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ALAC vs. FLAC

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by jonasras, Mar 5, 2013.
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  1. JonasRas
    Is Apple lossless as good as Free lossless audio codec? If not what's the differencen?
     
  2. nelamvr6
    They are equal, but it seems to me that FLAC is more widely accepted and used.
     
    They are both lossless and will sound identical.
     
    They are different in that they use different schemes to achieve compression.  Also, FLAC is open source and ALAC is not, it is controlled by Apple.
     
  3. JonasRas
    Thanks, I primarily use iTunes for all my music, so i think ALAC will suit me best.
     
  4. skamp
    ALAC was open sourced. FLAC compresses a little better. ALAC doesn't have any compression parameters.
     
  5. noahbickart
    I remember reading somewhere that Apple Lossless was optimized for battery life on decode. This might explain the slightly larger compressed files. But now, of course I can't find the link.
     
    There should be no difference in sound, because both FLAC and ALAC provide *bit identical* versions of the .wav or .aiff files from which they were made. You can text this yourself using ffp or md5 tests. Thus, users who use .wav, .aiff, .flac or  lossless .mp4 files (or a "redbook" cd) are all sending identical data streams to their respective DACs. Anyone who claims otherwise simply doesn't understand how digital audio works.
     
    I too use ALAC because I can use the files across all the devices I own and use for digital audio (macbook pro [itunes, fidelia, etc.], iPad, iPhone).
     
    Starkeyg likes this.
  6. jaddie
    Quote:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Lossless
     
    "Codec" section, last sentence.
     
  7. skamp
    FLAC decoding is so efficient, that point is probably moot.
     
  8. joseph69
    Hi, I am about to take all of Cd's and put them into my macbook pro to download them into my iTunes music library. when attempt to do this will my mac automatically use ALAC to convert my Cd's to my iTunes library, or do I have to choose this from an outside source, or choose it from a menu option on iTunes?
     
     I am totally new to this type of digital music playing, I currently use a Cd player but I want to use both, and I have been doing a lot of research on these different files, but still find it a little confusing being that I've never did this before. If I use iTunes initially to purchase music  and don't like the sound quality from iTunes and want to use another music streamer, can I convert to a different streamer and still use my music through iTunes menu?
     
    Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
     
  9. nelamvr6
    Quote:
     
     
    I stand corrected, ALAC is now open sourced.  Thanks for the info!
     
  10. scuttle
    Quote:

    That would be a question for an Apple forum - it isn't really a question about sound science, although you may get lucky and get an answer here. But basically, iTunes will do everything it can to lock you in to the Apple eco-system. There will probaly always be something you can do to get out of its stranglehold, but it will be stuff you find fiddly if you're not a confident computer user. Otoh, I don't think there isn't at all to be feared about the quality of playback through iTunes - and different player software would almost certainly use the same codecs (the underlying software things that turn eg mp3 into sound) and so sound the same anyway.
     
    But, you know, if you don't be locked in then you shouldn't buy Apple - because that's what they do and its not exactly a secret. It's the price you pay (along with the doubling of the cost of a decent laptop) for Appleness. Otoh, you probably bought Apple because everything works out of the box with no fuss - and it does work well. So I'd suggest that you relax and enjoy the Apple ride. For converting your CDs with iTunes, read this:
     
    http://www.macworld.com/article/1156861/howto_rip_cds.html
     
    ..I'd suggest converting your CDs as 240 or 320 AACs, btw, NOT ALACs. Nothing except Apple hw will play ALACs, and 240 and certainly 320 aac should sound identical but will be smaller and play on a wide range of DAPs.
     
  11. jaddie
    Quote:
     
    Click the iTunes menu, pick "Preferences", click "General" (should be the pane that comes up first), look down toward the bottom right side, for "Import Settings".  Click that, and in the next window, click the drop menu "Import Using", pick Apple Lossless Encoder, and "Setting" should be set to "Automatic".  That's it, you're set.  Everything you import will come in bit-perfect, Apple Lossless. 
     
    If by "Streamer" you mean an on-line purchase source, iTunes will play everything natively except FLAC and OGG.  If you want, there are ways to get iTunes to play FLAC but it's sort of a pain, or there are converters that will create bit-perfect AIF or Apple Lossless copies of your purchased FLAC files.  It's a bit of a google project for you...but there out there.  I found this:http://www.bigasoft.com/articles/how-to-convert-flac-to-apple-lossless-audio.html
     
  12. nelamvr6
    Quote:
     
     
    I understand that there is quite a debate about being able to hear the difference between lossless and lossy codecs, and I happen to know from personal experience that high bit rate lossy codecs are very good SQ wise.  I agree with you, most, if not all people will find 320 AAC files indistinguishable from ALACs or FLACs.
     
    But if you're going to go to all the trouble to rip ALL of your CDs, don't you think it's a good idea to maintain your archive is lossless form?  Then you can transcode with impunity if you want to put files on a device with less storage space.
     
    Hard drive space is dirt cheap right now, but time is always precious.  If you rip them right and store them as lossless, then you're done.  And if you rip them as ALAC and then discover that you're facing hardware that won't support it, you can transcode to FLAC with no problems.
     
    Personally, I'd choose FLAC because it's more widely supported, but the OP uses Apple hardware, and Saint Steven is still trying to protect his children from FLAC, even from beyond the grave...
     
  13. jaddie
    Quote:
    Yup.  Agreed.  Someday...perhaps...FLAC will be supported in iTunes.  Let's just say I've put in my request.  Until then, no good reason not to do Apple Lossless for iTunes rips.  
     
    Saint Steven...still going in and out of the garden???  With a rose???
     
  14. nelamvr6
    Quote:
     
     
    Of course, he wouldn't leave his rose behind, would he? 
     
  15. jaddie
    Quote:
    Well, since wherever he goes people all complain...you never know.  
     
    OK, we know the same tunes.
     
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