ITunes is good for ripping CDs

Better quality when ripping audio CDs

Matthias Zehden

The AAC and MP3 formats save space on the hard drive when reading CDs, but they reduce the sound quality. With Apple Lossless, iTunes also offers a modern alternative that combines acceptable file sizes and CD quality

What is the advantage of audio CDs over downloads? You can rip them losslessly. That sounds a lot like banal hacker humor, but it has a real core to it. Even more than 30 years after its introduction, the audio CD is still the measure of all things in the music sector. When reading into the computer, however, you can save a lot of space with current encoders without sacrificing sound quality.

Rip CDs properly

EnlargeTo choose the format, open the general iTunes settings and click on the "Import settings" button

Various formats and quality levels can be selected in the iTunes import settings for reading CDs. The compressed formats AAC and MP3 are suitable if you want to save space and use the files on devices outside the Apple world. AAC sounds better at the same data rate. The im iTunes Store AAC with 256 kbit / s ("iTunes Plus") used is a very good compromise between sound and space requirements. MP3 has the advantage that it is the most widely used of the compressed formats and can be played almost anywhere.

EnlargeFor the import, select the format under "Import with" and below in the "Settings" menu, existing presets or your own settings.

The uncompressed formats AIFF and WAV are well suited for digitizing and processing audio signals, for which the sampling rate and sample size can be set. For use in iTunes, however, only the standard setting for audio CDs makes sense (AIFF with 44.1 kHz and 16 bit), in order to read them in one-to-one or to generate them with the burner. The space requirement is then around six times that of iTunes Plus at around 1.5 Mbit / s.

Code lossless

The modern alternative is Apple Lossless . With this compression, in contrast to AAC, there are practically no sound losses, and the space requirement - depending on the type of music and recording quality, on average 700 to 900 kbit / s - is well below AIFF. With today's standard plate sizes, larger collections can also be created.

EnlargeOnce the format is set correctly, you can rip your entire collection by inserting one CD at a time. ITunes will do the rest automatically.

The disadvantage is that there are hardly any third-party devices that support the Apple format. Those who place very high demands on quality and remain in the orbit of iTunes, iPhone and Apple TV will meet with Ribs Still the best choice with Apple Lossless. So that iPhones and iPods with little memory don't run out of air, music can be automatically converted to AAC at 128 kbps when synchronized with iTunes. With ambient noise and average headphones, that's easily enough on the go.

Improve quality

EnlargeThe automatic conversion can be activated at the bottom of the overview page. So you can use Apple Lossless at home and compact AACs with 128 kbit / s on the go.

One of the most recent rumors is that Apple is negotiating with music providers to offer tracks encoded with 24 bits. Such a project would be very astonishing, as Apple would raise the quality well above the 16 bits of the audio CD, which even discerning music lovers usually consider to be completely sufficient. The use of 24 bit would be more worthwhile for processing in the studio area. Lower compression would be much easier and more effective in the iTunes Store.

To draw level with the CD would, however, be a real upgrade of the iTunes Store. We would simply want Apple Lossless for this, while at the same time releasing the format to everyone in order to promote its spread outside of Apple products.