Playing Compressed Sound on a Home Stereo
I know that you can convert MP3s into WAVs and AIFFs, but they are both very large formats. I am wondering whether there are any other formats that you can convert MP3s into, which are more compressed but are still playable in most home stereos.
The AIFF file format supports several compression algorithms. They are all lossy. Your choices are MACE, Law, and IMA. AIFF files compressed with these compressors will play back fine on any computer or home stereo. The size of the files will be significantly reduced, but their sound quality will be adversely affected. You will have to play around to see if you are willing to accept the compromise. You can compress an AIFF file using one of these algorithms with a program like SoundEdit 16 from Macromedia, or using QuickTime Player under QuickTime Pro (you will need to upgrade if you are using the free version of QuickTime).
In my opinion it makes more sense to just burn out the MP3s directly to an audio CD using Toast 4.x. This will result in a CD that is playable on a home stereo, and the sound quality will be no worse than the MP3 source file, although you will not be able to fit as many songs on the CD as if you converted and compressed the AIFF files beforehand. Toast 4.x converts MP3 to AIFF on the fly but it does not offer the option to compress the AIFF files because that is too processor intensive to do on the fly and would interrupt the CD burning process.
Compressing AIFF files beforehand is time consuming. You can use a program like Cleaner from Terran Interactive to batch convert/compress files, but otherwise you have to baby-sit the computer and do it file by file. I’m lazy and would rather have more CDs with higher quality sound that required less of my time and energy to generate, than fewer with poorer quality sound.
A home stereo cannot play AIFF files that have been compressed using a proprietary or third party compression algorithm (or codec); it can only play AIFFs compressed using the algorithms that are part of the AIFF definition (MACE, Law, IMA, etc.). Files compressed using these algorithms do not need special software to be played because they do not fundamentally alter the file format; they simply tweak the dynamic range and save space in clever ways.
Proprietary algorithms (such as QDesign Music 2, which comes with QuickTime Pro, and is a remarkable compression technology) work their magic by way of far more sophisticated and successful methods, but in order to play the files you need a program that can read the new, modified, data. So using QDesign as an example, you would need to play the compressed files on a computer with QuickTime Pro (or the QDesign codec) installed, and naturally your CD player could not play a CD full of QDesign compressed AIFF files. In this sense they are no different than MP3s.
No matter what compression algorithm you use on the AIFF files in question, you are compressing the data for the second time (first time was with MP3), and that is always going to wreck the sound quality of your recording.
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- Give Alert Sounds a Little Personality · March 2012
- Create Your Own iPhone Ringtones · February 2012
- Create Your Own Homemade Audio Book · December 2011
- Upgrade to Lion Painlessly · August 2011
- Make the Most of TextEdit · July 2011
- Using the Free Disk Utility on Your Mac · May 2011
- Making Use of QuickTime X · March 2011
- Making the Most of What’s Already on Your Mac · February 2011
- Making the Most of What’s Already on Your Mac · January 2011
- Complete Archive