I finally know what 21 million other people already figured out.
iTunes is awesome.
First and foremost, the ability to encode high-quality, DRM-free mp3's is such a basic function in 2008, I still cannot fathom why it isn't built into OS's. Either way, it's made my music production workflow far more economic (converting high-bitrate wav files quickly....nice.) And the encoder sounds just fine.
Well played, Apple.