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Flac Zero compression vs WAV

I have copied wav files vs flac. I preferred WAV. My intention was to use flac so i could access album artwork etc via computer audio.

NOTE

It is true you do require a decent system and I do mean system as a whole including cables. What i mean is you don't want a component to change the sound but enhance it in terms of music sounding more real (thats it) Hearing subtle things you struggled to hear before ( or never noticed was there) Yes dynamics and bandwidth are important but second to realism as your system just may not be capable of this but it is capable of realism.

 

 

Back to the topic as I would like to state my findings.

I did kind flac the same and sometimes better once copied from cd using various programs xld being the one settled with. I found it easier to use as it offered multi formats in one rip (pretty cool) what made the big difference was copying flac with zero compression. 70% compression is the recommended minimum where you can not supposedly tell the difference in sound quality. I tried 100% compression which confirmed this. I then tried zero compression and wow better still. So for me FLAC is better sounding than WAV. Why ? at first I thought there was less bass and the Db had gone down slightly. But then quickly realise the stopping and starting of bass notes were quicker without loss of bass. There was more separation and you could pick where musicians changed the timing and low to high volumes put into the recording more easily.

I could be wrong but I will say check for yourself if your system is up to it.

Test carried out using memory sticks (flash) Hard drive ssd vs hdd

Amps SS vs Valve

DACs via Streamer vs Computer

 

 

The results seemed to be consistent for me, even though different components were used so flac is the way to go now (just a note if you can find a recording that was save in 24/96 or 24/192 it will sound better (more real) than 16/44 cd quality again providing your system is up to it.

 

 

Digital computer audio is another game altogether

You have adnaco fibre optic, Galvanic isolation, I2S , Battery powered USB, Asynchronous, streamers, Ethernet to USB, USB to SPDIF converters

If you don't know what all of the above are i would help to look into it.

 

 

If you have a DaC with usb input then try loading one of your favorite songs with as many formats as possible and try playing them from a memory stick if your DaC allows this.

This levels the playing field somewhat in blind listening. You will be using the same source and equipment throughout if not use a decent USB to SPDIF converter via your computer using a decent platform like J River or Amarra but use the basic settings.

If you are not able to do either of the above then stick with 16/44 and LP playback for now.

 

 

Computer audio is moving at a rapid pace but just like Analogue audio you can get a decent system put together for very little cost in audio terms I mean

The same goes for computer audio equipment.

 

 

The problems start when you wish to go Hi End. Equipment matching and choice will require extreme caution an experience to get that last 20% out of your sound. You really only want to outlay this hard earned cash once but you can so easily go sideways or worse backwards in sound quality and even worse still not realising it. It is always good to keep the equipment you fell in love with one day you may take it out of the loft and wonder why you gave it up. If you are lucky and wise you should say I still love the sound but what i have now has it all and more with much more realism.

A man said to me one of the best hi fi upgrades was a good ear syringe cleaning. Dont be fooled listen to your ears preferably at low listening levels so your room does not become a compromise to the sound.

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Nevertheless, among those that do hear a difference between .wav and .flac, almost invariably they prefer the original .wav file. Low level ambience and low level HF detail is better with the original .wav file unless your PC is extremely quiet electrically, in which case the differences become very hard to reliably pick.

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I concur with sandyk I've tried em all and all my files are original WAV. Always found WAV smoother, easier to listen to. Mind you margin of difference is close. I wouldn't get to hung up on it. Its just I will take any advantage towards better sound.

 

I note that some Hires download sites now offer files in WAV as well as flac. Large storage is cheap.

 

Robert

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Nevertheless, among those that do hear a difference between .wav and .flac, almost invariably they prefer the original .wav file. Low level ambience and low level HF detail is better with the original .wav file unless your PC is extremely quiet electrically, in which case the differences become very hard to reliably pick.

 

Alex, are you including uncompressed FLAC in your comments? The reason often offered for the superior sound of WAV over FLAC is the effect of the processing required to decompress FLAC files. That would not apply to uncompressed FLAC. The reason to use uncompressed FLAC, of course, is for better handling/retention of metadata.

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I note that some Hires download sites now offer files in WAV as well as flac. Large storage is cheap.

 

Robert

 

Robert

My preference in that case would be for the .wav files to be provided as Uncompressed Zips as Cookie Marenco from Blue Coast Recordings does. As Roch (elcorso) pointed out to me, and insisted that I try for myself, the results are a little better for downloading and saving of .wav files by this method.

 

Regards

Alex

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Alex, are you including uncompressed FLAC in your comments? The reason often given for the superior sound of WAV over FLAC is the effect of the processing required to decompress FLAC files. That would not apply to uncompressed FLAC. The reason for using uncompressed FLAC, of course, is its superior handling of metadata.

 

Allan

I don't need metadata, and if I feel the need for artwork I include it in the folder. You are also neglecting the extra processing required to convert them from .wav to whatever flavour of .flac you desire in the first place.

Non compressed .flac is likely to sound a little better than heavily compressed .flac though, as reported.

Why do any more processing than you need to ? As far as I can see, the only way to make .wav files sound better resides with the DAC, and the type of internal/ output filtering used. Charles Hansen has made comments in the area of minimum filtering too, IIRC. It will be interesting to see more user reports about his approach with Pono coming in.

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Allan

I don't need metadata, and if I feel the need for artwork I include it in the folder. You are also neglecting the extra processing required to convert them from .wav to whatever flavour of .flac you desire in the first place.

Non compressed .flac is likely to sound a little better than heavily compressed .flac though, as reported.

Why do any more processing than you need to ? As far as I can see, the only way to make .wav files sound better resides with the DAC, and the type of internal/ output filtering used. Charles Hansen has made comments in the area of minimum filtering too, IIRC. It will be interesting to see more user reports about his approach with Pono coming in.

 

The 'extra processing' to convert WAV to uncompressed FLAC is usually done offline at the ripping stage prior to playback. OTOH, with compressed FLAC, the decompression is done in real time. Most people want metadata for their ripped albums as they no longer have access to CD booklets.

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Most people want metadata for their ripped albums as they no longer have access to CD booklets.

Allan

I presume that you mean ready access to CD booklets ?

If you want to see album covers, especially at large screen size due to degraded eyesight with age, then you also need to use a display. Why then do many media players give you the option to even turn off integral displays while playing audio ?

As most video displays also use SMPS technology , you then risk subtle degradation of the audio, both directly and via rubbish injected back into the mains.

 

Regards

Alex

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Allan

I presume that you mean ready access to CD booklets ?

If you want to see album covers, especially at large screen size due to degraded eyesight with age, then you also need to use a display. Why then do many media players give you the option to even turn off integral displays while playing audio ?

As most video displays also use SMPS technology , you then risk subtle degradation of the audio, both directly and via rubbish injected back into the mains.

 

Regards

Alex

 

Alex, please. What good is unready access to CD booklets when you are listening to music and want information about an album or track? Re album art, etc. you are forgetting about tablets (or smartphones, I suppose). While I have a monitor attached to my music server that I use occasionally for maintenance, etc., I always turn it off when listening to music. Control of my music player and viewing of album/track information is done via a wireless iPad Mini running JRemote.

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I use AIFF. Uncompressed goodness with support for metadata. Best of both worlds.

 

Sure, if it works for you. I have no use for Apple's proprietary formats. And I won't let iTunes near my computer.

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Sure, if it works for you. I have no use for Apple's proprietary formats. And I won't let iTunes near my computer.

 

I use JRiver (not iTunes) and AIFF is no more a proprietary format of Apple's than WAV is a proprietary format of Microsoft/IBM.

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I use JRiver (not iTunes) and AIFF is no more a proprietary format of Apple's than WAV is a proprietary format of Microsoft/IBM.

 

WAV also happens to be the standard format of all CDs. If you run a Windows PC based server, there is no reason to use any of Apple's formats.

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Allan

As I said previously, if I want album art etc. I save them in the same folder and the last thing I want is extra data embedded in the actual music file.

You sound a little like a closet vinyl junkie that still longs for the days of big vinyl record covers, but can't be bothered getting off your tail to find them.(grin) Is it any wonder that so many couch potatoes worldwide are obese ?

I have heard systems as you described and they just don't do it for me.

I prefer the "K.I.S.S." principle, and don't feel the need for external servers and wireless remote control either .

Neither do I feel the need for access to music in every room of the house, including the Dunny.

IYMMV.

 

Alex

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WAV also happens to be the standard format of all CDs. If you run a Windows PC based server, there is no reason to use any of Apple's formats.

 

It is my understanding that audio CDs do not contain WAV files. They contain raw PCM data which is put into a WAV or AIFF file when the disc is ripped. It may appear that there are WAV files on the disc when you put into your computer's drive but these are not actual files but shortcuts created by the operating system. Redbook standard CDs do not have files or a file system on them.

 

There is actually a very good reason to use the AIFF format if you are running a Windows based server as it allows you to store your music in an uncompressed format (raw PCM) with full support for metadata.

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Allan

As I said previously, if I want album art etc. I save them in the same folder and the last thing I want is extra data embedded in the actual music file.

 

Alex,

 

How do you play your music? I have over 65,000 songs in my music library and I'm not sure how I would keep it organized without metadata.

 

KK

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It is my understanding that audio CDs do not contain WAV files. They contain raw PCM data which is put into a WAV or AIFF file when the disc is ripped. It may appear that there are WAV files on the disc when you put into your computer's drive but these are not actual files but shortcuts created by the operating system. Redbook standard CDs do not have files or a file system on them.

 

There is actually a very good reason to use the AIFF format if you are running a Windows based server as it allows you to store your music in an uncompressed format (raw PCM) with full support for metadata.

 

Correct.

 

I was going to make the same comment about the use of the term "original WAV files." CDs contain raw PCM. WAV is a container.

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It is my understanding that audio CDs do not contain WAV files. They contain raw PCM data which is put into a WAV or AIFF file when the disc is ripped. It may appear that there are WAV files on the disc when you put into your computer's drive but these are not actual files but shortcuts created by the operating system. Redbook standard CDs do not have files or a file system on them.

 

There is actually a very good reason to use the AIFF format if you are running a Windows based server as it allows you to store your music in an uncompressed format (raw PCM) with full support for metadata.

 

I am well aware of that, and agree that either .aiff or .wav will do a similar job, but some still prefer .wav over .aiff due to the way the files are internally organised. ( Roch may care to expand on that ?) I have Zilch interest in metadata being included along with the music data.

As I said previously, I don't want external servers. I have 1,000s of songs stored too, but the vast majority rarely get played. I prefer to hear my favourites at the highest possible quality from Corsair Voyager GT USB memory sticks using high quality external +5V linear PSUs through my main system, or via a dedicated high quality DAC and Class A headphone amplifier from the PC when the family is home. I will shortly be fitting a 120GB SSD internally in my PC, along with a very high quality PSU add on to convert the +12 V SMPS to a squeaky clean, low impedance +5V to supply it.

This will supplement my Corsair Voyagers for PC listening via headphones. Occasionally I go through many of my other CDs, but many of them show their age, and just how far we have progressed with digital recordings, provided that the "Loudness Brush" hasn't been used.

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Heading back to sonic quality re flac vs wav (or aiff!) - do you get an improved sound if you convert the flac back to wav/aiff? (ie. you've just got the flac, not the original eg HDTracks). Worth doing for all flacs in storage?; & what's the best converter to use?

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Allan

As I said previously, if I want album art etc. I save them in the same folder and the last thing I want is extra data embedded in the actual music file.

You sound a little like a closet vinyl junkie that still longs for the days of big vinyl record covers, but can't be bothered getting off your tail to find them.(grin) Is it any wonder that so many couch potatoes worldwide are obese ?

I have heard systems as you described and they just don't do it for me.

I prefer the "K.I.S.S." principle, and don't feel the need for external servers and wireless remote control either .

Neither do I feel the need for access to music in every room of the house, including the Dunny.

IYMMV.

 

Alex

 

Alex, Alex, Alex, you always have to make everything so dramatic. Cover art typically doesn't contain any track information. As for not being bothered to get off my tail, I typically walk several miles most days. But, getting up to find a CD jewel box any time I want to look at a booklet is a r.p.i.t.a. and detracts from the listening experience. BTW, I haven't had any vinyl in over twenty years, so I hardly pine for those days. However, when I loaded CDs manually, I always had the jewel box and CD booklet handy. Besides, very few hi rez downloads come with pdf booklets, but most provide decent metadata.

 

If the type of system I've described doesn't do it for you, that's fine. Go listen to the same music files in a dozen different bit perfect formats, both copied and uncopied, to hear the differences instead. There is no need for metadata to do that. :)

Edited by Allan F

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Heading back to sonic quality re flac vs wav (or aiff!) - do you get an improved sound if you convert the flac back to wav/aiff? (ie. you've just got the flac, not the original eg HDTracks). Worth doing for all flacs in storage?; & what's the best converter to use?

 

Opinions vary on this. Computer science says that they should sound the same but the best way to tell is to convert a few files and see if you hear any difference. XLD on the Mac is my preferred tool for conversion between file formats.

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I have 1,000s of songs stored too, but the vast majority rarely get played. I prefer to hear my favourites at the highest possible quality from Corsair Voyager GT USB memory sticks using high quality external +5V linear PSUs through my main system, or via a dedicated high quality DAC and Class A headphone amplifier from the PC when the family is home. I will shortly be fitting a 120GB SSD internally in my PC, along with a very high quality PSU add on to convert the +12 V SMPS to a squeaky clean, low impedance +5V to supply it.

 

Perhaps some of that music would get some more air time if it were a little more accessible. :)

 

For me the real joy of CA is the ability to instantly play any album or song that I want. Nothing give me more pleasure than scrolling through my collection on my iPad (with cover art!) rediscovering albums that I haven't listened to in months or years.

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You sound a little like a closet vinyl junkie that still longs for the days of big vinyl record covers, but can't be bothered getting off your tail to find them.(grin) Is it any wonder that so many couch potatoes worldwide are obese

 

Actually your method of copying files onto a USB drive in order to play them sounds a little like the ritual that vinyl heads go through before they play a record.

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Actually your method of copying files onto a USB drive in order to play them sounds a little like the ritual that vinyl heads go through before they play a record.

 

They aren't copied there ,as copying .wav files to another location may degrade SQ a little. My best sounding stuff is ripped to there directly from my internal LG BR writer with it's JLH PSU add on. I just plug in a memory stick with the compilations that I wish to listen to. With my favourites, I store the full albums on Corsair Voyager GTs, otherwise I make compilations of the tracks I enjoy most by ripping only those tracks that I enjoy most. Many albums have only a few stand out tracks.

Perhaps some of that music would get some more air time if it were a little more accessible.

Not too much more would, as some of the stuff from the dawn of the CD format sounds quite poor compared with what we can do these days if there is a will to do so. In fact, I have to move to a new address in several months time, and I expect to turf out many of these older CDs that I no longer listen to. I have also amassed >300GB of high res material, but much of it also shows it's age and rarely gets played either. Don't forget that being retired, I get more opportunity than most to go through my collection. Musical tastes may also change with time.

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If you rip a CD for instance in single file wav with cue sheet you can just import metadata that is within the cue log. I use flac level 8 for most of my rips but for audiophile releases I rip using single file wav.

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