Noob codec question
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Crawdaddy

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Hi Folks,

I'm new to the world of digital audio players, but took the plunge and bought an iAudio x5L. It's not here yet, but can't wait to begin ripping files. I chose the x5 b/c of it's large codec support. But which one should I use to catalog my large CD collection?
Primary consideration is audio quality (have a pretty nice home rig that's spoiled me rotten - can't stand a lot of compression), second concern is technology longevity (I've heard that FLAC sounds great - but I'd hate to build a large FLAC library just to see the codec fade away).

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance,
Crawdaddy
 
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davidd

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FLAC will sound just like a cd, as it is a lossless format. FLAC's do take up a lot of space though, so you might want to use a lossy format like Ogg Vorbis instead, which to me sounds great at -q6
 
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vorbis is going to give the best file size and quality but as with every player that supports the format will result in less battery life than mp3
 
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blessingx

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As mentioned, converting from FLAC to CD/PCM to Apple Lossless to Monkey's Audio to WMA Lossless to AIFF to WAV, etc. will result in no quality loss, as they're all lossless. So there's no problem going with FLAC now and converting later.

That said, I haven't heard the X5, but from other players (Karma, iPod, etc.) I'd say do a few tests to verify you can hear the difference between lossless and lossy files. The iAudio gives you Ogg Vorbis and MP3 support so you may want to try LAME MP3s or .ogg first at verious settings. They take up significantly less space generally.
 
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BillC

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawdaddy
Hi Folks,

I'm new to the world of digital audio players, but took the plunge and bought an iAudio x5L. It's not here yet, but can't wait to begin ripping files. I chose the x5 b/c of it's large codec support. But which one should I use to catalog my large CD collection?
Primary consideration is audio quality (have a pretty nice home rig that's spoiled me rotten - can't stand a lot of compression), second concern is technology longevity (I've heard that FLAC sounds great - but I'd hate to build a large FLAC library just to see the codec fade away).

Any suggestions?



I bought the X5 primarily because of the flac support. I was in the same position as you with a large CD collection. While the good lossy codecs sound very good I decided that the time to rip my CDs was more valuable than buying some extra storage and I only want to rip my CDs once. So I'm ripping everything to lossless so that there's no reason to re-rip later. The reason I'm ripping to flac is that because flac is open source it's widely implemented. If it were to fade away in the future I'm sure that transcoding solutions would be implemented.

If you do choose to rip to flac for similar reasons, you owe it to yourself to learn about Exact Audio Copy and/or dbPowerAmp. Both of these rippers support AccurateRip which lets you know that you've got a bit perfect rip from the CD. In my experience, EAC gives me good rips on CDs that dbPowerAmp can't read accurately but it's slower. So I use both.
 
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Crawdaddy

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"So there's no problem going with FLAC now and converting later."


...I take this to mean that I can change a files codec later? (assuming lossless to lossy) How do I do this? Is there special softwear required...or do I just burn the files to a CD and re-rip using a different codec?

Thanks!
 
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waffenschmidt

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawdaddy
But which one should I use to catalog my large CD collection? Primary consideration is audio quality (have a pretty nice home rig that's spoiled me rotten - can't stand a lot of compression), second concern is technology longevity (I've heard that FLAC sounds great - but I'd hate to build a large FLAC library just to see the codec fade away).


Given the low cost of hard drives, I suggest you rip your CDs once and store them on your hard drive in any lossless format - FLAC, APE, WAV, whatever. As blessingx noted, you can convert from one lossless format to another without affecting quality, so it really doesn't matter. Personally, my guess is that FLAC will be around for a long time, so that's what I've chosen.

As to the question of what to use on your player, only you can answer that. If you feel that any lossless compression is too much of a compromise, stick with FLAC. Personally, I use MP3 (LAME --preset extreme). Ogg vorbis uses more processor power, and has not proven to be better than MP3 at high bitrates anyway. And MP3s play on more players, so if you buy another one - and you will if you hang around here - you won't have to maintain multiple libraries (just FLAC and MP3).

If you have a large collection you're not going to be able to fit it all on on any DAP at a reasonable quality level. So rip everything to FLAC, store it on your computer, and trans-code to your format of choice for use on your DAP (or DAPs as the case may be).
 
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waffenschmidt

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawdaddy
"So there's no problem going with FLAC now and converting later."


...I take this to mean that I can change a files codec later? (assuming lossless to lossy) How do I do this? Is there special softwear required...or do I just burn the files to a CD and re-rip using a different codec?

Thanks!



Not meaning to respond for blessingx, but yes, you can change from one lossless format to another without loss (thus "lossless") and from any lossless format to lossy. dbpoweramp is one program that supports multiple codecs, and allows you to convert from one to another.

No need to re-burn or re-rip if you store your "masters" on a hard drive as FLACs or in some other lossless format. Heck, I store them on my hard drive just to protect my investment if I lose the original CDs to a thief.
 
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pretzelb

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Just curious ... about how much space does a FLAC rip take? I'm guessing it's about 2x to 4x the size of an mp3. So a 20gb player with FLAC is going to hold a similar amount of music as a 5gb player with mp3.
 
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Crawdaddy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by BillC
If you do choose to rip to flac for similar reasons, you owe it to yourself to learn about Exact Audio Copy and/or dbPowerAmp. Both of these rippers support AccurateRip which lets you know that you've got a bit perfect rip from the CD. In my experience, EAC gives me good rips on CDs that dbPowerAmp can't read accurately but it's slower. So I use both.


Doesn't Jet SHell transfer bit-for-bit using lossless codecs? I don't have the player / software yet to play with - otherwise I'd try to answer my own question.

Thanks for the tip!
 
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I use "FLAC frontend" for encoding. It allows you to go forwards AND backwards (FLAC to WAV) at disgustingly high speeds. Decoding back to WAV takes like a second per song on a decent computer. Encoding isn't too much slower. I personally think that using it on a portable device is a bit wasteful, MP3 still wins in my eyes due to size and compatibility. If you encode everything in ogg and then decide to get an ipod shuffle a carry-around-everywhere player, for example, you'll have to re-encode your entire library.
 
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Quote:

I take this to mean that I can change a files codec later?


You can always convert FLAC back to .wav and there would be no difference whatsoever from the original .wav file. I am currently doing this with all my CDs, then I am getting rid of them (except the ones I want for collectability sake). I am ripping my entire collection to FLAC and storing them on blank DVDRs. From there I can convert to mp3 or any other lossy format that comes along. The software I use to convert to FLAC (and vice versa) is FLAC Frontend. It's free and you can get it here. Maybe others know of other FLAC software.

Excellent choice for a player...I am looking at getting one myself.

PS - Are you the same Crawdaddy from the HTF?
 
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waffenschmidt

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawdaddy
Doesn't Jet SHell transfer bit-for-bit using lossless codecs? I don't have the player / software yet to play with - otherwise I'd try to answer my own question.

Thanks for the tip!



I don't know anything about JetShell, but EAC and a few other programs will rip in Secure mode, which decreases the probability that you'll end up with errors in your rips.

See this site for step-by-step instructions for performing high-quality rips and creating high-quality MP3s using free programs.
 
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blessingx

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Quote:

Originally Posted by pretzelb
Just curious ... about how much space does a FLAC rip take? I'm guessing it's about 2x to 4x the size of an mp3. So a 20gb player with FLAC is going to hold a similar amount of music as a 5gb player with mp3.


It's but one example, but you can see some files sizes here. AAC settings can be used for calculating any CBR size. FLAC setting would approximately equal most lossless compression codecs (give or take a bit).
 
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