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iTunes 4.5 & WMA

As many here I'm sure, I downloaded iTunes 4.5 the second I saw that it'd been released. I've used iTunes on WindowsXP ever since it was available. I love the interface and it makes the task organizing thousands of songs/albums very easy.

What I've been struggling with however is what lossy codec to use within iTunes. Lame encoded MP3's, iTunes or Nero AAC? Each has their pros & cons and to be honest, I've not yet decided which to commit to.  In the meantime however, I decided it would be a good idea to archive my CD collection using EAC (Secure copy) & FLAC. I'm happy with how this has gone and I've almost completed my collection.

Now that iTunes 4.5 is here and now supports WMA, the thought of using WMA as a lossless format rather than FLAC is now suddenly much more appealing than it once was.  I'm not saying I'll go out and ditch my FLAC archive, but here are my thoughts.

Suppose I want to take my FLAC archive (encoded using EAC w/secure mode) and convert to iTunes encoded AAC. As far as I know, this conversion would be difficult. I'd expect to have to convert to WAV and then import the WAVs into iTunes. Not ideal.

If my archive were WMA (lossless) encoded (copied using WMP 9), this would be a very simple process. I also don't loose out by being not being able to encode to other formats either, foobar2000 can handle WMA (plug-in) and from there every other lossy format becomes available as well.

WMA also has an advantage in the portable space as well, though this isn't much of a concern for me.

It's ironic that Apple has, by releasing 4.5 (which also has it's own prorietary lossless encoder) has in a sense opened up WMA. In my case I'm concerned most about portability in regards to which lossless codec I choose. I'd never consider Apples lossless codec for that reason alone.

I realise WMA doesn't favour well around here, but is there a reason beyond "It's Microsoft" or "It just sucks" why one shouldn't consider WMA as a lossless codec for reasons I've described above? Are there technical reasons which make it inferior?

iTunes 4.5 & WMA

Reply #1
Quote
It's ironic that Apple has, by releasing 4.5 (which also has it's own prorietary lossless encoder) has in a sense opened up WMA. In my case I'm concerned most about portability in regards to which lossless codec I choose. I'd never consider Apples lossless codec for that reason alone.

Haven't you answered your own question?

--jth

iTunes 4.5 & WMA

Reply #2
Sorry if I wasnt clear. What I'm after is not a comparison with Apple lossless but WMA lossless & FLAC in terms of their general portability and in particular how they relate to iTunes 4.5.

Thanks.

iTunes 4.5 & WMA

Reply #3
Just my opinion... but at the present time the main value of WMA Lossless is as an intermediary step in the conversion process of my FLAC collection to Apple Lossless. I have been successfully using dBpowerAMP to batch-convert the FLACs to WMA Lossless, then using iTunes 4.5 to convert the WMA Lossless files to Apple Lossless - with basic tagging intact! Finally I will be able to manage my lossless albums on both my Macs and PCs with iTunes. This also gives me the option of playing my (few) critical classical tracks losslessly on my iPod (while using AAC for everything else).

BTW, I tested the process on a few random files, and I did NOT find any of the resulting Apple lossless files to have any samples missing when decoded to wav and compared to the original FLAC (decoded to wav also)... there seem to be some scattered reports of slightly buggy decoding of Apple Lossless files, so beware. I'm definately not erasing my original FLACs until the experts give the "thumbs up".

iTunes 4.5 & WMA

Reply #4
Quote
Just my opinion... but at the present time the main value of WMA Lossless is as an intermediary step in the conversion process of my FLAC collection to Apple Lossless. I have been successfully using dBpowerAMP to batch-convert the FLACs to WMA Lossless, then using iTunes 4.5 to convert the WMA Lossless files to Apple Lossless - with basic tagging intact! Finally I will be able to manage my lossless albums on both my Macs and PCs with iTunes. This also gives me the option of playing my (few) critical classical tracks losslessly on my iPod (while using AAC for everything else).

Out of curiosity then, do you (or will you plan to) use iTunes to catalogue both your ALE & AAC files? If so, and assuming these are on the same machine, how do you plan on go about doing this? Having both formats in one iTunes "library" will have the effect of each song title being duplicated, which IMHO isn't very elegant.

iTunes 4.5 & WMA

Reply #5
You could just as easy transcode your FLACs from Foobar 2000 as WMAs.

And i would never use WMA anyway. Microsoft is evil, i truly hate them.

iTunes 4.5 & WMA

Reply #6
Like you I am in the process of encoding all of my CDs to FLAC ( -5 ).
I don't really like iTunes because like WMP it is very centric to its chosen
codec.  So I use foobar2k.  I tried winamp and hated it.

So I use Mareo + EAC to create FLAC and Ogg versions at the same
time.  I could just as easily use EAC by itself to create FLAC and later run
dbpowerAmp to batch convert them all to Ogg or WMA.  For me FLAC is
my hub and with these tools I can easily create new lossy encodings.


http://mareo.netfirms.com/

I don't see any reason to go WMA lossless or ALE as FLAC works great
for me and it is free as in beer.


Sean

iTunes 4.5 & WMA

Reply #7
Quote
Quote
Just my opinion... but at the present time the main value of WMA Lossless is as an intermediary step in the conversion process of my FLAC collection to Apple Lossless. I have been successfully using dBpowerAMP to batch-convert the FLACs to WMA Lossless, then using iTunes 4.5 to convert the WMA Lossless files to Apple Lossless - with basic tagging intact! Finally I will be able to manage my lossless albums on both my Macs and PCs with iTunes. This also gives me the option of playing my (few) critical classical tracks losslessly on my iPod (while using AAC for everything else).

Out of curiosity then, do you (or will you plan to) use iTunes to catalogue both your ALE & AAC files? If so, and assuming these are on the same machine, how do you plan on go about doing this? Having both formats in one iTunes "library" will have the effect of each song title being duplicated, which IMHO isn't very elegant.

The way I deal with this is so far is by having two smart playlists: one called "archive" for Apple Lossless files only and one called "portable" for AAC and MP3 files. Only the "portable" playlist is set to auto-sync with my iPod. When I listen to songs on my home theater system I use the "archive" playlist. When new albums are ripped to ALAC they appear automatically in the "archive"; when they are then converted to AAC the resulting additional files show up in the "portable" list.

 

iTunes 4.5 & WMA

Reply #8
If lossless isn't as important to you on your iPod like me (can't hear a difference with my mini Koss plug headphones).  You could use the dBpowerAmp Music Converter Quicktime AAC Plugin.  Then you can just convert your lossless FLAC files to Quicktime AAC Files with the M4A Extension on the fly

 
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