I admit it, I was one of the geeks standing in line for the midnight release of the Nintendo DSi at my local Gamestop. I was very excited about Nintendo’s new console, since the Nintendo DS is long-overdue for a dramatic upgrade. Now, the DSi is not exactly as dramatically different as I had hoped, but it does have its useful features.
If you currently own a Nintendo DSi, you’ve probably heard about the DSi’s ability to read and play music files from a SD card. This is a very exciting feature, since it enables you to also use your DSi as a portable music player. However, convincing your DSi to read music files isn’t quite as easy as simply copying them onto a SD card. To properly format your music files so that they can be read on your DSi, you do need to have a bit of technical ‘know-how’ of how the DSi recognizes music files. To simplify this process, here is an easy step-by-step guide for converting music files so that your DSi will be able to play them successfully.
Introduction to the *.aac file format for your DSi
With a quick internet search, most official Nintendo FAQ’s will tell you that the DSi is only able to read files that are in the *.aac format. However, this is slightly misleading. While you need to encode your files in *.aac format in order for them to be read by your DSi, they need to have the extension *.m4a. To explain this, think of the *.aac format as the internal contents of a music file, and the *.m4a as the container that these files are placed in so that they can be recognized by the DSi. This is the main reason why many people encounter problems with their DSi reading *.aac music files, since they are not packaged in the *.m4a container. There are several different methods that you can use to convert music files so that they can be recognized by your DSi, though the simplest method involves using iTunes.
Converting music files for your DSi using iTunes
The iTunes music player has a built-in feature that allows conversion of music files in your iTunes library to “.aac” (*.m4a) format. This is the simplest method you can use for converting your files, though the iTunes converter does take a slightly looooooooong time to convert music.
[Step 1] - Add Your Music Files to iTunes
If you don't use iTunes as your default media player (VLC ftw! :p), you will first have to import the music files you wish to convert into your iTunes music library. For organizational purposes, the best way to do this is to make a new playlist, and add the music files to be converted to that playlist. The music files can be in *.wav, *.mp3 or other music formats. If you are trying to convert music files in *.flac format, the process becomes slightly more complicated. We'll try to cover that type of conversion in another post.
[Step 2] - Select Your Songs
Select all of the songs that you wish to convert by drag-clicking over them, or by using the shift + click method.
[Step 3] - Convert Them
After your songs are selected, right click on any one of your selected songs. In the menu that appears, select the option "Create AAC Version". Once you have done this, a grayed out title of the first song to be converted will appear on your iTunes playlist. The displayed "Bitrate" and "Time" of the song will be labeled as "Incomplete" until the conversion process is finished. If you wish to check the status of your converting songs, click on the "Converting..." list that appears as the first option under the "Playlist" category on the right side of your iTunes interface.
[Step 4] - Navigate to Your Newly Converted Songs
Once the conversion process is finished, your converted songs will be displayed on the same playlist as the previous versions of the songs. However, they will usually be located in a different folder, unless you specified otherwise by previously configuring your options. By default, your converted music files will be in C:/(User)/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/(Artist). If you can't find your converted music files, you can always right click on the song in iTunes and select the "Get Info" option, which will also display the location of the song. Remember, your newly converted files will be categorized as being in *.m4a format, not *.mp3 or *.aac.
[Step 5] - Copy your Converted Songs to Your SD Card
Select your converted songs (be sure they are displayed as being in *.m4a format) and drag them to your SD card to initiate the copying process. It's usually best to put them into a folder titled "Music" on your SD card, for organizational purposes. If you wish, you can also separate them by artist, album or genre.
[Step 6] - Play With Your Music!
You're done! Insert your SD card into your Nintendo DSi, and navigate to the "Sound" menu option. You should be able to then navigate to the folder(s) containing your music, and then play them with your DSi's sound player. The DSi has some really fun simple sound manipulation options, which can be very entertaining.
A quick note about Bitrate
If you want to adjust the quality of your converted sound files in iTunes, there is a bit of a process involved. You need to tweak this option before you convert your files. Due to the multiple steps of this process, we will cover this in a later post. Until then, you can find a general guide that will help you adjust your bitrate here.