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post #121 of 149

I've always converted all my music in ALAC (CDs or downloaded 24 bit files using dbpoweramp) considering a fact that lossless compressed are the same as uncompressed.

ALAC was my preferred format not only because it saves space and for tagging metadata, but also for compatibility reason when wi-fi streaming to my iPad/iPhone.

 

From a static file to reach a DAC some work must be done, it's a fact too.

 

I've started from USB audio and after a couple of years of frustration changing numberless of hardware/software setups and settings, I've abandoned USB in favor of streaming devices.

Choose the best renderer you can afford and have peace of mind.

 

Then I've read this thread, the comments of some audio designer and the reported difference in some features and speed of encoding/decoding ALAC/FLAC vs WAV/AIFF, so a doubt entered my mind:

is the work done by the rendering device before the DAC a little different depending on the file type?

 

I've started only today to test the sound of different file types in my high-end stereo setup and I must confess I hear some differences I'm no more sure ALAC is the best or at least the same as the others.

I doubt all my streamers are badly engineered, maybe not optimized for each file type, from best to worst I have now: Yamaha NP-S2000, Linn Majik DS and a few Sonos. I keep Yamaha as reference since it's true balanced as the rest of the system (Electrocompaniet amp, Trenner & Friedl Pharoah speakers).

WAV seems a little more open, a little more reverb and subtle details. ALAC seems always a little compressed, closed-in and less dynamic. FLAC a little bit more coherent than ALAC even more than WAV in my system but maybe not better overall since WAV could highlight more system limits.

I'm quite sure ALAC in the Yamaha is not the best format, maybe since it's not fully supported, latest firmware just updated add 24/192 to WAV/FLAC only, ALAC limited to 24/96.

I'll do more tests, but something is happening differently depending on each file type.

I'm not happy at all to report that since now I'm considering which format to use for sound quality or which for compatibility and maybe I'll have to decode all my files again...

 

post #122 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thraex View Post

I've always converted all my music in ALAC (CDs or downloaded 24 bit files using dbpoweramp) considering a fact that lossless compressed are the same as uncompressed.

ALAC was my preferred format not only because it saves space and for tagging metadata, but also for compatibility reason when wi-fi streaming to my iPad/iPhone.

 

From a static file to reach a DAC some work must be done, it's a fact too.

 

I've started from USB audio and after a couple of years of frustration changing numberless of hardware/software setups and settings, I've abandoned USB in favor of streaming devices.

Choose the best renderer you can afford and have peace of mind.

 

Then I've read this thread, the comments of some audio designer and the reported difference in some features and speed of encoding/decoding ALAC/FLAC vs WAV/AIFF, so a doubt entered my mind:

is the work done by the rendering device before the DAC a little different depending on the file type?

 

I've started only today to test the sound of different file types in my high-end stereo setup and I must confess I hear some differences I'm no more sure ALAC is the best or at least the same as the others.

I doubt all my streamers are badly engineered, maybe not optimized for each file type, from best to worst I have now: Yamaha NP-S2000, Linn Majik DS and a few Sonos. I keep Yamaha as reference since it's true balanced as the rest of the system (Electrocompaniet amp, Trenner & Friedl Pharoah speakers).

WAV seems a little more open, a little more reverb and subtle details. ALAC seems always a little compressed, closed-in and less dynamic. FLAC a little bit more coherent than ALAC even more than WAV in my system but maybe not better overall since WAV could highlight more system limits.

I'm quite sure ALAC in the Yamaha is not the best format, maybe since it's not fully supported, latest firmware just updated add 24/192 to WAV/FLAC only, ALAC limited to 24/96.

I'll do more tests, but something is happening differently depending on each file type.

I'm not happy at all to report that since now I'm considering which format to use for sound quality or which for compatibility and maybe I'll have to decode all my files again...

 

Unless you don't believe in buffers the amount of work required to decode a compressed file is completely irrelevant to anything in a non-broken system other than how long it takes for the file to start playing.

 

What you're experiencing is the result of improper testing conditions.

post #123 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post

Unless you don't believe in buffers the amount of work required to decode a compressed file is completely irrelevant to anything in a non-broken system other than how long it takes for the file to start playing.

 

What you're experiencing is the result of improper testing conditions.

 

I don't know why should I have improper testing conditions. I use mainly Jriver MC (I've also Asset and Twonky) and send any file type (converted with dbpoweramp) to the same renderer and system, same volume, same settings and just a second from one play to another.

Differences are minimal but I can't think why my brain should favor a file type, if that's the case I'd like to stick with ALAC, but it's not the best sounding in my setup.

 

I don't argue the fact that any lossless format is identical to the same uncompressed file, I've already tested decoding WAV/AIFF/FLAC/ALAC in any direction and as many times as I want and the file went back exactly the same.

 

Do you think the above reported differences in speed of decoding for each lossless are BS?

It could be the processor inside the device is working a little bit more with lossless, a little more processing power which affects the noise of the circuit a little. FLAC is reported faster than ALAC so maybe require a little less processing power.

It could be the Yamaha handle each type differently, if not why support 24bit/192Khz for WAV/FLAC only and limits 24bit/96Khz to ALAC?

 

I'll do more test with the Linn Majik DS which doesn't has different limits for each file type. I'll report back soon the results.


Edited by Thraex - 2/5/13 at 6:38am
post #124 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thraex View Post

 

I don't know why should I have improper testing conditions. I use mainly Jriver MC (I've also Asset and Twonky) and send any file type (converted with dbpoweramp) to the same renderer and system, same volume, same settings and just a second from one play to another.

Differences are minimal but I can't think why my brain should favor a file type, if that's the case I'd like to stick with ALAC, but it's not the best sounding in my setup.

 

I don't argue the fact that any lossless format is identical to the same uncompressed file, I've already tested decoding WAV/AIFF/FLAC/ALAC in any direction and as many times as I want and the file went back exactly the same.

 

Do you think the above reported differences in speed of decoding for each lossless are BS?

It could be the processor inside the device is working a little bit more with lossless, a little more processing power which affects the noise of the circuit a little. FLAC is reported faster than ALAC so maybe require a little less processing power.

It could be the Yamaha handle each type differently, if not why support 24bit/192Khz for WAV/FLAC only and limits 24bit/96Khz to ALAC?

 

I'll do more test with the Linn Majik DS which doesn't has different limits for each file type. I'll report back soon the results.

Use Foobar's ABX comparator if you want to perform a good test. Your brain is favoring FLAC because you've heard that it takes less amount of time to decode.

 

The speed for decoding is likely different, but that doesn't matter when it comes to playback. Playing music isn't all that stressful of an activity on a processor, just a little more stress isn't going to hurt. If it was getting overloaded you'd be hearing dropouts, and if it was causing noise you'd be hearing additional noise, not less clarity in something.

post #125 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thraex View Post

Do you think the above reported differences in speed of decoding for each lossless are BS?

 

Even the most underpowered computer nowadays can decode lossless. Heck, even an iPod can do it.

 

Lossless is lossess.

post #126 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thraex View Post

I've always converted all my music in ALAC (CDs or downloaded 24 bit files using dbpoweramp) considering a fact that lossless compressed are the same as uncompressed.

ALAC was my preferred format not only because it saves space and for tagging metadata, but also for compatibility reason when wi-fi streaming to my iPad/iPhone.

 

From a static file to reach a DAC some work must be done, it's a fact too.

 

I've started from USB audio and after a couple of years of frustration changing numberless of hardware/software setups and settings, I've abandoned USB in favor of streaming devices.

Choose the best renderer you can afford and have peace of mind.

 

Then I've read this thread, the comments of some audio designer and the reported difference in some features and speed of encoding/decoding ALAC/FLAC vs WAV/AIFF, so a doubt entered my mind:

is the work done by the rendering device before the DAC a little different depending on the file type?

 

I've started only today to test the sound of different file types in my high-end stereo setup and I must confess I hear some differences I'm no more sure ALAC is the best or at least the same as the others.

I doubt all my streamers are badly engineered, maybe not optimized for each file type, from best to worst I have now: Yamaha NP-S2000, Linn Majik DS and a few Sonos. I keep Yamaha as reference since it's true balanced as the rest of the system (Electrocompaniet amp, Trenner & Friedl Pharoah speakers).

WAV seems a little more open, a little more reverb and subtle details. ALAC seems always a little compressed, closed-in and less dynamic. FLAC a little bit more coherent than ALAC even more than WAV in my system but maybe not better overall since WAV could highlight more system limits.

I'm quite sure ALAC in the Yamaha is not the best format, maybe since it's not fully supported, latest firmware just updated add 24/192 to WAV/FLAC only, ALAC limited to 24/96.

I'll do more tests, but something is happening differently depending on each file type.

I'm not happy at all to report that since now I'm considering which format to use for sound quality or which for compatibility and maybe I'll have to decode all my files again...

 

I'm a very humble person and I'm (almost) sure it would be possible for a few people in this world to hear the difference between various lossless formats. Maybe you are one of those people. However, to eliminate the possibility of a chimaera, I think you must try to arrange with a blind test under trustworthy conditions, i.e. performed by someone (or something) other than yourself. Doing it yourself is just not trustworthy. The openings for self-delusion are unfortunately endless. The brain is a very "strange machine" indeed. Should you perform a blind test, please report back to this thread. Thanks!

post #127 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

 

Even the most underpowered computer nowadays can decode lossless. Heck, even an iPod can do it.

 

Lossless is lossess.

I've already stated so, but to clear things again, I've iPad and iPhone so I was already aware they can decode ALAC even on the fly in wi-fi streaming using 8player app. I'm already aware lossless or uncompressed = same data.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post

Use Foobar's ABX comparator if you want to perform a good test. Your brain is favoring FLAC because you've heard that it takes less amount of time to decode.

 

The speed for decoding is likely different, but that doesn't matter when it comes to playback. Playing music isn't all that stressful of an activity on a processor, just a little more stress isn't going to hurt. If it was getting overloaded you'd be hearing dropouts, and if it was causing noise you'd be hearing additional noise, not less clarity in something.

I always use my brother or wife to do blind tests, since I know I could be influenced DIM, double click a file is very easy even for her. I'm too lazy or not interested even to use Foobar's ABX comparator to support mine or your view, I wasn't reporting a scientific test universally repeatable and don't want to change your mind.

My brain started favoring ALAC since my library is already done, for idevices compatibility, for saved space and since I'm still sure lossless or uncompressed have same data, so must sound the same.

But even if my brain is now formatted after reading that FLAC is faster it doesn't change the fact that it is faster, or please prove or report if they have the same decoding speed, if you could we'll see if my brain will change its actual favorite.

 

I don't believe playing music is such stressful, I believe a bit of more work in the processor require a little more power and maybe it could be detected as minute difference in the power rail or surrounding circuit. Little differences are apparent only in a high resolving system, with computer speakers I'm sure MP3 is already enough.

I can't and I'm not interested in measure power req in each type of decoding and how it affects circuitry, but it could be that given my findings or could be in-hardware optimization.

I must do more test with Linn Majik DS since it handle each file type without official limits contrary to Yamaha's streamer. I can't hear any difference using Sonos renderers.

I don't know your experience but I've tested different USB sound using different software (Jriver MC, JPlay, Foobar, WMP,...), settings inside those software or OS, ASIAO/WASAPI/event-style playing the same files. Maybe each hardware or firmware do things differently too.

 

However, I hope what I report will not hurt anyone, just my 2c.


Edited by Thraex - 2/5/13 at 2:13pm
post #128 of 149

If you can hear differences that theoretically don't exist, odds are either you aren't hearing it and just think you do, or something else is causing it.

post #129 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

If you can hear differences that theoretically don't exist, odds are either you aren't hearing it and just think you do, or something else is causing it.
Instead of speaking about theory, pratically: do you know the engineering deign of theYamaha NP-S2000 to be so sure it processes any file type the same way? Do it take the same amount of power and time to process any type of data? Do you think a working circuit doesn't heat more or require more power when working hard instead of idle? Do you think circuits and processors are unable to generate noise in the power supply or in adiacent components?
Do you think any renderer do the same job and any device on the market is absolutely identical and quality in digital circuit is always the same?

I've understand that you keep telling me I can't hear any difference, theorically I agree but pratically I still need answered the above questions.
post #130 of 149

Codecs are standards built into the chips inside of all equipment. The same handful of chips is used in everything from DAPs to DACs to standalone DVD and CD players. I seriously doubt if Yamaha makes their own chip. They buy one off the shelf. If it can play a codec at all, it can play it properly. Digital is usually all or nothing. As for processor speed, the average microwave oven nowadays can probably play CD quality sound. That's the world we live in now.

 

If your equipment truly does have trouble playing audio, it's probably because of a defect in manufacture, and it would manifest itself as a major problem, not a subtle difference. Subtle differences in those sorts of cases are almost always because of the psychology of hearing, not the sound itself.

 

It isn't difficult to get high quality digital audio streamed throughout your home. A mac mini and an airport system will do it flawlessly. To be honest, I don't see the purpose of a stereo component to do that when computers do it so much more simply. I run a high end system through my entire house using a mac mini. That's what it's designed to do, and it costs half what that Yamaha costs.


Edited by bigshot - 2/5/13 at 9:22pm
post #131 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thraex View Post


Instead of speaking about theory, pratically: do you know the engineering deign of theYamaha NP-S2000 to be so sure it processes any file type the same way? Do it take the same amount of power and time to process any type of data? Do you think a working circuit doesn't heat more or require more power when working hard instead of idle? Do you think circuits and processors are unable to generate noise in the power supply or in adiacent components?
Do you think any renderer do the same job and any device on the market is absolutely identical and quality in digital circuit is always the same?

I've understand that you keep telling me I can't hear any difference, theorically I agree but pratically I still need answered the above questions.

 

You're confusing hardware with firmware and software.


Edited by anetode - 2/5/13 at 11:58pm
post #132 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Codecs are standards built into the chips inside of all equipment. The same handful of chips is used in everything from DAPs to DACs to standalone DVD and CD players. I seriously doubt if Yamaha makes their own chip. They buy one off the shelf. If it can play a codec at all, it can play it properly. Digital is usually all or nothing. As for processor speed, the average microwave oven nowadays can probably play CD quality sound. That's the world we live in now.

 

If your equipment truly does have trouble playing audio, it's probably because of a defect in manufacture, and it would manifest itself as a major problem, not a subtle difference. Subtle differences in those sorts of cases are almost always because of the psychology of hearing, not the sound itself.

 

It isn't difficult to get high quality digital audio streamed throughout your home. A mac mini and an airport system will do it flawlessly. To be honest, I don't see the purpose of a stereo component to do that when computers do it so much more simply. I run a high end system through my entire house using a mac mini. That's what it's designed to do, and it costs half what that Yamaha costs.


I'm sure codecs are standards on paper but each chip implementation is different in features, costruction process and performance. From your sentences I'm not sure you know that most chips doesn't support the same codecs or bit depth/freq for each codec.

Your sentence "If it can play a codec at all, it can play it properly. Digital is usually all or nothing." deosn't seems correct in reality, things could change in digital too.

The firmware in the Yamaha adds support to 24bit/192Khz for WAV/FLAC only from version 3.00, other codecs are still limited to 24/96, the hardware inside is the same from the beginning.

Linn Majik DS has received a lot of firmware updates, they reported their algorithm and digital management has increased performance compared to the 1st release, features and chip are different from Yamaha's.

Sonos too has increased features, stability and performance compared to the beginning, hardware has not changed.

My iBasso D7 DAC/HPAmp can do any bit/freq up to 24/192 but no 176.4Khz.

I'm sure even your oven isn't capable as a Naim CD555 to play CDs, but if you think so, better for you, you save a lot of money!

 

I'm really interested, for a comparison, in which components do you use in your high-end system for streaming. Do you use USB audio which I consider a mess?

Your Airport limits bit/freq to 16/48 max, even if you can playback 24/96 files they're downsampled before the DAC.

I don't consider it flawless.

If you don't care high res files or consider CD quality or MP3 the same, I understand all your points.


Edited by Thraex - 2/6/13 at 6:53am
post #133 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by anetode View Post

 

You're confusing hardware with firmware and software.


I'm confused in the sense that I don't know which one make a difference since of their interaction. Your point is? Could you answer my questions above?


Edited by Thraex - 2/6/13 at 6:53am
post #134 of 149

No offense, but your questions are a bit inane.

 

The temperature of your room is going to make a bigger difference on a processor than the differences in these algorithms. And I hope you don't listen to your music in a freezer to ensure maximum sound quality.

post #135 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post

No offense, but your questions are a bit inane.

 

The temperature of your room is going to make a bigger difference on a processor than the differences in these algorithms. And I hope you don't listen to your music in a freezer to ensure maximum sound quality.


I wasn't focusing on temperature, in fact I play each file in delay of a second so no temp changes, maybe it's even better for a circuit to be warm instead of cold like in engines, I argued about power req or noise it could induce in surrounding circuits.

If that's impossible for you for me it is not.

 

I understand you keep telling me any chip is the same and any codec is managed in the same way, I have some doubts in my mind since it tells me the sound is slightly different in the components I'm using.

Or maybe it's just a fact of price and suggestions, instead of using my wife computer's speaker and subwoofer at 49,99 Euro, I've spent 7.900 Eu for my Trenner & Friedl Pharoah speakers just to be sure my brain is satisfied. Maybe if they change the price sticker on those computer speakers they could sound even better for me.


Edited by Thraex - 2/6/13 at 10:22am
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