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Looking to ditch iTunes as default media player

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hey Headfiers. Just built a new PC and I want to set everything up the "right way" from the get-go. So, I'm going to re-rip my entire CD collection and prefer to get away from using iTunes. I really don't know where to start.

 

There's so much talk about Foobar, EAC, all the different formats and encoding that I'm just confused at this point. Why would I need EAC when most of the 3rd party media software does this task? I hear Foobar2000 has a steep learning curve and needs a lot of time and customization to get it setup. Is there another software that is a little easier to get setup with most of the functionality of Foobar2000? Finally, is FLAC good enough for audiophile use now and in the future and is this a lossy format or otherwise?

 

Hoping to hear some of you pros' opinions before I begin my long ripping session. Thanks!!

post #2 of 20

You don't really need EAC but I prefer it for all my ripping and encoding purposes. I've used many other rippers/encoders and some have been good but I don't have the confidence in them that I have with EAC for providing an 'exact' copy.

 

Foobar2k is very simple to use. You can literally install it and be playing files right away. Now it is highly customizable especially in its appearance which can definitely get complicated but that's all optional. Plus there tons of tutorials on how to tweak its UI if this is important to you.

 

FLAC is indeed lossless and would be my choice for 'audiophile' use for now and the future.

 

 

post #3 of 20
It isn't rocket science to rip a CD. If you are getting enough errors to need more than the average error correction, the problem is your optical drive, not your software.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 

By this are you saying that EAC is overkill/not needed? Will the native ripping utility in F2K or JRMC be good enough for a bit perfect rip? Thanks for your response too ManBeard. In hindsight, I should have started this thread in the Computer Audio forum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

It isn't rocket science to rip a CD. If you are getting enough errors to need more than the average error correction, the problem is your optical drive, not your software.


 

post #5 of 20

If EAC soothes those "laying in bed at night worries" about the bitperfect nature of your rips, then perhaps it's useful from a psychological standpoint. But I have yet to find a ripper that doesn't make clean rips. Similarly, lossless is fine for preventing OCD over loss of theoretical data, but in practice, AAC at 192-256 is identical sounding to lossless.

 

I use iTunes to rip CDs to AAC 256. That is really one step of overkill, because AAC 192 is just as good sounding as the original CD. It all depends on how much overkill the voices in your head demand.

post #6 of 20

For reliably accurate rips, you should use a ripper which incorporates accuraterip; the available programs for Windows and Mac are listed at http://www.accuraterip.com/software.htm

 

Lossless and a lossy encoding with a reasonable bitrate as bigshot suggests will almost certainly sound identical.  Lossless has the advantage of allowing transcoding to other lossless formats in the future without loss of quality, and also protects against the (unlikely) possibility of equipment upgrades revealing flaws in lossy rips which you can't hear with your current gear.  If your digital rips are going to be your archive and you never want to do it again, FLAC is the way to go.
 

post #7 of 20
I don't believe in the old saw that better equipment reveals flaws in compressed audio. I've checked out my AAC files on a dozen different systems from home stereos to studios and I can't detect an artifact on any of them.

If you have the CD, that's all you need as a master. But I've also tested for generation loss in AAC 256 VBR and got bored at five generations with absolutely no discernable loss in quality. Lossy is a suitable format for just about any purpose.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

I don't believe in the old saw that better equipment reveals flaws in compressed audio. I've checked out my AAC files on a dozen different systems from home stereos to studios and I can't detect an artifact on any of them.
If you have the CD, that's all you need as a master. But I've also tested for generation loss in AAC 256 VBR and got bored at five generations with absolutely no discernable loss in quality. Lossy is a suitable format for just about any purpose.

 

Interesting to read an alternative take to the lossy/lossless debate. I'm sure, as a beginner audiophile wanna-be, that I couldn't in fact tell the difference btwn the two but I hope I will be able to someday. In the meantime, I want to archive my disks on my desktop PC in the most futureproof way possible with different software and hardware upgrades and I've decided on FLAC. Giving J River Media Center 17 a try too in addition to EAC. I'm hoping to never have to rip all these CDs again after this session. 

post #9 of 20
I've been a hifi nut for several decades. The difference between me and a lot of people is I do comparison testing, so I know for myself. I don't need to rely on what seems correct or common knowledge.

If you have the CDs, why do you need another lossless copy?

I'm willing to bet thatbMP3 and AAC are a lot more future proof than FLAC.
Edited by bigshot - 4/19/12 at 8:56pm
post #10 of 20

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

If you have the CDs, why do you need another lossless copy?
I'm willing to bet thatbMP3 and AAC are a lot more future proof than FLAC.

 

I own lots of CDs, but it has been years since I listened to the actual CD.

 

FLAC is inherently more future proof because you can convert it to any new format that comes along without losing any of the original information.  One you convert to AAC or MP3 you are stuck there because information has been lost and there is no way to get it back. With hard drives being so cheap nowadays, why not go lossless and be done with it?

 

OP if you want to use Foobar I'd recommend finding a skin to do all the setup for you. I have used Darkone for years now (http://tedgo.deviantart.com/art/DarkOne-v3-0-1-187628705).


Edited by Radioking59 - 4/19/12 at 9:27pm
post #11 of 20

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post


If you have the CDs, why do you need another lossless copy?

 

 


Plenty of reasons.  Here's a starter for you: I have several thousand CDs.  The discs alone weigh in the order of 40 kilos; with the cases and beefy classical music inserts, several times that.  I move internationally every few years. My CDs don't.

post #12 of 20
I've got 365 days worth of music in my iTunes library at AAC 256 VBR. I've been ripping my 10K+ CD collection for years and boxing them up. I don't foresee ever needing to rerip the CDs or use any other file format. AAC is a more established standard than FLAC is. My entire library easily fits on a pocket sized portable hard drive. The same files that sound perfect on my home system are small enough to work on my ipods, iphone and ipad, so I don't need to keep separate libraries for home and portable. Even if I did need to transcode to some future better file format, it would still sound as good as AAC 256 VBR, which means perfect. Everyone keeps talkng about compressed audio as if something is lost in the sound. It isn't. I've done direct A/B comparison and generation loss tests. The only thing that's lost is file size. Any degradation of the sound is purely theoretical. In practice, AAC is capable of performing just as well as FLAC,
Edited by bigshot - 4/20/12 at 5:13pm
post #13 of 20

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

... I don't foresee ever needing to rerip the CDs or use any other file format. AAC is a more established standard than FLAC is. My entire library easily fits on a pocket sized portable hard drive....

 

Wait till Apple drops AAC once it suits them, leaving you  with a few months' work re-creating your collection by re-ripping, or losing yet more audio quality by transcoding to another format. Meanwhile you can transfer perfectly from any lossless formet (it doesn't have to be FLAC--ALAC will do if you're plugged into the Apple ecosystem) with four clicks of the mouse. ;)

post #14 of 20
Apple can drop AAC (industry standard not owned by Apple) and even ALAC, the files will still be readable (there's plenty of non-Apple decoders for both formats).

As for FLAC vs. AAC for archival: I haven't tried to ABX a track transcoded from an AAC, but even if I couldn't, I'd still want to keep the FLACs around. It's a bit surprising that you didn't hear any artifacts after 5 generations. I'm pretty sure a lot of people would. If you want your collection to be future proof (maybe even taking your offspring into account), better use a format that converts easily without degradation (which is REAL even when it's transparent). If storage is not an issue, there's just no reason not to go lossless.

Also, ripping CDs is ******** slow. You only want to do it once.
post #15 of 20
The trick is having the bitrate high enough. AAC 256 VBR is high enough to capture anything without artifacting. In fact, AAC is pretty much artifact free at 128. Give it a try yourself. It's amazing how much "common knowledge" is totally wrong. (Like Apple owning AAC.... They don't. it's an open format.)

Transcoding and maintaining two libraries is simple enough if tou're talking a few hundred CDs, but my library is much too large to maintain in both lossless and compressed. I only keep CD image files on things I don't have a CD backup of, and that's only a handful of collections I've made for myself.

Offspring can fend for themselves! The way the world is going, they will probably have horrible taste in music anyway.
Edited by bigshot - 4/21/12 at 11:17am
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