First as with all companies of any size everything is about the money. Cost accountants spend their days looking at what the company does to make money. This is a never ending feud between the engineers and them to create a useable product.
iTunes has kind of become very large in the scope from the days as a music only application to a music/video store and IOS hub. The first thing everyone should do in iTunes is address your Apple Identification. This is very important if you are going to purchase anything and it must match exactly the email address and password. To set this go to Account->View my Account… it will show your login in email and ask for your password for that account and then show you this page:
Make sure all the information on this page is correct. Most of the problems associated with downloading music or video’s is due to incorrect information here.
Ok where does all your music and video’s go to? This is actually something you setup or you can change. When I build an audio system based on the iTunes way, I usually put this on an external drive that I can duplicate as I have a boat load of music and don’t want that hogging up my internal drive, plus it sounds better if it is off your computer for reasons we don’t want to get into here. If you are using a USB Audio device for playback, I would not suggest using USB drives for your library.
Pull down iTunes, select Preferences and then hit Advanced and it will look like this:
As you can see the location for your library is available and listed and you can change this. If you want to duplicate this on another disk you can create a folder on that new disk like myMusic or something like that go to the folder listed above and copy the entire contents to the new drive at myMusic. Then change the folder setting in this dialog box to the new location and you will be asked a couple of questions and you can hit Ok and that’s done.
But what about music I rip in iTunes how do I make the most of it? To me a library and my music are just like any library. I would not go to the library and rip out every other page. I want my library to be the most robust and accurate as possible. The first thing you need to do is enable Error Correction. When you rip a CD the software controlling this can read the disk as many times as possible to get the exact bits, or it can read it as fast as it can and well some of those bits will fall on the floor. Enable Error correction no matter how you want to store your music file. Staying in the iTunes pull down and Preferences go to the General setting, it will look like this:
The Library name is what will come up on your other devices as a usable source to stream to other devices. So create one that is unique for every computer you setup. You can setup your sharing options in the Sharing menu item. You can share your entire library or portions of it with other devices on your local network.
Next the Import settings, this is an extremely important place to setup your music.
This is were you set the Error Correction! Check this box it is very important. Next if you want the best sound AIFF is the best setting. It has both the meta data (that’s tells iTunes who wrote, performed and the title of the song) and the actual song samples in what is called a flat format. Apple Lossless and FLAC are like zipping the audio file, but that takes a lot of processing to extract and that processing creates noise and will degrade the sound. Same with MP3 and AAC formats as there they have to interpret the music which is a lot of digital signal processing and of course just like the library analogy…. it is trying to create music from ripped out pages.
Most asked question… Is it possible to fix tracks that were ripped without error correction. No those bits are on the floor forever lost. When iTunes rips at full speed it can loose as much as 15% of the track information.
We have everything pretty much setup at this point now what about playing back my music collection?
If you have a DAC (Digital Audio Converter) or use the computer output it must be setup or else iTunes will do what is called resampling. Resampling is when you have a track in format X, but your default setup is Y. So iTunes uses a digital signal processing system called resampling. FYI tidbit… this math was started with LaPlace and Fourier in the early 1800’s.
To setup your output you need to first exit iTunes. See iTunes takes a snap shoot of what is called the sample rate and bit rate of the device and then if the track is not equal to this setting it will resample to it. So lets exit iTunes and if you are a Windows user you would go to Control Panel Sound, select your device, go to advanced setting and set the sample rate to 44,100 which is the standard sample rate for CD’s. If you are on macOS then you will have to run Applications/Utilities/Audio Midi Settings and select your device and output format.
The volume control will also appear in your tool bar. For most USB DACS the volume control for the system will actually be handled inside that output device and not in iTunes. Therefore using the iTunes volume control is not necessary and that volume control should be set to 100%. The volume control inside iTunes is a simple math equation of Sample * Volume Control = OutputSample. The problem is that samples are integers and therefore doing any math with them would be damaging to their bit integrity.
Ok enough about ripping what happens if I download a track from iTunes or some other service like HDTracks.com?
iTunes downloads are AAC or AAC+ which are a superset of MP3, meaning they are slightly better. HDTracks and other companies and bands now download either CD quality or Master quality. iTunes puts them in a folder of purchased items which you can access on up to 5 computers or devices. You can sink your IOS devices to iTunes and create playlists and have them as part of your mobile device. More on that in a little bit.
If you use HDTracks or some other download make sure you download in the correct format. macOS users cannot use FLAC files as they are not supported by Apple. If you have FLAC only format you can convert these files to AIFF or ALAC by using Stephen Booth’s program called Max, available for free at sbooth.org. Ounce you have the tracks you can just drag them into the iTunes window and they will become available to play inside of iTunes.
Playlists are a nice and easy way to group a selection of songs. To create a playlist in iTunes, pull down File, select New->Playlist. Name the Playlist and it will end up on the left side of your viewing screen of iTunes.
To add a song to a playlist simply click or touch a song in the main window (make sure you have clicked <> Music: Artists/Albums/Songs then Library) right click and Add to playlist->yourPlaylist.
If you want to burn a CD a playlist is the only way to do this. Add songs to the playlist, put in a blank CD into your computer drive (or external USB CD/DVD drive) right click yourPlaylist and hit the burn icon and it will create the hard copy of what is in your playlist.
When you plug in a device that is compatible with iTunes it will show up in the left tool bar area like this:
By clicking the device (circled in red) it will go into that mode and you can add and change preferences and storage such as photos, music and whatever. If you select music then you can sync by song, playlist, artist, album. Me, I select some playlists, some songs, even some albums I like. The storage slider on the bottom of the page indicates how much space you have available every time you make a change.
Do note on iPhones, always leave a good 20% or more available because Apps will always use that space for temporary storage such as emails, websites, Facebook, Twitter Instagram and others.
After you make changes to the device in any content you must hit the Sync which will update the device with the changes you made.
The cloud reference first appear when X.25 became the standard for high speed internet back in the mid 90’s. X.25 was the preceded DSL in a way that phone companies could provide less expensive Internet hook up to small companies that really did not need T1 or T3 type hookups that were required by larger companies.
Why the cloud and what is it? Well let’s face it, how many of you are backing up all your devices to a secure location? Ok that’s why everyone is so big on the cloud as it provides a secure (we hope) location for all your texts, photos, music, video’s etc that are on your mobile devices and or laptop or desktop computers. So what is the cloud? Well it’s a server farm, a massive array of computers hooked to the internet with hard drives by the millions storing and backing up all of your information.
To understand how to use the cloud with your iTunes it is best to go to the source for that and look at Apple site.
So if your still with us and want to purchase off the store and your info is correctly setup as in the beginning Account Information then it’s pretty simple. By hitting the dollar sign on an item then your user code email will pop up and ask you for your Apple password. Entering that correctly will put the item into the queue. What’s the queue, well it’s a list of stuff to put either in the cloud or download to your device.
If you want to get started and download your content now the easiest way to do this is after you select your tracks pull down Account and then choose Check for Available Downloads…
This will give you a list of all the content you have bought that does NOT reside on the device you are using so beware. It’s going to start to download everything from day 1 on that account to this device. I usually pause all the the ones I don’t really need anymore. You know the TV shows you missed and so forth. Anyway this will allow you to download the music or video’s you currently have in the queue. I find that downloading one at a time seems fastest. But this will depend on your internet pipe speed.
If you have any specific questions about iTunes, please email me with them. If you are looking for better sounding playback than iTunes, programs that change the sample rate or allow network streaming or whatever, go to the Setup page.