It IS Lossless compared to the CD. Converting a FLAC file back to WAV will give you exactly the same file as if you ripped from the CD to WAV in the first place.
No signature worth mentioning...
BTW - I got corrected - converting to FLAC or any other "lossless" process isn't "lossless" - rather it's a case of "no more losses" becuase your starting poitn is usually a downsampled CD rather than the studio tapes (or files).
Yes, but we don't have access to the studio tapes or files, so all we can consider is the chain from the starting point where we acquire it....
I could tell you the story about the 1960s BBC Chief Engineer (my grandfather) who smuggled the back-up 4-track tapes of BBC studio sessions by some extremely successful "popular beat combos" (as Pete Murray used to call them) of the era home for his son, and the later wife of said son who threw them out with the rubbish when they moved to Jersey in 1968....
As you asked for the 'best way' quality here we go:
- format should be FLAC. it's a complete, open standard for losless compression including good support for meta-data
- for high quality rips you need a so-called 'secure rip', which basically (tries to) makes sure you get a bit-perfect rip. this means it needs to handle reading from the audio cd a little bit differently than your average player. EAC is (on the pc) on of the best programs for this. Although not very user-friendly it has very sophisticated algorithms for doing so, and can even adjust to your specific CD-ROM player which is important for correcting (small) errors in lead in's etc.
- to be able to reconstruct an audio CD from ripped FLAC's you need a so-called 'cue file'. So you really want software that creates such a file during ripping. with proper cd-burn software this is the *only* way to reproduce an audio cd which is completely the same as the original. bad thing is that cue files are not really a hard defined standard, so I've written some post-processing scripts that make sure the generated cue file (I use EAC) is correct.
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No, actually you don't, if your rip matches checksums with the AccurateRip database you have a bit-perfect rip, it is IMPOSSIBLE for two different machines to each imperfectly rip a CD with different errors to produce the same checksum and equally impossible for two different machines to read two different copies of the same CD to produce the same error thereby giving the same checksum. There's an interesting article on the net somewhere from a bloke who tested ripping on ten different machines, all with different OS and different CD/DVD drives and ALL of them produced bit-identical rips of the same CD, the only explanation for that is that they are all perfectly ripping the cd. Therefore you only need to secure rip if you don't get a match from AccurateRip (usually because the CD is damaged in some way or if the CD isn't in the database, that's happened to me once).
Why would you need to do that if you're ripping from the original CD in the first place?
Hah, of course you don't, but I myself like the idea that I'm able to reproduce the original CD if needed. It's not the first time I lost one
Well that's not a bad point, but I don't understand why you can't just create the CD from the FLAC files without a cue file? I'm sure I've done that in the past (although possibly only once).
I think my mum was lucky to make it from Southampton to St Helier without having to swim the last half of the ferry crossing, let's put it that way
Is it possible to convert from FLAC to ALAC and vice versa (I now have a PC, but I might change to Apple in the future)?
Risk of losing metadata doing so?
Yes dbPowerAmp can do that.
But unless your switch to a Mac means you're also going to sell your soul to iTunes, there's no reason to convert to ALAC simply because you're Macced-up. Macs like FLACs, too, and anyway the likes of Max will convert almost any format into almsot any other format for you if/when you are on a Mac.
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Best way to do it is with an iso image / cue etc. especially as microsoft listened to my request (probably others) and built automount iso into win 8.
Flac seems fine for storage and I don't have so many issues with it other than playback, so to store it's a good option and very compatible.
During playback software uses CPU to convert, ISO is already there. I mean if jplay makes a difference over foobar. Mind you, you can fully isolate things and buffer nowadays so...?
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