iTunes and AAC

From an email:

The thing that I am having problem with are those damn AAC tags… What the f*** are they, why the f*** are they, and why the f** can I not figure them out I think I understand they are away to control content.

Well let me try to keep this fairly simple. AAC is a digital audio format that is supposed to be the “next generation” of MP3. However, MP3 is so ubiquitous that it’s going to be a while before it gets replaced.

Apple uses their own “version” of ACC with extensions for DRM (digital rights management). That allows them to control the content so that it only plays back under iTunes and specifically under your iTunes account. In short its a pain in the ass. Steve Jobs has publicly stated that the DRM is to appease the RIAA, although I have my doubts since Apple likes to control everything from cradle to grave.

There are basically 2 ways to convert your music in iTunes from AAC to MP3:

(1) By default, iTunes wants to rip (convert) everything to AAC. Click on Edit -> Preferences -> Importing (or Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Importing) then change the Import Using from the default setting to “MP3 Encoder”. Click OK to save this setting. Next you can r-click an AAC file in iTunes, and try to “convert selection to MP3”. The only problem is that this won’t work for purchased AAC music (DRM’ed).

(2) If you must buy audio from iTunes, then your best bet is to setup a playlist, burn it as a music CD, then immediately rip it back to high bit rate MP3. That frees up your music to play on any player. Of course, that could eat up a lot of CD’s, so you would probably want to learn to use something like MagicISO, CD Emulator, or NoteBurner to keep from using a ton of CD’s.