iTunes 9.1 shipped this week with one very cool new feature (besides iPad support). Now for iPods (and iPhones, etc), you can check a box that converts your music to 128kbps AAC upon sync. This is great news because my 8Gb iPhone is overflowing already and all the new music I rip is at 256kbps AAC (iTunes Plus, the default setting). Previously, I had to make a decision: keep two versions or just don't upgrade any of my existing music, which sucked because I had a remastered version of Who's Next sitting unwrapped on my shelf for a year. Well no more!
The sync "just worked" though it took a while to convert 1000+ songs on the fly, but the net result saved me about 500Mb on the device. Not only am I free to re-rip my entire CD collection at 256kbps (from mostly 160kbps mp3), but now I have extra space to add more songs to my iPhone. It's a double-whammy of good feeling!
The audiophile in me has twinges of guilt about this, but this is actually a good thing. Now I can have the high-quality version on my AppleTV for serious listening on the big speakers and a travel version for the car or the tiny white headphones that I'm trying to hard to replace. I can also leave this unchecked for the iPad.
Who would ever have thought one checkbox could be so liberating?