Thanks everyone for your help. One thing I mentioned in my original post was the difference in bit rates (?) of 1411kps for WAV and around 1000kps for ALAC and flac. I see that there are different opinions on whether or not there is any difference SQ wise between these codecs but surely a jump from 1000 to 1400 or so makes a difference to the quality of the final result?
Any thoughts on that one?
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That's just the compression. If ALAC and FLAC maintained the 1411 kbps bit rate, there would be no compression, and thus no benefit to the process at all.
While maintaining that they don't hear differences Linn concede that on-the-fly conversion (which is what lossless/lossy audio requires) can possibly affect playback. And they pride themselves on being an engineering company.
So while you're quick to dismiss, feel free to dispense with the dogma as well.
That's just called covering your back, and if I was one of Linn's marketeers of course I'd say something similar. But I personally don't have to worry about potantially alienating a proportion of my customer-base by shouting at the top of my voice that the emperor has no clothes.
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No there are none. The only reason FLAC/ALAC result in a smaller bitrate is because the lossless compression means that the same data (in a compressed format) takes up less space on the disk. So to use your figures, it's being pulled off the disc at around 1000kbps and then unzipped to its full size. The compressed file is still EXACTLY the same as the uncompressed WAV of the same file. And if a streamer/playback device is somehow compromising that stream of bits purely because it has to uncompress it on the fly, then it's time for the device's designers to go back to their drawing board.
I think I will use the utility of dbpoweramp to rip to WAV for home stereo use and ALAC for my iPod. I will also do flac rips as well to future proof should I get a different portable music player or phone in the future. Any 24 bit downloads I will purchase in WAV and convert as necessary. Providing this software does in fact store artwork/metadata as has been suggested.
A lively and very informative debate! Thanks again everybody.
In regards to SQ difference, mathmatically FLAC and ALAC are lossless, and all of the data is recovered upon decompression HOWEVER subtle differences CAN be heard upon playback in revealing systems. Nothing to do with the data itself but due to the fact that any additional conversion does increase workload/noise that neighbouring circuitry in the streamer will be subtly affected by. Despite computer technolgy integrating into Hifi it does not banish the engineering principles on the effect of noise (electrical, rf or mechanical) impeding component performance in audio design.
Although that is true in principle, the effect runs both ways. Playing back WAV (as compare to A/FLAC) puts a slightly higher strain on the storage system and data throughput, increasing potential sources of electronic and mechanical noise. It is therefore certainly not a given that WAV will give a better playback result. (If any difference is even noticeable.)
More importantly, these factors become completely moot, if the DAC is not integrated into the streamer, but is a separate isolated component. In that case the the digital input to the DAC is identical between the different codecs, and the analog signal leaving the DAC is as likely to be influenced by the processor of the streamer as it is by the mobile phone in your pocket (or one of the other million sources of electronic noise in your house or your neighbor's).
Those were not Linn marketeers but engineers, I used to regularly follow the Linn forums. And their united preference is FLAC, so there's no reason why that would not be an objective statement.
Also, being a fairly regular follower of the Naim forums, you'll find a few owners who store their audio as FLAC on NAS drives but let the media server software decode to WAV before reaching the streamers, as they found they prefer the sound of WAV. And these are not lunatics.
And more importantly, they're not derided by other posters or owners. There's very little of the flaming I find here, and owners there are free of set agendas or dogma.
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I didn't intend to flame or insult, and if I came across that way, then sorry.
But the HiFi scene is so full of snake-oil it's untrue, and anyone who comes along and shouts "the emperor is naked" is called narrow-minded and has set agendas. Perhaps I'm being unfair because I have no experience of Linn's or other manufacturer's forums, but my possibly wrong opinion is that a manufacturer's forum is probably the last place I'd head if I wanted to steer clear of marketing bull**** dressed-up as pseudo-science.
Digital is not like analogue. It's quantifiable, measurable and exact. Bits are bits and bytes are bytes. Perhaps an engineer can explain in easy-to-understand language how the stream of bits have been corrupted/compromised on their way to the DAC purely because they've been extracted from a losslessly-compressed file which potentially put slightly extra strain on the processor. But until then I'll carry on using ALAC, happy in the knowledge that I have proved in my own tests that FLAC/ALAC uncompress to recreate the WAV with such absolute accuracy that the two waveforms mathematically cancel each other out when you invert one file's phase. But in the meantime, one thing I won't accept is someone hinting that if I can't hear the difference then it's just because my HiFi's rubbish.
A FLAC codec is a repeatable software process that takes a PCM input and coverts it into a losslessly compressed container (and vice versa)
For a given input the result will always be the same. There will be no discrepancies. The same goes for ALAC.
You will always have exactly the same PCM stream going into the DAC, regardless of whether you use WAV,ALAC,FLAC.
If Linn are suggesting otherwise then they are purporting that the FLAC/ALAC codecs are not lossless, which is of course not true.
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They may not be lunatics, but objective evidence strongly suggests that they are deluding themselves. WAV and FLAC will "sound" exactly the same. At best, (as noted above) playing back WAV or FLAC will produce different electronic noise patterns, but its is very important to noted that this noise has essentially no correlation with the sounds/music being played back. Instead it would manifest as a hiss or buzz. (And as noted above, if any effect exists it is very debatable whether it is stronger for WAV of F/ALAC.)
dbPoweramp can rip multiple copies at the same time.
Just look for the multirip plugin.
I do a FLAC and an MP3 at the same time.
And for the moomins saying WAV sounds different than FLAC (or ALAC). Go back under the silly foo-rock you came from. The same file exactly is played back. If there is ANY difference in sound then you are either imagining it or your equipment is faulty.
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