A word of advice I like to offer to folks just starting out with iTunes is before you rip and import your entire CD collection, make sure you check which Audio File format is going to suit you best. You may not certainly want to import your music at the default audio compression setting that comes with iTunes because the quality is quite low, and the music files are compressed a lot.
iTunes has defaulted to AAC files at one of the lowest compression settings at 128 Kbps. Some folks may not really tell the difference between songs imported into iTunes as AAC 128 versus WAVs, which are not compressed at all but most folks will be able to tell the difference because the difference is going to be like night and day.
Listening to music files that are WAVs versus music files that are AAC 128, you will notice that the WAVs will sound a lot beefier, versus the AAC 128′s will sound flattered and not have a lot of oomph! What I end up doing is importing all or most of my music at MP3-320 to my iTunes library.
Keep in mind also that music imported at AAC 128s will be a lot smaller in size compared to WAV files and MP3-320s. So it all depends on how big of a hard drive you have dedicated to your iTunes.
What Is Audio File Format Best For Your iTunes?
With iTunes, you can rip/import your music in five different file formats. Those five file formats are MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, WAV and AIF. WAVs and AIFs are audio file formats that are not compressed.
In other words, if you want to import audio into your iTunes and want the music to sound just like the CDs, then you would use AIF or WAV. Expect to fill up your hard drives pretty quickly, though. For the sound quality, you will lose your hard drive space.
The other three file formats – MP3s, AACs, and Apple Lossless are compressed file formats. As mentioned above, I use MP3-320, and I’m pretty happy with the sound quality versus file size. Even though it’s twice the size of an MP3 at 128 KBPS, I enjoy and hear more on 320 KBPS than I would on the 128.
So it takes some importing and changing file formats around to decide what you like the best and what sounds the best for you in iTunes. After you’ve made the decision, just stick to one file format to make things easy and consistent to import and build up your iTunes music library.
Unfortunately, iTunes does not handle WMA files or FLAC files at this time. Who knows, they might add it at a later time, but currently, the five mentioned file formats are what you can rip and import your music at currently into iTunes.
I’ve found that MP3s are cross-platform, and I stick to using them to rip and import my CDs or music. If I’m sending files back and forth and use a file format like WMA or FLAC, I might run into difficulties with folks who don’t know what they are or even have a software program to play them or import them into their computer or iTunes. So I tend to stick to MP3s import at 320 KBPS as they work best for me.
To change your audio import setting, simply go to iTunes > Preferences and select Import Settings.
Once you select Import Settings from here, you can select the different Audio ripping/importing options available. See pictures below. From here, you can select which file format you want to import your music, what bit rate KBPS you want to import your MP3s and so on.
What Audio File Format Works Best For The iPod, iPhone and iPad
The other thing worth considering when selecting which audio file format works best for your iTunes library is your iPhone, iPod and iPad.
Your iDevices have a limited amount of space, so when you are ripping/importing your entire CD collection into iTunes, think about how much music you want to take with you on your iPod or iPhone or iPad.
Because those devices have a limited amount of space, and if you are ripping your iTunes library at a very high bit rate, for example, the MP3-320′s I mentioned above, then you are going to fill up your devices a lot quicker because those MP3s are larger than the normal MP3s (MP3-192) that folks use or the default AAC 128 that comes with your iTunes.
If you have an iPhone 16GB, you might want to consider importing your music at a lower bit rate if you want to be able to take a nice chunk of music along with you. But if you have an iPod 160 like me, I do import all my music at MP3-320, so I can still take a nice collection of music with me, and they are all have the best audio quality as they are imported at MP3-320.