Getting setup with iTunes

I’m on the verge of buying a 60gb iPod Video. This immediately raises a problem, since I have all my music (around 400 CDs) in WMA format, as I’ve always been strongly in the Microsoft camp. I could use iTunes to convert WMA to MP3 or AAC, but since I’ve got it in 64kbps WMA, it won’t sound that great if it’s converted to another lossy format.

So I’m going to take the opportunity to re-rip all my CDs into a new format. Given that I want to play the music on iPod, I obviously can’t use WMA, but I’ve still got to choose between AAC or MP3 (yes, okay, I could use Apple Lossless, but I want to fit more than 3 songs on my iPod).

I have considered ripping to a Lossless format, which would mean I’d never (in theory) need to rip from my CDs again. Then I could down-convert to AAC for putting on the iPod. However, I don’t currently have enough money for a new hard disk, which I’d need in order to store all my music in a lossless format. So at the moment, although this is definitely a good idea, I’m going to have to stay with a lossy format.

I found this page which contains a helpful discussion on compression formats and which sounds better.

I am going to go with Marc’s conclusion, and use AAC 224kbps as my format of choice. Hopefully this will sound good through both headphones and hi-fi when played on the iPod.

While I’m at it, and as much for my own reference as anything else, here’s the tools I’m finding useful to help with this whole iTunes / iPod transition:

  • Lyrics I’m aware there’s plenty of programs that claim to be able to download lyrics into iTunes automatically. I’ve tried several of these, but none of them seem to do the job I want. What I want is to select a track in iTunes, click “search” in the lyrics program, get a list of possible matches, select the right one, and click OK. So I’m going to write a little utility app that does this - if you think you might find it useful, let me know and I’ll develop it into a proper application that I can distribute.
  • iTunes Art Importer (free) Uses iTunes COM and Amazon Web Services to automatically find album art
  • iPodRip I haven’t used this yet, but it would be incredibly useful should my desktop PC ever crash, and I needed to copy music from the iPod to PC