QuickTime 6 and MPEG 4: Great Sound, Small Files

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Date: Tuesday, November 12th, 2002, 11:32
Category: Archive


QuickTime 6: Great sound, small files: If you like MP3, QuickTime conversion to MP4 (a.k.a. MPEG 4) will knock your socks off.

If you have been enjoying the small and easy audio file management of MP3’s in iTunes, an iPod or other device, you will LOVE the ability to play and create MP4 files via QuickTime 6 Pro (QT6 will play but you’ll need to go pro to encode). Where an MP3 of a four minute song might be around 4Mb (depending on the sampling rate you chose), an MP4 would be more in the neighborhood of 2Mb – and with superior sound to even a 160k sample rate.

WHAT’S AN MP4?:
According to Apple’s QuickTime page: “The new revolution in digital media is here. MPEG-4 is the next-generation, global multimedia standard, delivering professional-quality audio and video streams over a wide range of bandwidths, from cell phone to broadband and beyond.” For more info, visit: http://www.apple.com/mpeg4/

REQUIREMENTS:

  • QuickTime 6 Pro (play only FREE, Pro 29.99)
  • Minimum PowerPC or G3 (G4 preferred) Macintosh
  • Minimum OS 8.6 (OS 9.2.2 or X.2.x preferred)
  • Minimum 32Mb RAM (128Mb+ preferred)
  • CDR drive or AIFF source audio (others can be converted in QT but 44/16bit AIFF files recommended for best results same as standard CD audio)

HOW TO DO IT:
Basically, you need only to do the following to enjoy MP4 quality:

  • Insert your audio CD into your CDR drive
  • Open QuickTime 6 (6.0.2 is current be sure to update as needed)
  • Under FILE, go to IMPORT
  • Select your CD and the track you wish to convert (may be 50Mb or greater!)
  • Once opened, go to FILE and EXPORT
  • Select MP4 and defaults (96k sample rate is default but you can select higher I recommend 128k but 96k is still excellent)
  • Save to your desired location (I recommend creating an audio folder on your hard drive or other drive and making an alias on your desktop or store in your iTunes music folder in a sub-catagory of “mp4 > files.”)

Enjoy! QuickTime 6 does the rest and you need not save the AIFF imported. That’s it!

RESULTS:
Small sized and excellent sounding files to story your audio files. Not source quality but substantially better dynamics than conventional compression techniques. There is a loss of about 2dB of 10khz and 16khz and the same at 50hz but not significant enough of a loss to be recognized by most multimedia speaker systems used with computer output. Where MP3 tends to get a “squashed” sound if peak level frequencies (particularly 250hz and 500hz) from either a bad mix or mastering job cause even the best MP3 creation tools to give less than adequate audio, MP4 maintains the openness of even Q–Sound dimensional mastering techniques and surpasses the highest bit rates of most MP3 encoders. You can also, as mentioned, increase your sampling rate as you “hear” fit…

DOWN SIDE:
Many MP3 players (Discman-type, car stereos, DVD players that support MP3) MAY not support MP4. Check with your devices manufacturer for more information.

A COOL TRICK:
MakeMineMP4 MPEG4 shareware from Doug’s AppleScripts. Convert an entire Audio CD into iTunes with a single script. If your CD is listed in the online CDDB (Compact Disc Database of titles and track names), it’s an even easier transition to saving disk space with better sounding output.

EVEN BETTER:
If you love your speaker system, that’s always nice. For a good upgrade, I recommend the Monsoon 2000 series. A little pricey but they are complete with amplifier, four speakers and sub-woofer that will give you a good quality of audio, not just volume. If you don’t require this much sound for your space, the MM1000 is a nice choice for a more modest price.

If you like a private listening environment and want to appreciate the better stereo image and sonic quality of MP4, I’d also recommend using professional earphones like the Future Sonics Ears brand. These earphones are designed for live performance applications but just happen to sound incredible with any Mac, iPod, DVD, etc. A great upgrade.

LET’S PUT IT ANOTHER WAY:
Whereas your iPod might hold 2000-4000 songs in MP3, it would be more like 4000 – 8000 in MP4. Great for studios, home recordings and converting LPs as well as everyday listeners.

I hope that you’ll take the step(s) to enjoying a better quality of audio on your Mac. I know that you’ll be happy with the results – from audio listener novice to pro-audio engineer – this is a great way to increase the quality of your audio playback.

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