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iTunes: AAC Lossless to AAC or MP3 upon sync to iPod

:: Sunday, September 24th, 2006 @ 1:44:21 am

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Hey, Mac gurus! Quick question for ya. I’ve got 8,118 tracks or so of AAC Lossless audio in my iTunes library, which takes up just under 200GB of drive space. Unless they come out with 250GB iPods, I’m sort of out of luck. :)

How can I have iTunes (or another iPod sync application) automatically reencode the tracks as AAC 256Kbps VBR (for example) upon copying to an iPod?

Since I’m not (yet) an Apple scripting person, I am currently resorting to barbaric methods for batch track conversion. So far, I’ve tried:

  1. Switch Sound Converter: crashes upon convert to AAC or MP4, but works when converting to MP3. doesn’t maintain directory structure in destination directory, and thus doesn’t like multiple tracks with the same name.
  2. iTunes: create new library (new, empty location), import all AAC lossless w/o copying to library location, reencode all tracks, reimport into yet another library (so the library now only includes reencoded versions). works, but sucks.

Ironically, when I had all of my music encoded as WMA Lossless, it was easier to do a complete library convert. In Windows, I would just dragged the top level music folder into iTunes, which would automatically batch convert to the encoding format specified in importing preferences. One step. Done.

| Oakland, CA | link | trackback | Sep 24, 2006 01:44:21
  • http://www.rogercarlsonphotography.com/ Roger

    Make a 2nd library that is a dupe of your full library. Select everything you want to convert. Use the menu item Advanced > Convert to AAC

    wouldn’t that work?

    I asked this under another post, but can’t find it now…. how often do you hear a difference and want lossless? It’s rare for me, and I have a pretty serious headphone system & D/A converter. What music do you most often hear a difference in, and on what hardware? I just keep the CDs for music I care about, but it’s a slippery slope to vinyl.

  • http://echeng.com echeng

    Roger – that’s what I’m doing. But then, you end up with dupes of everything in your library. So you have to delete that library, create another, and import just the compressed version.

    I hear a difference. If you listen to classical music, it’s obvious…

  • http://giles.shaxted.co.uk Giles Shaxted

    I just downloaded WMP 11 … am going to try it out soon … but i love the look and sound of the new Zune thingy !

  • http://www.rogercarlsonphotography.com/ Roger

    OK… what if you next create a smart playlist that sorts out the music you want, and sorts for encoding type, and sync just that playlist?

    I don’t have a lot of classical, so I’ll take your word for it.

  • http://echeng.com echeng

    That would work, Roger, but then all the extra files clutter desktop use of iTunes.

  • reg

    Here is my solution:

    I have ripped all my CDs in Apple Lossless format, so that I didn’t have to rerip them when a new/better codec came along. I have found multiple descriptions on how to copy all songs into a complete second iTunes library in and than convert all songs in the copied library to a lossy format such as AAC/192kbps.

    However, with smart playlists, it is possible to create a single iTunes library that is still fairly convenient to use, that contains both, the lossless version for listening on the big home stereo, and the AAC/192 version for syncing to the iPod. Here is the setup:

    Create the following two playlists as a basis:

    “Lossless”: match all rules Kind contains Apple & Kind contains Lossless “AAC-192″: match all rules – Kind contains AAC & Bit Rate is 192

    Now the two main lists for use on iTunes and iPod:

    “All-Mac”: PlayList is not AAC-192 “All-iPod”: PlayList is not Lossless

    These two playlist are defined by exclusion, so that other files such as purchased songs and mp3s are contained in both lists (If you choose to use a similar setup, but with AAC/128 instead of AAC/192, you have to add the clause “kind does not contain Protected to the AAC-128 playlist.)

    Once you have set up these playlists, “Lossless” will contain all your CD-ripped music. If you now set the “Importing” settings in the advanced tab of preferences to AAC and 192kbps, you can select the Lossless playlist, select all songs, and choose “convert selection too AAC” in the context menu to create the AAC/192 versions. Once the possible lengthy process is finished (it can take a few hours, if you have a few thousands songs), you can find the iPod version of all your lossless songs in the “AAC 192″ playlist.

    Now you have to set up your iPod, to only sync the “All iPod” playlist and you have a basic setup.

    If you now create additional smart playlists, you will have to include a clause “playlist is All-Mac” if the playlist is intended for use in iTunes or “playlist is All-iPod” if the playlist is intended for use on the iPod. I have started to prefix all my iPod playlists with “i-” to easily identify them.

    There are some caveats:

    You have to manually keep the AAC/192 versions in sync with your Lossless versions: if you add or modify your Lossless library, you have to manually trigger the rerip of the AAC/192 version. Here you will quickly find that it is not possible to delete AAC/192 songs if you have the AAC/192 playlist selected.

    The workaround for deleting multiple songs is the following: select all the songs you want to delete IN THE AAC/192 PLAYLIST, Choose “File > Get Info” (Command-I) and set the Comment field to “DELETE”. Now go into the Music Library, choose “View > View Options…” (Command-J) and add the comment field to the view. Now you can type “DELETE” in the search field and you will see all songs you want to delete. Selecting them with Command-A and hitting Backspace will now let you delete the “DELETE”-tagged AAC/192 songs.

    Non-smart playlists are not very useful in this setup. An alternate method for creating special playlists, is to add your own special keywords in the “comment” field of songs you want to have in your special playlist. As an example I added the keyword “INSTRUMENTAL” in the comment field of all songs without vocals. Then I have two smart playlists for iTunes and iPod:

    Instrumental: match all rules – Playlist is All-Mac & Comment contains INSTRUMENTAL i-Instrumental: match all rules – Playlist is All-iPod & Comment contains INSTRUMENTAL.

    These playlist are by no means perfect, but I think it’s a fairly workable solution.

    reg.

  • Matt

    There is a script to do something similar to this at http://dougscripts.com/itunes/.....ccworkflow if you haven’t seen it already.

    I think you’re wanting the same thing I want. I’m not sure why the option that exists for Shuffles and Nano’s(?) which automatically converts Lossless files to AAC isn’t available on other iPods. Or that someone hasn’t figured out the hack to enable this option. The only thing I can think of for why it’s not an option is that it must be because of the ability to alter the rating directly from the iPod.

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