Why rip your CDs? And why rip them to lossless?

Why rip your CDs? And why rip them to lossless?

Ripping music – transferring it from a physical format into a purely digital form stored on a computer drive – was once regarded with suspicion by those who prize sound quality. Surely changing music, even music already stored in digital form on a compact disc, from one format to another would result in a loss of quality that would outweigh any gain in convenience?

But it’s an opinion that just doesn’t hold water anymore. Formats like MP3 and AAC may sacrifice some quality in order to keep file sizes small, but the emergence of lossless digital audio formats, able to preserve every piece of information from a CD recording, means that the ripped file can be sonically indistinguishable from the original.

You might still ask why you should spend precious time ripping your CD collection. It’s all a question of convenience: a lossless digital music collection saves shelf space and is easy to move and back up; for larger collections, it also makes it far easier and faster to locate individual songs and albums. You can also access a digital music library from multiple sources simultaneously, for example from several network music players located in different rooms in your house.

On the hardware side, storage devices like NAS and external hard drives offer huge amounts of space at low prices. And with high quality DACs widely available, computer hardware now offers excellent playback and can be easily connected to your existing hi-fi setup.

File types: which should I use?

So you’ve decided to rip your CD collection to a lossless format, but which format should you choose? Here are the main contenders.

FLAC

The Free Lossless Audio Codec is fast becoming the most popular choice for audiophiles. Like MP3, OGG and AAC, FLAC is compressed to keep file sizes relatively small, but unlike those formats it’s lossless and therefore indistinguishable from CD quality. CD audio converted to FLAC will typically be reduced to around 50 percent of its original size; a typical three-minute song on a CD will take up 30-40MB of space, while a ripped FLAC version of that song is 15-20MB.

FLAC supports metadata (artist and song information can be embedded into the file and artwork can be referenced by the file) and will play back on a wide variety of software and hardware, some of which we’ll explore later in this article. Crucially for many, it’s not currently supported by Apple products like iTunes or the iPod.

Apple Lossless

As you might guess from the name, the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (or ALAC) was developed by Apple and works with the company’s products like iTunes, the iPod and the iPhone (as well as being supported by a number of other hardware and software players); if you’re an avid user of Apple gear, this will probably be the format for you. Like FLAC it’s compressed and supports metadata, and files ripped from typically take up around 40-60 percent of their original size.

AIFF and WAV

AIFF and WAV are lossless but uncompressed, so ripped files take up the same amount of space as they would on a CD (around 10MB per minute of stereo sound). This large file size makes them less desirable than FLAC and Apple Lossless, as you’ll need about twice the storage space for the same library, but they are compatible with a wide range of devices and software. WAV handles metadata but in a clumsier way than FLAC and ALAC, so if you transfer a WAV library to another device there is a chance some of the information may not appear as it should.

Ripping software

Max (Mac)

Available for Apple computers running Mac OS X 10.4 and higher, Max is a free app able to create audio files in a variety of formats, including all four lossless codecs mentioned above. If your CDs are slightly scratched, Max incorporates “Cdparanoia”, which corrects any errors that might occur during the ripping process. It also features MusicBrainz, which looks for CD information online and then embeds this metadata in the ripped files (this works for FLAC and Apple Lossless, but not WAV and AIFF).

Max’s interface isn’t the slickest or most user-friendly thing we’ve ever seen, and if you’re not au fait with ripping software you might need to consult its built-in help documents. That said, once you’ve got to grips with it, it’s a fast and accurate ripper, and should you wish to rip your CDs to more than one format (perhaps you want one lossless copy for home listening and one lossy but smaller MP3 copy for your portable player), you can do so simultaneously.

Exact Audio Copy (PC)

If you’re using Windows and want to convert your CDs to FLAC, Exact Audio Copy does the job very ably indeed, and its accuracy and error correction make it extremely popular with PC-owning rippers. It uses the freedb CD database for metadata retrieval. Oh, and like Max it’s 100 percent free.

iTunes (PC and Mac)

Chances are, you already have iTunes on your PC or Mac – and that could save you downloading and installing another ripping app. iTunes can rip CDs to three lossless formats (Apple Lossless, AIFF and WAV) and features error correction for damaged discs. iTunes automatically retrieves album and artist information from the Internet.

Playing your files

Of course, iTunes also functions as a software player for several lossless formats, as well as a way to get the files onto your iPod or iOS device for portable listening. As mentioned above, iTunes will not play FLAC files, so if that’s your audio format of choice, you’ll need to find something else.

Windows users have a wide choice of FLAC-compatible players, including the highly popular likes of Winamp and MediaMonkey; you can also add a plugin to Windows Media Player in order to make it play FLAC. There’s also VLC, Songbird and XBMC Media Center, all of which work on both PC and Mac.

In terms of portable hardware, Apple Lossless, WAV and AIFF will all play on iPods and iPhones, as well as a handful of other physical players. FLAC won’t play on Apple devices, but it works on many Samsung Galaxy smartphones, a number of AV receivers and almost every portable audio player made by iAudio.

89 Comments

  • Giles Guthrie says:

    One thing about using lossless-compressed formats is it’s then easier to broadcast them around the house. A WAV at 10MB/minute consumes 1.3Mb (megabits) of bandwidth, whereas an ALAC takes only half of this. Even when using structured cabling and 1Gb switching, halving the data traffic helps with network congestion, buffering etc.

  • JediFonger says:

    Actually Apple’s app store sells a FLAC player:
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flac-player/id390532592?mt=8

    most of my stuff is already in FLAC, so i may use that to play FLAC

  • Joao Carvalhinho says:

    Pay attention when using Itunes Match…
    This service is based on the quality of the music files that are sold in Itunes witch is AAC 256kbps (not lossless).
    So if you activate this service, you will have your files in “the cloud” but in a worse quality, so don’t go by deleting your locally ripped files to solve storage problems ;).

  • Scott says:

    Another good free program for Mac OS is ‘XLD.’ It is also a bit-perfect ripping program that can search on-line databases for metadata. Better interface than Max.

  • Liam says:

    You can’t forget XLD (http://tmkk.pv.land.to/xld/index_e.html), a much better ripper for Mac. It supports all the formats, has cdparanoia and its own improved ripping engine that always does the trick, has freedb support and doesn’t crash EVER, unlike Max on most Macs past Tiger.

  • Richard Kuipers says:

    I personally think the program XLD works better as MAX for macintosh, but that is my opinion.
    XLD can be found at:

    http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/23430/x-lossless-decoder

    Regards,

    Richard

    From the Netherlands

  • Nikhil Dsouza says:

    Nonesense, nothing beats XLD for ripping CD’s on Mac!!! Tried Max but went back to XLD in a jiffy. Its open source and gives perfect rips with one of th most easiest GUI’s ever developed.

  • Doug Jensen says:

    I like EAC but I use dbpoweramp more often.

  • Jake says:

    My advice. Listen to less music. Then when you do, do it justice. Listen to a live concert, or set up a high quality hifi and listen to that. Your life is to short wasting it ripping all your cds. Just get a good cd player and listen to them direct. Having a music collection is nice. LPs, cds. What about sacd? you cant rip that. Sacd is still the quickest and best route to high def audio and multi channel too. Get a life away from your pc mac. Stop using ipod, it sounds crap anyway. Music should be respecred. By proper b@w speakers or others!

  • Chris says:

    Jake is dumb.

    Consider Foobar2000 for your playback software on PC. It’s the best.

  • Frank says:

    After ripping to lame v0 mp3 last year with EAC, I’m ripping again the whole CD stuff to FLAC at the moment. :-/
    Its not the difference in Sound quality, but its the good feeling to get the most out of my new CM9! :-)

  • Max says:

    I used Rockbox on my 4th generation iPOD to play FLAC files – it was like getting a new portable player, what’s more Rockbox allows your iPod to dual boot (Rockbox or the original Apple firmware).
    When my iPod came to the end of it’s long life I was so attached to Rockbox that Apple lost a sale on the basis that Rockbox didn’t yet support the latest iPod, at which point I discovered the Colorfly C4 – ok so it too isn’t supported by Rockbox and it’s UI is archaic, rather like a 1st generation CD player, but it does do a damn fine job of playing music (inc FLAC files) and doesn’t have any other distractions.

  • sten says:

    Why is lossless WMA left out? Most people don’t have a Mac but a Windows based PC. Lossless WMA is also half the size of the CD, you can use Windows Media Player (which comes free of charge with any PC) to both rip and play lossless music. It is actually much better than iTunes or Foobar2000 for that. Yes, it will play FLAC as well.

    I know it is so cool to hate Microsoft and pretend they don’t know what they are doing, but if you are going to have a page dedicated to ripping and playing lossless music at least be impartial and more complete? +90% of all ‘PCs’ are Windows based.

  • RonT says:

    Excuse my ignorance but if you already have iTunes installed on your mac or PC why do you need the previously mentioned ripping software options vs just using iTunes? Thanks

  • RonT says:

    If you have iTunes on your Mac or PC what’s the benefit of using the previously mentioned ripping software (Max, EAC etc.) to rip your CDs? Obviously new at this. Thanks.

  • absorption says:

    Way to go Jake totally agree. Stop turning music into another diminished commodity or worse sonic wallpaper.

  • Alain says:

    Hi,
    There is a noticable difference between a CD ripped with iTunes or with XLD or MAX.
    You just can listen the difference. iTunes is not an accurate ripper at all.
    All informations here: http://www.accuraterip.com/
    itunes is not also an optimum reader. I personally use AUDIRVANA+ with itunes database.
    The difference is also audible in a simple P5 Headphone, but is obvious with a pair of 800D.
    Even the best CD reader cannot compete with a correctly ripped CD or a Studio Master file, when read with the right tools.

  • Jeef says:

    Thank-you Jake and Alain. Refreshing to read others who appreciate the difference these formats make.

    I will try those programs for ripping and playback.

    I have resorted to iTunes as my ripper and means of playback, all the while saddened by the loss of realism and dynamic range when compared to my 20 year old CD player routed through the same signal path.

  • Claude says:

    A CD works with 44.1 Khz and 16 bits , in most cases !!! The question is : how do you get more of it, assuming you already read the CD with a very good CD player (implementing a very good DAC such as a Burr Brown or so) . If you rip such a CD with a DDC up to 192 Khz, 24 bits …. what the hell is this producing a higher definition …..the definition stays the original one ………… Question is : when are we going to make high quality recordings and bring them to the user ? This was supposed to be something like SACD , some SACD players are available but where is the software to feed them ????

  • Alain says:

    Hi Claude,
    We are not talking of any upsampling, but just ripping and reading these files with very little or no errors.
    Even the best CD reader makes errors, a lot of errors and these errors are replaced with silences by the error correction of your reader. This is altering the quality of sound. Again have a look to this site: http://www.accuraterip.com/ for a better understanding. Try to rip one or your preferred CD and compare, I am sure it will be a positive experience.
    On an other hand I fully aggree with you when you ask; ” when are we going to make high quality recordings and bring them to the user ?”
    It has started with the aviability of Studio masters recording like those offered by Society of sound or site like QUOBUZ, FIDELIO and many others. But even the higher sampling rate will not replace a good recording, I mean a good sound capture. Some 16/44,1 recordings are beautifull when correctly played back and some highres ones can be very bad.
    Concerning SACD, the format used is DSD, you can buy music in this format on several site, and the offer is slowly growing. Try BLUE COAST RECORDS, FIDELIO, some are also avialable at HIGHREAUDIO. You can read them with several readers like AUDIRVANA+ that I mantionned on a previous post. But then you will need a DAC DSD compatible.
    I wish to everybody the best (recordings) for the incoming years.
    Alain

  • Antonio says:

    I have a question regarding this topic. I use Windows, and have been reading and doing research about all of this CD ripping. Although most of my library came as a digital download in the first place, I have some CDs that have not been ripped into WAV or MP3, so I was trying to decide which format to use.

    I am hearing arguments for and against FLAC, MP3, MP3HD, and now Opus. I am at a loss as to how I should save my discs on my hard drive. Because I have half a terabyte of storage space, I’m not too concerned with storage space.

    One option that I am considering is just ripping the discs into WAV format, since I have a bunch of space. The other option I am looking at is using MP3, or even MP3HD, at either 256bps, or 320bps with Constant Bit Rate, and NO Joint Stereo option. But if I go the MP3 route, then there is the encoder to think about. LAME or Fraunhofer. Decisions, decisions.

    The other ‘problem’ that I have is that some of my WAV CDs have track names that appear in VLC media player when played, but these do not translate into song and artist names when ripped. Any ideas on that would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks and Happy New Year!

    ~Antonio :-)

  • Alain says:

    Antonio,

    For me there is no doubt. You should rip your CD in a non destructive format. That means WAV or FLAC.
    I would choice FLAC, as it needs four time less space onto your storage device, for the same result if you use a reader that uncompress the file in RAM BEFORE reading it. As a MAC user, I am not familiar with the PC tools but I know they exist and a you will find them easily on Internet.

    Alain

  • Celt says:

    Hi Guys,

    I find this thread interesting as I am also convinced of the need to rip my CD collection so I can access all my albums and tracks in an easy manner from an IPAD. And no more searching my CD racks with failing nearsight much to the amusement of my younger or more IT savy friends. The thing is I am a bit of a Techophobe. I have a very old 20 years Nakamichi receiver and CD player. I am considering keeping my CD player should I want to listen to new CDs – but I figure once I have ripped and stored by CDs at the highest audio quality possible and once I splash out on a networked solution then I am quite unlikely to be buying CDs in future. I can lease the music I like via forums such as Spotify which eventually will be of HD quality. Any tracks/albums I like from the network I can always download and archive alongside my ripped CDs. Be great to be able to do all this from the comfort of my couch with the use of an IPAD or equivalent Android bit of kit.

    Now here comes the rub: being a technophobe I like / prefer the idea of entrusting the ripping process to a “solution” that will be as painless as possible whilst giving the highest quality audio replay e.g. capturing the album covers and storing safely and easily onto a hard drive. For that reason I have considered a dedicated solution such as the NAIM Unitiserve product or the Olive products. The downsound is that such a solution is quite expensive and can only be used for audio tracks ( I assume?). Plus, once I’ve ripped my CDs I am probably not going to do much ripping, except maybe very occasionally. The alternative is to go the PC route linked to a NAS. This would be a cheaper solution and presumably the NAS can store all sorts of date such as movies (ripped Blueray’s ?) and photo albums etc. Hence a good quality NAS should be a more flexible solution too I should think?

    But I haven’t got much of a clue of how I could go about doing this or what software and hardware to purchase. I have a 4 year old laptop that I could make into a dedicated PC ripper but how would I go about doing this all? I was advised by my local hifi shop to remove all software on the PC not related to the ripping process.

    Go gentle on me guys. What advice can you give on the two options I mention and what else might I want to consider? Thanks in advance.

    Cheers,

    Celt

  • Howard says:

    I’ve been ripping much of my music to FLAC and transferring it to an old iPod 3G, with RockBox installed and all the old iTunes files deleted to make room. It is wonderful to be able to carry 100 CD from room to room and play them at top quality.

    Am i right, however, that there is no point ripping to lossless old recordings (Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Billy Holiday) that were not originally recorded in high fidelity? Would MP3 or OGG do just as well?

  • Alex says:

    Alright, this (and other posts on the subject) sent me into a bit of a panic mode. I have a large iTunes library containing over 21’000 song, the vast majority are full albums.several years ago I ripped my entire CD collection of at least a few hundred to mp3. Since then I haven’t touched a cd, they’re all boxed away in boxes in my basement. But I have bought a lot of music from iTunes and Amazon.

    So yesterday I dug up a CD and ripped it anew to ALAC, to see if I can tell a difference between that and the version that came from iCloud, which is probably better than what I originally ripped it to. The CD was The Police – every breath you take – a best of. I listed to it on the computer, with Sony v6 headphones.

    And here comes the kicker: I couldn’t tell the difference. Maybe I’m getting old (41), or maybe the equipment is t good enough. I use these headphones to listen to music both at home and on my commute, and at home also steam to a zeppelin air, which I find sounds great for its size.

    So for no I’m not going to re-rip all CDs and punch myself for buying mp3s.

  • Celt says:

    Hi Alex,

    Are you saying it may be better for me to set up an iTunes service and purchase (or lease?) all of my CD Albums rather than to rip them as FLAC files? By “better” I mean in terms of the sound quality being at the same level of FLACs combined with the ease of convenience and avoiding the outlay cost of purchasing a NAS and the ripping software etc??

    I know that tracks from Spotify are not at CD quality yet (but no doubt they will be in the future). Hence why I thought it’d be good to rip my CDs in a professional/quality way; either via a NAS + Ripping software solution or via a dedicated music ripping & storage solution such as NAIM or Olive – as I describe in my initial comment above.

    Any other AudioFile Guru’s like to comment ?

    Celt

  • Ann says:

    dBpoweramp also supports FLAC format.
    For mass music CD collections, with dBpowersmp Batch Ripper software and an disc autoloader, ripping with FLAC format can be an easy thing.

  • Nash says:

    Yes holdouts you can continue to use your audiophile CD/SACD players and ignore the blah blah of audio servers, DSD Dacs, asynchronous USB, NAS, control apps and ripper and tagging software – but the future is audio files, not those shiny discs and jewel boxes. If you’re an old timer you might as well go to your grave not worrying about this computer audio stuff, but if you’re around mid-forties or so you should consider joining the computer audio bandwagon. Take a look at the Lumin Network Player. Super HiFi without the price tag of Ayon, Aurender, Linn, Meridian, etc. – yes still a nice chunk of change this Lumin, but you don’t have to be a tech geek obsessed with SOtM or CAPS or whatever computer nerd stuff some spend their days thinking about. Just my ten cents and of course YMMV.

  • Intelligencer says:

    Does anyone have any thoughts about the xACT ripper for Mac?

    I’m currently ripping my CDs as I’ve had to put much of my hi-fi (along with vinyl and next CDs) into storage due to apartment size issues. I hope to have them out again soon. Nothing even comes close to a proper hi-fi stereo with good speakers. Hails Jake!

  • Patrick Butler says:

    xACT I used to convert one file format to another. Max I use extensively for ripping music from a cd. Max has great tagging options, and can output your music into iTunes in whatever file format you like. Apple Lossless is a great way to go for archival storage.

  • Tommie says:

    The idea of starting to rip my audio cds to NAS was encouraged since I spoke to an employee of World of Yamaha. The subjects discussed were CD’s that lose quality over a period of time and CD’s unplayable over a period of time. Comments on this would be appreciated….

  • Sherbert DibDab says:

    Although I have worked with and used computers since the early ’80s, I purchased my first “Home Computer” in February this year. The reason is simple, digital music is finally becoming available at CD and better quality. I purchased a Mac Mini which has an internal DAC capable of dealing with sample rates up to 192KHz and if necessary 64bit. The downside is no support for FLAC files, which seem to be the format of choice for downloads from the web.
    One of my first tasks was to get something to deal with FLAC files. A number of blogs, forums and reviews later it was clear that “Audirvana” in combination with iTunes deals with anything you might want to do with digital audio off the web.

    Getting high quality digital recordings to your speakers is another issue. If your Mac/PC can only output 48KHz/16bit audio files you are stuffed.

    SO BEFORE WORRYING ABOUT WHAT GOES IN AND HOW YOU STORE IT, FIND OUT WHAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY OUTPUT!

    There are a lot of highly accomplished and user friendly DACs out there but you do need to get your files from your computer to the DAC. The issue of cable format, USB, Coaxial, Optical or HDMI comes into play as well and the availability of high quality cables in each format. Remember USB has a maximum hardware/design limit of 96/24 audio.

    Finally the question of ripping, or as my generation would call it “recording” your CDs and other digital media. Again the issue of what you can output has a bearing. These days memory is not an issue, 2TB drives are readily available for £100, that means about 2000 albums of uncompressed high quality (96/24) audio.

    In the end the quality issue is not about file formats, but getting the most accurate transfer of information from the CD. For everyday music that is likely to end up on an iDevice I just use an Apple Superdrive and iTunes and save them as AIFF files (48/16). My Mac can output a maximum 96/24 signal to USB and Digital outputs so using 48KHz sample rate is just to give the computers output DAC less work to do.

    If I have a real audiophile recording or a personal favourite I use my Cyrus CDXT SE2 CD transport and connect its optical digital output straight into the Mac. You can then use the recording software you use for vinyl I use Audacity, its free and relatively straight forward, to capture the digital information in PCM format. CD transports usually have far better error correction and bit accuracy than optical computer drives. Although up sampling when recording can not improve upon the original quality, I have found 96/24 copies sound just that little bit smoother and more “analogue”. How real this is I’m not sure, it is a source for endless technical and subjective debate. Ignore that and go with what sounds best to you in your system.

    Finally a 192KHz/32bit audio file is still going to sound the same as a 320Kbs MP3 when you listen on anything other than a good quality HiFi system and only noticeably superior on audiophile systems. My system includes KEF Reference speakers, the B&W PV1d subwoofer and Cyrus X class amplification and the difference is noticeable, but not irksome especially for casual listening.

    To sum up;-
    If memory is an issue use Apple Lossless or FLAC, otherwise AIFF or WAV files are best as they are the most transportable. (WMA files are not very transportable and software to convert them costs.)
    For very large collections best quality MP3 should not be dismissed, it still sounds pretty good with a decent DAC and they can be used just about everywhere. Don’t ignore the quality of cables, computer cables are not usually made with HiFi in mind, so you might need to go to the HiFi cable specialists, most do now have USB, Coaxial, Optical and HDMI cables to match their phono and speaker cables.

    I am now going to teach my grandmother how to suck eggs.;-)

  • Jon says:

    @Sherbert DibDab
    I’ve think you missunderstood.
    To start with FLAC and ALAC are lossless, so they have the exact same quality as the original file.
    They do use less space, but they are packed formats, much like zip files, a zip-file when unzipped has the exact same sourcecode at the file that was ripped.
    It doesnt matter which of these formats you rip to, or buy, cause you can simply convert them without any quality loss.

    AIFF and WAV has the dissadvantage of not having proper TAG support, in other words, a FLAC or ALAC can contain information on artist, song name, genre, speed, composer and a lot of more information, with this information you can easily sort files. With WAV and AIFF you are pretty much limited to the filename that does not separate Artist, Album and Song name.

    SO even if you have unlimited space, you should use FLAC or Apple Lossless (ALAC), cause the files are much easier to handle, to filter, to search.

    MP3 files can sound very good, but as they are lossy, if in the future the MP3 format is dropped, you can’t convert them to a new format without loosing quality. And you can’t burn them to an Audio CD, without quality loss.
    So if you are ripping your CDs you should use FLAC or ALAC. If your player lacks the support, there are tons of tools out there to make a copy of the FLAC/ALAC file in a lossy format like MP3 (then you will still have both).

    When ripping, what you do is you put your CD in the CD-drive of your computer (or you can get one that connects via USB).
    You need a software that can rip that CD, there are alternatives that cost, or free ones. But they should support Accurip (itunes does not).
    There are instructions on the web how to set any of those rippers up. With Flac you have to option to set the level of compression, the middle value is usually fine, it doesnt matter when it comes to quality. But the file size vary, you can gett bigger files, loads your CPU less. Or you can set higher level of compression, but that takes a lot out of the CPU avaible, so it’s not compatible with every flac player out there, but should work on most computers.

    If you have the source as a CD, you should only use 16bit/44.1Khz, as that is the quality level of the CD; setting another number can introduce jitter and other errors to your files. You will end upp with larger files that likely have lower quality, due to the wronfull convertion.

    CD-rippers reads CDs carefully, to make sure ever single bit of information is read. There can be a lot of errors in playback of CDs, as they spin quite fast, ant there is a lot to read. A ripped CD, could turn out to sound even better than played back trhough your high end CD, as when ripped the CD is not played once in real time so less errors will occur. Error correction is thus far better in a CD-rom, simply cause the software reads the data several of times over to make sure it har read correct, And with Accurip, the software will connect to an online database, to compare the ripped file with other rips that has been made of the same CD before, to ensure that it was ripped correctly.
    So no matter how fancy your CD-player is, you should never connect it to your computer and record CDs, there is no advantage but there could be a disadvatage, acctually.
    You describe using a digital connetion, the data then transfered, if your player is not doing something it should not do, is 16 bit/44.1 KHZ PCM and can thus be recorded lossless, and should not be recorded with any other bitrate or sampling frequency. But you should never do this in the first place as the error correction in your CD-player is way worse than in ripping software, due to the read once nature of CD-players.

    USB and HDMI has built in error correction, and if there is any distortion to the data, it will end up loosing it’s connection. So a cable bought for 1 dollar sends exactly the same information as a 200 dollar cable or you will get an error message. More expensive cables can however have higher quality meaning lasting longer, or less sensitive to outside interferance, but as long as there is no error message, the cheap USB/HDMI cable transfers eaxtly the same information.
    Anything else is a complete lie!

    Analog cables however do differ, and signla sent thru them end up on the other end, without any error message if error is introduced. SO when it comes to shopping for cables, RCA cables, speaker cables, 3.5mm plug cables… have different quality levels.

    There are many USB-dacs, and i recommend looking for Asynchronous USB-dacs to ensure higher levels of quality. HTR microstreamer and Audioquest Dragonfly are the best at the low end of the scale.
    24bit/96KHz files have more dynamic range than your hifi system could ever handle, and better frequecy respons than almost all speakers and headphones on the market, and way beyond human hearing. So you will be very fine with a DAC that only supports 24/96, even though there are ones out there that does 24/192. And any file format above that is just wasting space, but it will be downsampled to 24bit/96Khz anyhow so you can still play the files.
    However since there are other things inside a “dac” than the Dac-chip itself and even that differs among different makers, you can shop around for a DAC that you feel is better. But Microstreamer and Dragonfly are so good that for most people other parts of the signal chain will affect the quality more.

    Your comment where filled miss missleading and missguided information.

    If you have a windows computer, to ensure that the music you output is not changed in any way, you need a player that support bit-correct/bit-perfect playback. Foobar2000 is the most common. You also need the ASIO or WASAPI plug-in. This is due to the way windows deals with the audio chain.

  • Rich Davis says:

    As a Mac user, I’ve been playing around with BitPerfect, Audirvana, Amarra, PureMusic, Decibel, JRMedia Center 18 (MC 19 is supposed to be out shortly if it isn’t already).

    I actually prefer Audirvana from a perspective of it works with mapping the volume, stop/start/next mapped to the keyboard. It works great, it sounds great, it has a built in converter which you can convert DSD to PCM, and other features. Amarra is another great sounding app, but I think it’s not as feature rich as Audirvana. I tend to gravitate to Audirvana. Pure Music is fine, but it’s interface leaves much to be desired. BitPerfect is about the simple, but I didn’t find it sounded best with my DAC as I would have hoped.

    Decibel I didn’t spend much time with it since it doesn’t use iTunes and JRiver was just WAY too messy and complicated to use for my purposes and I’d wait for JRiver Media Center 19.

    But, they all have demo versions to play around with.

  • jlrbiker says:

    Huh

  • Simon Tracy Forster says:

    I am trying XLD but it stores all the tracks individually rather than as an album. What am I doing wrong?

  • Brian Leslie says:

    What it boils down to is……….. SOUND QUALITY Vs CONVENIENCE. If you enjoy high quality (audiophile) music…then obviously this can only be achieved with the use of HiFi seperates. If convenience is your thing then MP3 would be your choice. Other formats like WAV…FLAC….Etc…Etc. ripped to 24/192/96 are PERCIEVED to improve the sound quality over the original CD. What in fact is happening is you are magnifying the ORIGINAL recording process. These procedures of course are nowhere near the quality of a HiFi seperates system.

  • Tim says:

    Hmmm. Struggling with how to respond to the latest post. At risk of stating the obvious, Brian seems to be confusing/combining the source file resolution with the components that are used to decode and present those source files.

    High resolution files aren’t magnifying the recording process. Presumably, the higher the resolution, the more faithful the files are to the master tape or source file. The better the DAC, amplification and speakers/headphones, the less that gets lost in translation.

  • Geoff says:

    dbpoweramp + networked external drive + Sonos: I’ve never looked back.

  • paw says:

    It might be worth mentioning that jRiver seems to be a very popular windows option but it isn’t free.
    AIFF to my ears sounds better than FLAC. Since FLAC is lossless if space isn’t at a premium then it is probably worth converting to AIFF.
    I think discussing how to get music from an internal/external hard drive to the amplifier in good condition is worth a mention.
    Audioquest (of cable fame) have a usefull downloadable walk me through guide.
    Perhaps there is a site out there which helps with choosing what options to put in the drop down boxes. Wikipedia is good but not especially task dedicated.
    With a computer there are streaming audio and video sites to be found on the web. However listening to these through the laptop’s internal speakers while the hifi speakers are silent is very frustrating. Suggestions wellcome.

    For the record (sic) I am using an ASUS AIO P1801 computer, with an ASIO driver (drop down box) for a musical fidelity v-link 192 thing (USB2 input) which inputs via an XLR connection into my NAD C390DD amplifier digitally which can play hd music upto 192/28. The other output of the v-link goes to a musical fidelity v-dac II and analogue amplifier for another area. I am using external HDD via USB3 for storing music, music videos & school projects.
    I can control the jRiver media centre from various iPads/iPhones etc. with jRemote app. This is good for selecting music from the hard drive.
    Using the web based features of jRiver or browsers doesn’t really work with J Remote.
    The current version of splashtop streamer is great with the ASUS tablet screen but not with the iThings (size resolution issues- a large desk top really doesn’t fit well).
    I am also beginning to look at how to control the amplifier volume via wifi with the iPad etc. It looks like logitech may have a solution.
    Returning to online streaming- I just tried via control panel ->sound setting the speakers to v-link. Lots of warnings came up but it does seem to work. An ABC app seems to allow live listening but I’m struggling to get sound from previous programs without downloading first.

  • Jon Paterson says:

    I rip all my music to both Flac and MP3. MP3 for phones iPods etc. Flac for HiFi quality, I use a Sonus system to feed my Cyrus amp and QM9 speakers, and various other Sonus products round the house that can be separate or synced up. These also can feed internet radio or various streaming services. All controlled by phone apps.
    I’m very happy with the setup and find the sound quality of Flac through the Cyrus/QM9 seup to be excellent.

  • Gary says:

    Bull do a white noise test and compare them

  • Craig Allison says:

    I am a former, 20 year B&W dealer. High resolution audio via high-rate PCM or DSD is a great new path to music enjoyment. But the process must be made much simpler or the public as a whole will not change their preferences. Someone needs to come out with a “Musicomputer” that can only download music files from any site and organize them for the user, with a slot for DAC of choice. As a high-end sage said recently, “The only problem with computer audio is the computer.” As it stands, one needs J-river but such as HD Trax must be imported into it., and a fair amount of cyber-manipulation and perseverance is needed. As long as this state of affairs continues, I-Tunes/MP-3 will continue to badly pollute the musical waters at a time that is critical to re-engage the masses with good sounding music. And what does B&W think of Pono?

  • Srinath says:

    Thanks for recommending Exact Audio Copy.

  • Harry Sillen says:

    The prospect of transferring my CD collection to a storage device is daunting to me. I have an all-McIntosh system with B&W 803 Diamonds and need something that is comparable in sound quality. Maybe some of your readers know of some equipment that can import from it’s own CD drive and store the files internally, to be connected to my pre-amp? I love my CDs and am loath to give up all the info on the jackets, as I was giving up the LP sleeves some time ago, but space considerations dictate this. Added to that is the fact that more and more recordings are no longer available on physical discs, but as downloads only. I thank all the writers above for their valuable input. I’ll pour over the information in the hopes of learning something. Thanks!

  • Taras says:

    Harry, you may try XLD on your Mac for ripping the CDs and organizing them on your Mac and then transfer to a NAS device (Synology can be connected to external DACs and then to your amp).

    Otherwise consider something like Bluesound system that may rip and organize the discs itself.

    Or consider one of CD ripping services, so you just pack your music collection and send it to a company that does the rest for you.

    I’m currently using 2-disk Synology NAS for my music collection (ripping has been a time-consuming process, but I only had to do this once). The music is then streamed to Sonos/Rotel/B&W combination which works just fine.

  • Andreas says:

    How about high resolution discs. I don’t know that much about different discs.
    The only one Ive come in contact with are DVD-Audio, and after some searching there are software to rip those.
    There was some free software cant remember the name but it was a bit clumsy in handling the files.
    There is also DVD Audio Extractor wich is not free, but if you want to have those discs on your computer like the rest of your library its a good option to have.

    Since you guys are the experts, what about SACD or Blu-Ray Audio discs is there any way to add those to a digital library ? I find high quality music interessting, but if it can’t be integrated into the collection its a waste to purchase those discs.

  • Linky P says:

    I agree with Craig Allen’s comment above — it’s just got to get simpler. Other than iTunes, I don’t really know of a dependable library manager that has a decent interface. I’m looking for one now (the newer versions of iTunes have really messed up what use to be a pretty stable system). I’ve got 3,000+ CDs yet to rip, and about 40,000+ songs already digitized. None of that does me any good if I can’t get to them easily, find and play them easily. And, you know, this isn’t my full time job.

  • Linky P says:

    Sorry, Craig Allison, not Craig Allen.

  • Rene says:

    I have about 700 CDs I would like to put on an external harddrive, so that I can then move some of the music over to itunes. I have a mac that does not have a disc drive. Do I purchase an external disc drive and an external harddrive? Or should I just pay approximately $0.70-$0.99 per disc and have a service do it. You do have to buy the harddrive from them, you can’t send in one you already own. Thanks! Obviously I am a tech dummie : )

  • Leigh Copp says:

    I have to agree with the convenience of having your music library consolidated on a device such as a NAS server. I have most of my music now in FLAC24 stored on an 18 TB NAS with Gigabit Ethernet connection to a Bryston BDP-2 music player. I’m currently using the DAC in my Anthem D2V-3D Processor/Pre-amp, which in turn feeds a pair of Bryston 28BSST2 amplifiers driving 800 Diamonds. I can queue up a playlist from an Internet browser on my phone or tablet (although the Bryston web interface really prefers the larger screen). I also have an inexpensive app for my Samsung Android based phone which will play the FLAC24 format. I have pretty much abandoned the Apple hardware/software for most of my music largely out of frustration with iTunes, although I still purchase music from iTunes when I can’t find it elsewhere. Due to licensing restrictions a lot of HD content doesn’t seem to be available in Canada, (or I haven’t found the right place to get it). I can certainly appreciate the comments that “music library management” can become quite time consuming however. Certainly it is a case of short term pain, long term gain. The process can be a tad daunting for less technical users so a more automated method (hence the popularity of Apple) would be widely welcomed. On the subject of cabling as I saw a comment on Audioquest. Digital data is just that; Digital. As long as the device playing the music, be it a music player or DAC, buffers the incoming data it will re-assemble it as flawlessly as it was digitized to begin with. The discussions of Bit Error Rate, and Jitter are simply not relevant to the network connection between the music library and the player, because the audio file is being copied to the player and then re-assembled in memory, before the DAC process begins. I’ve heard some tails of “Audio grade” Ethernet cables and I can’t say that it sounds like a valid case.

  • Paul brookes says:

    Will someone please clarify is the only advantage of ripping a cd collection space. But would high res downloads be superior to cd. Any replays would be appreciated.

  • Jackman says:

    To get the best from your audio rips you need to use XXHighend software. It is not free, but streets ahead of anything else I’ve used. A demo is available with reduced functionality. It needs a ballsy PC with Win8 to run at its best & there is a forum of friendly folk to get you up & running if you need it

  • Harry Sillen says:

    Have had no opportunity to visit the site again and want to thank you for the suggestions. I getting some experience in this field by transferring some files to USB drive and playing them in the McIntosh MPV 891 Blu-Ray player which can play files up to 24/192. Sounds great, but obviously not a permanent solution.

  • SMind says:

    Mr PAW.

    Please, please please.
    FLAC is Lossless. It’s IMPOSSIBLE that you can distinguish between AIFF and FLAC because they are MATHEMATICALLY THE SAME at the final audio buffer stage. Anyway, if you can distinguish, your computer has a software problem.

    Best regards,
    SMind

  • Ian Nelson says:

    It seems to me that if you’re on a Mac and have plenty of storage, iTunes is ideal for ripping and managing CD’s. I rip to ALAC and output at the highest resolution via a USB-S/PDIF converter to my Rega DAC. Qobuz also works like a charm this way for full resolution streaming listening. No need to rip to MP3 or AAC as well because iTunes does an on-the-fly conversion to AAC if you tell it to for transfer to iPhone or iPod. Good luck all!

  • Jackman says:

    I guess I’m in the wrong place, folks here seems more interested in convenience & the ability to listen to music on a telephone than quality!

  • JW says:

    I only have about 1,500 CDs and plan on ripping each to AIFF. This is because although I think FLAC is excellent I believe AIFF preserves the complete file and meta data integrity. I will place it all on hard drives,for safe keeping but those drives will accessible via Wi-Fi or can be USB feed into my OPPO or playback device. The tracks I want to listen to the most on an ultra fast USB drive such as the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX USB 3.0 256GB which I can pop into the OPPO or a USB dongle in the automobile. I believe this approach allows me complete flexibility with my music.

  • milan says:

    New to this digital malarkey. I am still shocked that despite the fact that we all have audiophile pretensions, the information available on how to select, download , organise, categorise, then replay the audio files is so convoluted.
    I have looked at various downloaders, and to be blunt, I don’t understand what on earth they are talking about.
    I want ONE program that will do all of the above, and for audio files with attached data and cover art to be in that program when I want to look for the download. If I have to pay o.k., but what’s the program?
    I was an old school audio enthusiast. Belt drive turntable, arm, cartridge, dual mono preamps, monoblock power amps, I pair loudspeakers, dedicated hifi room. All before the arrival of children.
    Now, I have been to demos, and not one has been as stress free as put on an album, CAREFULLY lower the expensive cartridge, walk back, sit down, listen, End of side, repeat process.
    It has to be a one-stop-shop, Paid for is not an issue as long as it does the job.
    It has to be easy; as was mentioned earlier, it should not be a full time job
    Currently far too complex a system.
    My listening system now/
    Fiio X1 digital player (flac preferred download , wav for ripped CD)
    Micro SD storage card.
    Audiophile, reference, headphones
    Probably looking for a headphone amp for < £100
    Not spending any more till the software issues are sorted.

  • Mr.M says:

    It’s important to get that balance between ease of use and actual enjoyment of the music, if you find yourself spending all of your free time, editing, converting, cataloguing, metadata editing and so forth, you run out of time to sit and listen!
    I’m primarily an OS X user so my bias is towards apps and solutions that are focused on that platform or at least available on OS X. I had used iTunes for years as a library, using it to import CD’s and then manage cover art and track metadata, I’ve never really liked iTunes, it’s an idiot proofed set of compromises both in terms of functionality and perhaps quality.
    I considered what may be the best app or combination of apps for each step of the process, ripping CD’s, a library, a player and eventually looking at better external DAC options. Here’s what I have and what I would consider a setup I can recommend from personal use.

    CD Ripping – XLD – http://tmkk.undo.jp/xld/index_e.html
    Library – iTunes can still be used, it’s database at least ( see player comment next)
    Player – Audirvana – http://audirvana.com – iTunes or it’s own Database can be used
    DAC – I mainly use an iFi iDSD Nano – http://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/nano-idsd/

    This then typically connects up to a Naim amp and onto the speakers where the good stuff happens.

    This combination is good for a number of reason, XLD is very accurate and handles errors better than iTunes ripping engine, Audirvana gives you the flexibility to just use it as a front end to an existing iTunes Database, but takes control of the audio processing, bypassing the OS X CoreAudio data path and passing the audio data directly to the DAC over USB, this is referred to as Integer Mode, in this case, the source FLAC, AIFF, WAVE or whatever format file, is buffered in RAM, then passed to the DAC directly without any overhead or additional processing steps.
    In terms of DAC’s, i’ve tried and still own a number of different types, from very small USB “stick” ones to more exotic ones from Arcam and Naim.
    I use the iFi iDSD more than most as it is also compatible with my iPhone (also Android is supported and I’ve used that on occasion too), it has it’s own battery and can be connected directly to my phone when travelling and act as an outboard DAC for on the go listening, I combine that with the Onkyo HF Player app on my iPhone and this allows me to load and listen to any file format including FLAC on my iPhone when on the move, acting as both a DAC and headphone amp in one battery powered unit.
    I also use SONOS at home in most rooms, either their own speakers or zones into DAC’s or amps. I’d say that is the best of the bunch in terms of simplicity and ability to be expanded easily.

  • TonyF says:

    i have been using a Naim HDX now for over 6 years to manage the ripping and replay of digitised music. The HDX has onboard storage with an extension into an AVA RS3 NAS drive, elsewhere in my house (connected by high speed Ethernet over the mains).
    I also have a large capacity Iomega USB hard drive, that’s located right next to the HDX – that’s where downloaded hi-res content (sourced from Linn, Qobuz, HD Tracks, B&W SoS, HDDT, etc, or ripped by me from DVD-A discs) is stored (after being copied from the laptop on which the original download is made), and this content is 100% integrated into the library / database on the HDX.
    Ripping using the HDX is simplicity itself. The downloads and DVD-A ripping are slightly more fiddly, but really not too hard.
    Finally I use MP3Tag software for management of the metadata on all material on the USB drive; metadata for the other content ripped by the Naim HDX can be managed using Naim’s N-Serve app ….
    Hope this helps. I have no relationship with Naim other than as a satisfied customer (I also use a Naim DAC, fed by Sp/DIF cable from the HDX).

  • Thor48 says:

    I was using FLAC but switched to AIFF as I also think the sound is better. Tracks in AIFF seem to really come to life and have excellent depth – if the recording is well done. Get the track “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” in AIFF or get the MCA Master Series – Sampler ’86 and rip it to AIFF and get ready for amazing.

  • DustyYevski says:

    I have built up a library on an external drive using Exact Audio Copy. I have thus far been ripping to WAV because space is not an issue. I want to back this library up on a second drive in case the first drive goes bad — what is the best way to do that so that it is replicated faithfully?

  • Freddie August says:

    Using iTunes and iTunes Match. I’m a professional classical musician and listen to a lot of music in various different places. When relaxing at home, my first choice of format is vinyl played on a Rega RP3 turntable through my B&W 685, 686, HTM62 and ASW610 setup (but in stereo). I also buy a copy of the vinyl on CD or just on CD if the music is not available on vinyl. Using iTunes, I rip the music to Apple Lossless ALAC and store it on a NAS. When listening to various tracks/movements from different albums, I stream these ALAC files directly from the NAS to my amp or via a computer to an Apple TV connected to the amp. ALAC files give the high fidelity sound that we spend all that money on equipment to obtain, but the file size is to large to store the amount of music I carry around on an iPhone or iPod. Here I need a smaller file size. Some contributors here have mentioned ripping your music using 2 formats, but I believe there is a simpler, easier way.

    Apple has a service called iTunes Match which has a yearly subscription cost of around £20. When I rip a CD using iTunes on a computer, iTunes will automatically store a copy in iCloud. My full music library is then available on any Mac, PC or iOS device that has iTunes Match turned on and all the music can either be downloaded onto the device or streamed directly from iCloud. The winning feature is that iTunes Match automatically converts the music to lossy AAC format with its smaller file size which is perfect for use when out and about.

    Two file formats with one rip and all your music ready and available everywhere and all for around 20 quid! Hope this helps and happy listening.

  • Reality Check says:

    Man… reading thru the article, then all the comments, its all still a can of non standardized worms. A guy never had to lose his money so fast or work so hard just to get his music collection converted to “lossless”, then merely be able to play it thru his stand alone existing audio gear.

    – You should never stream anything
    – You should never have to use a PC except for converting CD’s etc to FLAC or AIFF
    – You should never have a PC connected to your stand alone audio gear
    – You should never us a mobile device for your stand alone audio setup playback
    – You should never or never have to have your stand alone audio setup connected to the internet. Even thru a VPN.
    – You should never use wi-fi or have to use wi-fi or over-the-air networking for anything related to your stand alone audio setup
    -You should never have to use a Blueray DVD deck just to have a playback source for 92/24 or 192/24 FLAC or AIFF hard wired to your stand alone setup

    There should be affordable, simple playback devices to merely “hard wire” to your decent audiophile grade stand alone setup for FLAC or AIFF playback. Mine is a great tube amp, pre-amp, and hand made speakers. BUT THERE IS NOT. Note the word affordable, and not something waaay over priced like from Cambridge Audio that still includes the unwanted Bluetooth. Thats why companies like HDTracks.com isnt doing so well for the stand alone audiophile home user. There really is nothing out there on the market now made solely to hard wire to your amp or pre amp. HDtracks.com main market now is for overpriced mobile devices like PONO, Fiio,a and the god awful iphone and thru itunes for 92/24 and 192/24 FLAC and AIFF.

    So it remains; the only reason to rip your collection into any lossless format for the decent audiophile home collection is STORAGE SPACE ONLY. Ridiculous. Just keep your CD/’s, albums, tapes, etc the way they are and the the space they take up. Because the lossless software and hardware industry worldwide does NOT want you to be easily able to playback anything that is completely stand lone, at home, and hard wired only.

  • J. Crew says:

    The whole process, point, and playability of ripping your collection to FLAC or AIFF is a complete moot point for the home audiophile, as there is still NO affordable common device to hard wire into your existing system. Since when does the home audiophile have to use a computer, wi-fi, mobile device, or a expensive server to merely play his collection at home?!?

    Plus, as it is commonly known, the home audiophile will not hear any real difference between a 96 or 196/24 FLAC music track and the old compressed lossy mp3 audio CD unless he has spent $150,000.00 usd to begin with.

    No wonder vinyl is making a huge comeback.

  • Steve Wilson says:

    We can’t bring back the dinosaurs and neither can we turn back the clock with audio, and I for one don’t want to. I have nearly completed ripping my 4000+ CD collection to 24 bit flac files, and just love the fact that what took up the space of the best part of a whole room, now resides in an 8” x 12” very neat black box. The said box connected to my SuperNait through a Squeezebox Touch, album/track selection and volume all controlled from my laptop or phone by Wi-Fi. All so very convenient and easy to use, turn back the clock to CD’s, Albums, Tapes, no thank you.

  • Arve says:

    On the Mac, I’d suggest that you use XLD instead, since it supports verifiable rips through AccurateRip. Sure, most of the time, iTunes or Max will provide the same rip, but if you have difficult CD’s (moderate disc rot or scratches), you will know if the CD ripped cleanly or not.

    It’s also, in my experience much better than either Max or XLD at importing metadata and album art.

  • Craig Farley says:

    I and many others in the Audiophile kingdom read thru this article and all of the comments. Something is very wrong. It’s all focusing on ripping/converting your CD or other collection to FLAC, AIFF, WAV or the like and then to the hi formats of 24/96 or 24/196.

    IMPOSSIBLE, if not outright misinformation.

    The ripping and conversion process is all based on the source; i.e. the bad lossy dumdowned compressed CD. You would have to have a master to begin with that contained all the original info and good quality lossless recording THEN convert if to 24/29 or 24/196. Trying to do the same to your average CD collection which has lost all of the good info only makes a bigger file as all of the high quality mastering is lost when it was converted into a CD/MP3. You CAN NOT get it back or make it a hi def 24/29 or 24/196 FLAC or AIFF. You can not get blood out of a turnip (great lossless rip from a lossy CD/MP3).

    So ripping your CD collection to hi def FLAC etc is a worthless procedure.

  • P Turner says:

    I have moved my 300+ CD collection to Apple Lossless on my Mac but I am concerned that the output is through a low quality earphone jack. Any thoughts on the appropriate way to retrieve and play lossless sound in the highest quality on the home system? DAC?

  • Peter says:

    I do the old school. LPs or CDs, put one on and listen to it. No skipping unless I really hate the song. I’ve made a huge library once (all Wav) but found the ease of access and never ending quick selection detracted me from enjoying whole albums without skipping only to songs I like the most. I got rid of the 15 hard drives and now I’m happy once again just browsing through my walls to walls collections of music.

  • Probus5002 says:

    Interesting views on ripping CDs. I have ripped 90% of my collection, using Apple Lossless. Everything is stored on a Synology NAS drive which is accessed by Sonos for distribution around the house to DALI powered speakers. The NAS is hardwired via ethernet to a Primare system that includes the excellent NP30. I have a back-up to external drives that are attached to my iMac. The types of files played by Sonos and iTunes are limited, of course. The Primare NP30 will handle everything. I keep my MacBook Pro connected by USB into the NP30 which allows Tidal and certain high res files to be played through the Primare system via Audirvana. The sound quality is pretty good. I have just listened to the excellent Society of Sound download of the Lake Poets in FLAC24.

    My point is the organisation of my music on a NAS drive has allowed me to rediscover stuff I had long forgotten. The speed of access to music which was scattered around the house in various CD storage cases now gives me more time to listen rather than hunt for an album. My iPhone which I use mainly in the car or walking is virtually full (128GB) of Tidal download content. I think I am now pretty much sorted.

  • Mike says:

    P Turner: It depends on what kind of Mac you’re using, but my Mac Book Pro’s earphone jack also includes a digital audio out jack, which allows me to run an optical cable out to my external DAC and thereby bypass the Mac’s internal DAC.

  • CMau63 says:

    I agree with Thor48 about sound different in different lossless compression. In my player (Philips BDP7700) the wav files sound better than the same in flac (Compression level 0, biggest file, fast encode and I suppose best decode). The Dynamic is higher, the music more live!
    It’s not a data storage problem. The FALC was a wav recoded, the result is the same. The PC bit compare isn’t showed any difference in final data after double encode/decode. I think the cause should be in the decoder’s efficency. Have you similar experiences? Do you know which DAC sounds FLAC and WAV in same way?

  • Ivan says:

    I use reel tape recorder.

  • David says:

    No love for Monkey’s Audio? That is a very good lossless audio format. People just don’t know about it very much, so it lacks support. :-(

  • Andres says:

    You can not get better than the source.
    When you buy a Original CD from a music store, the tracks where already downgraded to a format that is a two-channel 16-bit PCM encoding at a 44.1 kHz sampling rate per channel.
    That being said, ripping your cd to loose less 24bit formats will never get better than the source since was downgraded from the studio recording 24bit to a 16 bit CD.
    It’s like trying to make an original from a copy.

    If you really want a real 24bit studio recording source track, you may need to download it from HD tracks( still investigating if their studio format, but appears legit 24bit, not ripped from CDs)

    Apple it’s working in a future deal to offer 24 bit studio recording quality with a deal with artists studio recording company’s .

    Ripping CDs it’s a very cheap way to create 24 bit lossless tracks but take in count that you are ripping from a CD that it’s on a 16 bit format.

    Probably will be better to rip them in their real bit format in lossless to save space like FLAC/ALAC 16 bit only

  • Frank Frick says:

    Andres point is excellent…I can tell you that I have 78s of Oscar Peterson, Jascha Heifetz and others…I like the crackles, but the actual ambience of the soundstage and the tonality of the violin was better on iTunes…I guess it was derived from the master at a later time than the original published Vinyls or whatever they used in the 40s.

    I pick my Cds and also downloads very carefully too. One can say it is 24 bit etc, but if it is not well recorded / produced to start with, you’re not going to win. You’d never buy a poorly miked live performance in an echoey space no matter how high the specs on the file formats et al. So Thor48’s approach is valid. For an example of a great recording: Dhafer Youssef’s “Divine Shadows”.

  • Frank Frick says:

    Daniel Lanois is another who takes great care with the way the music is recorded.

  • Weber says:

    I recently discovered Roon server and player software. It is an excellent and fully featured alternative to iTunes. Really it is what iTunes should have been. I use it with an external USB DAC and in a network with remote player devices. Very nice setup for digital files. Another great feature is that it can seamlessly integrate music stored in various locations, including on Tidal (as long as that service still exists).

  • William Brevoort says:

    How come B&W does not support DSD?
    The London Symphony sacd recordings are the best sounding playback systems available-
    ON high end Marantz reference sacd players- through B&W 802 speakers running at 800 watts a channel-
    Both Rotel and Classa do not have sacd players
    I can’t even download DSD on your site
    Bill Brevoort–Hawaii

  • Bowers & Wilkins says:

    Please contact our customer service team on +1 (978) 664 2870 who will be able to advise further on this.

  • Alex says:

    For Mac OS -> XLD the best ripping software

  • Allan says:

    If I rip my cds to iTunes to a wav file could I then transfer them onto a non apple player or am I stuck with apple ?

    Thank you.
    Allan

  • Hunter says:

    For macOS, XLD is also an excellent software for ripping and converting. It can even automatically add your converted files to a playlist in iTunes for you.

  • Vadim says:

    There’s a huge mistakes regarding FLAC + apple devices. The truth is that it’s just a marketing move by Apple. They only “pretend” to not to support FLAC, but you actually, can play it on apple devices. The gap here is to overcome iTunes disallowance. When you try to add flac to your iPhone via itunes, it won’t let you, saying the format is unsupported. But if you use third party software (waltr) to add music to iphone, these flac files will be played without any issues further. Apple likes to have their own alternative for everything, but in reality, there a small to none difference between flac and alac.
    Anyways, I think this info should be corrected.

  • Jim Shaffer says:

    I’m, not a music techie. Just got a great B&W headset and believe I have Society of Sound membership. Is there a place that explains how to download music and is there a way to slow down the screen changes that describe what various albums are about? I’m by no means a slow reader but if I could freeze frame them I could read the entire entry before it moves on. Thank you for your help.

  • Bowers & Wilkins says:

    To download music from Society of Sound, you must first log into your account on our website. Once logged in you will be able to select ‘Society of Sound album downloads’ from your account page, or ‘Download’ in the top right hand corner to take you to our album download page.

    For more details about the albums please visit the artist pages which can all be found from here: http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Society_of_Sound/Society_of_Sound/Music/albums.html

    Kind regards,
    Bowers & Wilkins

  • Keith says:

    I’m very disappointed that B and W Society of Sound have decided to stop downloads in FLAC format

    All my files for my Hi Res portable DAP player are in FLAC format and I have edited the tagging so that my library is uniform regardless of source

    Now I will have to find a way to convert from AIFF to FLAC or use up twice the amount of space for the same amount of music and I will never give in to iTunes

    I subscribed recently to Society of sound for a full year with the expectation that I could look forward to 12 months of FLAC24 downloads and now find that they are going the way of Apple

    You make a very good case for FLAC in the article above so why change it. FLAC does everything we need with less footprint and excellent metadata tagging, the end!

    You make the assumption that people will have iTunes already but this is certainly incorrect in my case and I will not go there again after bad experience with it in the past. I also do not like Apple’s “lock them in” business strategy

    Please keep FLAC downloads

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