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format for the long term use

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I am planning to rip most of my CD collection. I am using Mac powerbooks now streaming to Devialet (need to use itunes at least presently). I assume that I need to devote a computer solely for audio soon but I am also thinking to set up a 2nd system. I am excluding anything Microsoft OS but I am tempted by a Linux system.
I consider ripping not an enjoyable enterprise - so I want to do it only once and I want to avoid to have to convert from one codec to another one in the future. I made a few ripping tests with Max, XLD and itunes (not quite sure yet what I prefer). As far I could gather:
FLAC quite universal also as high res. downloads but not for itunes (I found a Flac player for itunes but for phones and pads)
ALAC works with itunes but how about linux
AIFF again works with Mac but what about linux
WAV (try to avoid MS) and tag problems?
there a lot more (obscure) formats
Ideally I would rip into itunes with AIFF or ALAC and on an external drive with FLAC at the same time but as far I can see neither XLD nor Max can do that.
What is the best guess which format will survive more than a few years?
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  1. wgscott's Avatar
    I use ALAC since I use all apple products, but that is the only reason to prefer it to FLAC. If you are thinking about Linux, then FLAC is definitely a better option. Players like Audirvana do FLAC, and, despite what you may think, converting FLAC to ALAC isn't hard at all. XLD will do it recursively, so you can set it up and let it chew its way through your library while you sleep.

    FLAC is sort of the esperanto of containers. Nobody actually uses it, but everyone acknowledges it is the most rational option.
  2. EuroChamp's Avatar
    FLAC and ALAC are open source standards.

    Some of the Mac/iTunes/iPhone users are using ALAC, because they have to. All others are using FLAC. And a few prefer WAV/AIFF.

    But you have the option to convert from one to the other. Almost all players can read all formats, so even mixed music collections are allowed.

    I'm using FLAC.

    Enjoy listening,

  3. Julf's Avatar
    As has already been stated, FLAC is the only serious open standard. Whatever systems we have in 10 years, they will be able to read FLAC, or there will be converters able to read FLAC.

    I keep all my music in FLAC (apart from the ones I only got as mp3).

    WAV has major issues with metadata, making it less suitable.
  4. MetalNuts's Avatar
    Different person prefers different format due to the operating system they used. I have the pain of initially using FLAC then switching to WAV that means ripping all over again.

    I would say to use WAV and AIFF would be the best as the archive and then make a working copy of whatever format you want, say FLAC. Both WAV and AIFF are non-compressed lossless format which theoretically should contain more information than the other formats.
  5. Julf's Avatar
    And FLAC is just as lossless as WAV or AIFF. The compression (lossless!) is a bonus in that it allows you to store double the amount of music. But as I said earlier, WAV has problems with metadata, making it less useful as archival format. Why did you have to switch to WAV from FLAC?
  6. MetalNuts's Avatar
    As I said, every person has its own preference for format according to the OS (and should include software as well), the metadata problem does not affect me at all in my system.

    I, like many others, find WAV sounds better and I prefer to use WAV both as the archive and the working copy.
  7. Julf's Avatar
    Sure, if you think you hear a difference, then WAV is a better for you. But in recommending WAV as an universal archival format I think it is fair to point out that there is no agreed standard way to support tags in WAV files. It might work in the program you are using, but it is not portable nor future-proof.

    Here is what Spoon from dbpoweramp stated: "we write 2x tags WAVE LIST & Wave ID3v2, these are the two standards, but not hugely used. You really are better using something like WMA Lossless."
  8. Mark Powell's Avatar
    It is the most 'universal'. As for not liking Microsoft, it was jointly developed by Microsoft and IBM. Don't you like IBM either? Anyway, prejudices or not (we all have them), all methods, with the exception of FLAC are 'proprietary' to some corporation or another. But at least WAV is now so old that it has become a sort of standard, which none of the others are. And everything can play it, which is not true of any of the others.

    Re metadata, WAV is perfectly capable, and always has been, of storing embedded metadata. It is hardly Microsoft/IBMs fault that many of these player companies don't use it, though some, such as JRiver, and Naim in their music servers/rippers, do. Personally I have not found externally stored metadata to be unreliable or lacking in portability.

    As for ALAC, Apple has got to be the least 'open' corporation in the world.
  9. wgscott's Avatar
    "As for ALAC, Apple has got to be the least 'open' corporation in the world."

    That may or may not be the case, but once again, you just simply don't get it.

    The point is that FLAC and now ALAC are "open" in the sense that the source code for these codecs and libraries is available and unrestricted.

    If you would like to learn a bit more about what this means, start here.

    By the way, did you eat a lot of British beef in the early 1990s?
  10. Mark Powell's Avatar
    I did see a couple of months ago that Apple finally 'opened' ALAC. I suspect reluctantly, as it was nearly as unpopular as Windows Lossless, and they had to to get any support at all.

    No, but I suspect my wife did :) Didn't know her then, but recently she criticised the price of my nice new DAC.
  11. monteverdi's Avatar
    I presently I would tend to FLAC but I must use iTunes for now as it is the only player supported by Devialet Air. Devialet sounds much better via WiFi than optical (glass) and any audio software I tried.

    There is Fluke for Mac but it is restricted to 16bit/44.1kHz. I also don't know whether it is a simple format converter (XLD or Max can do that) or a plug in which leaves the format intact.
  12. rmva's Avatar
    Fun, never thought we would talk about 'Bovine spongiform encephalopathy' on here.... it's the reason I like AIFF on my Macs :)
  13. wgscott's Avatar
    I find the new-variant Jacob-Kreutzfeld player, when combined with AIFF, gives a very open, airy and cerebral sound-stage.
  14. rmva's Avatar
    didn't try the JKPlayer yet, just find 1411 kbps tickles my synapses O so nice :)

    Seriously though (moo), on Mac I use AIFF, but would use ALAC in a sec. if space becomes an issue.