Buying music - iTunes Vs traditional CD - Best quality?

Arcam Fan Boy

Standard Member
Feb 7, 2007
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I am a big iTunes fan, and like many people have found that the convenience and cost factor has resulted in me now buying vast majority of my music from this source.

In terms of playback, much of the time this is via my iPod, however I do wish to play music via my home cinema system (decent quality amp and speakers) either by burning to CD, or directly from iPOD once I buy a dock.

I use apple lossless format to rip existing CD's to my iTunes library, which results in a high bit rate of say 900+ Kbps.

My concern is that the majority of my recent music purchases have been via iTunes store where the standard file format is "Protected AAC Audiofile" at 128Kbps, way below the bit rate of equivalent music purchased on CD and ripped to the library.

Whilst there is an option to convert existing iTunes purchased music to lossless format (iTunes/advanced/create apple lossless version), the vast majority of music purchased simply throws up an error message "cannot be converted because protected files cannot be converted to other formats". I have had one success only, converting to lossless and achieving a big gain in bit rate, with an iTunes purchased album which was in "purchased AAC" rather than "protected AAC" format

Apologies for the pre-amble, however my question really relates to whether I should continue to purchase my music via iTunes if I am seeking a good quality high bit rate (presume higher bit rate = higher quality)?

I realise that Apple offer some music for download via their iTunes plus option, however this is only an increase to 256Kbps (granted double existing bit rate), however (i) music available in this format is currently very limited (ii) still way below bit rate achieveable via buying CD version and ripping to iTunes library via lossless format.

So....have I missed the point, or should I simply revert back to buying music on CD format, rather than downloading via iTunes, if I want to achieve the highest quality?

I should say that I am more concerned about quality that file size, and that I appreciate the higher the bit rate the higher the memory requirements.

Would welcome your views! :thumbsup:
>achieving a big gain in bit rate<

Sorry, all an illusion. Lossy compression to 128kbit means the sound is mangled for good and all.

>should I simply revert back to buying music on CD format, rather than downloading via iTunes, if I want to achieve the highest quality?<


The moderators have spoken...:thumbsup:
Last edited:
Thanks guys,

I appreciate your views - guess I just need to accept that it is a case of "back to the future" with a move back to traditional CD's.
For a long time (years) now I have donwloaded my songs via iTunes. However over the last month I have started getting back into buy CD's again then importing them into iTunes.

Think having a CD is just better, very hard for me to explain to be honest. Something about having the CD in your hand, rather than a download. Maybe it's my age not sure.
Another aspect is control -

When I buy CDs and rip them onto my PC I control the formate and bitrate and the music is mine forever. No way am I ever paying money for music with DRM attached. I understand why it is fine for many customers, but Apple tie-in does not work for me
My uncle recently set me up an american itunes account and i have been buying music from it since. There have been a few problems though, like an album i purchased straight to my ipod touch dissapearing when i tryed to sync it back to my pc, but aside from this it has been good to get music whenever i want it. What i was wondering though is if there is much difference in the quality of itunes music over a cd? i only listen to my music with my ipod and i do make big savings on my music with itunes..should i go back to cd's?

p.s i am very new to forums so excuse anything wrong i may have done :(
Itunes compresses the music (ie mp3) whereas a bought cd does not, so there is a difference, all I can recommend really is to listen to a track on cd then play the same track on itunes (both from the pc) and see if there is much difference to your ears :smashin:

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