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A few questions about iTunes, 24-bit support, FLAC & AIFF. Help greatly appreciated!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

 

Hello

 

I have done a decent research and most topics I come across (from different sources in google) are pretty old or give me this feeling that cannot be trusted. So here I am in head-fi to ask you guys a few questions about iTunes.

 

First question is, does iTunes support 24-bit music? If so, in which of these formats (ALAC, FLAC, WAV, AIFF) ?

 

Second question, does iTunes support hi-res sample rates? If so, in which formats and how high?
If you could please answer in this format: 

 

ALAC up to xxx Khz
FLAC up to xxx Khz
WAV up to xxx Khz
AIFF up to xxx Khz

 

This post refers to the latest iTunes as of today which is version 11.1.4 (latest release as of January 2014).

 

Your input is greatly appreciated!

Thanks

post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 

Anyone?

post #3 of 9
Here's a partial answer. iTunes does support 24 bit in ALAC and AIFF. iTunes does not like FLAC, but there are a number of free lossless decoders you can use to convert to ALAC. I haven't tried wav files (native CD) but it likely does.

I've stored 192 and 96 kHz (24 bit) files in iTunes (ALAC and AIFF) that i've purchased from HDTracks. I don't really listen to these on iTunes on my pc, but I'm mostly using it just to manage my music before dragging the folders to my AK100.

I hope this was somewhat helpful.
Mark
post #4 of 9

iTunes does not support FLAC. iTunes fully supports ALAC. ALAC officially supports 384kHz. 

I don't know where iTunes maxes out on uncompressed audio, but can confirm it supports up to 655.35kHz.

 

Edit: iTunes supports ALAC and uncompressed PCM (at least) up to 32 bit depth.


Edited by brhfl - 1/24/14 at 8:26pm
post #5 of 9

Use winamp on your computer. Rockbox your ipod. If your computer is a mac. Well then find some mac audio program other than itunes thats more universal. Hopefully there is such a thing. 

 

If you're on a pc... Install winamp. grab the essentials addon for winamp from their site (google winamp essentials) and it plays everything.

You may also need to install the official flac codec to your computer. Google it. Get it from the official flac site. 

learn to set your winamp options to allow 24 bit ((so long as you know your sound card or dac supports it)) in the preferences menu under playback and also set your hz limits according to your equipment maximum in output settings.


Edited by rock&rollfrenchfries - 1/24/14 at 11:24pm
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkIV View Post

Here's a partial answer. iTunes does support 24 bit in ALAC and AIFF. iTunes does not like FLAC, but there are a number of free lossless decoders you can use to convert to ALAC. I haven't tried wav files (native CD) but it likely does.

I've stored 192 and 96 kHz (24 bit) files in iTunes (ALAC and AIFF) that i've purchased from HDTracks. I don't really listen to these on iTunes on my pc, but I'm mostly using it just to manage my music before dragging the folders to my AK100.

I hope this was somewhat helpful.
Mark

 

This was very helpful!

Glad to hear iTunes does not have any problems with your ALAC & AIFF purchases from HDTracks.

I have one remaining question for you, do you happen to know why HDTracks states on their website "If getting the very best sound is important to you, you'll want to choose FLAC audio files for your purchase. ?

I tried asking them, they said (after a bunch of off-topic stuff) because "...FLAC has more depth to the sound in a proper hi-res setup."

Honestly, I felt their answer was not as clear (since they spent one line out of the 40 they wrote back to answer this) and they stated to choose whichever format would make my life easier (AIFF or ALAC for iTunes in this case).

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by brhfl View Post
 

iTunes does not support FLAC. iTunes fully supports ALAC. ALAC officially supports 384kHz. 

I don't know where iTunes maxes out on uncompressed audio, but can confirm it supports up to 655.35kHz.

 

Edit: iTunes supports ALAC and uncompressed PCM (at least) up to 32 bit depth.

 

Glad to hear 192Khz wont be a problem and that iTunes is 32-bit ready (although in the sound playback options I can only choose between 16 and 24-bits).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rock&rollfrenchfries View Post
 

Use winamp on your computer. Rockbox your ipod. If your computer is a mac. Well then find some mac audio program other than itunes thats more universal. Hopefully there is such a thing. 

 

If you're on a pc... Install winamp. grab the essentials addon for winamp from their site (google winamp essentials) and it plays everything.

You may also need to install the official flac codec to your computer. Google it. Get it from the official flac site. 

learn to set your winamp options to allow 24 bit ((so long as you know your sound card or dac supports it)) in the preferences menu under playback and also set your hz limits according to your equipment maximum in output settings.

 

I used to use Winamp until iTunes because my music library manager due to my iPhone.

 

I checked out Rockbox, I cannot find iPhone support anywhere. I guess is not supported?

Btw, I use K-Lite Mega Codec Pack. Works great and I never had codec issues. To me, the best sounding player is Media Player Classic.


Edited by slim142 - 1/27/14 at 9:55pm
post #7 of 9
Slim142 - FLAC vs. other lossless formats is a raging debate and I'm certainly not qualified to weigh in. That said, to me lossless is lossless and how one type sounds may be more related to the software/ DAC. I have heard some folks say AIFF is faster to decode, but others say the clock cycles required is minimal (but the file size difference is enormous).

I don't have a specific thread to point you to, but they should be easy to find (along w/ folks ranting about lack of iTunes support for FLAC).

Mark
post #8 of 9

I have a rockboxed sansa that played both flac and alac and spent much time with it in the past. Alac files had a slight loading time to them while flac files played instantly. Also playing alac ran the battery down noticeably faster than playing flac files. on that particular device. It was definitely noticeable. Always a slight loading time for the alac and also a noticeable battery hit over flac.

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim142 View Post


Glad to hear iTunes does not have any problems with your ALAC & AIFF purchases from HDTracks.

 

Right, it's no big deal. If you opt not to transcode, 24 bit files at 44.1 and (I believe) 48 will go onto your iPhone as well. I personally have iTunes transcode everything to 256kbps AAC for my iPhone so I can a) get more on there; and b) not worry about maintaining separate copies of my higher res materials. It's a tradeoff that maximizes my on-the-go convenience, which works for me knowing I'm not going to be listening critically while I'm half-asleep on the train anyway.

 


I have one remaining question for you, do you happen to know why HDTracks states on their website "If getting the very best sound is important to you, you'll want to choose FLAC audio files for your purchase. ?

I tried asking them, they said (after a bunch of off-topic stuff) because "...FLAC has more depth to the sound in a proper hi-res setup."

Honestly, I felt their answer was not as clear (since they spent one line out of the 40 they wrote back to answer this) and they stated to choose whichever format would make my life easier (AIFF or ALAC for iTunes in this case).

 

HDTracks customer support is the pits. The few times I've dealt with them, their responses have ranged from vague non-answers to approaching beratement. Compare to the fine folks at, say, eClassical, who ask for customer opinions and take the time to write thoughtful responses... Dealing with HDTracks is... unpleasant in most regards.

 

As was mentioned above, if there's any difference in the 'quality' of lossless, it would be in how capable a processor is in decoding it. A computer these days shouldn't really choke on either. While there is software to play FLAC on the iPhone, I'd be really surprised if it managed to decode it as effectively as the inbuilt ALAC decoder.

 

Since the data is, in fact, lossless, and issues should only really present themselves when decoding on-the-fly, buying in one format and converting to another (say, for sites that only offer FLAC), should be a non-issue.

 

Glad to hear 192Khz wont be a problem and that iTunes is 32-bit ready (although in the sound playback options I can only choose between 16 and 24-bits).

 

If your DAC presented itself as accepting 32 bit streams, then the option should show up. Otherwise, iTunes will accept the files and the system will dither down accordingly.

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