and the majority were imported using lossy (compressed) format of MPEG (MP3), AAC at various bitrates from 128, 192, 256, 320 kbps. The engineers that came up with the algorithms did the best they could to only delete the sounds that they thought were inaudible to the human ear.
    Some of the younger generation simply don’t care and are perfectly happy with lossy mp3s. For those that care about the audio quality we need more of the information that’s thrown away in the compression of the tracks. In addition we need a high quality analog signal vs. digital signal. The music studios compress the masters just to fit them on cd’s, then i-Tunes compresses them further unless we select the correct settings. Garbage in garbage out.
    Getting back to my collection of music. This is what I have recently started doing. Since the current version of I-Tunes ( has the ability to import lossless in AIFF (keeps metadata best) or Apple lossless, AND the fact that hard drives don’t cost $100 for 250 gigs any longer it makes perfect sense to re-import, YES, re-import ALL songs. You can buy a 2 TERABYTE drive for less than $100 so get one and use it for music. The file size when reimporting will use up a LOT more space but remember, you’ll be glad you have the music stored as bit perfect like the cd that you paid for instead of compressed sounding noise. Use the following settings when importing cd’s. Edit/Preferences/General/Import Settings/ select AIFF Encoder then click on “custom” setting and select Sample Rate of 48,000 kHz, Sample Size of 16-bit and Stereo. Click OK (DO NOT USE DEFAULT SETTINGS). The make sure you put a checkmark in the box “Use error correction when reading Audio CDs. In Playback settings make sure you’ve selected Bitrate for Audio Playback of at least 48,000 Khz and bits per sample for audio of 16. I-Tunes does not support “hi-res” files such as 192,000, 24 bit as you can find on sites such as HD-Tracks. These are similar to listening to blu-ray quality sound vs. cd’s. Again, now that hard drive space is cheap we all mine as well re-import the cd’s we own in bit perfect format, especially if we’re using a good quality audio system for output. Most pc’s have crappy soundcards and the best option to GREATLY increase your output sound is to pick up a quality USB DAC such as a Meridian Explorer. I’ve found this to be exceptionally good and am hearing greatly improved sound after just about 100 hours of break in time. It just plugs into any USB Port and bypasses the crappy soundcard on pc’s that have extremely inferior digital to analog converters. DACs used to cost thousands and now you can get a very good one for about $200-$400. It makes the music come to life and mellows out the tinny digital noise. I simply have the 3.5mm plug converting to 2 RCA input jacks going into an old Onkyo Receiver and hooked up some midgrade bookshelf speakers and it’s immensely better sounding that any computer speaker system I’ve heard. There’s many other options for playback too such as getting a good pair of self-powered monitors such as AudioEngine A5+ if you can afford them. If not, an amp and good set of speakers should do about the same. You’ll be able to listen for hours without hearing fatigue. With the DAC you’ll want to turn off all EQ, sound enhancements, etc. to get the most realistic sound to how it was meant to be heard. So, on with adding a few new hard drives and starting to replace all my i-tunes imports. Oh by the way one thing I noticed that is nice is that when it sees you already have the album and asks if you want to replace it, add it or whatever, if you just say replace it will retain your playcounts and I believe your ratings as well which is a huge plus! Hope this helps some people out there. I’ve been reading lately that cd’s and “owning” music will be a thing of the past as we’ll instead be paying for the rights to merely stream it in hi-res audio quality which will be cd or better quality from sources such as Tidal. Spotify still compresses so there again is the difference. I’m not endorsing any of the companies mentioned. I’ve just spent a couple hundred hours researching hi-res music files, importing, playback, music servers, etc. Just a hobby of mine and I consider myself an audiophile on a budget so that’s why I have to spend the time researching vs. just dropping 10 grand on something that I’m told to buy. I can achieve almost the same quality sound for a quarter the price. Same goes for computer audio. You can get a killer sounding system for less than $700 that will probalby blow away your friends home theater system they spent $3,000 on. Just have to do the research.

  119. May 11, 2015


    Many Thank You’s for your thoughtful – and helpful – comments.

    You mentioned AudioEngine – and i want to tell you about a device they make that is absolutely fantastic.

    I too am an audiophile – so i have been searching and searching for the best possible way to digitally “record” my CD’s and then get my computer audio connected with my “studio” grade sound system.

    You are right about the multi-amp speaker systems.

    I have four JBL 4311 Studio Monitors that i have modified for multi-amp performance using two Sampson S-3 Electronic Crossovers – each configured for “mono” four-channel mode – thus requiring four stereo power amplifiers – of which i have a mix of seventies-era amps including two BGW 100As and two BGW 250As.

    The sound is incredible – it very much has the sound as if “live” in the studio at the time of recording ! ! ! No Shit ! !

    But what is really remarkable is a Digital To Analogue Converter (DAC) made by AudioEngine – Model D2. Look this up. This device performs as good as a studio grade DAC – plus it is “wireless” using a transmitter and separate receiver that plugs into one of your sound system pre-amp inputs (i am using the “AUX” input on an “ancient” GAS (Great American Sound) Company – Thalia Pre-Amplifier) which is also awesome in performance and sound.

    With the AudioEngine DAC D2, i can pull stuff off the internet that again sounds like you are “live-in-the-studio” at the time of recording. Incredible sound to say the least ! ! !

    My sound system isn’t exactly a budget system – but i have “salvaged” the various parts from a range of used equipment sources at a fraction of original retail (excepting the Apple MAC Computer, the Samson S-3 Electronic Crossovers, and the AudioEngine D2 DAC).

    I specifically attribute the “like-live-in-the-studio” quality to the AudioEngine D2 plus the multi-amp speaker design.

    I also have a pair of Velodyne 10-Inch Subwoofers which add to the overall sound.

    For those on a budget – there are numerous “active” speakers now on the market that have built-in amplifiers – most commonly configured something like a 150-watt low frequency amplifier pus a second 75-watt upper frequency amplifier built into the speaker enclosure. I think part of the excellent sound from these types of speaker systems is the elimination of a “passive” crossover as well as separate channels of amplification for the various speaker components (low, midrange, high and ultr-high frequency components).

    For a four-channel stereo system (actually eight channels of amplification), I have a pair of JBL 2405 ultra high-end tweeters – plus a good subwoofer system.

    The resulting sound is absolutely incredible at both low-level listening and high-level “dance” music sound levels – maintaining crystal clear sound quality with incredible detail. I really have never heard any better sound on any type of sound system – including recording studio systems.

    Again – thanks for your comments on digital recording options for the best possible sound ! ! !

  120. Arthur says:

    I found the 255 error was because I was only changing the cache location, not the ultimate mp3 file destination and the last-used location was on a drive that was not connected.

  121. Chris says:

    How can I tell what bit rate any one particular song was compressed to? (I don’t think I’m wording this right.) But let’s say I ripped a bunch of CDs to iTunes. Started with 256 then changed to Lossless. Where can I find that info for a song?

    • Wayne says:

      If it’s 256 you can see the bitrate in iTunes, or click on the audio file and ‘Get Info’. But if you stared with 256 then changed to lossless there’s no way to know that it was originally 256. There’s no history information in an audio file to tell you whats been done to it in the past.

  122. Chris says:

    Thank you, Wayne. Okay, I think I’m understanding this more. All my music so far is at 256 (iTunes Plus), but I stopped midway through ripping all my Cds to research this further. I think I may start over and do them all at 320. The reason I’m not keen on the Lossless is because I want them to convert to 320 for the iPod (not to 128). I currently don’t have a serious home system, but when I do get one is it possible to have 2 files for the same song (Lossless for at home & 320 for the ipod in the car)? Am I understanding this correctly? Thanks!

  123. Claude Massicotte says:

    After encoding 500+ classical music CD I finally understand I did it all wrong. I now have all together a 100Gig library.

    Here is my question: How would you recommend I proceed to revamp my library? Can i have 2 libraries for a while and then switch?

    Also thank you so much for a wonderful article written in a way that ordinary knowledgeable people understand.

  124. Johan says:

    Presuming the DAC on your MP3 player is as good as your CD player then in blind tests no one can tell the difference above 192kbs VBR. The problem with MP3 was 128Kbs CBR was far from CD Quality as claimed. VBR came along and really helped by providing more bits for the complicated sections and simply upping to 160kbs VBR became very hard to tell the difference. To be safe 192kbs should be fine but Apple had to goto 256kbps for marketing reasons.

  125. Big Poppa says:

    Thanks for the great info. I was just wondering, I purchased a lot of songs from iTunes. And I just noticed they were mostly in 256kbps. Is there a way to have them re-downloaded at 320kbps or the best quality? Without re purchasing them again? Thanks.

  126. cheesdown says:

    You may try use Avdshare Audio Converter to convert MP3 bitrate step by step guide and also help to change other audio format bitrate or video format bitrate.

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