Some Basic iTunes Questions

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dburna

Some Basic iTunes Questions
« on: 8 Jun 2009, 06:38 pm »
Hi Gang,

I'm a long-time PC user who has switched over to Mac (and iTunes) recently.  After a lengthy process converting all of my FLAC files to iTunes, I just had a couple questions about iTunes usage.  Because my music files are driven by a laptop that is semi-mobile, I have run into some issues with connecting & disconnecting some external hard drives holding the iTunes (Apple Lossless) files.

1.  The Apple Lossless files contain all of the tagging and artwork internal to the file, correct?  Therefore, if I move a file from one computer to another, the tagging should remain consistent, correct?  I believe this to be true.  This is just a confirmation question.

2. Where does all the information for the Playlists and such reside?  Is it possible to copy those to another computer should the need arise?

3. Here's my big issue: when I have connected/disconnected the computer (sometimes without dismounting the drives, I admit), it seems to have left iTunes in a different/confusing state-of-mind.  Sometimes songs will show up as "unable to find" with the exclamation point icon next to them.  Sometimes I end up with duplicate entries of the same songs.  I would like to know how to go about repairing these problems.  Is there some settings I should look for?  As my collection is rather large, I would like not to have to blow away the database and re-initiate, though I will if I have to.  A similar thing seems to occur if I move a file (have done this manually since I don't know how to move a file via iTunes -- I suppose I should learn how to do this properly as well).

Thanks in advance for helping me with these issues.  Much appreciated.

-dB

P.S. Is there something that I can do in terms of how I use iTunes to prevent the problem listed in #3 from occurring?  I'm not exactly sure how this is caused, but I believe that it has to do with using iTunes on my laptop while not being plugged into the external hard drives....
« Last Edit: 9 Apr 2012, 01:09 am by dburna »

drphoto

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #1 on: 8 Jun 2009, 11:41 pm »
I was going to ask some similar questions, so I'll just add them here. I'm working on a friend's iBook who has a vast iTunes library. The machine is acting really flaky, so I want to back up all the iTunes stuff. If I simply copy the folder to my portable hard drive, and have to wipe the laptops drive, can I just copy the folder back to the computer? Like dburna above I'm just not sure where all the relevant parts of iTunes data are stored and if there are anyissues w/ copyright? Apple music store stuff can only run on the machine it was authorized for, correct?

Crimson

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #2 on: 9 Jun 2009, 02:27 pm »
Hi Gang,

I'm a long-time PC user who has switched over to Mac (and iTunes) recently.  After a lengthy process converting all of my FLAC files to iTunes, I just had a couple questions about iTunes usage.  Because my music files are driven by a laptop that is semi-mobile, I have run into some issues with connecting & disconnecting some external hard drives holding the iTunes (Apple Lossless) files.

1.  The Apple Lossless files contain all of the tagging and artwork internal to the file, correct?  Therefore, if I move a file from one computer to another, the tagging should remain consistent, correct?  I believe this to be true.  This is just a confirmation question.

2. Where does all the information for the Playlists and such reside?  Is it possible to copy those to another computer should the need arise?

3. Here's my big issue: when I have connected/disconnected the computer (sometimes without dismounting the drives, I admit), it seems to have left iTunes in a different/confusing state-of-mind.  Sometimes songs will show up as "unable to find" with the exclamation point icon next to them.  Sometimes I end up with duplicate entries of the same songs.  I would like to know how to go about repairing these problems.  Is there some settings I should look for?  As my collection is rather large, I would like not to have to blow away the database and re-initiate, though I will if I have to.  A similar thing seems to occur if I move a file (have done this manually since I don't know how to move a file via iTunes -- I suppose I should learn how to do this properly as well).

Thanks in advance for helping me with these issues.  Much appreciated.

-dB

P.S. Is there something that I can do in terms of how I use iTunes to prevent the problem listed in #3 from occurring?  I'm not exactly sure how this is caused, but I believe that it has to do with using iTunes on my laptop while not being plugged into the external hard drives....

1. Tag info is retained, but I'm not so sure about artwork as there are separate artwork folders in the user>music folder. There are scripts out there (I think) that will batch insert all artwork in to the actual song files.

2. Playlist, rating, play count, etc. are all stored in the iTunes Music Library.xml file in the user>music>iTunes folder.

3. There's no easy way around this. Just always make sure your external drive is plugged in before starting iTunes. There's a discussion about this here.

Hope this helps.


Crimson

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #3 on: 9 Jun 2009, 02:36 pm »
I was going to ask some similar questions, so I'll just add them here. I'm working on a friend's iBook who has a vast iTunes library. The machine is acting really flaky, so I want to back up all the iTunes stuff. If I simply copy the folder to my portable hard drive, and have to wipe the laptops drive, can I just copy the folder back to the computer? Like dburna above I'm just not sure where all the relevant parts of iTunes data are stored and if there are anyissues w/ copyright? Apple music store stuff can only run on the machine it was authorized for, correct?

Change iTunes' path to the external drive, then consolidate your library. It will move all music files over to the external. Then copy the entire contents of the user>music>iTunes folder to a flash drive (or in a separate folder on the external). Once you've wiped the internal, copy the contents of the flash drive back to the user>music>iTunes folder, connect external drive, start iTunes, and all should be OK. If your library is empty, make sure the path to your external is set correctly in iTunes, then 'Add to Library...' the entire external drive and it'll rebuild the index file.

dburna

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #4 on: 9 Jun 2009, 04:16 pm »
Just a follow on: I'm reasonably sure that the artwork stays with the file.  When I converted to Mac (note: now that Audioengr is finding problems with iTunes playback, I'm wondering why), I had a large number of files for which iTunes could not find artwork.  Not surprising given that I have some rare/OOP stuff among my collection.

Anyway, when I went through and manually added the artwork on to the files, it updated the file date (confirmed through using Finder).  So I assume that iTunes had to re-write the file in order to add the artwork.  Also, once I did that, the artwork shows up as the icon next to the music files using Finder.  Seems reasonable to conclude that the artwork, like the other ID3 tags, is embedded in the file.

As usual, I could be (and probably am) wrong.

-dB

drphoto

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #5 on: 10 Jun 2009, 02:18 am »
Thanks for the help Crimson. I dunno why people keep asking me to help fix their Mac problems. I was fairly good w/ troubleshooting OS9 and earlier versions, but I'm pretty much lost on this Unix/OSX stuff.  :o

Robert57

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 125
Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #6 on: 14 Feb 2011, 02:37 pm »
I've been using Superduper! to do incremental backups of my iTunes music folder (about 30K  songs) and lately have seen that the item count is about 100 higher on my BU external drive than on the source drive. The owner of Superduper! sees no problem after looking over my BU log, but I'd like to double check a few backup album folders to see that the updated album art and song tags are correctly copied. I tried copying a few songs back from the BU drive to my Mac Mini desktop and then clicked on "File/ Add to library" in iTunes--nothing happens, even when I add a few characters to the song title. Any ideas on:

1.  Is it strange or problematic that I'm getting slightly higher item counts on the incremental BU?

2.  How can I examine the artwork and tags in the external BU drive to see if they are correct? Any idea why I can't simply add the copied songs to the original library to open them in iTunes and compare? (Maybe iTunes is able to see that the copied files are truly copies of existing files?) Or is there a more direct way to examine the tags in my BU drive without opening them in iTunes--the "Get Info" approach in Finder only reveals basic file data, and not the song artwork or tags.

Rob

MaxCast

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #7 on: 8 Apr 2012, 12:12 pm »
Can someone list the quality of itunes codecs, and how to get the best quality of downloads from itunes store.

JohnR

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #8 on: 8 Apr 2012, 01:02 pm »
Can someone list the quality of itunes codecs, and how to get the best quality of downloads from itunes store.

I don't think you will get high quality downloads from the iTunes store....

toddbagwell

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #9 on: 8 Apr 2012, 02:09 pm »
iTunes uses .aac compression, which is reportedly a "bit" (hehehe) better than .mp3 at a given data rate such as 128kb/s.

I believe most iTunes downloads are currently 256k/s and DRM free.

Originally all tracks were 128kb/s and had DRM attached.

To this point no higher rates have been offered, though rumors are rampant of high resolution downloads.

Hope this helps
Todd


bside123

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #10 on: 8 Apr 2012, 02:23 pm »
After downloading a .aac file from iTunes, it can be converted (decompressed) to an AIFF version. The option is in the iTunes drop down menu if you right-click on the song. A whole album can be expanded by highlighting all the songs in an album and then right clicking. Of course the AIFF files are exponentially larger then the compressed versions, so you should make sure to have enough room on your target drive for all of the decompression. The AIFF versions sound noticeably better, and the difference can be heard immediately by A/B'ing the original downloaded .aac file compared to  the AIFF expanded conversion.

low.pfile

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #11 on: 8 Apr 2012, 05:22 pm »
Just a point of clarification.

Apple's AAC, as well as MP3, are Lossy formats, meaning that they throw away music data, to create a smaller file size. While the amount discernible by the ear is often debated, it is tossed.

Though, Apple Lossless Encoder (ALE/ALAC) format does compress the full resolution file. Then, when played in iTunes, it is uncompressed on the fly. This format can be converted to AIFF (another debate if any data/sound quality is lost during this conversion). Although, currently, ALE format songs, currently are not available from the iTunes Store—the highest quality being 256kbps AAC.

If you hear improved sound quality from converted 256k AACs then that is great. I wanted to point out to true digital audio newbies that the upconverted lossy formats won't be equivalent to full 1411 kbps AIFF/WAV files.

BTW, my test of an conversion for a song, file sizes:

1. Original song (AIFF rip from CD) = 56.6 MB
2. iTunes created 256kbps AAC = 9.8MB
3. The above AAC file converted to AIFF = 56.6 MB

Lastly, The right click or Control-click, gives you a contextual menu which will have the last Import/ripping format selected in iTunes Preferences, not always AIFF.

After downloading a .aac file from iTunes, it can be converted (decompressed) to an AIFF version. The option is in the iTunes drop down menu if you right-click on the song. A whole album can be expanded by highlighting all the songs in an album and then right clicking. Of course the AIFF files are exponentially larger then the compressed versions, so you should make sure to have enough room on your target drive for all of the decompression. The AIFF versions sound noticeably better, and the difference can be heard immediately by A/B'ing the original downloaded .aac file compared to  the AIFF expanded conversion.

MaxCast

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #12 on: 9 Apr 2012, 12:56 am »
great info presented and appreciated for me and for future readers.
What I was more interested in was what the different codecs offered in terms of resolution.  Great info for a sticky.
AAC=256K
wave=
aiff=flac=lossless/compressed
etc.

My main library is windows based flac to a SB3.  When I grab the itunes library upstairs (family imac computer) I want to know what is the greatest resolution I can play at.  And for purchases what is the greatest resolution I can play at.  And for rips what is the greatest res I can play at.  I have $75+ in itunes cards that if I can't get purchased cds ripped/converted to flac type quality I need to go somewhere else for my music.  Looks like I can't without conversion which I am not interested in.
For me flac/apple lossless is fine.

JohnR

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #13 on: 9 Apr 2012, 01:03 am »
I think you would be able to use the iTunes store credit for purchasing apps.

MaxCast

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #14 on: 9 Apr 2012, 01:10 am »
I think you would be able to use the iTunes store credit for purchasing apps.
:D  that's what I think I will be doing between three kids and myself.  I was wishing I could snag a few albums for "free" plus I can't keep the correct apple codecs in resolution order...too many a's and f's.

For the sticky, if you deal with apple here are your options and resulting resolutions...

JohnR

Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #15 on: 9 Apr 2012, 01:46 am »
I read that 256k AAC is all there is, used to be 128k.

Audiobooks are a different story - I bought a couple of Hitchhiker's Guide series and they are only 30k.

So I think the best option is to buy real CDs.

Quiet Earth

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1788
Re: Some Basic iTunes Questions
« Reply #16 on: 9 Apr 2012, 02:44 am »
If you hear improved sound quality from converted 256k AACs then that is great. I wanted to point out to true digital audio newbies that the upconverted lossy formats won't be equivalent to full 1411 kbps AIFF/WAV files.

Low.pfile,
I'm glad that you posted all of that information, and I really like the way that you said it too. Nice job!

John,
I agree with you that our best option is to buy real CDs. They truly are a good value in the long run.