Best iTunes Rip Settings for CD Audiobooks

Use the 'Spoken Podcast' or 'Custom' setting

What to Know

  • Go to Edit > Preferences > General > CD Import Settings > Import Setting > AAC Encoder > Settings > Spoken Podcast.
  • Other settings you should turn on: Ask to Import a CD, Automatically retrieve CD track names from the Internet, Use error correction.
  • If these settings don't work, choose Custom from the Settings drop menu and select Optimize for Voice.

This article will show you the best settings to use for audiobooks in iTunes. Instructions apply to computers running Windows 7 and later and macOS Mojave (10.4) and earlier.

Choosing the Right Rip Settings for Audiobooks

The default setting for importing audio in Apple's music player is the iTunes Plus Format, which encodes audio at a sample rate of 44.1 Khz, with bitrates of 256 Kbps for stereo or 128 Kbps for mono. However, this setting is more suitable for music, which typically contains a complex mix of frequencies. Most audiobooks are predominantly voice, so using iTunes Plus can be overdoing it, unless space isn't an issue.

Instead, iTunes has a much better option that uses a lower bitrate/sample rate and voice filtering algorithms. By using this rip preset you will not only produce digital audio files that are optimized for audiobook playback, but they will also be significantly smaller than the default rip setting.

Screenshots below show iTunes for Windows 10, but instructions will be the same for either platform except where we note.

  1. Select the Edit menu tab at the top of the iTunes screen then select the Preferences option.

    Preferences in iTunes for Windows
  2. Select the General menu tab if it isn't already selected.

    The General tab in iTunes for Windows settings
  3. Locate the CD Import Settings section (about three-quarters of the way down the screen).

    In Windows, select Import Settings instead, and then skip to Step 7.

  4. Check that the option, Ask to Import a CD, is selected, if it's available.

  5. Optionally, turn on the setting, Automatically retrieve CD track names from the Internet.

  6. Select Import Settings.

    The "Import Settings" button in iTunes for Windows
  7. Next to Import Using, check that the AAC Encoder is active. If it isn't, select the drop-down menu to select it.

    The "Import Using" menu in iTunes for Windows
  8. Select the Settings drop-down menu and choose the Spoken Podcast option. This preset is ideal for audiobooks, which are mostly voice. It uses half the sample rate of iTunes Plus (i.e. 22.05 Khz instead of 44.1 Khz) and either a bitrate of 64 Kbps for stereo or 32 Kbps for mono.

    The "Setting" menu and "Spoken Podcast" setting in iTunes for Windows
  9. Finally, check that the Use error correction when reading Audio CDs option is active.

    The "Use error correction when reading Audio CDs" option in iTunes for Windows
  10. Select OK > OK to save.

Other Things to Consider

You may have some other considerations to make when importing audiobooks to iTunes. For example, if the Spoken Podcast preset doesn't produce the quality of audio that you're looking for, consider using the Custom option in step 8. This menu lets you set the values for stereo bitrate, sample rate, and other settings.

If you do decide to use custom settings, then enable the Optimize For Voice setting.

If you want your audiobooks to play on non-Apple devices, choose the mp3 option in Step 7 instead. Set the sample rate at 22 Khz and experiment with a low bitrate. Try 64 Kbps first to see how it sounds. You might be able to reduce this setting a little if the voice sounds clear, and doing so will get you smaller files.

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