New iPods soon to feature AAC audio; up to 40GB capacities

A varied collection of sources are now telling MacDailyNews that Apple will soon to debut new iPods with up to 40GB capacity and AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) audio support. While none of these reports can be confirmed conclusively, they all contain the 40GB and AAC information as common threads. The inclusion of AAC support for the iPod has long been awaited since the debut of QuickTime 6.

Information about AAC from Apple’s site:

AAC was developed by the MPEG group that includes Dolby, Fraunhofer, AT&T, Sony, and Nokia companies that have also been involved in the development of audio codecs such as MP3 and AC3 (also known as Dolby Digital). The AAC codec in QuickTime 6 builds upon new, state-of-the art signal processing technology from Dolby Laboratories and brings true variable bit rate (VBR) audio encoding to QuickTime… what most listeners don’t realize is that MP3’s compression technology is more than a decade old. In those ten years, many advances in perceptual audio coding and compression have been achieved. AAC takes full advantage of these advances, resulting in higher quality output at lower data rates, allowing even modem users to hear a difference.”

When compared side-by-side, AAC proves itself worthy of replacing MP3 as the new Internet audio standard. Take a look at these AAC advantages over MP3:

– Improved compression provides higher-quality results with smaller file sizes
– Support for multichannel audio, providing up to 48 full frequency channels
– Higher resolution audio, yielding sampling rates up to 96 kHz
– Improved decoding efficiency, requiring less processing power for decode

In numerous comparison tests, AAC comes out on top. Check out these impressive results:

– AAC compressed audio at 128 kbps (stereo) has been judged by expert listeners to be “indistinguishable” from the original uncompressed audio source.
– AAC compressed audio at 96 kbps generally exceeded the quality of MP3 compressed audio at 128 kbps. AAC at 128 kbps provides significantly superior performance than does MP3 at 128 kbps.
– AAC was the only Internet audio codec evaluated in the range “Excellent” at 64 kbps for all of the audio items tested in EBU listening tests.

Visit the AAC website for more information.

Anecdotal evidence supports the possibility of the new iPod release soon; most sources agree that the release will happen before the end of the month (March). Sketchier information suggests that the new iPods and the debut of Apple’s rumored Mac-only online music service integrated with iTunes are not necessarily tied together. The iPod can and probably will be released before the online music service is announced.

You can sample AAC audio quality for yourself (with QuickTime 6) here.

17 Comments

  1. Apple will probably issue an iPod software update that will allow older iPods to accommodate AAC. Just like they added contacts, etc. to the old ones when those features were added.

  2. Once again, Apple leads the pack with a new and far superior “standard”, which will likely once again lose to the old and inferior standards of the Windose world. ACC has been around for a year and hasn’t made a dent into predominance mp3 or Real, or even the MS wmv. Try a Limewire or sim search for ACC files and feel the pain.

  3. AAC has been around for awhile (I worked in one of the labs where it was made — most of the work was done at Fraunhofer and AT&T Research) and is a seriously good codec. There are some awfu implementations of it, but the reference that Apple uses is excellent.

    Politics (and greed) prevented its adoption and it took Apple to buy the first major licence for encoders (which went into QT6 Pro) to break the ice.

    I’ve converted most of my 800+ CDs into AAC at 192kbps (the double blind testing that went on with places like the Oberlin Conservatory and other musically adroit people suggested that anything over 160kbps is transparent with a parent CD) – 160 would probably be fine, but I want an archive. (I note that I can find flaws in mp3 at 256kbps and I don’t have fantastic ears — I do know where to listen though).

    Hopefully my old iPod (a few hundred of my CDs are also in mp3 just for the iPod) will be able to get a firmware upgrade.

  4. joe architect wrote:
    “Once again, Apple leads the pack with a new and far superior “standard”, which will likely once again lose to the old and inferior standards of the Windose world. ACC has been around for a year and hasn’t made a dent into predominance mp3 or Real, or even the MS wmv. Try a Limewire or sim search for ACC files and feel the pain.”

    How wrong you are, joe:
    Who needs 500 copies of a certain CD? If just one Mac users rips the same CD in AAC, it’ll spread via filesharing. Your theory is wrong. It’s not like software apps for specific platforms. This is the dawn of the AAC age!

  5. Just out of curiosity…do we have tools to ENCODE music in that format?(ADC?) Does iTunes 3 include that option?

    Or is it right now only for higher end applications?

  6. My understanding is that the QT6 encoder uses a low-quality version of the AAC codec. Hopefully the better quality version will be available in iTunes, QT and the iPod… and any music service. I can’t remember what the two levels of AAC encoding are called.

  7. To encode AAC:
    1)open your sound file in Quicktime Pro.
    2)Choose Export from the File Menu.
    3)In the the Export window keep ‘Movie to Quicktime Movie’ selected.
    4)If you choose options, you will see that sound is set to MPEG-4 audio (MPEG-4 audio=AAC).
    5)If you hit the sound settings button you can adjust the AAC bit rate etc.
    6)After you have optionally adjusted any of the settings, hit the Save button and you will have an AAC file.

  8. From the Toshiba website:
    http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/portable/glossary_portable.html

    “AAC
    Acronym for Advanced Audio Coding. Digital Audio Encoding Method used by the MEA110, and recently selected by BMG and Universal Music as the preferred platform for digital music delivery. Advanced Audio Coding is highly compatible with digital copy protection protocols and watermarking; requires 25% less bandwidth than MP-3, and delivers a higher quality audio signal than MP-3.”

    Can anyone elaborate on “copy protection protocols and watermarking”?
    Sounds like you will own it, but it will be easily identified and controlled…thus limiting your legal use of it.

  9. I have roughly 300+ CDs encoded in MP3 format, probably like everyone else. My question is, since I’m really unfamiliar with AAC, can i just convert the MP3 files to AAC or do I have to re-rip them from the original CD’s? Don’t call me stupid. Just trying to learn!

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