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FLAC vs ALAC - FLAC noticeably better?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Hey,
I've started the discussion in my iMac connection thread, but I thought it is worth of the separate thread. I'm currently a PC user, wanting to switch to a Mac. As OS X is more comfortable and estethical, I thought there wouldn't be a problem with the swap. But there is one - almost everybody on a Mac uses iTunes (so would I) which is simply the best player on the OS X. iTunes has its own lossless format, so I thought I'd just convert all my FLAC library into ALAC and use them. The thing is that I've already spent few hours today on comparing an ALAC, FLAC, wave and mp3 320kbps in a blind, ABX test. My current rig is a Beresford TC-7520 DAC, connected via USB to the PC using foobar2k. My headphones are Creative Aurvana Live! (a.k.a. Denon D1000) which aren't very detailed or picky headphones, but well... I hear the noticeable difference between FLAC and ALAC - the FLAC highs are more detailed which is really easy to notice. On the other hand, I'd say there is none difference between FLAC and wave and also - between ALAC and mp3 320kbps. Are that much differences between so colled LOSSLESS formats even possible? Why is that so?
post #2 of 34
there should be no difference at all. idk why
post #3 of 34
I don't hear a difference at all. That's why I've converted all my FLAC to ALAC. So I can get a Mac, shove it in iTunes and use my Touch as a remote.
post #4 of 34
Are you sure you didn't convert them to AAC instead of ALAC?
post #5 of 34
There should not be a difference, unless something went wrong during transcoding.
Which application did you use to transcode FLAC into ALAC? That said; instead of ABX testing lossless files you can simply do a bit-compare. Their audio data should be 100% identical.
post #6 of 34
Have you tried converting both flac and alac to wav and compare the output in a wave editor?

There should be no difference.

The only difference between the two is that FLAC is free while alac is proprietary and FLAC is easier (faster) to decode. That's why FLAC is the best lossless format.


btw i just remembered that foobar has some file compare functionality (with a certain component?), why don't you try that?
post #7 of 34
The other day I did a blind test with a few local headphone enthusiasts and none of us can succesffuly predict the difference between a 320MBPs MP3 to a WAV file.

This was using a Macpro, PicoDac, HD650, and MS Pro.

Now you're telling me FLAC is better than ALAC?

post #8 of 34
Even to me flac sound better, but I think it should placebo, since they are bit to bit identical,
or maybe Eac is better than the MAC equivalent ripper,
post #9 of 34
There really shouldn't be a difference between lossless formats. It's like a green car and a red car of the same model, on the outside they look different but the components are exactly alike.
post #10 of 34
Thread Starter 
Well, that's what I thought and that's why I'm that surprised. I've converted my ripped FLAC to ALAC and mp3 using a dBpoweramp. Than, I've tested it using an ABX foobar plugin. Once I get a new, more accurate headphones next week, I'll try it once again - I'll rip a CD using EAC, than convert it to FLAC and ALAC and ABX it once again. This whole thing seems strange for me, too.
krmathis, I've never heard about it, how can you do the comparison like this?
post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeycam View Post
krmathis, I've never heard about it, how can you do the comparison like this?
This one should do the trick -> foobar2000: Components Repository - Binary Comparator
post #12 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
All tracks decoded fine, no differences found.

Comparing:
"D:\Mjuzik\supercell\Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari\01 Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari.flac"
"D:\Mjuzik\supercell\Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari\01 Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari.m4a"
No differences in decoded data found.
Yup, there's none. Well, as I said - I'll do some more testing next week. It's pretty impossible for a codec to "sound", right? :P
post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeycam View Post
Yup, there's none. Well, as I said - I'll do some more testing next week. It's pretty impossible for a codec to "sound", right? :P
Pretty impossible, yes. Though there is a whole worldfull of audiophiles out there, porting their audiophile nervosa over to the digital world, hearing all kinds of things that can't be there.

P
post #14 of 34
I thought this kind of thing was insanity (and it's not the first thread on it by far) but a friend of mine who i trust swears blind that ALAC and AIFF on his Mac sound different. However, since Amarra can, without altering the data at all, improve the output of a Mac, maybe there's something going on with the hardware when it decodes the files such that the timing of the digital signal is altered (jitter) at least enough to affect some DACs. I realise suggesting this will open a huge quagmire that will be un-resolvable without expensive test equipment, but it's a possible explanation.
post #15 of 34
for what it's worth ALAC is not an open format, it's been reverse engineered in foobar...just like libdts that does a LOUSY job decoding DTS, libavcodec sounds miles better.
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