One thing that has constantly annoyed me on my own journey of discovery is the number of times people blindly recommend using lossless for a portable DAP.
Most times, those same people have never taken the time to actually abx different lossy formats (against lossless), so the same endless myth is perpetuated (that to truly enjoy music, you have to be listening to a lossless source). IMO the reality is that for most of us – if we take placebo out of the equation (by performing a blind abx), we can't actually tell the difference between aac256 or mp3 320 and lossless – if we use the same original source file for the re-encoding, and playback on the same audio system.
In fact far more important than the container is the actual mastering of the audio track.
I decided to write this quick guide because I often suggest people abx different lossy vs lossless music formats so they can make informed choices. However – I couldn't find a lot of really good how-to's readily available which set-out clearly how you should set up an abx. This is my attempt at a step-by-step guide on how best to perform the test. It is by no means a definitive guide – instead just what I have gleaned along the way. If anyone finds flaws in my method, or has other suggestions of better ways to achieve the end result – then please make comment. If I think the amendment is worth adopting, I'll edit the original how-to.
Lastly – for those who don't believe in abx testing, and yet state they can obviously tell a night and day difference just by listening ….... it's your prerogative, and I won't debate it. I'll will however continue to be skeptical (as in all cases I've found same people simply refuse to subject themselves to a proper abx – fear maybe?) – but I would ask you not to 'pollute this thread' with argument and debate. If you feel that strongly about it – go start your own thread. This thread is purely meant to be a how-to for those who are interested in setting up a simple abx. For the record, I do believe some people will be able to differentiate - but for the vast majority - not really (purely my opinion).
I'll cover in order:
Setting up ripping with EAC (Exact Audio Copy)
Tagging with mp3tag
Trans-coding with dbpoweramp
Running an abx with Foobar2000
In order to provide the screen-shots, I'm using a virtual XP machine (virtual box) and a laptop (my optical drive on my PC just died – so I'm awaiting a replacement). The reason I'm using this is so that I could then simulate a completely clean install. My main PC running Win8 already has these tools set-up the way I like them. For the purpose of this exercise, I preferred to start from scratch again so I could get the configurations right.
Next topic is EAC (ripping)