This is why I stopped using iTunes (and no longer own an iPod). If you are talking about converting copy protected songs, you really won't be able to because of DRM/licensing issues. There used to be a way stripping out the DRM and then converting them using dbPoweramp, but there is a question of legality so I won't go into detail.
That's the problem with protection. We're are not trying to create bootleg copies; we're just trying to make the music files compatible with the equipment we own. I subscribe to Yahoo streaming music to find and hear music I might be interested in purchasing. When I find something I like, I purchase the CD and to heck with the download.
Also, if itunes doesn't add streaming music to their service soon I think they'll see more and more people turning away from them.
Originally Posted by SilverBlade Best way I found to retain quality while converting one format to another is to convert to WAV first.
So for you it would be AAC>WAV>mp3
There's an extra step, yes, but its the best way if you want to keep the quality in the file.
This accomplishes absolutely NOTHING in terms of preserving sound quality, I am sorry to say. It's still taking a lossy-compressed file, and then using a different codec to lossy-compress it again. The intermediate step of converting it to WAV cannot get back what the AAC codec took out in the first place. Might as well just use something like dbpoweramp to do the conversion, but as many here have said, the resulting file will really not sound very good. Transcoding between lossy formats really is a bad idea.