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Is there a difference between an .aiff/.wav downloaded from the Internet and one ripped from a CD?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Note: I am assuming this is the right forum to start this thread in, but I am not 100% sure. I consider this a sound science question because it involves interpreting sound obtained in one way in comparison to interpreting it obtained in another way.

 

I have read threads in the past about how ripped copies of tracks from CDs in lossless formats are slightly lesser in quality than the original copies on the CD, but now I am wondering if there is a difference between copies downloaded from the Internet and ones on a CD. I am assuming that a lossless track downloaded from the web is a perfect copy, considering there is no grey area to consider (the quality of the CD, how efficient your DVD ROM drive is, what program you are using to rip and how well that works). I buy music from sites such as Beatport, Discogs, and Bandcamp, all of which seem to give pleasing results. I guess I am trying to ask, what is the difference between how you obtain lossless music from the web and how you obtain it from a CD? I know, there is a bunch of technical stuff that goes into ripping music from a CD, but how do online music stores sell lossless music?


Edited by kirbydoo - 1/13/13 at 10:11am
post #2 of 12
CD audio is a bunch of numbers. Ripping to aiff/wav copies these numbers to a file. Sending the file over the Internet copies it to another computer. You end up with exactly the same numbers. And your DAC doesn't care where they come from.

CDs, HDDs and network equipment use correction codes which can detect 99,9..some nines% of random storage/transmission errors. It's very unlikely that you will end up with a single flipped bit.

And even if you end up with an error, you will hear it as some ugly clicks. If somebody tells you that you need silver network cable to send audio over the Internet without loss in bass authority and treble clarity, you can safely ignore him.
post #3 of 12

Think of it the same way as downloading a book, is there a difference in the information content of a hardcover and a book you bought for your kindle?

 

Now, granted, in some more disreputable corners the book you'll download will be a dirty pdf scan with smudged letters, but that's only because the content provider/poster isn't doing a very good job.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hmm... This is all good stuff for me to consider. Thanks!

post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by anetode View Post

Think of it the same way as downloading a book, is there a difference in the information content of a hardcover and a book you bought for your kindle?

 

Now, granted, in some more disreputable corners the book you'll download will be a dirty pdf scan with smudged letters, but that's only because the content provider/poster isn't doing a very good job.

 

Except there are no smudged letters in this case. It's like scanning a punchcard or Braille book - it's 100% reliable and literally lossless, unless the medium being scanned is awfully dirty or damaged. And when this is the case and an error happens, it's in now way subtle - it significantly changes the meaning.
Edited by mich41 - 1/13/13 at 4:26pm
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mich41 View Post

 

Except there are no smudged letters in this case. It's like scanning a punchcard or Braille book - it's 100% reliable and literally lossless, unless the medium being scanned is awfully dirty or damaged. And when this is the case and an error happens, it's in now way subtle - it significantly changes the meaning.


Yup, or the much more common transcoding which basically results in a flawless lossless rendering of an already compressed file (e.g. distortion, 16khz cut-off - smudged letters).

post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirbydoo View Post

Note: I am assuming this is the right forum to start this thread in, but I am not 100% sure. I consider this a sound science question because it involves interpreting sound obtained in one way in comparison to interpreting it obtained in another way.

 

I have read threads in the past about how ripped copies of tracks from CDs in lossless formats are slightly lesser in quality than the original copies on the CD, but now I am wondering if there is a difference between copies downloaded from the Internet and ones on a CD. I am assuming that a lossless track downloaded from the web is a perfect copy, considering there is no grey area to consider (the quality of the CD, how efficient your DVD ROM drive is, what program you are using to rip and how well that works). I buy music from sites such as Beatport, Discogs, and Bandcamp, all of which seem to give pleasing results. I guess I am trying to ask, what is the difference between how you obtain lossless music from the web and how you obtain it from a CD? I know, there is a bunch of technical stuff that goes into ripping music from a CD, but how do online music stores sell lossless music?


If the webstore uses a proper/undamaged CD to rip the files, there should not be any difference between them and something you ripped yourself.

post #8 of 12

Hello!

 

Without missing any chance, I would like to ask if let's say I download a 320 bit rate MP3 format, I then converted it to WAV, are there any differences between my converted music and CDs? Personally, with my IEM, I find it a massive improvement from mp3 to wav. 

 

Thanks!

Billson smily_headphones1.gif

post #9 of 12

MP3 converted to WAV still sounds like MP3, you cannot get the original lossless sound back. However, MP3 decoded to 24-bit has a very small (normally inaudible) advantage over MP3 decoded to 16-bit, because the noise from an extra 16-bit quantization is avoided; this also allows for reducing the decoding level slightly to avoid clipping, without any real loss of dynamic range. So, MP3 played as MP3 with 24-bit output resolution is technically better (even if not to an extent to really matter in practice) than MP3 converted to CD quality WAV.


Edited by stv014 - 1/15/13 at 4:08am
post #10 of 12

While you're right, I think it's completely irrelevant. Noise introduced by mp3 encoding is somewhere around ~30 dB below the RMS level of the signal.

 

Converting mp3 to wav is a waste of space and quite pointless.

post #11 of 12
Dang it! Lol... Guess I'm better off downloading FLAC then. How about FLAC to ALAC? Since it's the same thing, shouldn't be a problem. Right? smily_headphones1.gif
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillsonChang007 View Post

Dang it! Lol... Guess I'm better off downloading FLAC then. How about FLAC to ALAC? Since it's the same thing, shouldn't be a problem. Right? smily_headphones1.gif


CD -> Lossless Compression (FLAC / ALAC / APE / WMA Lossless) -> Decode = CD

 

CD -> Lossy Compression (MP3 / AAC)  -> Decode =/= CD

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