Thursday, January 08, 2009

How to convert iTunes Plus to MP3?

The other day Apple announced that it was making about 80% of the iTunes store DRM free, with the remaining 20% to follow shortly. DRM-free iTunes means that in theory you should be able move your music to other computers and devices easily...

But... iTunes Plus DRM-free music comes in .m4a format which is based on the MPEG-4 part 14 standard. Problem is, far more devices don't recognize what to do with .m4a than do (and its video sibling, .m4v). MP3 is a far more popular format.

So, can you convert .m4a files into.mp3 files? Yes you can, and you can do it all from within iTunes (iTunes 8)! Here's how:

1. Click on Edit -> Preferences.... From the General tab click on Import Settings... button.

2. Change the Import Using drop down box to MP3 Encoder.

3. From the Settings drop down box select Custom... and choose a Stereo Bit Rate of 256Kbps.

4. Click OK, OK and OK.

5. Now find a file that you want to convert, right-click on it and select Create MP3 Version and an MP3 copy will be created.

Note that you'll have now both versions of the song in your library, so you’ll have to do a little housekeeping.

Note that if you want to upgrade your previously purchased iTunes tracks to DRM free, you need to pay 30 cents per song. You can't pick and choose which tracks to upgrade. Start by going to the iTunes Store home page, and clicking on "Upgrade My Library" under the "Quick Links" heading. Once there, you'll see a list of all the songs and albums that are available for upgrading, with a price next to each. But the important number to look at is the price next to the buy button, since that's how much it'll cost to upgrade your library.

So if have an extensive music collection with many songs (i.e. 500 songs) purchased from iTunes and wanted to get them freed from DRM protection, you will have to pay USD150 for the upgrade. And in order to listen to them with your MP3 player or mobile phone music player, you still need a further step - convert the AAC music to MP3 one by one (as the steps show above). It not only messes your iTunes library up but also costs you a great deal of time and money. Therefore, if you really want to play the previously purchased music tracks from iTunes Store with MP3 players or mobile phone music players, you just need to get TuneClone Audio Converter to help to remove the iTunes DRM protection and convert the iTunes music to the popular MP3 format. Also, if you get iTunes Plus DRM-free music files and want to play them with the MP3 players or mobile phone music players incompatible with Apple AAC format, you can still use TuneClone to turn them into MP3 format, saving the time to create MP3 version for the songs one by one.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Transfer iTunes Library to Zune

If you have moved from Apple iPod to Microsoft Zune, you probably have some songs that you purchased from the iTunes Music Store that you would like to move to the new device. You will run into a hurdle if you try to transfer the files directly as Apple's copy protection prevents the song from playing on another device. There is a workaround to this however...

  1. Create a new playlist in iTunes.

  2. Add the protected songs to your playlist until you have 72 minutes of music.

  3. Click the "Burn Disc" button.

  4. Click the radio button next to "Audio CD" and tick "Include CD Text" option.

  5. Upon completion of burning the disc, rip the songs to MP3 using Windows Media Player.

  6. Open the Zune software and sync the newly created MP3's to your Zune device.

Alternatively, you can use TuneClone Audio Converter. It automatically generates a virtual CD-ROM drive during the installation. The virtual CD drive tricks your PC into believing that you are burning a CD. Therefore, the DRM protection is removed without wasting a CD and the speed is very fast. Below are the steps:

  1. Create a new playlist in iTunes.

  2. Add the protected songs to your playlist. Since iTunes burns the protected music with TuneClone virtual CD drive, there is no limit as to music length so long as you have enough hard drive space.

  3. Launch TuneClone. Click the "Settings" tab. In the pop-up window, you can specify output folder, output file name format, output format (Here we can choose MP3 or WMA since Zune accepts MP3 and WMA music), etc. for the output files. Note: You can check whether TuneClone virtual CD drive is successfully installed and where it is installed in the bottom left corner of the interface.

  4. transfer iTunes to Zune
  5. In iTunes, click the "Burn Disc" button.

  6. In the pop-up window of "Burn Settings", select "TuneClon Virtual_CD-RW" from the "CD Burner" drop-down list, click the radio button next to "Audio CD" and tick "Include CD Text" option. Click "Burn" to start burning.

  7. transfer iTunes to Zune
  8. Upon the completion of burning the disc and encoding the music, you can open the TuneClone manager screen to show all the converted music files. To locate the output folder, simply click the "Folder" tab on the interface.

  9. Open the Zune software and sync the music in the output folder to your Zune device.

  10. Done.