SONOS & macOS Catalina

Apple has removed iTunes on macOS Catalina and replaced the music library part by a Music app. The iTunes ‘backend’ files like the Library.itl file to keep track of play counts, star ratings, and other metadata and a couple of .itdb database files to keep track of Genius playlists are no longer used. Moreover, album artwork is no longer kept, like the songs, in its own folder. If you store your music library on a (Synology) NAS you may run into issues since Music no longer creates automatically the .xml files where your playlists are recorded. You can manually export the library and playlists and store it in the music folder on the NAS, however SONOS is unable to read the content and extract the playlists. Other applications like VLC and Logitech Media Player (LMS) are still able to read these XML files, generated by the new Music app. It looks like Apple is drifting apart and is only focusing on its Apple Music streaming service. iPhone synchronisation within the Music app is missing (unless you subscribe to Apple Music) and done with Finder. Users like me, who want to listen to their locally (NAS) stored files without any need for an Internet connection will need to think about a plan B (i.e. no Apple Music).

Plan B for me is to use the ‘Export for iTunes‘ tool. This macOS Catalina compatible programme is able to read the Music app playlists and copies all files to the Synology NAS and exports the playlists to .m3u type playlists. SONOS version 10.6 software is able to read these playlists and to find all files on the NAS. You will find the content in the SONOS controller’s Imported Playlists. Once the playlists are displayed in the Imported Playlists, you can add them to the SONOS playlists. The ‘Export for iTunes‘ (Version 1.9.73 (1.9.733)) tool has many features to rename and convert your music files and allows you to copy the files in a new folder structure by artist, by album etc.

The main settings that do the job for me are:

ASCII encoding to make sure that SONOS can read all Artist and Song names with accents.

Windows path separator.

iTunes Audio protection removal

iTunes Audio protection removal

These steps explain how the iTunes Audio protection can be removed. Note that this should only be used for backup purposes only (in case Apple ID’s are lost) and copywrite laws should be respected. (Dutch version)

importsettings1. Adjust the import settings

The Protected AAC audio files are only @ 128kpbs. Hence, you should match your import settings accordingly.

2. Create a playlist with the songs that must be converted

Note that the total size of your playlist songs should not exceed the size of an audio cd. Create multiple playlists if necessary and repeat the steps 3 and 4 below for each playlist.

burncd3. Burn the playlist on an Audio CD

Select the playlist and choose the ‘Burn playlist to Disc’. Make sure you have tagged the Audio CD option.

Once the songs have been burned on the CD, do not eject the CD.

import24. Import the Audio CD

If you did not eject the CD, the songs of your playlist will be shown as the CD contents. Choose to import the songs. iTunes will import the songs according your import settings in step 1. At the end of the import process you can eject the disc and your files have been created without the DRM protection.

iTunes – audio file formats

AAC audio file: This is a standard AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) file. It can be created by the iTunes built-in AAC encoder.

Matched AAC audio file: This is a standard AAC audio file, downloaded from an iCloud account, using iTunes Match.

MPEG audio file: This is a standard MP3 file. It can be created by using the iTunes built-in MP3 encoder.

Protected AAC audio file: This is the default filetype for songs purchased from the iTunes Store prior to the introduction of the DRM-free iTunes Plus format in April 2009. The DRM built into the file prevents it from being copied/shared beyond the iTunes account it’s associated with.

Purchased AAC audio file: This is the default filetype for songs purchased at the iTunes Store after April 2009. The Purchased AAC audio file format no longer has the DRM-based copy restrictions.





AMPLIFIER Class-D. Rated output 110W RMS (2x55W)

2-port switch (10/100Mbps, auto MDI/MDIX)

AUDIO STREAMER supports MP3, WMA Internet radio streams and iTunes libraries (Apple Protected audio files are not supported).

For help on radio streams read my post on streaming URLs.

Easy set up. Works well with Spotify and iTunes libraries.
Works well with SonoPad for Sonos, the alternative Controler App that still supports iOS 9 devices.

No support for IR remotes. Needs use of Tablet, Smartphone, PC or Mac Applet to operate. Automatic update of MacOS Sonos Controler App may not work properly. No native Bluetooth® support.

Works well with Philips AEA2700 Bluetooth® HiFi-adapter connected to the Line-In.

Works well with Monitor Audio Radius 90HD speakers and the R360HD active subwoofer.

iTunes library notes (iTunes 12.x):

The (imported) playlists may appear duplicated; in that case remove all (xml) library files in the iTunes directory except the ‘iTunes Library.xml’ and update the Sonos music library (‘Manage’ menu, ‘Update Music Library Now’).

If after the Music Library update process no imported playlists appear, you may need to re-generate the xml library. More details on the iTunes library files can be found on the Apple support pages.

How to convert iTunes Protected AAC Audio files

iTunesMatchHow to convert iTunes Protected AAC Audio files

Early shoppers on iTunes may still own Protected AAC Audio songs. These tracks cannot be converted from within iTunes and may not play on non-Apple branded media players.

I have used two different ways to convert these Protected AAC Audio tracks:

  • keep the 128k bitrate and remove the protection (see separate post), with hindsight the easiest method and that will serve as your fallback solution if the iCloud solution does not work
  • upgrade to a higher bitrate (256k) and convert to a Purchased AAC Audio file

Obviously, the latter benefits of a better quality result after the conversion. This conversion requires an annual subscription to Apple’s iCloud services. Converting more than 25 tracks will break you even. If you own less than 25 tracks, you might opt to buy a new copy of the song, rather than going to all the hassle. Apple’s iTunes Match will scan your music library and if the track is also available in the iTunes Store it will add that music at 256 Kbps iTunes Plus quality to your iCloud library. A copy of the music in the iCloud library can be downloaded to your iTunes library. To avoid ‘matching’ of your whole iTunes music library, which may hold thousands of tracks, I suggest to create a new (dedicated) iTunes library. Below, you find a procedure that you may follow to use this method of conversion.

Step One: save the protected tracks in a separate folder

  • backup all iTunes files (i.e. \iTunes folder plus all its subfolders)
  • identify all the Protected AAC Audio tracks that you want to convert and copy them in a new playlist (e.g. ‘protected tracks’)
  • create a new folder on your desktop (e.g. ‘itunes tracks’)
  • copy all files of the ‘protected tracks’ playlist to your desktop folder ‘itunes tracks’ (you can do this in iTunes 11.x by drag and drop)

Step Two: create a new library

Exit iTunes and restart it holding the shift key. iTunes will ask you to choose an existing library or to create a new one; choose to create a new library (e.g. ‘mytemplib’). iTunes will open with a new and empty library to which you add the ‘itunes tracks’ folder on your desktop. Only the Protected AAC Audio tracks are now in your library. Check if your computer is authorised and the music plays correctly.

Step Three: use iTunes Match

  • Now Turn On iTunes Match. You will be asked to subscribe to the iCloud services. After you have completed the subscription, your iTunes client will start to ‘match’ the tracks with iTunes Store. In some cases no match can be found because the track is no longer available in the iTunes Store or the metadata (i.e. track information like Title, Artist, Album, etc.) has been changed by you. Once all tracks have been matched (you will notice the cloud icon), you should delete all Protected AAC Audio tracks.
  • Exit and restart iTunes. While the iTunes Match is still turned on, the iCloud library will now try to sync with your iTunes library and will offer you to download a copy of the song in 256 Kbps iTunes Plus quality. Note that all your purchased songs will be shown, not only the Protected AAC Audio tracks. Once you have downloaded the copies, you should Turn Off iTunes Match and exit iTunes.
  • Restart iTunes, De-authorise your computer and check if the music plays correctly. If the music plays correctly you have successfully upgraded to a higher bitrate (256k) and converted to a Purchased AAC Audio file.

Step Four: save the converted tracks in a separate folder

  • identify all the converted AAC Audio tracks and copy them in a new playlist (e.g. ‘matched tracks’)
  • create a new folder on your desktop (e.g. ‘itunes plus tracks’)
  • copy all files of the ‘matched tracks’ playlist to your desktop folder ‘itunes plus tracks’ (you can do this in iTunes 11.x by drag and drop)

Step Five: restore your initial library

Exit iTunes. Restore all iTunes files from the backup in Step One (i.e. \iTunes folder plus all its subfolders). Start iTunes

Alternatively (if you did not restore), you can start iTunes, holding the shift key. iTunes will ask you to choose an existing library or to create a new one; choose to open an existing library and select the initial library in your iTunes folder (most likely ‘iTunes Library.itl’).

iTunes now should open with your full music library to which you must add the ‘itunes plus tracks’ folder on your desktop. Remove the Protected AAC Audio tracks which may appear as duplicate in your library. Check if the music plays correctly and authorise your computer again, if required.





Getting the best out of my iTunes

AUDIO SETUP STRASGetting the best out of my iTunes

This post is merely a reminder to myself of all my iTunes postings. It provides a practical example of how ‘old’ equipment can become useful for audio applications.

The ‘core’ system is an Acer Laptop which was downgraded from Vista to Windows XP for performance reasons (see also my posts on “XP optimization” and “XP Housekeeping“).

The system runs with iTunes version 11.0.x, however, previous version will run fine as well. Related articles on iTunes can be found under the iTunes tag (see also my posts on ´my Audio tools´):

The key to the good quality output is the USB audio interface. The Numark DJ|iO provides Studio-grade, 24–bit, 44.1 kHz and 88.2 kHz audio quality.

For many years now, I stay loyal to my good old Adcom GTP-400 pre-amplifier and GFA-535 II power amplifier that nicely drive two Monitor Audio Radius 90HD speakers with the R360HD active subwoofer.

To generate the best quality from iTunes the playback settings are aligned to the sound card capabilities:


When it comes to choose between MPEG or AAC, I let my ears decide, rather than my eyes. To compare the playback quality in iTunes, make sure you have ruled out any ‘correction’, such as the equaliser, the sound enhancer and the sound check:

iTunes sound check

Most of my portable music players are iPods, so I can safely stick with AAC for importing or buying new music:

iTunes import settings

In summary, these are my software preferences:

Enjoy the sound.


iTunes 9 – Apple Application Software (error 2)

iTunes 9 may not start after a clean install and display the error “Apple Application Support was not found”.

This module can be separately installed.

Download the latest iTunes version.

Use a file decompression programme (such as winzip or winrar) to extract the module from ‘iTunesSetup.exe’.

Copy the file ‘AppleApplicationSupport.msi’ on your local drive and run it. Once the installation is succesfully completed, iTunes should work.

Related articles on installation files can be found on the Apple Support Pages

iTunes 9 – Error 7

iTunes 9 may not start properly in a Windows environment and display the error message

“iTunes was not installed properly. Please re-install iTunes. (Error 7).”

This is not only related to Windows 7 or Vista but may also occur on Windows XP.

To fix this error you may need to repair the Microsoft.NET Framework.

Please refer to the apple support page.

Logitech Squeezebox™ iTunes integration

Squeezebox iTunes integration

Squeezebox Server supports iTunes libraries and playlists. It can fully integrate the music library, without scanning the music folders.

To make this work correctly, enter the location of the iTunes library. You can do this by following these steps (make sure the Squeezebox Server is running):

1) Click on the Squeezebox Server icon in the system tray and choose ‘Open Web Control’

2) Click on the ‘Settings’ button (at the bottom right) of the Squeezebox Server Web Control page

This will open the Server Settings web page.

3) Click on the ‘iTunes’ tab and enter the iTunes library (library.xml) location

Then press the ‘Apply’ button to save the settings.

At the next scan the iTunes library and all playlists will become available on your Squeezebox. You can manually rescan the library under the ‘Basic Settings’ tab (Rescan Music Library).

iTunes 9 – orphan entries

How to cleanup orphan itunes library entries.

iTunes libraries will flag orphan entries with an exclamation mark!

These entries can be cleaned in two ways:

A) Create a new library:

Start iTunes by holding the shift key (keep the shift key pressed, while you select and start iTunes). iTunes will prompt you to create a new library (or choose an existing one).

B) Use a 3rd party tool:

iTunes Library Updater is a free utility to synchronize the iTunes database with your media collection. I run it with the ‘Clean orphaned entries’ option only:

note that .NET Framework must be installed to run this programme