I have a library filled with some old MP3 files and I'm in the process of changing them all to AAC for the better sound quality. Obviously I can't just create AAC versions of the files I already have because they would sound worse (lossy compression to converted to more lossy compression), so I'm going to their source and downloading them in a lossless form and using a third party to make them into AAC. Apparently iTunes will not handle AAC files that aren't made with iTunes. Is there a way around this?

I've looked at third party programs and would be willing to use them, but since they all require the iTunes/iPod/iEverything driver, I don't know if they would still prevent my files or not.

Also before you jump on my back about pirating, these files are from old CDs that I lost years ago. I paid for them.


  • I would try those third-party programs to see if they work.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 29, 2012 at 5:56
  • 1
    If you have the files in a lossless format, then just stop there. Why downgrade at all?
    – Zoredache
    Nov 29, 2012 at 8:56
  • @Zoredache to reduce space. There's a fine line between a full fledged AAC file with maximum bitrate/sample settings and a normal lossless file, and most equipment won't detect it (iPod).
    – AdAstra
    Nov 29, 2012 at 12:41
  • Buy a spare hard drive to store your master copy in a lossless format. If you using an iTunes and iPod or some other iOS device, then you can simply check the box in iTunes to compress the music when it syncs it to your device. Storage for a desktop is incredibly cheap.
    – Zoredache
    Nov 29, 2012 at 22:30

2 Answers 2


Apparently iTunes will not handle AAC files that aren't made with iTunes.

This is statement is bogus. A valid AAC file that doesn't include some DRM encapsulation and properly conforms to the standards should work perfectly fine with iTunes. The vast majority of the AAC files in my library were created using dBpoweramp which uses the NERO encoder.

Anyway, in my opinion you should skip the AAC and go directly to Apple lossless, and then you can do whatever you want within iTunes. There are a large number of 3rd party tools that can easily convert between various formats. I am a big fan of dBpoweramp, but there are many other alternatives that you can find with a quick Google search.

  • I decided to use M4A instead of AAC, but accepted for the link to dBpoweramp which is still helpful to me.
    – AdAstra
    Nov 30, 2012 at 2:03

Converting music to a higher quality format does not make the audio better quality.

For example if you have a 128Kbps tune, converting it to 320Kbps will not make it sound any better.

Converting to a different format would only be useful for compatibility or to save file space.

@Zoredache Converting to Apple Lossless would just increase file size with no quality benefits if the source is MP3, regardless of the MP3's bitrate.

However if you have a FLAC or WAV converting to Apple Lossless would be beneficial, mainly for compatibility and the ability to add ID tags and album art to the file.

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