Originally Posted by tiecollector
I rip everything to 256kbps AAC, overkill for most things but I could pump them into a high end stereo system if I needed to. If you wanted to be an uber asshole audiophile you would use a lossless compression like Apple Lossless format. Right now I have a 300GB drive full and both a mini and a shuffle.
The iTunes AAC codec spits out .m4a files, which is the audio layer of the mp4 codec. I started doing AAC because I saw it as the next generation. Since my ipod is my car stereo system, it works fine, the only problem you might have with using AAC is if your car plays mp3s off a CD, this would be annoying to have to convert various songs off the fly.
IIRC, AAC is free to use while MP3 has some hefty royalty fees. If you do use mp3, do NOT use the iTunes codec, they deliberately made the mp3s sound like crap. The best for mp3 is to use LAME with a variable bitrate, AAC is VBR by default.
All in all, I think iTunes organizes the songs the best and is the easiest to use from Linux through Windoze.
If you want to compromise quality, filesize, ipod battery time, I would go with 128kbps AAC, I think that is the default that iTunes uses.
That's the bitch I have with AAC. Actually, it's with my stereo. I should have purchased a head unit for my car that was mp3/aac (since who still uses wma's???) playable instead of mp3/wma. Back then I wasn't too concerned with space on my ipod so everything was ripped to 192 mp3, back when I only had 18 gbs of the 34.5 today (mostly in AAC format).
I've purchased a few albums off itunes and I'm fine with it. The quality is usually better than what I find on bittorrent and I don't mind paying when it comes to an artist I know and love, not just one I'm checking out. I sell my cds back unless there's something super special about them because I could care less about the packaging or cd itself. All my music is digital and backed up and I really can't hear/don't care about the differences past 128 AAC.
It IS a bitch, however, to have to burn my itunes songs onto a cd and then rip them back if I want to change formats/share with friends. That's why I typically stay away from iTunes purchases.
I'm a Mac guy, have been a Mac guy since '90, and wasn't happy with the integration of other mp3 players with OSX. I guess they all give up on Mac users since they figure they'll only be wasting $$$ in development. The iPod, however, is simply an extension of iTunes and has worked flawlessly for me for the past 2 years.