iPod system question?

So I bought myself one of those crazy iPod thingees all the kids are so nutty about yesterday in Annapolis.

Go home tonight and I hooked it up. USB in the back of my box and all that. I tell it to look for my music and synch my iTunes up with the iPod. It’s, um, taking a while as predicted. I have much music (took my more than 6 months to rip it all).

So this IS taking a while.

My question: What happens when I buy some tunes from the iTunes store or rip a new CD to my catalog? Does it need to synch up the entire thing again or will it automatically just synch up new stuff since the last synch?

Anyone? Bueller?

No, iTunes will only sync new items. The only time you have to sync everything is if you wipe the iPod and have to reload everything onto it.

If I may suggest, don’t let iTunes rip your music. It will encode it in its own AAC format and apply full DRM to it, effectively making it useless outside of your specific iPod. Use whatever you’ve been using to rip your music and just drag it into iTunes. Be careful to drag into the “library” pane instead of the device pane, otherwise copying it directly to your iPod means it won’t sync back to your library.

Now comes the fun part - buy all the accessories - like a table top speaker that charges the iPod as it plays, or a car charger and an attachment to play the iPod thru the car’s cassette deck

Huh? The AAC encoder adds no DRM. And iTunes comes with a built-in MP3 encoder as well–all you have to do is change a setting. AAC (which is really just part 3 of the MPEG-4 standard or part 7 of the MPEG-2 standard) is supported by most modern computer media players as well as a lot of portable players, including the Zune, the PSP, and lots of cell phones. You can also rip as a straight WAV, as Apple Lossless, or as AIFF.

You might make sure you’re using USB 2.0. I recently purchased an iPod as well, but promptly forgot my desktop computer only has 1.1. Rather than wait several hours for my collection to transfer, I bought a USB 2.0 card to install. Sped things up considerably.

If you leave the iPod set to sync everything automatically, it will transfer any new songs to the iPod, remove any that you’ve deleted from your computer (I think), and sync up a few other things (last played times for all the music you’ve listened to since you last synced, any ratings you’ve updated on either device, any new playlists on either device, etc.). You can also set it to a manual transfer mode, where you add and remove whatever you want each time you plug it in. The automatic sync is much less hassle (IMO).

iTunes does no such thing. Only media purchased from the iTunes Music Store contain DRM. Music imported into iTunes from CDs, existing MP3s, etc. can be freely copied and converted at any time, with most any program.

Music can be copied from an iPod back to a computer, but it’s not streamlined. In Windows, ou would either turn on “Show hidden files and folders”, then look in your iPod’s “iPod_Control” folder and copy everything manually (catch is that the file names and organization are not preserved, everything is named and placed randomly), or use a program to automatically copy the files back and re-set the file names from the song tags.

Also, I forgot to add that iTunes supports importing as MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF, and Apple Lossless. Many other audio programs can handle all of them, and only Apple Lossless is likely to cause trouble in that respect.

Really? I always thought it locked up any original media. <shrug> That’s good to know – but I still use Razor+Lame to encode my CDs after ripping. Old habits and all that. Plus the encoder is free and sounds great.

I used one of these once – some freeware thingie whose name I can’t recall. I do recall that it worked very well though and is much better than backing up manually.

OK, I’m all synched up. But I still can’t get the iPod or iTunes to recognize the WMA files I purchased when I was using MusicMatch (since bought by the hell that is Yahoo).

Any advice? I tried using audacity but it doesn’t seem to get the job done.

I’m afraid you’re SOL. Ipod does not recognize WMA and never will. Can you burn those WMA files to an audio CD? If so, you could then re-rip them to MP3 (although quality will suffer) or Apple Lossless (no loss in quality but much larger files).

Unfortunately the iPod doesn’t do WMA. Convert them back to WAV (WinAmp’s nullsoft DiskOutput plugin will do this) and then re-encode them to MP3, preferably 192Kbps or higher to ensure minimal loss of quality.

If he bought them from MusicMatch, they’re probably protected by PlaysForSure. I haven’t used WinAmp for several years and don’t remember many of the plugins. Does DiskOutput require stripping the DRM first, or is it just an internal version of the line-out/line-in trick? For that matter, do the current versions of WinAmp support PlaysForSure DRMed WMA?

iTunes will convert WMA files to MP3 for you. Import them into your library and it will automatically ask if you want to convert them to a format the iPod will recognize.

I know that Winamp 5.3 can play PlaysForSure files, but I don’t know whether it will allow you to convert directly to WAV, that’s why I originally suggested burning an audio CD as the simplest solution.

Even if they’re DRM-crippled PlaysForSure files? My understanding is that you first have to strip the encryption using one of a variety of hacker’s utils. Unfortunately, these utils are legally iffy, hard to find and often outdated.

BTW, this is why I hate proprietary formats and digital encryption. They limit consumer choice and create a whole host of headaches for legitimate users. The OP thought he could just transfer files he legally bought to another device which he also legally bought. No such luck.

FYI, Microsoft has now abandoned PlaysForSure encryption and even its own sucky digital audio player (Review of the Zune) won’t support it. My advice is to do whatever you can to strip the DRM encryption from your Musicmatch WMA files before they become unsupported orphans, unplayable by new versions of Windows or digital audio players.

It’s an output plugin – all it really does is stream the audio output to a WAV file. I don’t know whether it is DRM-aware, but it’s not a conversion so much as recording the audio output to disk from the input stream (similar to Sound Forge’s “What U Hear” record method). I guess that would be the line-out/line-in trick, except it never leaves the digital domain.

I also don’t know if WinAmp supports PlaysForSure. A plugin may be required, and whether or not such a plugin would be aware of the DiskOutput plugin and block it accordingly is another question. I’ve never tried myself as I’ve never been a fan of the WMA format. Either way I’m certain it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a freeware universal DRM stripper to allow you to use your legally purchased music on other MP3 players.