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AAC vs. Apple Lossless

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by el bishop, Oct 22, 2008.
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  1. El Bishop
    So I've been spending months -- whenever I think of it -- ripping my entire CD collection onto my new BIG drives, with the idea being that it's done once and for all. I strarted ripping them through iTunes using the AAC 128 or 256 kbt format. I just upgraded DAP to an iTouch (2nd gen) and got some Shure SE530s, which got me thinking . . . if I am really doing it once and for all, shouldn't I do it in a lossless format so I never regret and have to redo. I bit the bullet and starting redoing the hundreds of CDs I'd already ripped, with hundreds more to do after redoing those. I then got to thinking that I should really do some experimentation and figure out it it's worth it.

    I ripped the same album in both AAC 256 kbt and Apple lossless and listenend to chunks of tunes again and again side by side. I did blind testing. perhaps it's just me, but I really can't make out a difference. (shure se530s via iTunes on dell inspiron E1505).

    Is AAC really that good or do I have to listen harder?

    Thanks for any advice.
     
  2. chinesekiwi
    Well, I can hardly tell the difference between Ogg Vorbis -q8 and FLAC.

    But what's highly recommended is you burn it to FLAC or Apple Lossless (I recommend FLAC as it's less problematic than ALAC + encodes and decodes faster than ALAC) and then encode to AAC.

    Always rip to lossless, then burn into whatever format you want.
    Thing is hard drives are so cheap these days that not ripping to lossless onto a computer for storage reasons isn't much of an excuse anymore.

    Also what lossy formats do is that they trim off data at each end of the sound spectrum. It's your ability to notice that difference (dependant on your equipment and training of your own ears + the song's use of those parts of the sound spectrum) that's the real difference.
     
  3. bigshot
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by El Bishop /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Is AAC really that good or do I have to listen harder?



    You figured it out. The emperor is naked as a jaybird!

    See ya
    Steve
     
  4. freckling
    This overlaps a bit into what you're asking, so I think it'd be a good read for you.

    http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f133/1...erence-359999/

    I can tell the difference between 256 and Lossless, but it depends on which songs and if I use my speakers (my speaker gear is >>> my headphone gear). The quality of the recording itself makes a huge difference. At the end of the day, if you can't hear the difference then there is no difference, but if you have the HD space to burn, it doesn't hurt. FWIW, I don't subscribe to hearing differences in speaker cables, interconnects, CD players, etc.
     
  5. scompton Contributor
    I've never heard a difference between 128kbps AAC and lossless. There may be some piece of music out there that I could hear the difference, but I've given up finding it. Even if I could hear a subtle difference, I'd never load lossless on my iPod. 95% of the time I listen to my iPod, I'm in noisy environments, like the subway. The background noise, even with the best isolating IEMs, overwhelm any subtlety in the music.


    I am slowly reripping all of my CDs as lossless for an archive. That way if I get something other than an iPod in the future, that doesn't play AAC, I can convert to MP3 or what ever lossy format I need.
     
  6. El Bishop
    Thanks for the advice. I think with the cost of drive space, it makes sense to rip lossless and then never have a regret. Once that's done, I can encode to AAC for iPod and still preserve the lossless format on my drive? How does that work? -- sorry for what I'm sure is a dumb question and if someone can point me to a newbie thread, I would be very grateful.
     
  7. nc8000 Contributor
    If you use iTunes to rip into alac you can then change the ripping settings to like aac256 and then select your alac tracks in the songlist, right-click and choose convert to aac (well to whatever format you chose in the ripping settings). This will the create a second version of your songs in the new format while leaving the original in place. Then just drag the aac files onto your player
     
  8. BigTony
    Ripping to FLAC is the best idea, then you can use bulk convert to get it into the format for your portable player. Then you can point Ichoons to the directory with the mps (or whatever) and let it do its thing.
    I am simply too impatient to do this myself, and I went for a FLAC dap (Fuze) so I can simply drag n drop my music without transcoding etc. Fast, simply and effective. And to boot I rotate the music much more frequently, as it is so fast.
     
  9. krmathis Contributor
    AAC is one of the higher regarded lossy codecs, so no surprise that you found no audible difference between lossless and 256Kbps AAC.

    That said, since you rip once and for all, it makes sense going lossless. Since you then in the future can transcode to lossy, if needed, or even to a different lossless codec without any additional data loss.
    Enjoy! [​IMG]
     
  10. vranswer Contributor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nc8000 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    If you use iTunes to rip into alac you can then change the ripping settings to like aac256 and then select your alac tracks in the songlist, right-click and choose convert to aac (well to whatever format you chose in the ripping settings). This will the create a second version of your songs in the new format while leaving the original in place. Then just drag the aac files onto your player



    This is a solid choice, though when you do as suggested above know that iTunes will store the new files in the same album folder as the originals, appending a '1' to the file name.
     
  11. Chri5peed
    Rip to lossless, archival.



    I'd use Vorbis or mp3, but I've FLAC on my HDD, so it'd be odd not to use that. There are V0 mp3s and a few Q5 Vorbis on my D2.
     
  12. rotorrocket
    rip in FLAC and get a player that is compatible with the format
     
  13. krmathis Contributor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rotorrocket /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    rip in FLAC and get a player that is compatible with the format



    What a waste, since he just bought an iPod Touch... ** shakes head **
    Its quite obvious that the OP is better off with Apple Lossless and/or AAC, which are supported by the iPod Touch. Sound quality wise there are no difference between FLAC and Apple Lossless, but there are important differences compatibility wise...
     
  14. _j_
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by El Bishop /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Is AAC really that good or do I have to listen harder?



    I'm with you... I have spent much time wondering if AAC is really that good or if I have just spent too many hours at rock shows and dance clubs.

    About a year ago or so, I did like 10 brazilion blind A/B tests on AAC and Lossless formats and found near transparency for my ears and gear at 192 AAC VBR. This is regardless of on speakers, headphones, car you name it. If AAC 256 is doing it for you... roll with it! Our hearing will only get worse over time anyway [​IMG]

    Since my A/B tests, I have been encoding all new CDs to AAC 192 VBR format. Sometimes I come across a CD I might have ripped earlier on when using 320 MP3 and if I notice it I will then grab it and re-rip.

    I will be looking in the future to create a Lossless duplicate archive for easy conversion much like you suggest, but until I even attempt to figure out how much storage I will need (and then duplicate storage for back-ups)... I have a wall of CDs that grows more out of control by the day to stare at ~ the good 'ol physical back up.
     
  15. KMASCII
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by El Bishop /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Is AAC really that good or do I have to listen harder?



    Hmm... that's really a compromise between what pleases your ears and what kind of storage you've got. I'm one who does listen to flac on a Cowon. And I use AAC on the car stereo. Since you own the SE530's I'd have thought that you'd be able to hear the differences. So, I hope this isn't a bait for the 'ol format/sound quality debate. I've believe it to simply be personal preference.

    I'm afraid that I'm one of those who would claim to hear a difference. There is an annoying muddying of the details in the instruments. Instruments, in lossy AAC, just aren't as well defined as lossless. But really, do what pleases you. And for sure, you'll want to archive to a lossless format on your hard-drive.
     
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