Moving from MP3 to AAC Not as Easy as One Two Three

When Apple announced iTunes 4 with the inclusion of AAC - a new audio codec developed by Dolby, with claims that it is higher quality than MP3 at the same bit rate - I was eager to convert all my CD's to AAC to get the higher quality audio. However, this wasn't going to be as easy as one two three.

Why wasn't this going to be easy? Well the first problem was that my beige G3 MT Rev. A doesn't play audio CD's or rip them without hisses/pops or crackly sound. I have never been able to rip a CD flawlessly that doesn't have a crackle or hiss/pop in it.

If any of you have any suggestions, please e-mail me. I am guessing it's either the AV Personality Card or something on the motherboard. I have spoken with others who own a Beige G3 and they haven't experienced this problem. This is the only problem with this computer. Mac OS X has worked flawlessly on here since day one, so I count myself lucky the crackly audio from ripped CD's is my only problem. Additionally, MP3's/AAC files ripped on another computer play flawlessly.

Since I am unable to rip my CD's on my Beige G3, my only alternative was to use my mom's iMac when I was visiting her last week. Re-ripping 110 CD's wasn't a small task, especially since the iMac only averages 3x ripping speed. The other problem was the 12GB of free space on the 20GB hard drive wasn't going to be big enough to hold all the CD's in 320Kbps AAC. Since my mom and I both have DSL, and her uplink is around 700kbps, I decided I would upload as much of the 15GB of AAC files as I could over the Internet. I could have just burned them to CD-R, but I didn't want to waste them for one-time use of transferring them to my computer.

Uploading 15GB's of AAC files over the Internet, plus an additional 2GB's in MP3's wasn't going to be fast. I calculated 1GB would take six hours. So for about four days and three nights, I was ripping CD's and then uploading them to my home computer. By Thursday, I had uploaded over 10GB's to my home computer, so I decided to move the 2GB's of MP3's and AAC files via CDRW discs (I had about ten I could use). The reason I didn't use CD-R's for this task was I didn't want to waste the high quality CD-R's we have on moving AAC/MP3 files.

Another problem cropped up during ripping of some CD's (actually, at first I thought it was rooted in the Mac OS 10.2.6 update I had applied to the iMac earlier). I thought I was going to have to downgrade to 10.2.4 (in other words a complete re-install of the computer). By the fifth forced restart, including pulling of the plug, I came to realize iTunes was locking up the computer while trying to rip a track from one of the CD's. this brings up a point that will happen to most people at some point. Since many CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs, etc. have trouble with some CDs/DVDs, I recommend having two different CD-ROMs. In my mom's case, she had a firewire CD-RW we bought last summer for backing up her computer. I used that to try to rip the track that the iTunes was choking on using the internal DVD-ROM. The track ripped flawlessly.

Now to last problem... When I was ripping some new CDs I got for use with my new Discman, I noticed a song had a big crackly sound and pause in it. It seems this happens in one in 500 songs ripped. Re-ripping the track solved the audio problem. Yesterday, while listening to a song in AAC on my Beige G3, I discovered another song with a crackly part. Now this does seem to be limited to one in 500 songs.

Since I am unable to afford an iPod, I got a Discman for my birthday last week, and this is why I now have to keep two sets of all my music. One in AAC (for better sound on my computer, outputted through my stereo) and one set in MP3 so I can listen to my music on the road. I average four CDs in 320kbps MP3 per 700MB CDRW, which is fine with me.