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satkinsn
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Flac vs. lossless (oh no! not again!)

Sorry to start this.

As a non, non, non-expert, I thought I understood flac (and Apple lossless) pretty well - if unpacked, it yields a perfect duplicate of the original file.

Moreover, unless you're operating the world's worst system, unpacking in real time is equally transparent. You get everything, just like the good lord intended.

However, I keep running across notes on the internets from people who suggest otherwise, and in particular that 'real time' decoding (while you're listening) produces a different, not as good sound.

Is there any merit at all to those arguments?

Some people treat it like this is settled science, and people who claim to hear a difference are the equivalent of evolution deniers. Is, other than the occasional poster, the matter settled?

s.

jazzfan
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Re: Flac vs. lossless (oh no! not again!)

The answer all depends on which site/forum one asks the question.

For example over on the Slim Devices Squeezebox forum there are some members who feel that streaming wav files sound better than streaming flac files where the flac files are decoded in real time. However those who disagree say that unless the people who claim to hear a difference can pass a double blind test that they have no reason to claim that they hear a difference.

I'm kinda in the middle: I don't hear any difference between a CD played back using in my McCormack UDP-1 versus a flac file streamed to my Transporter. However I also am not a big fan of double blind tests.

I think that the basic problem lies in the fact that people want to assign analog qualities to digital signals and processes. For example the cable manufacturers trying to sell expensive USB cables - digital signals are not subject to the same of issues and problems that analog signals face and therefore other than build quality there is no sonic difference between two WORKING USB cables.

In the case of flac versus wav there is no reason for there to be any difference in the sound since either format delivers the exact same digital data stream to the DAC and that is really the meat of the matter. DACs work with a digital data stream that is already in a PCM format (I am be a little off here, so any additional help would be most welcome) DACs do not decode flac files. The work flow process would look something like this:

For flac files:

Flac -> wav -> pcm -> DAC -> analog signal

For wav files:

Wav -> pcm -> DAC -> analog signal

So as long as the flac to wav conversion produces the exactly the same wav file as the initial wav file before the wav to flac conversion then there is no difference in the digital data being sent to the DAC. And as you stated in your post "if unpacked, it yields a perfect duplicate of the original file" so there is your answer.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Flac vs. lossless (oh no! not again!)

Jazzfan,

Isn't reason for flac downloads the reduced files size and faster downloads? Other than that, they are the same are they not?

I noticed that the BlueCoast 2496 wav downloads took a little time, but it would not be a deal breaker for me. When I downloaded the Raising Sand flac from HD tracks last year that took a while but that was the whole disc. (I lost it when a computer virus got through the server at school and got me good.)

I did not have to use Winamp to play the BlueCoast wav files as they played great in Sony Sound Forge.

Check out the AIX Records site. This is interesting.
AIX Records

jazzfan
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Re: Flac vs. lossless (oh no! not again!)


Quote:
Isn't reason for flac downloads the reduced files size and faster downloads? Other than that, they are the same are they not?

Correct but there is one other BIG difference between flac (and other lossless formats) and wav:

The ability to use tags. Tags are pretty much essential when trying to maintain a music library composed of digital files on a hard drive.

By reading tags in a flac file most music library management software is able to create a database, usually search-able, and better manage one's music library. With wav files the way to organize and search one's music library is via the file and folder names. In addition, it is the tags that the music playback software reads in order to provide a meaningful display upon playback. In other words, it is the tags that tell programs like Winamp things like the track number, track name, artist names, album name, year, genre, etc. Tags are a very useful and, when used properly, very powerful tool.

Drtrey3
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Re: Flac vs. lossless (oh no! not again!)

Jim, the $65 version of Sound Forge now has up to 32/192 support. Would this keep my files from being down then upsampled in Windows 7? I can afford the $65 for better audio!

Trey

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Flac vs. lossless (oh no! not again!)

Yes, but you must have a sound card to support 24/192 playback and recording. WMP may not play them. I have not fooled with my wife's Win 7 Computer much, but I may look at it today. She only has WMP.

The ASUS STX sound cards JA talked about would be a low cost, quality option if you do not have 24/192 capability now. Also, M-Audio has one also for $199. I have always like M-Audio products. I let go a 2496 Super DAC go I should have kept.

I thknk you would really like Sound Forge Audio Studio. Keep your key code and you can put it in more than one PC. There are some very nice plug-ins that come with it.

If you need some assistance with it let me know.

I am also going to buy their CD Architect for making the best CDs I can. There will always be friends we have that will not come along with us on the hirez journey.

Drtrey3
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Re: Flac vs. lossless (oh no! not again!)

Cool! I am not really wanting to record at 192, I just want to keep from having the hi rez files downsampled, then upsampled in WMP.

Thanks again!

Trey

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Flac vs. lossless (oh no! not again!)

You will really like Sound Forge for 2496 recordings, and then...when we get bit by the 24/192 monster we'll be reaady.

Once you get good at copying and pasting your fies and making compilation discs you will have a great time. I will slend you my phone number in a pm and if you have some questions we can answer then in real time.

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