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FLAC vs Apple LossLess  

post #1 of 149
Thread Starter 

I'm been trying to get "Better" sound out of my CD Collection. Right now I have everything in iTunes. I know,I know. But it's ease of use works for me. Except when a update to iTunes happens and some albums get mixed up,separated,etc.

 

My music is in Apple LossLess. I'd like to step up to FLAC,as I've seen there's a App to play FLAC in the iTunes Store. So,My question is,is it worth it to do? Re-Ripping my CD's is not a problem. But,is it worth it to do?

 

Any input would be appreciated,Thanks in advance.

 

 

Gear: iTouch 3rd Gen, 32GB ver 5.1

         Westone W3's

         Fiios - E17


Edited by Thrill Killer - 5/10/12 at 5:57pm
post #2 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrill Killer View Post

I'm been trying to get "Better" sound out of my CD Collection. Right now I have everything in iTunes. I know,I know. But it's ease of use works for me. Except when a update to iTunes happens and some albums get mixed up,separated,etc.

 

My music is in Apple LossLess. I'd like to step up to FLAC,as I've seen there's a App to play FLAC in the iTunes Store. So,My question is,is it worth it to do? Re-Ripping my CD's is not a problem. But,is it worth it to do?

 

Very debatable topic.  Ask 50 people, you'll likely get almost that many opinions.

 

Is it worth it?  I don't know - you tell me.  Rip a few tracks you know very well in both AAC and FLAC and listen on your system.  Can you tell the difference?  If not, then it's not worth it.  Pretty simple, really.

post #3 of 149

Anyone who tells you that there's an audible difference between ALAC (not AAC) and FLAC is a total ignoramus or has a broken computer; that's putting it as politely as possible.

 

Wanting to escape Itunes is entirely reasonable though, and it sounds like your problems are with the player, not the audio format.
 

post #4 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry Flower View Post

Anyone who tells you that there's an audible difference between ALAC (not AAC) and FLAC is a total ignoramus or has a broken computer; that's putting it as politely as possible.

 

Wanting to escape Itunes is entirely reasonable though, and it sounds like your problems are with the player, not the audio format.
 


Agreed, both formats sound lovely but I'm just not a fan of Apple... or rather I'm not a fan of how Apple file formats are only supported by apple devices :/, I like Flac's because I can run them through much more devices than ALAC. And besides I feel it's better to support the

 

Free Loseless Audio Codec than to support Apple Loseless Audio Codec! As I like good quality free anything xD

post #5 of 149

Steve Nugent:

EAC is the best ripper IMO because it calibrates to the CD-ROM drive "offsets" and generates a checksum on every track doing multiple reads.

There is a growing body of evidence that ripping with iTunes, particularly to Apple Lossless may compromise the sound quality

4. File formats. Any reason why a .wav, AIFF, or FLAC file is better than say Apple Lossless? Again people suggest a strong preference for one over the others, so something must be going on here?

I prefer AIFF and .wav files. If disk is cheap, why bother with 50% compression that you get with a lossless format?

Even though they generate a bit-perfect uncompressed copy, my customers have reported that the lossless CODECs sound different than the same .wav file on playback. My theory is that these CODECs causes significant jitter with real-time playback.

            

            Andreas Koch

 

4. File formats. Any reason why a .wav, AIFF, or FLAC file is better than say Apple Lossless? Again people suggest a strong preference for one over the others, so something must be going on here?

A properly designed DAC makes that all irrelevant as long as we don't lose any bits.

 

Gordon Rankin:

4. File formats. Any reason why a .wav, AIFF, or FLAC file is better than say Apple Lossless? Again people suggest a strong preference for one over the others, so something must be going on here?

Files that are compressed like FLAC and Apple Lossless never sound as good as .wav or AIFF. But it's best to use AIFF as the Meta data is stored in the file and therefore if you lose the hard drive the backup files will be easy to recover. If you have .wav files and loose the drive... good luck you might as well start over.

We have seen the compressed file syndrome on slower computers. The faster they are the harder it is to tell the difference between say an AIFF and Apple Lossless.

 

 

 

Charles Hansen:

4. File formats. Any reason why a .wav, AIFF, or FLAC file is better than say Apple Lossless? Again people suggest a strong preference for one over the others, so something must be going on here?This belongs in the "green pen" area. We know that differences exist. We can make hand-waving explanations as to why, but as far as I know, nobody has the "real" answer. Most of high end audio is like that. For example, why do cables sound different? I mean really sound different? Nobody knows, they just make up plausible sounding stories.

 

Jon Rechbach:

4. File formats. Any reason why a .wav, AIFF, or FLAC file is better than say Apple Lossless? Again people suggest a strong preference for one over the others, so something must be going on here? Lossless is lossless as far as we can tell. The only change I can imagine is that the CPU has to work a bit to convert the lossless and there may be some buffer memory access patterns that generate more RF (than straight PCM). I was told that Apple lossless is not lossless for 24 bit data—it compresses to 16 bits. This would not be a good thing.

 

 

Daniel Weiss:

4. File formats. Any reason why a .wav, AIFF, or FLAC file is better than say Apple Lossless? Again people suggest a strong preference for one over the others, so something must be going on here? All formats mentioned are capable of playing back the exact original music, bit for bit identical. So no difference. Again, if the DAC used reacts to the computer activity (via jitter or EMI) then there is  potentially a difference between decoders. That is not a fault of the format, but rather of the DAC.

 

 

 

post #6 of 149

Just to append my personal experience: no difference between FLAC and ALAC.    I recently started ripping in AIFF just to be safe as I have drive space to spare, but I have not heard any difference and won't re-rip my ALAC files.

post #7 of 149

Tons of programs, dbpoweramp being the most widely used from what I can tell, can convert ALAC to FLAC.

 

If you dont like itunes' user interface then it might be a good idea to switch. But since you are interested in ''stepping up" the sound quality it will be a waste of time. The sound quality will be identical. This is not a matter of opinion either, it is science.

post #8 of 149

This is what I've been doing lately. I was ripping in ALAC and now rip in AIFF. Won't re-rip and will convert all AIFF to ALAC if for some reason HDD space skyrockets.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

Just to append my personal experience: no difference between FLAC and ALAC.    I recently started ripping in AIFF just to be safe as I have drive space to spare, but I have not heard any difference and won't re-rip my ALAC files.

post #9 of 149
FLAC and ALAC are both lossless, therefor there is no difference in sound quality. There is a great article about this on FLAC's Sourceforge site, http://flac.sourceforge.net/comparison.html

What matters when considering which to use? Encoding speed, usability, and to a lesser extent decoding speed. The kicker for me is how SLOW the Apple ALAC encoding is, slowest of ALL the codecs compared there. However, Apple has made ALAC open source now smily_headphones1.gif, so there may well be improvements coming.

The Sansa Clip Zip, among other players, supports FLAC. It does not support Apple's lossless AAC files (codec=ALAC, file extension=m4a).

I expect the Apple devices do not support FLAC (or any of the other lossless codecs).
post #10 of 149
I use Foobar2000 for managing and converting most files. I let iTunes deal with AAC encoding (AAC-LC, not ALAC).

I have my daughter rip here CDs to ALAC as she lives in iTunes. From there we can use iTunes to make regular m4a files. And I can use fb2k to make the FLAC files.

I rip to FLAC and make lossy versions as needed
post #11 of 149
Awesome, I now know that Hansen and Rankin don't mind giving b.s. answers to loaded questions. Weiss and Rechbach get bonus points for diplomatically humoring the interviewer without compromising their integrity, while Nugent makes it clear that he'll go along with whatever his customers want to believe. Koch wins for brevity and dismissal of the flawed premise.

Edit: looking over the other answers to this questionnaire at Positive Feedback, Pete Davey gets to the heart of the issue:

4. File formats. Any reason why a .wav, AIFF, or FLAC file is better than say Apple Lossless? Again people suggest a strong preference for one over the others, so something must be going on here?

"A file format is simply a container. FLAC caught on because it's free! It compresses audio like how WinZip compresses data by removing empty space but with checksums to put it back during playback. This means it's lossless. Apple Lossless and FLAC are bit by bit perfect and this has been proven by engineers with the correct equipment. People still aren't satisfied with this answer so they choose to find another thing to bitch about, now it's that the processor isn't powerful enough to re-inflate the compressed file fast enough for jitter free playback! Give me a break, if your made in China iPod can do it, your $2000 Mac Book Pro can do it while calculating Pi to the nth place and re-encoding a 30gb Blu-Ray disc to h.264. Ridiculous to think otherwise."

Don't you love how a question mark can manufacture controversy? biggrin.gif
Edited by anetode - 5/13/12 at 6:56pm
post #12 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrill Killer View Post

I'm been trying to get "Better" sound out of my CD Collection. Right now I have everything in iTunes. I know,I know. But it's ease of use works for me. Except when a update to iTunes happens and some albums get mixed up,separated,etc.

My music is in Apple LossLess. I'd like to step up to FLAC,as I've seen there's a App to play FLAC in the iTunes Store. So,My question is,is it worth it to do? Re-Ripping my CD's is not a problem. But,is it worth it to do?

Any input would be appreciated,Thanks in advance.


Gear: iTouch 3rd Gen, 32GB ver 5.1
         Westone W3's
         Fiios - E17

What you need to do is uncheck the box "let iTunes organize my music folders", you won't have further problems with mixed up albums.
By the way, Flac and Alac are strictly identical as far as sound quality is concerned.

Finally, should you still want to have Flacs instead of Alacs, there's no need to re-rip your CDs: Alac can be transcoded directly into Flac without any issue, if you're on Windows, use Xrecode, if you're on OSX, use XLD.
post #13 of 149

Good point about .wav, that's another aspect I never thought about! 

post #14 of 149

My opinion is this. You can lossless all you want but if the original was not mastered well it still would not sound good.

post #15 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuwhere View Post

My opinion is this. You can lossless all you want but if the original was not mastered well it still would not sound good.

Good point as well, I listened to some 128 kb's [there are no CD's any moar so <.<]  today... I had no idea it was THAT low. Granted it didn't sound 320k but I would have guessed 256 easy... point being he makes a good point! 

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