Compatible music files for iPods

ilxman -- Mon, 12/01/2008 - 12:11

I am a complete digital music newbie who just ordered an iPod Touch.
Questions: 1) Aside from ripping my own CDs and downloading crappy mp3 files from iTunes, what other downloaded music files are compatible (i.e., Amazon, etc.)? 2) Are there any lossless compression options compatible with iPods? 
Thanks for the help.

Anonymous -- Mon, 12/01/2008 - 12:54

iPod touch supports:

  • AAC (16 to 320 Kbps)
  • Protected AAC (from iTunes Store)
  • MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps)
  • MP3 VBR
  • Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4)
  • Apple Lossless
  • WAV
  • AIFF

In other words, there is a lossless format you can use with your iPod.  The lossless format is apparently one of the options in iTunes you can use when "importing" a Audio CD using iTunes.

Steven Stone -- Mon, 12/01/2008 - 16:15

 Another way of answering is that except for FLAC files iTunes (and iPods) supports all the standard formats.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

ilxman -- Tue, 12/02/2008 - 13:46

Thanks for the info. What high-res (redbook or higher) sources are out there with a decent selection of music? Just to make sure I'm understanding this: If I find high-res downloads (redbook or higher) at, say, Naxos I can buy them and have no compatibility problems with an iPod? Thanks.

Steven Stone -- Tue, 12/02/2008 - 20:42

If you mean by high rez higher than 48K forget that via the iPod or iTunes.

If you mean red book, then you're fine.

For higher rez than 48K you will have to use another music player and program.

I like Audacity which supports up to 96K and is free.

Also for higher the 44 you will have to have a DAC that supports this higher bit rate.

Most USB DACs do not. Some Toslink-connected DACS will support 96K.

You will need to go into the MAc's MIDI control program to see waht bit rates your external devices support - it will let you know.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

barondla -- Mon, 01/05/2009 - 22:35

 Are there any portable  Ipod like players that can play higher than 44K res over headphones?  Do all the lossless codecs sound the same? Have heard flac is pretty much standard between many machines. Apparently not with Ipod.

Stephen Hillyer (not verified) -- Sat, 08/01/2009 - 16:39

 Dear Mr. Stone:
Is there a way to capture from the Internet an archived symphony concert in anything like CD-quality sound?  The particular example I have in mind can be found at the Chicago Symphony website (  To access archived streams of entire radio broadcasts, one has to 1) Click open the "Recordings and Broadcasts" link found in the upper right-hand corner of the CSO's home page, 2) Click open "BP CSO Radio Broadcasts";, 3) Click open the desired concert (in my case,  "June 26, 2009 / Program # CSO 09-26" ) and then wait for the "CSO Radio Player" to download the concert on one's desktop.  One can then listen to the entire two-hour broadcast.  But I can't figure out how one could download it into my HD for later burning and editing on a CD-R I could play on my high-end stereo system.   My computer is iMac (OS 10.4.11).  Would the Audacity cross-platform Audio Editor be able to handle something like this? Any advice you can give would be deeply appreciated.
Steve Hillyer

Stephen Hillyer (not verified) -- Sat, 08/01/2009 - 16:40

 Correction: Upper LEFT-hand page.  Sorry about that.

Steven Stone -- Sun, 08/02/2009 - 08:38

 I can answer the first part of your question more easily than the second
Usually streamed music files for desktop play are at less than "CD Quality." Most are 128 BPS MP3 at best. That doesn't mean they won't sound quite acceptable, but they are bit-rate limited.
You can, if you experiment, probably find a way to capture the stream and burn it onto a disc, but that would be a violation of the copyright owner's rights and that is why it is not an immediate and available option. Some orchestras, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra offer you the option of buying individual concerts via their websites. This is a legal way of accessing CD quality (and above) copies of their performances.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

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