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linden518
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Lossless to CDR...

So I've been ripping my CDs to Apple Lossless. What's a good software to burn Apple Lossless to Audio CD-R? And any difference between regular old stack of CD-Rs bought at Staples and those more expensive ones? Some people claim that in conversion from wav to lossless, something's lost & they could hear it. Is there something to this claim? I thought wav -> lossless -> wav was "lossless"...

Elk
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

Wav -> lossless -> wav is "lossless"!

You have nothing to worry about here.

Cheap, no-name CDs are not a good option. Upon testing after burning one often finds many burning errors, etc.

Buy good name brand CDs at least.

Many of us find Taiyo Yuden media to be the best (including most studios, mastering houses, etc.). I order two or three 100 count spindles at a time and use them for everything - demo CDs of recordings I have made for others, data backup, etc. They are wonderful and easy to find online.

bertdw
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

Won't iTunes burn your Apple Lossless files to a cd-r? What are you using to rip your CDs?

linden518
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

Well, I used to use iTunes for everything. Then I read about Exact Audio Copy and dbpoweramp, so I just started using dbpoweramp for ripping... I really like the program, much more flexible and open, better security & accuracy in ripping. So I thought perhaps I should get a bit more anal about CD-burning, too, that maybe I'm losing something through iTunes?

Elk: I know that lossless and Wav mean "lossless" all the same, but I've been reading stuff about how there's still something lost in translation, in going from Wav to ALAC or FLAC. Sounds like placebo effect to me, but I wanted to know if there was something to that?

mrlowry
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

Playing the same songs in Apple Lossless and AIFF on my laptop using the Hagerman HAGUSB to AES/EBU converter into my Theta DS Pro Basic III DAC on about three songs I could swear that I heard a very slight improvement using AIFF. The soundstage sounded slightly deeper and the cymbals had more around them. I want to emphasize that even by audiophile standard the difference was so slight I wouldn't swear it even existed.

All of this being said memory is so cheap these days that even Apple lossless is seeming less and less necessary. Lately I've been ripping all of my new purchases as AIFF. Maybe it's just piece of mind.

bertdw
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

Some people think simply copying a CD to a CD-R makes it sound better. Or that treating the surface with an "optical enhancement" fluid does the same. Converting FLAC, ALAC, or AIFF files back to wave files will result in data identical to the original, whether or not that's all that matters. Something like jitter in the data stream could be to blame for the audible differences, if they exist. You could try the different methods (burning from wave with standard burning software, using iTunes to burn ALAC, etc.) and decide for yourself. Also, dBpoweramp makes a writer. But I suspect you'd like to hear from someone with a definite opinion about which sounds best, in case you detect no differences now but may hear them later after a system upgrade, and avoid having to re-burn everything. Sorry, that's not me.

Elk
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Re: Lossless to CDR...


Quote:
Elk: I know that lossless and Wav mean "lossless" all the same, but I've been reading stuff about how there's still something lost in translation, in going from Wav to ALAC or FLAC. Sounds like placebo effect to me, but I wanted to know if there was something to that?


Given that the original file and the lossless file played back are bit for bit identical I am completely convinced that the files are the same.

I can imagine theoretically that there could be a difference depending on one's playback software, but once you are using software that is similarly bit perfect what would be the source of this difference? Conversion causing dither issues? I doubt it given that computers are bored playing with even 24/192 files.

A good thing is that if one discovers there really is a difference it would be easy to convert one's files to the format du jour using a batch converter.

bobedaone
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's probably less important what software you use, and more important that you burn at 1x. Make sure it's not set to "maximum possible", which I believe is the default. People get tongue-tied when they try to talk too fast, and drives trip up when they're really spinning.

I use iTunes for everything, mainly for convenience. It's decent software; You just have to know how to set everything for maximum audio enjoyment. I use a Mac, so I unfortunately don't have access to raved-about programs like EAC.

I think there are enough of us doing the computer thing now, that if El Jobso and the boys in Cupertino were to release an iTunes: Audiophile Edition, it would sell.

Apple Lossless is a great format, and I don't think you're missing out. Then again, as mrlowry said, storage is so cheap these days that there's not a compelling reason to use any form of compression, even lossless. Modern networks also ought to be able to handle the heavier streams. I'll continue to use ALC into the foreseeable future, since a new hard drive is still not feasible for me right now, especially since I want the "best" available. I've been eying Seagate's SV35.3 1TB, which is intended for video surveillance (hence the "SV"), and supposed to be pretty much bulletproof. Reliability is a big deal to me because I have no redundancy, and I want the highest capacity possible because the iMac can only accommodate one drive, and I don't like making short-term purchases.

Wow, I really got off-topic. Bottom line: Buy good CD-Rs, burn at 1x, and don't sweat the rest.

Elk
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Re: Lossless to CDR...


Quote:
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's probably less important what software you use, and more important that you burn at 1x.


One would think so, but this is not the case. In fact, many drives will not even burn at 1x. Additionally modern media often cannot be burned at 1x without a lot of errors; it is designed to be burned at a higher speed and gets "over heated" when burned too slowly.

As a general rule burners, do their best at something less than one-half of their max rated speed - often 8x-16x is best.

All of this depends on the burner and media combination so if one is really OCD there is a lot of testing ahead.

As a practical matter, Redbook has a lot of error checking and duplicate data built in. Unless you have uncorrectable errors there is rarely, if ever, going to be an audible difference.

mrlowry
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

Elk is correct. The majority of the time 1X is not the best burn speed. I hate referring people to my blog (it seems like shameless self promotion) instead of posting it here but I'm not sure how to post the graphs and make sure that they come through in the proper order.

http://audioexplorer.blogspot.com/2006/06/perfect-sound.html

bobedaone
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

Wow. (Johnny Carson voice): I did not know that. Thanks, Elk! I'm going to have to figure out where I read that 1x is best.

mrlowry
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

1X is best for stand alone stereo component burners.

Elk
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Re: Lossless to CDR...


Quote:
I hate referring people to my blog...


Don't hesitate. It's a good blog.

(1x was the best quite some time ago. It also has a certain intellectual and emotional appeal going for it.)

mrlowry
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Re: Lossless to CDR...


Quote:

Don't hesitate. It's a good blog.

Thank you, I'm humbled. Stop by any time and feel free to leave comments if you are so inclined.

linden518
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

Thanks, all. VERY helpful. You guys rawk.

mrlowry
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

Once to test the bit accuracy of iTunes ripping, burning, and Apple lossless all at once I imported an HDCD as Apple lossless, then burned a CD-R as an album (not data) and played the CD-R. The CD player recognized the reconstituted CD-R as an HDCD which means that it's doing a great job of maintaining the bits. I still think that I hear a difference though. Hows that for being stubborn. My pet theory is that the processor in my lap top is struggling to uncompress the data in real time, creating jitter or something and that's what I'm hearing. Because again I really do believe that the Bits are right because of my HDCD test. What RAM sounds best for a home brew server?

Elk
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

Decoding/uncompressing is generally much easier (especially for a scheme such as FLAC) so I would not expect a computer to have any difficulty doing this in real time as it can compress the file faster than real time. But who knows?

I like the idea of using an HDCD disc. Clever.

Have you tried decoding the compressed files first to a directory and then burning these files to CD-R in a two-step process?

This might be a good time for a blind test, letting someone else load the music.

linden518
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

Ooh, great idea, Elk. Very interested. So who's up for the Pepsi challenge?

Elk
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

I'm a bad test subject. I've tried to hear differences between a pressed CD and a CD-R. I have a good CDP so my guess is that it handles them the same. I should repeat the test with a inexpensive player some time.

OTOH, this may be another case of what to listen for. I continue to find fascinating how once you learn to hear a certain type of distortion or other flaw how easy it is to pick out after this.

I believe golden ears are primarily experienced, knowledgeable ears.

BillB
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

I think I remember JA briefly addressing this, and I think he concluded that a CD-R has the same data and thus wouldn't sound different than its source CD. I think it was a comment relating to Sam tellig suspecting that a CD-R might sound better.

mrlowry
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Re: Lossless to CDR...


Quote:

OTOH, this may be another case of what to listen for. I continue to find fascinating how once you learn to hear a certain type of distortion or other flaw how easy it is to pick out after this.

I believe golden ears are primarily experienced, knowledgeable ears.

Certainly! Our HEARING isn't any better than the average person. However, our LISTENING abilities are much more refined. Our brains have become extremely practiced at analyzing the data that interests us. Hearing is a physical action. Listening is a cognitive, analytical action. Like when we were kids and our parents said, "You don't listen." They were right we heard that they were speaking to us but we didn't bother to remember what they said. We just didn't think that it could be important.

When I first started being really, really serious about high end audio and began to listen to three different CD players at roughly $3,000 I had to do many trials before I was confident in the results. Now differences on that scale seem to jump out at me, daring me to try to ignore them.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Lossless to CDR...

I have been using WAV files for years with no loss of quality that I can tell. I have also been using Sony CDR almost exclusively and find them to be excellent. I also like the fact the the top surface is all silver and gives you all the room to write on if you so choose. At WalMart they are usually $14 for 50.

I have also used Maxell with excellent results. Someone also gave me a spindle of 100 HP's, for doing a recording propject for them, that I also had no trouble with. Their blue top surface left less room on which to write, but if you do lables this is not an issue.

In terms of copy speeds...if it is something very important I will not copy at over 4X. but, my Yamaha burner has been excellent and I have not had a failure at its highest speed to date, either using Sony Sound Forge, NCH software, or Nero.

satkinsn
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Re: Lossless to CDR...


Quote:

Quote:

OTOH, this may be another case of what to listen for. I continue to find fascinating how once you learn to hear a certain type of distortion or other flaw how easy it is to pick out after this.

I believe golden ears are primarily experienced, knowledgeable ears.

Certainly! Our HEARING isn't any better than the average person. However, our LISTENING abilities are much more refined. Our brains have become extremely practiced at analyzing the data that interests us. Hearing is a physical action. Listening is a cognitive, analytical action. Like when we were kids and our parents said, "You don't listen." They were right we heard that they were speaking to us but we didn't bother to remember what they said. We just didn't think that it could be important.

When I first started being really, really serious about high end audio and began to listen to three different CD players at roughly $3,000 I had to do many trials before I was confident in the results. Now differences on that scale seem to jump out at me, daring me to try to ignore them.

FWIW, I've spent my entire adult life as a huge music fan, but cared not all for how I heard the music.

For almost a decade, my main hardware was a $99 SONY boombox, and my backup was various computers with cheap speakers.

Then - about six months ago - I noticed that I was growing tired of listening, and in particular was tiring of the many mp3s and AAC files I purchased online.

That led me very reluctantly to buy better computer speakers and then to sites like this one - it's as if my 52 year old ears are dragging the rest of me along on a ride I didn't expect to take.

Here's the thing: I'm not necessarily any happier - life as a reluctant audiophile is more complicated than just jamming the cd into the boombox. But it's the only way I can keep listening.

Scott A.
Watertown NY

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