When it comes to the superior delivery of your digital music, the compression format you choose to import your songs makes a huge difference—especially when you listen with high-end headphones. The more compression, the more sound quality is lost. In iTunes, you can select between five different compression encoders when ripping music files from your CD collection: AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, MP3 and WAV. Which is best?
If you’re into serious audiophile listening and want to get the full impact of our headphones’ performance prowess, you’ll need to select a WAV, AIFF or Apple Lossless format for your music. While WAV and AIFF are raw audio files from CDs in computer-readable formats, Apple Lossless preserves a CD’s original quality, while cutting its size in half. You might compare this lossless encoding to a zip file: smaller than the original, but with no data loss. Keep in mind that these three formats take up a lot more file space than the standard AAC and MP3 encodings. In other words, you’ll get fewer songs on your iPod or other device, but they’ll be delivered at a much higher quality.
Another thing to consider when choosing these compression formats is that only iTunes and the iPod can support Apple Lossless files and just about every other piece of music-playing software will be able to play WAV files. AIFF files are specific to Macs, so if you are planning to listen to music on a PC, WAV is your best choice.
Because they sound pretty good and achieve the best compression of the five formats, most iPod users choose between AAC and MP3. AAC, or advanced audio coding, is the standard default on iTunes. When compared to an MP3 format, AAC gives better sound at the same bit rate. However, only iTunes and the iPod can support AAC; MP3s can be played on just about every digital music player.
PC users can make their compression selection in iTunes by going to the edit drop-down box, selecting preferences and then clicking on the importing tab. Mac users can go to the iTunes drop-down box, select their preferences, then click on the importing tab.