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iTunes Tune-up 12: Upgrading older files

Ralph Graves is one of Crutchfield's blog editors, and part of the company's social media team. He writes about home audio/video gear, specializing in Apple-related and wireless technologies. Ralph holds a master's degree in music composition, and his works have been released on various labels. He's served as product manager for an independent classical and world music label, produced several recordings, and worked extensively in public broadcasting. Since 1984 he's hosted a weekly classical music program on WTJU, and is also active as a blogger and podcaster.

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In my last iTunes Tune-up post I talked about changing the import default to burn CD tracks at a much higher bitrate for better sound quality. Since that time, music I've added has sounded great. But what about all those songs I had already saved at 128kbps before I changed the setting?

It wasn't possible to "upscale" those older iTunes files. If I wanted higher bitrate versions of those older songs, I just had to import them again.

If you've read my other iTunes Tune-up posts, you'll know that I modify a lot of the metadata in my song files. Fortunately, I didn't have to duplicate all of that work (mostly). If iTunes recognized an imported track as one already in the library, it gave me the choice of loading the new version and keeping the old, or simply replacing the existing file with the newer one. When iTunes overwrote a track, it automatically retained all the modified metadata from the old, such as play count, comment field entries, album art and so on.

A word of caution - when I loaded a CD into my computer, iTunes pulled down the album information from database. Users from all over the world continually upload track information to Gracenote, and sometimes a CD's information gets revised. More than once I found that some of the track info was a little different from the last time I imported the song.

iTunes only offered the overwrite option if there was an exact match. Any variation in either song title, artist or album title made iTunes assume it was a different track and import it without overwriting. I soon started checking the info iTunes filled in for the CD against that of the track already in the library. If there was any discrepancy, I changed the CD listing to match that of the library's so iTunes would overwrite the older file.

Although some slipped through, getting rid of the duplicates wasn't much of a problem. Under the "View" menu, I selected "Show Duplicates." iTunes looked for matches in song titles and lined up the tracks very nicely side-by-side, ready for me to begin the winnowing process.

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