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Importing audio from a CD using iTunes

Working with audio from a CD gives you the best quality source, however the problem is the sample rate (44khz) doesn't match the one we normally use for editing with DV (48khz) and this can cause problems because FCP will have to convert the sample rate on the fly.

The best way to bring audio in from a CD is to use iTunes to pre-process the file and convert it to the correct sample rate before we bring it into Final Cut. However, the default import settings will give us a compressed file, so we need to change the import settings first.

Here's a step-by-step breakdown:

  1. Insert a CD into the computer's drive
  2. iTunes should start automatically - if it doesn't, open a new finder window, click on Applications (on the left side of the window) and double-click iTunes to launch it.
  3. In iTunes your CD should show up in the left side panel. If you are connected to the internet it will probably have the name of the album next to the cd icon. Click on the disc to view the tracks in the main pane.
  4. Before we can import anything we need to change the iTunes import preferences. Go to the iTunes menu and choose 'Preferences...'. In the preferences panel click the button at the top labeled 'Importing'
  5. For the first option - 'Import using' - choose 'AIFF' as this is the standard uncompressed format on the Mac. For setting choose 'custom' and a new window will open which says AIFF Encoder.
  6. Change the sample rate to 48khz, and make sure the bit rate is at 16.
  7. Click 'OK' to save the custom AIFF settings, and then 'OK' again to save the importing preferences
  8. Now you are ready to import the songs. Next to each song name is a small check box - uncheck any songs you do not want to import.
  9. Once you have only the songs selected which you want to import, click the 'Import' button in the upper left hand corner of the iTunes window. The importing process may take a few minutes depending on how fast your computer is and how many songs you are importing at once. iTunes will chime once the last song has been imported.
  10. You can now eject the cd - you don't have to, but it helps avoid any confusion about which song file you are importing into Final Cut.
  11. Launch Final Cut and open your project. From the menu choose 'File>Import>Files...' or use the Apple-i keyboard shortcut. A standard open/save dialogue box will appear.
  12. From the list of locations on the left choose your Music folder. There should be another folder in it called 'iTunes' - click on it. Inside the 'iTunes' folder is a folder called 'iTunes Music' - click on this folder.
  13. At this point you should see a list of artists who's CDs you have imported. Click on the folder for the artist you want and it will contain additional folders for each album by that artist. Click on the album name you want and you should see a list of songs which you have imported.
  14. Click on the song you want and then click the 'Choose' button at the bottom of the window. Your song should now appear in your browser window and you can add it to your sequences.

That's all there is to it - once you've changed the settings for importing into iTunes you don't need to change them again until you want to go back to using compression - which you probably should do if you are using iTunes with your iPod (uncompressed audio will eat up disc space pretty fast).