You are here

Log in or register to post comments
hollowman
hollowman's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 4 hours ago
Joined: May 28 2009 - 12:59pm
FLAC vs. WAV -- proposed test for Stereophile

JA's Stereophile test lab seems like a well-equipped and PURPOSE-BUILT facility to conduct a test as I'll propose below. 

Some have noted--in their portable audio devices that can play back multiple formats--that FLAC seems to drain battery run time faster than WAV. This may be due to added processing demands on processors having to decompress on-the-fly. (And these processors do get warm, like pwr-hungry std. PC and laptop CPUs. Some in-the-know may recall how warm those classic current-hogging Philips digital-audio ICs got, e.g. SAA7220, etc.). 

Concomitantly, might these harder-working processors be spewing out noise -- via dirtying up the rail power -- and thus degrading SQ ... Unlike playing back uncompressed formats like WAV? Hence, some claim that WAV has an important edge in SQ.

This would mean that o'scope probes would have to be placed on a running device (and on the teeny, tiny Vcc pins of various ICs). Think Stereophile labs has been doing such tests for its Measurements section, so I assume Stereophile (JA's lab) has a relatively well-established (= repeatable, standardized) scientific procedure to conduct such a test.

John Atkinson
John Atkinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 43 min 26 sec ago
Joined: Nov 7 2010 - 3:31pm
Maybe...

hollowman wrote:

Concomitantly, might these harder-working processors be spewing out noise -- via dirtying up the rail power -- and thus degrading SQ ... Unlike playing back uncompressed formats like WAV?

That's what some people whose ears I trust say. Certainly when you play a FLAC or WAV files, the same bits are presented to the DAC with both types of file, so if FLACs and WAVs sound different, there must be some sort of secondary effect at work..

hollowman wrote:
This would mean that o'scope probes would have to be placed on a running device (and on the teeny, tiny Vcc pins of various ICs). Think Stereophile labs has been doing such tests for its Measurements section, so I assume Stereophile (JA's lab) has a relatively well-established (= repeatable, standardized) scientific procedure to conduct such a test.

It sounds like an intriguing test, but I suspect that it might be not quite as straightforward to perform as you suggest. I'll give it some thought.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

hollowman
hollowman's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 4 hours ago
Joined: May 28 2009 - 12:59pm
Shh.... "Objectivists" are listening ...
John Atkinson wrote:

That's what some people whose ears I trust say. Certainly when you play a FLAC or WAV files, the same bits are presented to the DAC with both types of file, so if FLACs and WAVs sound different, there must be some sort of secondary effect at work..

You're not "allowed" to say that because as an engineer and scientist, it violates the religious doctrines (e.g., by his  fellow scientists Galileo was found "vehemently suspect of heresy"). Also you "protect Stereophile advertiser interest..." Yada ... yada ...

It's not just the fact that certain hard-core "objectivists" simply (unreflectively) tow the party line with the above rhetoric ...they actually believe them as truisms...hence the passionate -- and often emotionally radical -- defense of their fragile beliefs. 

Here are some personal truisms: For the sake of economy (and shelf space!) I let all of my hi-fi mag subscriptions (including Stereophile) expire a few years ago -- still waiting for the DVD-rom of print-edition back issues!

More important, I haven't invested in anything other than mid-priced portable/iDevice/headphone-type gear ... I have WAY less $$ invested in audio gear than most budget objectivist (I'll post pix of some of my gear as proof. See below for starters ***).

Having been a careful and OBJECTIVE audio enthusiast (of both electronics and signal), since a very young age, I can say with absolute (personal) certainty that ABX and most modern audio-science** metrics reveal only a partial chunk of audio reality.

I think as new parameters are discovered and added to the metrics database, some of the obj./subj. controversy will disappear. E.g., years after CDs appeared, linearity and (later) jitter were added to lab paradigms as legitimate metrics correlating importantly to SQ.

** "Modern audio science" is best/most we know (can know??) about audio reproduction ... from physical [electronics to acoustical mechanics] ... to biological [psychoacoustics (esp from an evolutionary perspective)]. 

*** One of my MAIN (daily-use) rigs is a portable/DIY job ... Sennheiser IE8, Etymotic ER-4S; Shure SE-530, and other IEMs, with better-than-iPod Chinese DAPs (one is the WAV-only QLS-Hi-Fi 350; the other is a dual-WM8470 Nationite S:Flo2). The headphone amp is a class-A home-brewed/DIY with crossfeed. Oh .. and just to rub salt into the open sores of objectivists ... see those interconencts? ... DIY, but I use Switchcraft, Neutrik and Canare parts with ... drum roll... silver solder. Yes, they do improve sound qual. over stds. Etc....

Love,

- Your fellow, ultra-economy, dirt-poor Stereophile -- and recovering Objectivist ;)

TheOctavist
TheOctavist's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 3 days ago
Joined: Nov 24 2011 - 8:39pm
such a test is worthless.

such a test is worthless.  even idiotic!

 

audio information is the same.  period. end of.  fact. 

John Atkinson
John Atkinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 43 min 26 sec ago
Joined: Nov 7 2010 - 3:31pm
Worthless?

TheOctavist wrote:

such a test is worthless.  even idiotic!

"Slam" goes the sound of a mind shutting :-)

TheOctavist wrote:
audio information is the same.  period. end of.  fact. 

No-one is disputing that fact. But if people find they sound different, and assuming that they are not deluding themselves, as I said, they must be some secondary or tertiary effect occurring. See my quoting of an example of "LP demagnetizing" at www.stereophile.com/content/2011-richard-c-heyser-memorial-lecture-where-did-negative-frequencies-go-there-something-the in my Richard Heyser memorial Lecture to the Audio Engineering Society.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Objectivist

At least one poster in this thread is an objectivist. For the record it's not me.laugh

jazzfan
jazzfan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 1 day ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Out with the bath water

Why is it that every time there is some audiophile claim that runs completely counter to well known and provable scientific fact the people who stand by the science are the being closed minded?

I am closed minded because I believe 2+2 to be equal to 4? Or closed minded because I know that sticking my finger into a candle's flame will result in my finger getting burned?

Oh no! Wait a minute 2+2=4 does not apply in the world of quantum mechanics and the burn is only in my mind.

But here's a better one:

Why is it that the only lossless audio codec being said to sound inferior to wav is flac? Why not Apple lossless audio? Here's why because Apple would demand that the people claiming to hear a difference between alac and wav present concrete and repeatable proof, that's why. Flac is open source and as such does not have the monetary or legal firepower of Apple.

Finally if on the fly decompression is such a major problem why doesn't some manufacturer build a media player which decodes the flac file to wav then puts the wav file into a buffer and then plays the wav file from the buffer? Seems like a pretty simple solution to all this nonsense. By the way this solution would be a total waste of money and therefore a big, big hit with audiophiles.

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading