MP3 was once the de facto digital music standard, but these days most digital music players also support AAC (favoured by Apple) and sometimes WMA (favoured by Microsoft). All three are ‘‘lossy’’ formats, which means they leave out some detail in the hope you won’t notice. You can improve the sound quality by increasing the bit rate. Low bit rates tend to sound tinny and hollow, especially if your music packs plenty of bass.
A bit rate of 192 kbps strikes the best balance between file size and sound quality for most people. Those with an ear for detail might go up to 256 or even 320 kbps. To do this with your CDs you’ll need software such as iTunes, Windows Media Player or third-party applications like Exact Audio Copy. Before you start with your entire CD collection, try a few of your favourite songs at different bit rates to see which sound best when played on your various devices.
If you’ll be pumping your music through your stereo you’ll want to use a high bit rate or perhaps a ‘‘lossless’’ audio format such as Apple Lossless, WMA Lossless or FLAC. These lossless formats make a perfect copy of your audio CDs, but produce much larger file sizes. To be honest, even through a good sound system most people can’t hear the difference between a 256 kbps lossy format and the original CD.
Apple Lossless is built into iTunes. It can be played on most iGadgets although it chews up plenty of storage space and you might want to convert tracks to AAC when syncing them to an iGadget.
Windows users will find WMA Lossless built into Windows Media Player, but there’s limited playback support beyond Microsoft’s Zune music player. Windows Media Player can also be set to convert WMA Lossless to other formats for portable devices.
If you’ve an aversion to Apple and Microsoft’s lossless formats, you might consider alternatives such as FLAC, WAV and AIFF. The open source FLAC lossless format is perhaps the most popular and most widely supported.
Have your own tips for converting music? Share them below.
Source: Copyright © PC & Tech Authority. All rights reserved.
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