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Formats for Dummies???

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I tried searching, but can't find a good thread. A few questions:

1. Can anyone point me in the direction of a place that can explain all of the different formats?

2. From what I understand flac (lossless) can only be had from ripping cd's directly?

3. What is the best place to download high quality music, if you don't have cd's?

4. What is the best software to format audio files as well?

I just ordered a Xin Supermicro and a pair of SE530's but feel like I am wasting my money with 128 bit MP3's.

Thanks!
post #2 of 17
1) cheap shot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_file_format

2) Well, lossless mean that you virtually lose nothing from the original record (which can be the original CD, a wav file or a cd image). You can technically rip to flac without having to rip the cd.

3) thetradersden.org provides bootleg records in lossless format.
Metallica sold bootleg in flac from their website. I dont know if there is a iTunes Store (or something like that) for lossless.

4) It really depends on too many factors...
First question: do you really need lossless format?
2nd: What is your audio source?
...

5) Well, hum. Troll warning.
I dont have the golden ear, I dont believe in lossless (others do) and I'm very happy with my AAC/MP3@192. You might want to test your ears by blindtesting your bitrates and see (ear) by yourself.

More intel: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php

Hope this helps
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response. I read a few threads that said a Zune with MP3's at higher then a 192 bitrate are almost impossible to distinguish with between a lossless file and the mp3.

I will be buying a new DAP as soon as my supermicro gets here. I am hoping the iPhone has good SQ.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
So FLAC and WAV are the two mainstream lossless formats, while MP3, AAC and WMA are the primary lossy formats??

Which is the "best" lossless and lossy format so to speak?
post #5 of 17
WAV is not lossless compression, it is uncompressed audio. Lossless compresses music, but retains 100% of the quality.
All lossless formats should sound identical, the exact same data should be sent to the headphones/speakers with every lossless format unless there was an error in encoding or decoding. A major benefit of lossless is the ability to transcode between all the formats with no loss in quality. If you converted a file like this: WAV-FLAC-WAV-ALAC-WAV The first and last .WAV would be identical.
Apple lossless (ALAC) is another major lossless format.

The best sounding way to use lossy compression is said to be variable bitrate mp3 encoded in the LAME encoder using -v0.
Here is a guide to ripping CDs in lossless and lossy formats, covering many options:
http://jiggafellz.isa-geek.net/eac/

There are bittorrent sites that will let you download high quality rips, in mp3 and FLAC, of many albums, that i will not link to because i would think it would be against the rules.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks. If I downloaded a 128 bit MP3 could I format it to 192 or higher, or is the data already gone?
post #7 of 17
Yes it is gone. *You cannot add what isn't there* reasoning

That is why the more dedicated of this forum insist on buying CDs for the flexibility of what to do with the songs when transferring to their PC
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks, I got rid of my entire cd collection a long time ago. I rarely like entire albums so I would rather find a place that I can download high quality tracks, I don't mind paying.
post #9 of 17
Hydrogenaudio has great writeups, esp the lossless compression comparison chart.
post #10 of 17
And dont forget to buy your cds. (hum)
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by JarodL1 View Post
1. Can anyone point me in the direction of a place that can explain all of the different formats?
www.hydrogenaudio.org is a good source of information.
Quote:
2. From what I understand flac (lossless) can only be had from ripping cd's directly?
The source for a FLAC file can be any PCM audio file. Most used are WAV files, or raw from a CD.
Quote:
4. What is the best software to format audio files as well?
Depends of the format you want to use, and your operating system. But lets see:
Apple Lossless -> iTunes
FLAC -> FLAC
MP3 -> LAME
AAC -> iTunes or Nero AAC
...

Quote:
I just ordered a Xin Supermicro and a pair of SE530's but feel like I am wasting my money with 128 bit MP3's.
If you can't hear the difference between 128kbps MP3 and formatX, choose the one that occupy the smallest storage space. Or go lossless for safety..
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by JarodL1 View Post
I tried searching, but can't find a good thread. A few questions:

3. What is the best place to download high quality music, if you don't have cd's?
Don't know if it's the best per se, but it's free:
http://www.archive.org/details/etree

Lots of freely-distributable live music in FLAC, MP3, and Ogg Vorbis formats.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the help. What format does Itunes and the Zune music store let you download in?

It seems a lot of people say they can't tell the difference between a lossless format and mp3's higher then 192 on a zune?
post #14 of 17
Itunes downloads are in a low-quality, DRM'd (you can only hear them on itunes and ipods) aac, like 128k or something. They are apparently starting to sell higher-quality, 256?k, mp3s, but only with certain artists/labels.

I know nothing about the zune store, but i would think that it uses DRM and low quality music too.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by JarodL1 View Post
Thanks for all of the help. What format does Itunes and the Zune music store let you download in?
iTunes Store = AAC
Zune music store = Probably WMA (not sure though)
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