Lossless format vs storage space
Question : I've read that I should copy my CDs to
the computer in a lossless format instead of MP3. Wouldn't
that get me the best possible audio quality ?
Answer : It would, but you might need a news hard
drive first. Higher-quality lossless formats such as FLAC (
Free Lossless Audio Codec ), Apple Lossless and Windows
Media Audio Lossless don't discard any sonic details. But
they need a lot more disc space -- 300MB or more per CD,
about three times as much space as "lossy" MP3, AAC and
Windows Media Audio formats.
This may not matter on a desktop computer with hundreds
of gigabytes free, but it will on laptops or portable music
players ( which might not accept a lossless format in the
first place). An iPod that can store 1,000 MP3s or AACs will
max out at 300 or so lossless files.
On a cheap stereo, much less an iPod, non-audiophiles may
not even hear a difference between lossy and a lossless
For more discriminating listening, try raising the "bit
rate" of a lossy format from the usual 128Kbps ( kilobits
per second ) to 160Kbps or 192Kbps.
To adjust the bit rate in iTunes, open its
Preferences window ( via the Edit menu on Windows, the
iTunes menu on a Mac), click the Advanced tab and then
the Importing tab.
In Windows Media Player 11, click the "Rip" heading's
Storing your music in a lossless format can make sense,
however, if you want to keep a master copy of a song for
archival purposes -- which you can then copy into whatever
lossy format works for you.