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ALAC vs. FLAC...my very first impressions

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
Tonight, near midnight, I decided to re-rip a few of my Beatles CDs to see if I like FLAC (I never touched it before, because I was intimidated by the name for awhile). I chose 0 Compression, being the hardcore audiophile I am , and ripped two CDs (Rubber Soul and Abbey Road). I put it on Rockbox on my iPod and took a quick listen through my KSC75s (all my really good stuff is being sent in for repair).

Placebo effect, maybe, but everything had more 'life' to it. Curious, I checked the bitrate of the FLAC against the ALAC, and found that for every track, the FLAC bitrate was at least 200+ more than the ALAC rips.

Now, I know that everybody here by now is saying this indeed is a placebo effect, but I find this very curious that two formats claim 'lossless,' yet come out with different bitrates (and my FLAC files are a hair bit bigger than the ALAC files).

Comments, please?

Edit: By the way, OT, but would you guys place The Beatles into the genre of 'Pop' or 'Rock'?
post #2 of 48
Various lossless compression all have different bitrates. They would only all have the exact same if the used the exact same process... which they don't. Further more you've adjusted the FLAC compression setting from the default further changing the results (though not by much). If you used two different FLAC settings and they recompressed back to identical WAVs, but took different amount of time to compress and resulted in different bitrates, would you be suspicious of that?

I'm assuming your FLAC files aren't replaygained? If you uncompress to lossless files and they sound the same, but while compressed they sound different, there's something wrong with one of the software players.

Further complicating things is the unfinished nature of the Rockbox software at this point.
post #3 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtheisticFreedom
I find this very curious that two formats claim 'lossless,' yet come out with different bitrates (and my FLAC files are a hair bit bigger than the ALAC files).
Why? Does the fact that .zip and .rar of the same text file are of different size seem curious too? Different compression algorithm, different processor load and file size.
post #4 of 48
blessingx already answered it... rockbox is not proven yet for all formats. Jst like winamp sounds different from foobar playing the same file(both with eq off)
post #5 of 48
Thread Starter 
Yes, as soon as I started the topic, I was all, "Ah, I get why they have different bitrates!"

Anyway, I find FLAC superior in that I finally get true gapless playback; yay for FLAC...

Edit: Ah, so it is also the way it is decoded by the program as well...darn it, things just got a little more complicated here for me.

What is 'default' for FLAC? For me, 0 compression = true lossless; am I wrong?
post #6 of 48
Flac with 0 compression sounds different to flac with mid, or high compression?
That's a load of bullocks
post #7 of 48
Thread Starter 
Okay, I just tried Compression 0 vs. Compression 5, and the file size diff is about 1 MB, give or take. Is there anything about 5 I should be wowed about, or should I just stick to Compression 0? After all, I do listen to Lossless even on my iPod during traveling...less CPU power for my iPod to churn out because no compression to read, correct?
post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtheisticFreedom
Yes, as soon as I started the topic, I was all, "Ah, I get why they have different bitrates!"

Anyway, I find FLAC superior in that I finally get true gapless playback; yay for FLAC...

Edit: Ah, so it is also the way it is decoded by the program as well...darn it, things just got a little more complicated here for me.

What is 'default' for FLAC? For me, 0 compression = true lossless; am I wrong?
Flac with any compression level is true lossless. Only the time it takes to compress ,the final size of the file and the time it takes to decompress if you have a very slow PC will change.
post #9 of 48
Thread Starter 
icic. However, this does affect portable players (their CPU). Thus, isn't 0 compression the best overall for players like an iPod in terms of battery life?
post #10 of 48
I couldn't say why the bitrates might be different but I would doubt you'd hear it.

Beatles? Pop.
post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtheisticFreedom
icic. However, this does affect portable players (their CPU). Thus, isn't 0 compression the best overall for players like an iPod in terms of battery life?
Ipod doesnt support flac at least i didnt find how to do it on mine .But it does support apple lossless.
The bigger the file the more HD access the ipod will make.(HD access eats battery) It is usually recommanded to have a file size of around 9 Mb max so that the ipod can cache the file without too much HD access.Of course the quality of the file will suffer .
If you have a 5g though you shouldnt have to worry too much about battery life even with lossless audio the battery last quite a while.
post #12 of 48
FLAC compression levels influence the time it takes to compress much more than the bitrate changes (usually only around 1.5% across all settings). Five is usually considered the best performer in this give and take.

As for the playback, there are a ton of threads about people preferring one MP3 decoder to another. Same with AAC, etc. It's somewhat the same for FLAC. Again though it's less your source files than the player for lossless by definition.

FLACs biggest advantage is ReplayGain support IMO.
post #13 of 48
Beatles albums are not the best albums to do these sorts of comparisons with. They were recorded and produced with 1960s technology.

I have no idea why they haven't been remastered? I'd buy them.


The greatest factor in the FLAC V ALAC debate is that ALAC is not that versatile, i.e. not all players play it.
post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chri5peed
Beatles albums are not the best albums to do these sorts of comparisons with. They were recorded and produced with 1960s technology.

I have no idea why they haven't been remastered? I'd buy them.
The link died, but I HAD a link that said the Beatles were going to get remastered and then offered for download.
post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chri5peed
Beatles albums are not the best albums to do these sorts of comparisons with. They were recorded and produced with 1960s technology.

I have no idea why they haven't been remastered? I'd buy them.


The greatest factor in the FLAC V ALAC debate is that ALAC is not that versatile, i.e. not all players play it.

I believe I read somewhere once, that they have not all been remastered, because some of them can't be. When they mixed down or some such, there were ambient noises in the room, things on the radio, etc that they just mixed in because they were constantly experimenting or some such.
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