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In this chapter of movies we're going to look at the many ways to import music and other content into your iTunes library. So first of all I've gotten to rid of all the songs I imported in the previous chapter when I needed some examples to demonstrate the iTunes interface. So we're going to start with a clean blank iTunes library in this chapter, but if you have music in your library already, don't worry about it. Now in the movie following this one, I'm going to talk about importing music from audio CDs. When you import songs from a CD into your library, that song is encoded by iTunes into a file, and that file is stored on your hard drive. The amount of space that file takes up depends on the length of the song and the encoding settings you used when you imported it.
And the encoding settings you use are also going to affect the audio quality of the particular song. Generally, larger files are going to sound better than smaller files. Let's go into iTunes > Preferences. If you're on Windows, you go into the Edit menu and choose Preferences, and here into the General section, we're going to look at the area near the bottom of the window. Now in the previous chapter, we looked at the menu where you can determine what happens when you insert a CD into your computer, whether you want iTunes to automatically start importing to CD or ask you to do so and so on. We also have this checkbox here called Automatically retrieve CD track names from Internet, which is on by default.
And that basically means that when you insert an audio CD, iTunes will connect to an online database and try to determine what CD you've just inserted and then list the track names instead of just giving you a generic list of names, like track 1, and track 2, and so on. So you probably want to keep that option checked to save yourself the hassle of manually typing track info in each time you import a CD. iTunes won't always recognize every CD, and it does occasionally misidentify CDs, but it gets it right most of the time and you can manually make any necessary changes or corrections, but what I really want to talk about in this movie are the import settings.
And at the top of this window that opens you'll find the Import Using menu. And these are the encoding options that are built into iTunes 10, and you'll find the same options on both Mac and Windows. Basically, these encoders are different ways for iTunes to convert music into files to store on your computer. Now, by far, the most well known type of encoder is the MP3 encoder. The term MP3 is pretty much synonymous with digital music, regardless of whether the file is actually an MP3 or not. MP3 was the codec that made it possible to take a sound file and compress it down to a small transferable file size while maintaining decent audio quality.
So many people are still encoding music as MP3s these days, but you probably saw that the default encoder in iTunes is the AAC Encoder. AAC files generally sound as good or better than MP3 files that are encoded at the same or even higher bit rate. Now, when I talk about bit rate, I'm referring to this Setting menu here. The default setting for the AAC encoder is iTunes Plus, which is 128 kilobits per second for mono recordings, and 256 kilobits per second for stereo recordings. All that means is that every second of music either takes up 128 or 256 kilobits of hard drive space, depending on whether that audio track is in mono or stereo.
Most recordings are in stereo these days, so you're most likely looking at 256 kilobits for files encoded with these settings. Now, you can also choose High Quality, which drops the settings down to 128 kilobits per second for stereo recordings, and there is also a Spoken Podcast setting which is optimized for audio tracks which don't involve music, but rather spoken word recordings. And you can also choose Customize, if you want to take that Stereo Bit Rate as high as 320 kilobits per second, but if you are like most people, you're probably not going to be able to hear the difference between anything encoded at around say 192 kilobits per second and anything higher than that.
Now, if you can hear the difference and don't mind larger file sizes, by all means choose a high bit rate for your encoding, but most people won't need to make any changes in here. Now, the MP3 Encoder is set to a default setting of High Quality 160 kilobits per second, but most people seem to agree that even though this produces a larger file than an AAC file that's set to a high quality of 128 kilobits per second, the smaller AAC file will sound better. Ultimately, you're going to have to be the final judge as to which encoder sounds better to you.
You might want to experiment with encoding one MP3 and one AAC version of the same song and see if you can tell the difference. If you can't, you might want to go with the smaller file. Now we do have a couple other import options here. We have the AIFF Encoder and the WAV Encoder, and these two are similar in that they don't apply any compression to the audio files. They produce a very high quality sounding files that are usually several times larger than AAC or MP3 files, and they generally take up about 10 megabytes of space per minute of music. So where an AAC or MP3 file might take-up say 3 to 4 megabytes of space and AIFF file or a WAV file might take-up to 10 megabytes of space.
The fifth encoding option we have here is the Apple Lossless Encoder. This encoder is going to give you a very close to the same quality as the AIFF and WAV Encoders, but at about half the file size. So Apple Lossless files are still going to be larger than AAC or MP3 files, but they'll sound better than AAC and MP3 files, without taking up as much space as the AIFF or WAV files. If you plan on burning a high quality audio disc of the songs you're importing, you should use either the Lossless Encoder or the AIFF Encoder for the best sounding results.
Just remember that the Lossless Encoder takes up less space, so unless you can here the difference between the AIFF and the Lossless, go with Lossless. Now, the WAV Encoder would work as well too, but that's more for Windows computers that aren't using iTunes or computers that don't have MP3 playing software. So you generally don't need to use the WAV Encoder even if you're on Windows, since you're already using iTunes. Now, if your primary purpose of importing music and audio files into your computer is just to play that music on the computer itself, or on your iPod, or to other computers on your network, you should definitely choose either MP3 or AAC as your default encoder.
I suggest AAC because I think it sounds better, but if you're going to be trading files with other users who don't use iTunes, or maybe embedding audio files into a website that you're designing, you might want to pick MP3, since AAC is not as widely supported outside of iTunes as MP3s are. So basically, whatever encoder you choose here, that's what we'll apply the next time you import a CD, but you can always come back in here to preferences to change your settings before you import content too. So nothing is set in stone here. What you should try to avoid though is importing a song as say an AAC file and then when you find your need one of those AAC files as an MP3, you then convert the AAC into an MP3. Because you essentially will be compressing an already compressed file and degrading the overall quality.
You should always try to encode your files from the original source if you can. So if you do end up needing an MP3 version of a song you took off a CD, put that CD back in and import the file as an MP3 fresh from the CD. All right, so I'm going to leave my encoder set to AAC Encoder and the setting to iTunes Plus. Now, we also have a checkbox in here that turns on error correction when reading Audio CDs. Basically, if the CD you're importing is in poor shape, maybe it's scratched up, that might introduce errors into the file you're importing. You can check this box to let iTunes take its time in importing the files.
It might take longer to import the songs, but it also might result in a better sounding import. So check this box if you're having trouble importing certain tracks. I'm just going to uncheck mine again. Finally, just be aware that none of the settings you select here apply to songs you buy from the iTunes Store. Those tracks have already been compressed and optimized by Apple and you can't change their encoding settings. So these import settings are really about the settings you're applying to music you're importing from a CD or to files that are already in your iTunes library that you want to convert into another format. All right, so I'll click OK. Now, before we wrap this movie up, I want to look at the Advanced section of our preferences.
And it's here where you'll find the default location of where your iTunes music and other media are stored. So when I copy music off a CD and import it onto my computer, I can see that on my Mac it will go into my User folder, into Music\iTunes, and a folder called iTunes Media. Let me show you what this looks like in Windows. So here in Windows you can see that the default location is the C drive\Users\my name\ Music\iTunes\iTunes Media. Now, if want to store my iTunes elsewhere, I'm free to click Change and select another location, but I generally recommend you leave that default location.
A little later I'll talk about moving your library or adding additional libraries, but for now I just need to be aware of where iTunes is storing your files by default. You'll probably also want to make sure you leave Keep iTunes Media folder organized checked. This automatically organizes your media into artist and album folders, which can also make it easier to copy and backup your music manually. We also have this option to Copy files to the iTunes music folder when adding to library. This doesn't apply to music you import off a CD, which will go right into your music folder location. But if you have audio files that maybe someone emailed to you or that you copied off the web and that you want to add into iTunes, with this option checked iTunes will create a copy of that file in your iTunes music folder when you drag it in, and we'll talk more about this in a couple of movies from now.
So those are the import options I wanted to show you in regards to importing music from a CD, which we'll take a look at how to do in the very next movie.
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