Pony: AAC uploading to MeFiMusic? January 1, 2011 6:53 PM   Subscribe

From this distance it's hard to tell whether it's a pony or a stallion: making AAC files uploadable to MeFiMusic?

From my understanding, AAC is better quality than mp3 without being significantly larger in file size. Plus, I have a lot of recordings in aif format, which is significantly easier to reformat to AAC. And certain programs (i.e. garageband) often lose tracks when compressing down to mp3 directly, as opposed to mixing down an uncompressed file and then converting to AAC.

Please, however, understand that I'm really not that well-versed in the details and mechanics behind these things, and therefore I may be asking for something ridiculous or impossible or just a general pain in the ass. If I'm the only person who thinks this might be nice, than it's certainly not worth the time and effort to make it work just so I can upload my silly music in a snowflake format.

In any case, the mere fact that there exists a (basically) free website that allows its users to ask for such ponies is remarkable, and gives me hope for the internet. Thanks!
posted by Lutoslawski to Feature Requests at 6:53 PM (13 comments total)

I think the biggest drawback is that IIRC, AAC files can't be easily played with flash or js players and I'm not sure if the ID3 tags can be read by the server.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:12 PM on January 1, 2011

Ah, interesting. Yeah, I figured there were reasons, I just had no idea. Thanks Matt. I wonder why they give flash players and such so much trouble? According to the (always 100% reliable, of course) Wikipedia, AAC was supposed to be the great successor to the mp3.

Really interesting about the ID3 incompatibility. I'm certainly not in the know on this sort of thing, but you'd think they would have made sure metadata could be easily transferred across both formats before rolling it out.

In any case, as much a pony request as a 'what's up with this?' sort of thing, so thanks.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:29 PM on January 1, 2011

According to the (always 100% reliable, of course) Wikipedia, AAC was supposed to be the great successor to the mp3.

My admittedly vague impression was that AAC was mostly intended to be the Apple successor to the mp3, doing more or less the same sort of things but with the patent control in Apple's rather than Fraunhofer's hands.

Ask a Linux nerd and the great successor is actually Ogg Vorbis; ask an audiophile and it's FLAC; etc. In the mean time, everybody and their uncle still supports mp3 because, well, everybody and their uncle supports mp3, and format inertia goes a long way when there's not something super compelling to force a shift.

And like Matt suggests, that's a reason to be cautious all else being equal about changing up what's been so far a very consistent format practice on Music—for several years now we've been able to rely on only having to support one format, and listeners/subscribers have been able to count on same. Adding another format or several to the mix would need some serious usability consideration.

Anyway, for what it's worth I've never encountered any kind of track loss when mixing down to mp3 in Garageband or heard of such a thing, but I'd be totally curious to know if that's a documented problem. My understanding is that Garageband's mixdown process first writes an uncompressed file and then puts that through compression as a secondary step, whether to mp3 or AAC.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:23 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

I wonder what you mean when you say you are losing tracks. I haven't posted to MeMu recently (but I will quite soon) but I always make 16-bit WAVs (AIFFs would work just as well) and convert them to 320kbps MP3. If this exceeds the 10MB upload limit, my song is too long I just try 256kpbs.

FWIW, I have been consistently unable to distinguish between 44/16 WAV and 320 kbps MP3.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:39 PM on January 1, 2011

It takes about 20 seconds to convert an aac to mp3 using itunes, anyway.
posted by empath at 8:40 PM on January 1, 2011

256kpbs = 256 kbps
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:41 PM on January 1, 2011

(or aif-mp3 for that matter)

Also, when you are rendering original music, you should pretty much always render it uncompressed and then re-encode it to whatever format you want to share it with.
posted by empath at 8:42 PM on January 1, 2011

Word. Thanks Cortex. Yeah, like I said I didn't know a whole lot about it.

Perhaps losing tracks is a problem unique to me. It's been happening more frequently lately as I work with more and more tracks simultaneously; when compressing to an mp3, it will lose a track or two, which I can sometimes correct by unlocking the track (even though all the tracks are locked...). And there doesn't seem to be any sort of pattern to what sorts of tracks are lost, i.e. could be the beat track, effect track, real instrument...completely random. Perhaps just a bug with my computer. Damn.

empath: I didn't think I was that much of a luddite, but for the life of me I cannot figure out how to convert aac to mp3 on my freakin' itunes.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:00 PM on January 1, 2011

...I cannot figure out how to convert aac to mp3 on my freakin' itunes.

I have iTunes 10.1.1 on a Mac, and for me it's just a right-click on the track and then 'Create MP3 Version' from the menu.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:30 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Export the uncompressed audio, open it with a LAME encoder, compress it into a top quality (or really anything higher than 50%) v0 mp3.

Presto, good as FLAC unless you have a multi-kilo-dollar audio set up, and even then most people will miss the difference.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:56 PM on January 1, 2011

cortex: neither of the "A"s in AAC stand for Apple.

pb, Lutoslawski: I think that menu option depends on the Import Settings as set on the General tab in Preferences. No idea anymore what the default setting is, but it's probably AAC. Swapping the import setting to MP3 should change the menu option as well.
posted by dumbland at 2:31 AM on January 2, 2011

Plus, I have a lot of recordings in aif format, which is significantly easier to reformat to AAC.

Rather than converting AAC to MP3 (which will sound cruddy), please note that it's no harder to make MP3s in the first place in iTunes than it is to make AAC files. Go to the Preferences and click the Import Settings button on the General tab. Change it from AAC Encoder to MP3 Encoder and you're done.
posted by bcwinters at 6:02 AM on January 2, 2011

cortex: neither of the "A"s in AAC stand for Apple.

Thanks for the background link; that's certainly more useful than my vague impression.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:39 AM on January 2, 2011

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