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Lossless - when is it not?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I thought that lossless encoders were just that, bit perfect representations of the CD or source.  I got into a bit of an argument with a Naim user who had 'perfect rips' of the CD's onto their hard drive. He claims that the output of that system compared to say, the FLAC output of a Rockbox'd iRiver through its SPDIF will be different. His further claims suggested that not all FLAC's are created equal. When I mentioned ALE - then all bets were off.....


I guess the folks here, and at Rockbox should know more about these kind of things that I do. If we were to compare the SPDIF outputs of digital transports playing WAV, FLAC and ALE - would they all be the same?






post #2 of 3
Well if you rip the CD's correctly (e.g. drive offset is configured properly) then you have exactly what is on the CD in your FLAC (+ cue) files. You can use something like AccurateRip to check if you ripped it properly.

Now on to his claims.
My guess is that a rockbox'd iRiver (or something similar) can properly decode FLAC files and send the data unaltered through it's SPDIF output, therefore the raw data should be the same.
FLAC's don't have to be created equally to produce the same result after decoding. Somebody could use a different encoder than the one from flac.org or different compression levels. This will make the FLAC files look different but the audio data is the same.
I don't see why this should be different for other lossless formats like ALAC.
post #3 of 3
Yes, Properly ripped lossless files are a bit perfect representation of the original audio, regardless of the format (as long as it's a lossless format). Some hardware however is not capable of outputting bit-perfect audio (even on spdif), and will resample it ect...

If your rockbox'd iRiver is able to output bit perfect audio (According to this thread it appears iRivers are -- http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/352143/question-about-the-quality-of-iriver-h120-player-s-optical-output) then regardless of what lossless format or compression level you choose the output will be just that-- lossless.
Edited by Snag1e - 4/25/11 at 3:32pm
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