Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › FLAC vs CD quality difference
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

FLAC vs CD quality difference

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Is there a quality difference between FLAC and actual CD?  Should it be the same or no?

CD is 128kbps but if you upconvert to FLAC you would lose quality even though you are going to loseless codec.

post #2 of 13

FLAC is lossless compression. That means no quality is lost.

 

CD's are not 128kbps.

post #3 of 13
FLAC files are generally ripped from CDs. They are "lossless," which means no data is lost from the digital files on the CD. In other words, the quality should be about identical. A 128 bit rate is far from CD quality, but some untrained ears might not be able to tell the difference.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

I thought most CDs were 128kbps.

 

What are you guys ripping with, dbpoweramp and encoding with LAME eac?

post #5 of 13

No.

 

Some ripping software will claim that 128kbps is "CD Quality" (maybe that is where you are getting this idea from?), but it most certainly is not. Think of it this way: if you put a CD into your computer and look at the individual song files, you'll find that a 4 minute song will be about 50 megabytes; the same song with a 128kbps bit rate would be about 5 megabytes. That means there is 10x more data on the CD file. A FLAC rip of the file on the CD would be pretty near the 50 megabytes on the CD, because it loses no data, is not compressed, hence "lossless." MP3 files DO lose data, they ARE compressed, they are "lossy."

 

Now, if you are listening to music through entry-level earphones or small computer speakers you probably won't be able to tell the difference either way...

 

MP3 files are very high quality for the size of the files and perfectly practical when you are on-the-go. If you want to get the best quality MP3s from your CDs, you should rip them at 320kbps - the file sizes will still be drastically smaller than lossless files, so you'll be able to fit much more music on your mp3 player.


Edited by ovid87 - 9/23/12 at 5:28pm
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by barksdale View Post

I thought most CDs were 128kbps.

 

What are you guys ripping with, dbpoweramp and encoding with LAME eac?

CDs are 1411kbps.

 

I usually rip with EAC since it ensures an error free rip.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ovid87 View Post

No.

 

Some ripping software will claim that 128kbps is "CD Quality" (maybe that is where you are getting this idea from?), but it most certainly is not. Think of it this way: if you put a CD into your computer and look at the individual song files, you'll find that a 4 minute song will be about 50 megabytes; the same song with a 128kbps bit rate would be about 5 megabytes. That means there is 10x more data on the CD file. A FLAC rip of the file on the CD would be pretty near the 50 megabytes on the CD, because it loses no data, is not compressed, hence "lossless." MP3 files DO lose data, they ARE compressed, they are "lossy."

 

 

FLAC files actually are compressed. If you want uncompressed, that's wav.

 

But the way FLAC compresses it doesn't lose any data, it just needs to be interpreted in a certain way.

 

An example of how losless compression would work:

Original Data: aaaaaaabcdeeeefg

Compressed Data: !7abcd!4efg

 

While the compressed data isn't as large of an amount of data, the program will know that ![n] means to repeat the character a certain amount of times so that it appears the exact same way as the original data.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info.


I have pretty decent headphones and I can hear a big difference between 320kbps and 128kbps.  256 VBR and 320kbps not so much.

 

I need to rip some stuff FLAC and compare.

So everyone uses dbpoweramp still?  that program is old but I guess it still does the job!

post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post

CDs are 1411kbps.

 

I usually rip with EAC since it ensures an error free rip.

 

 

 

 

FLAC files actually are compressed. If you want uncompressed, that's wav.

 

But the way FLAC compresses it doesn't lose any data, it just needs to be interpreted in a certain way.

 

An example of how losless compression would work:

Original Data: aaaaaaabcdeeeefg

Compressed Data: !7abcd!4efg

 

While the compressed data isn't as large of an amount of data, the program will know that ![n] means to repeat the character a certain amount of times so that it appears the exact same way as the original data.


But you see chewy that is where things get tricky. While I agree no data is lost if the compression if done properly. The problems appear when the file is being unzipped on the fly with most programs and even on DAPs in general. I've found using cPlay in bit for bit with my DACport LX there is a noticeable difference between other programs that I use (J River, Media Monkey Gold, Foobar). What cPlay does is it properly unzips the file then stores it in memory cache before music playback and not doing it all on the fly. So its playing back a WAV file as it was intended. I notice improvements in the sound staging, and especially in the treble region. Its enough for me to be tempted to unzip my FLAC files on my Studio V and even DX100. But won't do so until memory capacity increases more and prices go down more :).


Edited by lee730 - 9/23/12 at 7:07pm
post #9 of 13

try the different players in a blind ABX - what you are describing is literally impossible.  if the decompression were failing, you wouldn't hear improvements in the treble, you'd hear major clipping and noise. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lee730 View Post


But you see chewy that is where things get tricky. While I agree no data is lost if the compression if done properly. The problems appear when the file is being unzipped on the fly with most programs and even on DAPs in general. I've found using cPlay in bit for bit with my DACport LX there is a noticeable difference between other programs that I use (J River, Media Monkey Gold, Foobar). What cPlay does is it properly unzips the file then stores it in memory cache before music playback and not doing it all on the fly. So its playing back a WAV file as it was intended. I notice improvements in the sound staging, and especially in the treble region. Its enough for me to be tempted to unzip my FLAC files on my Studio V and even DX100. But won't do so until memory capacity increases more and prices go down more :).

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Doug View Post

try the different players in a blind ABX - what you are describing is literally impossible.  if the decompression were failing, you wouldn't hear improvements in the treble, you'd hear major clipping and noise. 

 

 

That's my point. I've noticed situations such as this even on my Studio V with certain FLAC files (clipping) where it is a none issue in WAV form. I have done blind testing before and I still prefer cPlay. I just notice more detail in the songs with it (some are more apparent then others). Not sure why but I'm gonna stick with it. It's a bit of a hassle to have to manually pick each song but for musical enjoyment I feel it's well worth it. The only logical reason I could come up with for these differences is due to the programs decompressing the songs and doing something wrong in the process of doing it.


Edited by lee730 - 9/23/12 at 7:26pm
post #11 of 13

I've never had a problem with the buffer not keeping up. I can see how it could happen but it's never really happened to me before.

 

Like Doug said it wouldn't be a subtle difference if something was going wrong. But if you think it sounds better in a different player than more power to you.

 

I'm curious of what your methods of blind testing were though.

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post

I've never had a problem with the buffer not keeping up. I can see how it could happen but it's never really happened to me before.

 

Like Doug said it wouldn't be a subtle difference if something was going wrong. But if you think it sounds better in a different player than more power to you.

 

I'm curious of what your methods of blind testing were though.


My cousin was going back and forward between the players. We volume matched them before starting the test and I selected tracks that I am very familiar with and picked out the differences quite easily. Not only have I noticed inconsistencies between cPlay and the other players. The other players seem to have their own differences as well to the sound. Its bizzare and slight but noticeable. I actually prefer Media Monkey Gold because it has a very nice emphasis on the mid-range. J River and Foobar are sound about the same though. Everything is more distant, more blended in I guess (you could say more balanced).


Edited by lee730 - 9/23/12 at 7:49pm
post #13 of 13
You're gonna lose a lot of quality if you listen to WAV. That's because WAVs have headers in them that get in the way of seemless decoding. For uncompromised playback and absolute fidelity, you need to convert your music collection to raw PCM. Preferably on a RAMdisk.

wink.gif
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › FLAC vs CD quality difference