Last time I did this I didn’t write this down anywhere so I’ve had to find all the pages again. Next time it’ll all be right here. It’s possible to encode MP3s using the LAME encoder directly from iTunes without too much hassle…
LAME is apparently the best MP3 encoder or, at least, the best free one. The encoder that’s built into iTunes isn’t as good. But you can install LAME and encode your MP3s using it direct from iTunes.
[UPDATE: I think you can replace the three steps below with the improved version of the script from step three, iTunes-LAME encoder (see discussion at VersionTracker). It says it installs LAME for you, and doesn’t mention needing the developer tools. If you can confirm this, post in the comments below, as it would make life a lot simpler! (27 July 2003)]
- You’ll need to install the Mac OS X developer tools to install LAME, as it requires some behind-the-scenes software installed with the tools. I think the tools come on a CD with OS X, but you can join Apple’s Developer Community and download them.
- Download the Mac OS X LAME installer from Vas the Man’s Downloads and install it. [1 May 2003: Or you could download LAME and install it from the command line.]
- Download the Convert to MP3 [LAME] AppleScript and, as the Read Me tells you, put the script into your ~/Library/iTunes/Scripts/ directory. There’s some early discussion of this script here.
- Now, just encode your CDs as normal, but instead of choosing “Convert Selection to MP3” from the Advanced menu in iTunes, use the LAME option under the AppleScript menu. You can enter some options for the encoder in the dialog box, so you could either spend a while reading the instructions that came with the encoder or just enter —r3mix which is apparently the best quality/size balance. [Update: Or maybe not; see Nick’s comment below.]
To be honest, I don’t notice the difference between this and a fairly standard 128kbps encoding, but I have cloth ears, and like to think I’m doing things the best way. Maybe someday I’ll have a hifi that makes the differences all too noticeable, and I wouldn’t want to have to encode everything again.