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No way is Apple Lossless as good as WAV.  

post #1 of 102
Thread Starter 
I can't believe it. I'ver read countless posts, many by digital experts, claiming that lossless compression was completely benign. I finally realized that my superstitious believe that keeping an audio file in it's origonal form was unneccessary. Thrilled with the prospect of being able to almost double the number of CDs I can put on my 30gig Ipod I converted my entire Itune catalog to Apple Lossless.
I've gone along happily assuming I was getting the maximum audio quality untill two events occured.
1)I bought a pair of AKG K701s (an extremely good pair of headphones) and a portable amp (RSA Hornet).
2)I read the Squeezebox review in UHF where they claimed that they noticed that WAV files sounded better than Apple Lossless.(they seemed to feel the process that "uncompresses" the file was the culprit)

At first I simply didn't believe the article since UHF has been falling further and further behind in it's reporting and knowledge of current technologies. They always seem to be last to "discover" the latest and greatest. They have been well behind most in the mainstream press reporting on the breakthrough Benchmark Dac1, the surprisingly good audio quality of the Ipod, and the revolutionary nature of the Squeezebox. I assumed they simply had convinced themselves that the Apple Lossless files weren't up to par and didn't understand that the files were truely "lossless". Just for the heck of it I transferred the first cut of Patricia Barber's well recorded "Cafe Blue" to my Itunes catalog and left one version in WAV and converted another to Apple Lossless. When I compared them on my Ipod (Using the AKGs and amped with the Hornet) I was stunned to find that the WAV file seemed to open up and breath compared to the Lossless file. It seemed to have more "air", was more dynamic and resolving. I repeatedly checked to make sure I wasn't imagining things but sure enough the WAV file sounded significantly better. Man, what a kick in the teeth. I guess I need to take what I read with a grain of salt because I didn't need to listen very hard to hear the difference.
Gerry
post #2 of 102
try this. the song that you ripped to lossless convert that to wave and compare that wave file and the original in a program like eac. Then relay the results here.
post #3 of 102
And then put both files into Foobar and ABX test them. Report the results here.
post #4 of 102
I know with flac people on Hydrogenaudio.org have ripped to flac then uncrompressed that flac and compared it to the original wav in some kind of visual overlay or something ( I really am kind of babling here since I wasn't familiar with everything they did.) and both files where identicle in a way that couldn't be swayed or based on opinion. I would look over there to make sure all of your settings are correct or whatever.

I just know those people on that website are so into encoding music it is jawdropping. I am sure they can tell you a way to test the files without having to listen to them to see if it is the hardware, software, or the file that is screwing up the sound.

Good Luck
post #5 of 102
Download foobar2000 and ABX it over a lengthly number of tests.

These sorts of vague "feelings" very often stem from psychology.

ALAC when decoded is exactly the same as WAV and in this day and age it's not like we can't decode audio files without error.
post #6 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by gdg
When I compared them on my Ipod (Using the AKGs and amped with the Hornet) I was stunned to find that the WAV file seemed to open up and breath compared to the Lossless file. It seemed to have more "air", was more dynamic and resolving.
I'm sorry, but no. First of all, it is hard enough to tell the difference between FLAC and a 320kbps mp3 alt preset extreme on my K1000. I have tried and failed at hearing any difference at all between Apple lossless, flac, etc vs. WAV. Technically, during playback it is possible for the decompression algorithm used on-the-fly for lossless files to make a mistake, however the difference it would make in the sound would not be one of dynamics and ariness as you explained, furthermore, the difference would be so small that unless you have an EXTREMELY analytical, detailed and resolving listening setup, you wont be able to hear it, and even then you would be hard pressed.

However, to say you can hear a difference, and a big one at that, out of the ipod, which is using an extremley crappy dac and built in amp (you are technically amping your signal twice with the hornet, but by the time the signal reaches the hornet, to much damage has already been done to the signal by the crappy dac and amp), on the K701, is just insanity.

Unless there is something else at work here.
post #7 of 102
Hmm, exactly the same entry was posted on audioasylum in the PC section.
post #8 of 102
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by K2Grey
Download foobar2000 and ABX it over a lengthly number of tests.

These sorts of vague "feelings" very often stem from psychology.

ALAC when decoded is exactly the same as WAV and in this day and age it's not like we can't decode audio files without error.
I think I was pretty clear that this wasn't vague or subtle perception but quite obvious. More importantly, I was highly skeptical of the UHF claim and wasn't "expecting" the resuts I got so that suggests it is unlikely to be a placebo effect. Finally, I've heard all the arguements that there is no loss and they made perfect sense to me. I have no idea what's going on, but something is and I'm not going to debate it. Maybe there is something problematic in the Ipod "expansion" algorithm... who know's. All I know is that I was sold on the technical arguements and now I'm not. Take it or leave it. Makes no further difference to me. Use your own ears.

Gerry

Ps By the way I've been challenged to reconvert and compare in Foobar. First of all I don't know how to do that and secondly there may be something else going on in the the process. It makes no difference because I can hear it. For the people who have made this challenge, I've got one for you. Simply take a good recording, with decent playback equipment and use your own ears. That's all that really matters.
post #9 of 102
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 003

However, to say you can hear a difference, and a big one at that, out of the ipod, which is using an extremley crappy dac and built in amp (you are technically amping your signal twice with the hornet, but by the time the signal reaches the hornet, to much damage has already been done to the signal by the crappy dac and amp), on the K701, is just insanity.

Unless there is something else at work here.
Believe what you want. If thier is so much damage why it the difference obvious?
BTW I'm using the line out on my Ipod (with a Cryodock) which is exactly what is done in most high end audio systems built around a CDP. You might try getting the facts before you start jumping to conclusion. Finally, you may disagree, and claim you don't hear it, but don't tell me what I hear. I've heard all the arguements before and I fully believed them without actually listening. Have you bothered to try using your own ears?

Gerry
post #10 of 102
Hey, guess what? I just developed x-ray vision. No, really. I can read what's written on the other side of that wall.

What? No, of course I'm not going to read it to you. Why should I? I know that I can see it. If you want to see it, use your own eyes.
post #11 of 102
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Febs
I can't prove that you cannot hear a difference. But you can prove that you can. So do it. Or shut up and stop wasting everyone's time.

I don't have to prove a damn thing to you. I've told you what I heard. Period.
The reluctance is that this has been debated to death. People have done the comparison of files(at least with flac) and there is no evidence there is any problem with lossless compression when the conversion is done on your computer. I actually strongly suspect the files will be perfect but there is obviuosly (to me) something else going on. Converting from WAV to AL to WAV on your computer may not be the exact same process that goes when the Ipod reconverts. I don't know. But untill you can look at the "uncompressed" data that the ipod uses and compare that to the origonal WAV then nothing has been proved. Why should I waste my time on a test that I'm going to first have to learn how to do and which doesn't neccessarily prove anything.
If you don't like what I've said them don't read my posts and don't waste my time demanding that I substantiate my observations. Who are you to demand anything?

Gerry
post #12 of 102
Placebo.
post #13 of 102
JEEESE!!!!!!!! Guys, settle down! You are both talking about substantiating claims about a audio ENCODER! I don't think this is really important enough to fight about. You guys need to cool it, and quit taking everything personally. Enjoy your music. Relax.
post #14 of 102
Thread Starter 
Good point.
I had no intention of getting drawn into a debate. This thread is now unsubsribed.
Gerry
post #15 of 102
Make sure sound check is turned off on the ipod. It may be boosting(causing clipping) or reducing the level of the ALAC.
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