On Windows, I use Lame and a specialized encoder because most experts think Lame is way better in making MP3 than iTunes (no surprise there, Apple likes its AAC format). I normally use Max, but it uses MusicBrainz as its database whereas iTunes uses GraceNote. So a good solution is a “ituns-LAME”:http://creativebits.org/mac_os_x/a_word_about_encoding_music_and_itunes script that uses iTunes/Gracenote and then encodes with Lame. Documentation is terrible, so I’d use Max, unless it couldn’t find an album then drop back to iTunes-Lame.
Importing of audio CDs into MP3 can also be accomplished using variable bitrate (VBR), however it has been noted in a double-blind experiment conducted in January 2004 of six MP3 encoders, where the iTunes encoder came last, that the quality of the files produced by iTunes was below par. These results were later refuted because the method of testing using in the experiment was questionable.
LAME (http://lame.sourceforge.net/) is a fantastic, free encoder that can achieve all the above. This program is normally run from the command line, which can be a problem for many Mac users who normally prefer something a bit slicker.
There are now two good solutions for the Mac.
- Max (http://sbooth.org/Max/)
- iTunes-LAME (http://www.blacktree.com/apps/iTunes-LAME/)