What Type of Music File Does Itunes Use?

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re like us, you’ve been wondering what type of music file iTunes uses. Well, wonder no more! We’ve done some digging and have the answer for you.


When you rip a CD to your iTunes library, the songs are compressed and encoded in a format called MP3. This frees up space on your hard drive and makes your music files smaller and easier to handle. The downside is that the quality of the music isn’t quite as good as CDs, but most people can’t hear the difference.


AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) is a lossy compression and encoding algorithm for digital audio. Designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, AAC generally achieves better sound quality than MP3 at the same bit rate. AAC is also the default or standard audio format for iPhone, iPod, iPad, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo 3DS, iTunes, DivX Plus Web Player and PlayStation 3.


WAV is a file format that was developed by Microsoft and IBM for storing audio data in a file. It is an uncompressed format, which means that it does not remove any of the original data from the file. This also means that it takes up more space than other file formats, but the quality of the sound is much better. WAV files are also called “lossless” because no data is lost when they are compressed.


AIFF is a file format used by iTunes for storing music. AIFF files are similar to WAV files, but they are compressed to save space. AIFF files can be played on any computer, and they will also work with most portable music players.


Apple Lossless, also known as Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC), or Apple Lossless Encoder (ALE), is an audio coding format, and its reference audio codec implementation, developed by Apple Inc. for lossless data compression of digital music.

ALAC is designed to take advantage of the fact that many types of digital music have already been encoded in MP3 or AAC, which are both lossy encodings (that is, some of the original information has been lost in order to reduce file size). ALAC can encode all fourchannel 96kHz/24-bit stereo PCM audio in about 60% of the space used by uncompressed PCM; at typical recording levels, this works out to about 6MB per minute, or 36MB for a standard three-minute pop song.


Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is an audio compression format similar to MP3, but lossless, meaning that audio is compressed in FLAC without any loss in quality. This is similar to how Zip works, except with FLAC you will get much better compression because it is designed specifically for HD audio.

When you rip a CD using iTunes, the default format is AAC. You can change this by going into your iTunes Preferences and clicking on the Import Settings button in the General tab. In the window that pops up, change the Import Using drop-down menu to FLAC.


M4A files are a type of audio file that is typically used by iTunes. These files use a compression algorithm that allows for a smaller file size without sacrificing sound quality. M4A files are often used by Apple devices, such as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, but can also be played on other devices, such as certain MP3 players and software media players.


An MP4 (mpeg-4) file is a digital audio or video file that uses special compression and can be played on your computer or portable media player. iTunes uses the MP4 format to store songs, videos, and other types of media.

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