You should normally get a spec from your printer. If that's not available I'd choose the latter.
PDF/X-4: 2008 is the most flexible.
With X-4 you can choose to export all color unchanged but with the needed profiles to make the correct conversions at output, which is the default. In that case you could have all of the color be RGB and let the printer choose the final CMYK profile at output. Or if the printer is asking for all CMYK you can simply assign the printer's recommended CMYK profile to your document and when you export set the Destination in the Output tab to Document CMYK and all the conversions will be made during the export.
PDF/X presets also include an Output Intent profile, which alerts the printer to what the expected press profile is—neither High or Press quality presets include an Output Intent.
Yikes....so I just tried PDF/X-4: 2008 and I got a red "Failed to export the PDF file" message
And High Quality Print also just gave me the same message. Right now, I'm only having luck with Press Quality....converted to PDF successfully.
A quick Google searches brought up some mentions of image scaling/downsampling...do you guys know about this? Is this a common problem?
Btw..this is a great forum. I participate in many others, but the activity & knowledge here is exceptional!
I've never seen a problem with image scaling.
Common problems are lack of write permission on the destination folder or lack of sufficient resources to process the entire file (sometimes a reboot and exporting first thing can work in this situation). See Adobe Community: File Crashing on Output - printing/PDF/other for more troubleshooting tips.
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On behalf of Adobe:
Of the PDF export options provided by Adobe applications (including InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop), PDF/X-4a will yield the highest quality, most reliable PDF for print publishing. A close second is High Quality Print.
That having been said, you should always check with your print service provider. Some refuse to accept anything other than early 2000's PDF/X-1a with no color management and ruined (i.e., flattened) transparency. Don't provide them PDF/X-4 if they've are either afraid of it, don't know what it is, aren't trained in 21st century workflows, have ancient workflow software incapable of using PDF/X-4, or are Luddites.
With regards to a “failed to export” message, that often indicates that one or more of the fonts you are using don't permit embedding in the PDF file, but that would be an issue with PDF/X-1a as well. Provide us more details of your configuration (including OS version, InDesign version, and whether you are running 32-bit or 64-bit InDesign. You might also wish to see whether the export fails on a particular page by trying export of ranges of pages and isolating on which page the export fails. At that point you could conceivably play with that page and see whether a particular graphic object or run of text with a particular font that triggers the failure.
Choose Press Quality if you want to print : Offset
Choose Hight Quality for Digital Print not Offset