Hear Me Discuss Creating a Lossless iTunes Library

Chuck Joiner, who produces the MacVoices podcast, invited me for an hour-long discussion about lossless audio and iTunes. Chuck had a number of questions about his own iTunes library and whether it was worth spending time to re-rip his CDs in lossless format. So I walked him through the pros and cons, discussing the difference between lossless and lossy compression, explained how iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library work with lossless files, and gave Chuck some tips on syncing.

If you’ve ever wondered about lossless audio and iTunes, you should listen to (and watch) this podcast. Maybe twice. And take notes. Because I cover a lot, and I cover a lot of persnickety details.

16 thoughts on “Hear Me Discuss Creating a Lossless iTunes Library

  1. Great video. Was that a single malt whiskey you kept having sneaky drink of?! – looked good!

    In 2009 I ripped all my CD’s. I sold them via Music Magpie keeping only about 50 that were special to me like signed Pat Metheny Group CD’s or something very very rare etc etc
    Thankfully I read about the different options of doing it, I bought a Drobo and 4x1TB drives and set about ripping all my music into Apple Lossless. Now that drives are so much cheaper for me its the best option. I always buy the biggest volume iPhone available and I’m always carrying 2000 or so of my favourite music on my phone.
    I also like to DJ and I have the latest Native Instruments controller for Traktor which has a built in state of the art 24 bit sound card so I bypass the MacBooks sound card. I go straight out of this into with balanced cables into a pair of active Mackie Thump 18″ PA speakers. The difference between my lossless files and 320 mp3 for me is huge, there is a crispness to the sound that is missing from mp3. Maybe other people don’t notice but I do and thats all that matters.
    I have a pair of Bose over ear headphones I got at half price when I worked for Apple and again, jazz and classical in particular sounds amazing from my iPhone with lossless files and no EQ set on the phone.
    It gives me great satisfaction to know I have an original copy of everything.
    With my 2 kids iPads and my wife’s iPhone when I sync music I tick the box to compress to 256 in iTunes and my family are carrying round all their music so happy.
    I am also the kind of person who prefers aged Roquefort to Primula Cheese Spread™ and Beethoven above Rossini. I’m not sure how relevant this is to lossless files but I’m sure some of you will get my drift.

  2. Great video. Was that a single malt whiskey you kept having sneaky drink of?! – looked good!

    In 2009 I ripped all my CD’s. I sold them via Music Magpie keeping only about 50 that were special to me like signed Pat Metheny Group CD’s or something very very rare etc etc
    Thankfully I read about the different options of doing it, I bought a Drobo and 4x1TB drives and set about ripping all my music into Apple Lossless. Now that drives are so much cheaper for me its the best option. I always buy the biggest volume iPhone available and I’m always carrying 2000 or so of my favourite music on my phone.
    I also like to DJ and I have the latest Native Instruments controller for Traktor which has a built in state of the art 24 bit sound card so I bypass the MacBooks sound card. I go straight out of this into with balanced cables into a pair of active Mackie Thump 18″ PA speakers. The difference between my lossless files and 320 mp3 for me is huge, there is a crispness to the sound that is missing from mp3. Maybe other people don’t notice but I do and thats all that matters.
    I have a pair of Bose over ear headphones I got at half price when I worked for Apple and again, jazz and classical in particular sounds amazing from my iPhone with lossless files and no EQ set on the phone.
    It gives me great satisfaction to know I have an original copy of everything.
    With my 2 kids iPads and my wife’s iPhone when I sync music I tick the box to compress to 256 in iTunes and my family are carrying round all their music so happy.
    I am also the kind of person who prefers aged Roquefort to Primula Cheese Spread™ and Beethoven above Rossini. I’m not sure how relevant this is to lossless files but I’m sure some of you will get my drift.

  3. Kirk this was simply an awesome video. The guy asking the questions (IMO) represents near perfectly the majority of music lovers in the world who would like a common sense understanding of the best way to use iTunes for sound quality and desired features. (I was unaware of his site but now i am going to start visiting it.) You on the other hand are the wonk answering those concise germane pertinent questions in a way everyone can understand. I have read extensively over the past 10 years both in print and on the net specifically on the subject of digital music/quality/features/recommendations etc. This one hour interview could have saved me countless hours in my search for a legitimate basic understanding of this subject. Now of course since i have read and researched quite extensively i would have had to have done so in order to realize this video (again IMO) was so chock full of ascertainable facts.

    There are (and always will be) a small percentage of music lovers who in the pursuit of the holy grail of audiophile heaven will disagree with minor points of this video. But to the 99% of the rest of the world who fall into the category of enjoying listening to music AND use iTunes this video is one of the very best basic educational tools they could have. Thank you both for this video.

    Sincerely,

    Larry Croft

  4. Kirk this was simply an awesome video. The guy asking the questions (IMO) represents near perfectly the majority of music lovers in the world who would like a common sense understanding of the best way to use iTunes for sound quality and desired features. (I was unaware of his site but now i am going to start visiting it.) You on the other hand are the wonk answering those concise germane pertinent questions in a way everyone can understand. I have read extensively over the past 10 years both in print and on the net specifically on the subject of digital music/quality/features/recommendations etc. This one hour interview could have saved me countless hours in my search for a legitimate basic understanding of this subject. Now of course since i have read and researched quite extensively i would have had to have done so in order to realize this video (again IMO) was so chock full of ascertainable facts.

    There are (and always will be) a small percentage of music lovers who in the pursuit of the holy grail of audiophile heaven will disagree with minor points of this video. But to the 99% of the rest of the world who fall into the category of enjoying listening to music AND use iTunes this video is one of the very best basic educational tools they could have. Thank you both for this video.

    Sincerely,

    Larry Croft

  5. Kirk

    Admittedly, I only had a chance to listen to slightly over half of the podcast (I swear, I will get to the rest!). However, in the first part, you talk about a program that is available in the MAS that is free download to see how the different formats sound to each listener? I don’t know whether you said the name of such program? Care to name it?

  6. Kirk

    Admittedly, I only had a chance to listen to slightly over half of the podcast (I swear, I will get to the rest!). However, in the first part, you talk about a program that is available in the MAS that is free download to see how the different formats sound to each listener? I don’t know whether you said the name of such program? Care to name it?

  7. That was the most cogent discussion of these issues that I have heard. I am about to embark on a project to create lossless digital copies of my CD collection to feed to my main stereo via a mini-mac, and found your insights really helpful. One question about something you mentioned in passing: if you stream a lossless file via Apple TV to a stereo system, what is the bit rate of the file presented to the stereo? Also, thanks for mentioning All of Bach in your blog- what a treasure!

    Tom Fynan

  8. That was the most cogent discussion of these issues that I have heard. I am about to embark on a project to create lossless digital copies of my CD collection to feed to my main stereo via a mini-mac, and found your insights really helpful. One question about something you mentioned in passing: if you stream a lossless file via Apple TV to a stereo system, what is the bit rate of the file presented to the stereo? Also, thanks for mentioning All of Bach in your blog- what a treasure!

    Tom Fynan

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