AIFF vs. FLAC file types

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Anonamemouse

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #20 on: 10 Jan 2018, 02:15 pm »
dBPoweramp can be set up to various levels of accuracy, from "Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's okay on the first run", to "I WANT THIS CHECKED 18 TIMES TO MAKE SURE EVERY LITTLE 0 AND 1 IS THERE! AND THEN CHECKED AGAIN!!!"

Syrah

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #21 on: 10 Jan 2018, 02:19 pm »
I use DBpoweramp too.  My above comparison with both formats was using DBpoweramp on the highest level of accuracy.

CanadianMaestro

Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #22 on: 10 Jan 2018, 03:39 pm »
dBPoweramp can be set up to various levels of accuracy, from "Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's okay on the first run", to "I WANT THIS CHECKED 18 TIMES TO MAKE SURE EVERY LITTLE 0 AND 1 IS THERE! AND THEN CHECKED AGAIN!!!"

 :lol: :lol:

In other words, ranging from

"Naively overconfident and stupid"

to

"F--- OCD and on prescription sedatives".  :roll:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cheers

CanadianMaestro

Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #23 on: 15 Jan 2018, 12:12 pm »
-----  I did blind A/B comparisons.  AIFF beat FLAC on my system to my ears
My experience.  Potential technical reasons for this - I don't know.

Curious -- could you share with us, what did you hear in AIFF that was lacking in FLAC?

cheers

Syrah

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #24 on: 15 Jan 2018, 01:56 pm »
A bit more detail and resolution.  Not night and day, but noticeable.

CanadianMaestro

Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #25 on: 15 Jan 2018, 02:21 pm »
A bit more detail and resolution.  Not night and day, but noticeable.

what DAC are you using?

cheers

gbaby

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #26 on: 15 Jan 2018, 04:17 pm »
A bit more detail and resolution.  Not night and day, but noticeable.

I read dbpoweramp does not use genuine .aiff, but rather a "pseudo" aiff.  :o

CanadianMaestro

Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #27 on: 15 Jan 2018, 05:08 pm »
 :banghead:

Syrah

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #28 on: 16 Jan 2018, 02:48 pm »
I'm now using a Modwright Oppo Sonica DAC.  Again, I have no idea what the technical differences are.  But it's a 15 minute experiment to rip the same disk in FLAC and then in AIFF and have a friend flip back and forth blind.  Done.  Hopefully FLAC wins as it does take a lot less space.

charmerci

Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #29 on: 16 Jan 2018, 04:26 pm »
I'm now using a Modwright Oppo Sonica DAC.  Again, I have no idea what the technical differences are.  But it's a 15 minute experiment to rip the same disk in FLAC and then in AIFF and have a friend flip back and forth blind.  Done.  Hopefully FLAC wins as it does take a lot less space.

Could you do a small favor and try a WAV file and tell us what you think?

Syrah

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #30 on: 17 Jan 2018, 07:42 pm »
Not for a while I'm afraid.  I recently moved and all of my ripping stuff is all packed up.  I think I might have tried it already, but I don't recall.

zoom25

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #31 on: 17 Jan 2018, 08:12 pm »
Previous threads and their results:

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=139572.0

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=103168.0

Out of the many forums and hundreds of threads I've read for this topic, the results have been:

1) No difference detected

2) Among those who detect a difference - preference for the uncompressed (usually WAV) over the compressed (FLAC, ALAC).

3) Occasionally you do find a minority that prefers the compressed over uncompressed.

Typical descriptions: WAV sounds more open, 3D and dynamic. FLAC can sound more closed in and controlled (especially in the bass region), but on some systems this can come off as cleaner sounding which may explain the small minority's preference for FLAC. Again, I have to reiterate that any potential differences are solely based on byproduct noise (patterns - constant noise vs. intermittent peaks) of the processing (CPU and I/O).

FLAC consumes slightly more CPU than WAV for decoding. However, the I/O for WAV is bigger: http://thewelltemperedcomputer.com/KB/WAV-FLAC.htm

I don't know how it is for BDP-2 or BDP-3, but BDP-1 accesses the hard/flash drive in MPD every few seconds while playing.

R. Daneel

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #32 on: 23 Feb 2018, 02:23 pm »
To answer your question #4, it is mathematically impossible for these formats to sound different from one another. Providing everything is right with the encoding and decoding side of things, the dana is exactly the same. This is the shortest explanation I can think of.

CanadianMaestro

Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #33 on: 23 Feb 2018, 03:11 pm »
^ And yet, some people hear differences.

James Tanner

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #34 on: 23 Feb 2018, 03:22 pm »
I think one of the issues is there is so much going on behind the scenes when it comes to the digital signal path its difficult to know what is actually happening and what manipulation is going on from point A to Point B.

One of the reasons I had for developing the BDP Digital player product way back when was I was finding that files were not BIT Perfect using my Windows or MAC computer as the source - things like KMIXER in Windows for example and such was screwing with the signal.  Also some products Upsample all the digital signals going in to DSD or higher resolution status and you are not in fact hearing the Native file.

Also not sure if this matters but the software used to transfer files from one point to another may in fact alter the signal in some unforeseen way.

Its had to argue against the math though.

james
« Last Edit: 25 Feb 2018, 09:50 am by James Tanner »

CanadianMaestro

Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #35 on: 23 Feb 2018, 03:27 pm »
I think one of the issues is there is so much going on behind the scenes

One of the reasons I had for developing the BDP Digital player product way back when was I was finding thats files were not BIT Perfect using my Windows or MAC computer as the source - things like KMIXER in Windows for example and such was screwing with the signal. 

james

James,

Yet there are some who use the BDP (a great product that I highly endorse), and still claim to hear diffs between file types. With all else constant (cables, external drives, etc).

What gives?

cheers

James Tanner

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #36 on: 23 Feb 2018, 04:22 pm »
James,

Yet there are some who use the BDP (a great product that I highly endorse), and still claim to hear diffs between file types. With all else constant (cables, external drives, etc).

What gives?

cheers

No idea !!!

zoom25

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #37 on: 23 Feb 2018, 07:15 pm »
From The Absolute Sound's review of the BDP-2: http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/bryston-bdp-2-digital-player/?page=3

Quote
I was surprised to find that playback of DLNA streamed files sounded consistently more refined, open, and relaxed than playback of those same files accessed through the shared NAS folder. Perhaps the DLNA protocol provides additional local data handling at the source end, facilitating smoother transmission over the network. Playback via NAS file-share access imposed a crude, grainy, airless haze over the music. Using the BDP-2’s DLNA client to play the same files streamed by the source computer’s DLNA server substantially reduced those unpleasant artifacts.

However, neither networked playback mode came close to the performance of the directly connected USB hard drive. Music played over the network exhibited a disembodied, diffuse quality, lacking foundation, substance, and presence, never remotely suggestive of the real thing. The notes were there, but not the instruments that generated those notes. In stark contrast, music played from a USB hard drive connected directly to the BDP-2 engages the listener’s attention with vitality, immediacy, and dramatically superior resolution.

zoom25

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #38 on: 23 Feb 2018, 08:03 pm »
I'll make this observation. Quick thought experiment.

Say you only have a single flash drive plugged into the BDP. Nothing else. It has the same track in flac and wav. Let's assume they sound different and we are able to double blind this. It holds up statistically. The hardware itself has not changed. Only thing that changes is FLAC and WAV. At this stage, if you had to guess, do you think the ultimate cause of this was in the software or hardware domain? I'm sure there will be ripple effects and proximate causes as well, which further muddy up things. But think of the ultimate cause.

Regarding WAV and FLAC, I've read most, if not all, of the previous Bryston threads on FLAC and WAV. Some hear it, others don't. I'd say most don't. Furthermore, most are not as likely to even entertain the difference existing in this case.

Let's switch over to Roon. Both MPD and Roon are bit perfect. Let's have the same devices, switches, and cables in play. Nothing else plugged into the BDP. The computer will act as both Roon Core and NAS, for both Roon Ready and MPD respectively. This ensures that the hardware used and the transmission method (ethernet) will be the same between Roon and MPD.

With Roon and MPD, a lot more people come out and notice a difference, even if you control for MPD being used through ethernet or local USB drives. This is not exclusive to Bryston. Go read the Roon forums and you'll see numerous discussions from customers of other manufacturers voicing the same thing. Different sound between local processing vs streamed music, even if the music is delivered by ethernet in both cases.

In this second scenario, let's assume we did a double blind test and found the differences to be statistically significant. Keep in mind that everything was same hardware wise. Would you think the ultimate cause for this was software generated. I'm sure the proximate causes for this will be even more interesting.

Keep in mind that people find the difference between MPD and Roon to be bigger than FLAC vs WAV. If the difference between MPD and Roon is software generated and this is something that people seem to easily accept, then why couldn't this be applied and extended to FLAC vs. WAV?

To make sure I don't botch this:

1) Hardware is kept constant.

2) Bit streams are perfect in all mode and mathematically identical.

3) Any sound difference generated is the ultimate result of how the software differs. This difference in software is potentially resulting in different amounts of generated noise (CPU and I/O). It's the hardware that ultimately produces the noise and generates any differences in sound. However, it's the software that governs how the hardware behaves.

Another important distinction that needs to be addressed in FLAC vs WAV. People will often say that the differences in decoding and handling is minimal and should not be audible. With Roon and MPD, I've seen people here more willingly to believe that this processing difference is enough to cause a difference in sound.

--> If we assume this to be true, then the next challenging question becomes: At what point does the difference in software and system resource usage stop being audible?

I'll leave it here for now.

EDIT: I will also add that we all use the term "noise" very loosely, especially when talking about CPU generated noise. We don't talk about the bandwidth, pattern, intensity, frequency whatsoever.
« Last Edit: 23 Feb 2018, 09:17 pm by zoom25 »

skunark

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Re: AIFF vs. FLAC file types
« Reply #39 on: 24 Feb 2018, 12:51 am »
On linux, you have to go through the ALSA drivers and everything needs to be converted to PCM.  So MPD/Roon will call a decoder for lossless uncompression for  flac (or ALAC, and a lossy uncompression for mp3, aac, etc).  WAVs and AIFF are already uncompressed and just have to match the byte ordering (endianness) for the CPU architecture.    You can log on to the BDP (RPI, or other linux machine) and see the CPU increase when playing a FLAC or ALAC when compared to AIFF or WAV.   

You can argue that FLAC is more mature than AIFF on linux, but you can't say that with AIFF or WAV.   Roon and MPD could be using different decoders, unlikely but possible, then if one wasn't bit perfect then sure maybe you will hear but easily measure a difference.   Any easy check is to play various formats and monitor the sound card to make sure that it matches the bit-rate of the song you are playing.

So now it is up to MPD/Roon to convert to PCM based on the decoders they have selected, assuming both are doing a bit-perfect playback, then is the increase of CPU usage causing enough heat to distort the digital outputs of the BDP?    Probably not, but that would be measurable and I would assume you would have to play enough of one format for it to reach a steady state to be measurable.     Even though the PCM is source synchronous you would need to find a DAC that does clock recovery from the PCM for it to be impacted, most if not all DACs have a synchronizing FIFO and use one or more oscillators for the D/A core.   

People hear what they hear and think what they think, but having a beer will be more impacting to the sound than the file format.