Another iTunes Gripe: Lossless or Lossy – is it really my choice?

Another post on an iTunes gripe. I bet you’re asking why I use a piece of software I dislike so much. Well, if it wasn’t for the close integration with the iPod, I probably wouldn’t. I know that there are other solutions for syncing an iPod but let’s be honest: none of them come close to the native support offered by iTunes.

I have about 500GB space on my desktop computer, 250GB space on my notebook and about 1TB in my NAS. My music at home is played through a Sonos setup, playing music either directly through a fairly decent pair of Tannoy Mercury F1 speakers via a Sonos ZP120 or through a KEF style speaker package via my Onkyo surround receiver courtesy of a Sonos ZP90. It seemed logical, therefore, that my music is ripped as high in quality as is possible. Because space is plentiful on my NAS, lossless ripping seemed to make the most sense. By ripping at full quality there would never be any reason to rip at a higher quality. Because of the iPod and iTunes, Apple’s Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) seemed that it would address my wants.

Previous experience of my managing my music was in the form of Windows Media Player and Windows Media Audio Lossless, a format which it turned out was not supported by the Sonos solution unlike ALAC. Because of my intended move to the iPod as my choice of portable audio solution, I thought it was not only lucky, but preferable.

I thought that Windows Media Player and iTunes offered virtual parity in terms of features but iTunes is seriously missing out on one feature, or at least it is if you are not an owner of an iPod Shuffle. Windows Media Player can re-encode tracks to a format suitable for a portable device before during the synchronising process. The process of syncing can take quite some time if you have a high capacity device and lots of music but it does mean that you only manage one library of music as opposed to two.

My current arrangement has me ripping my music to FLAC and then converting to AAC using the dbPoweramp suite of software, a process not without its problems because of, you guessed it, iTunes. I will save those for another post…

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