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Back-up Copy~ WAV vs FLAC
Back-up Copy~ WAV vs FLAC
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LimitBreaker15
post Aug 29 2012, 09:30
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I wanted to have a permanent back-up copy of my audio files so I wanted to hear others' opinions on this matter. I know there have been many threads of this kind, but let's tackle a BIT different topic...

I'm not really good with audio, but I did my research. Anyways...
I know majority of people will say, "You won't hear any difference, stick with flac" or the likes, but I wanted to get the most 'suitable' format for my back-ups. Suitable as in, closest to the original.
WAV PCM is an uncompressed audio. FLAC is a lossless compressed audio. Isn't it better to stick with WAV if I wanted to just convert it to flac or other formats later rather than convert it from flac? I mean, look, FLAC is already compressed...

and...

WAV > FLAC = √
FLAC > WAV = x <<< less filesize than the original



'I know that nothing useful is lost...and the only thing that makes WAV files that large are excess bits and header size...'
^
^
^
Will this fact really solve my dilemma?


I wanna know your opinions...if it were in your case, would you stick with uncompressed or lossless compressed for your back-up copies...

Oh, and let's assume storage size isn't an issue.
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shadowking
post Aug 29 2012, 09:45
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WAV for backup and burning for CD audio playback is fine but thats about it for me. Anything more I need proper tagging.


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Kohlrabi
post Aug 29 2012, 09:59
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QUOTE (LimitBreaker15 @ Aug 29 2012, 10:30) *
I know majority of people will say, "You won't hear any difference, stick with flac" or the likes, but I wanted to get the most 'suitable' format for my back-ups. Suitable as in, closest to the original.
WAV PCM is an uncompressed audio. FLAC is a lossless compressed audio. Isn't it better to stick with WAV if I wanted to just convert it to flac or other formats later rather than convert it from flac? I mean, look, FLAC is already compressed...
[...]
'I know that nothing useful is lost...and the only thing that makes WAV files that large are excess bits and header size...'
That's not how lossless audio compression works. In layman's terms, FLAC compresses like ZIP, so nothing is lost due to compression. The resulting files are obviously smaller. You will save space of between 20% and 55% per album compared to WAV, based on the material. Another huge advantage of FLAC is that you can properly tag the files, as shadowking already remarked. There is no reason to use WAV/PCM.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Aug 29 2012, 09:59


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LimitBreaker15
post Aug 29 2012, 10:15
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Oh so I was wrong with that...well, that statement atleast made me favor FLAC more biggrin.gif But I'll still wait for more opinions...

This post has been edited by db1989: Aug 29 2012, 11:52
Reason for edit: deleting unnecessary full quote
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db1989
post Aug 29 2012, 10:44
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Opinions on what? Iíll really need quite a good answer to leave this thread open.

The only reason to leave your audio as WAV without compressing is if you don’t care about its taking up more space needlessly and the rarity of applications that can tag it, and/or you are not willing to spend the trivial quantity of time and CPU cycles necessary for lossless compression.

QUOTE
I'm not really good with audio, but I did my research.
I must question the latter claim.

This post has been edited by db1989: Aug 29 2012, 10:45
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LimitBreaker15
post Aug 29 2012, 11:28
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I don't really mind the filesize and CPU usage...but if FLAC can do EXACTLY the same thing with less CPU usage and size, then I'd rather stick to it. But does it? <This is my question. And I want to hear their opinions on it. If someone answers with a pleasing statement, please close this thread.

This post has been edited by db1989: Aug 29 2012, 11:52
Reason for edit: as in post #4
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HansBKK
post Aug 29 2012, 11:49
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Lossless means lossless. The only **possible** reason for wanting to waste the disc space on WAV is .

Damn in the time it took me to type that my mind went completely blank, can't think of one.

Oh yeah, you're frequently burning Audio CDs (really?) and don't want to have to wait for the intermediate (usually invisible) FLAC>WAV temp file conversion.

Didn't say it was a reasonable one did I?

Use FLAC.

This post has been edited by db1989: Aug 29 2012, 11:53
Reason for edit: as above
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nastea
post Aug 29 2012, 12:04
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Another thing to keep in mind is when the cd-r gets damaged. Even if 1 byte in a flac file isn't read out correctly, you can't decode it to wav because the CRC checksum is wrong. A damaged wav file will still play and you might be able to fix clicks or pops in a wave editor.
WAV would be my choice to back up important audio.
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Kohlrabi
post Aug 29 2012, 12:33
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QUOTE (LimitBreaker15 @ Aug 29 2012, 12:28) *
I don't really mind the filesize and CPU usage...but if FLAC can do EXACTLY the same thing with less CPU usage and size, then I'd rather stick to it. But does it? <This is my question. And I want to hear their opinions on it. If someone answers with a pleasing statement, please close this thread.
FLAC uses a negligible amount of additional CPU power during encoding and decoding to reduce file size considerably.

QUOTE (nastea @ Aug 29 2012, 13:04) *
Another thing to keep in mind is when the cd-r gets damaged. Even if 1 byte in a flac file isn't read out correctly, you can't decode it to wav because the CRC checksum is wrong.
This is more a problem of bad backup plan/media than the format.

QUOTE (nastea @ Aug 29 2012, 13:04) *
A damaged wav file will still play and you might be able to fix clicks or pops in a wave editor.
The result is very likely not bit-identical to the original file, so this is no longer a backup but merely an audible reproduction of the original file.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Aug 29 2012, 12:36


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pdq
post Aug 29 2012, 13:09
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At one time I had a device that would only play mp3 and wav files. The difference was that wav files played gapless and mp3 didn't, so my music was stored as wav.

That device is long gone, so now my music is saved as flac files, which are vastly more convenient when it comes to tagging.
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extrabigmehdi
post Aug 29 2012, 13:23
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Take a wav file.
Now do a copy and compress it as flac.
Now convert back that flac to wav.
It should be exactly the same file as the original wav,
you could do a binary comparison using tools like "beyond compare" if you still have any doubt.
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tuffy
post Aug 29 2012, 14:30
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QUOTE (nastea @ Aug 29 2012, 06:04) *
Another thing to keep in mind is when the cd-r gets damaged. Even if 1 byte in a flac file isn't read out correctly, you can't decode it to wav because the CRC checksum is wrong. A damaged wav file will still play and you might be able to fix clicks or pops in a wave editor.
WAV would be my choice to back up important audio.

FLAC can skip over a damaged section of file, losing about 1/10th of a second per frame in most cases. But more importantly, one can run an automated test on the files to ensure whether they're still good or not. With a WAV file, if some bits have been flipped in the stream, there's simply no way to know other than hoping some obvious defect stands out during listening or in a stream editor. Storing some extra correction files (like .par2) can mitigate this problem, but they'd work just as well on FLAC so one might as well use FLAC.
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2Bdecided
post Aug 29 2012, 14:46
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People use FLAC because it's lossless (perfect copy of the WAV), smaller, and easier to tag.

Without tags, you're just trusting the filenames to hold all the information you need - and you're trusting that it's easy to extract it from the filenames in the future for whatever you want to use. (You could use WAV+CUE I suppose, putting the information in the CUE sheet file).

People use WAV if they want to drag the audio instantly into an audio editor or onto a CD (i.e. without decompressing a FLAC first).

Use FLAC.

Cheers,
David.
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greynol
post Aug 29 2012, 16:02
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QUOTE (nastea @ Aug 29 2012, 04:04) *
Even if 1 byte in a flac file isn't read out correctly, you can't decode it to wav because the CRC checksum is wrong.

This is nonsense. It appears that you've never actually encountered a corrupt flac file or one that hasn't been read out correctly.

QUOTE
A damaged wav file will still play and you might be able to fix clicks or pops in a wave editor.

This depends on the nature of the damage. If data is lost, playback could be downright ugly. Attempting to salvage the file is no longer as trivial as loading it into an editor. Lost data in the audio stream in a flac file? You lose a small section of audio and everything else plays just fine, thanks.

This post has been edited by greynol: Aug 29 2012, 16:15


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yourlord
post Aug 29 2012, 16:33
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Use FLAC.

For quite some time now the only case where storing audio in a raw PCM format (WAV) makes any sense is in multitrack digital audio workstations (or similar applications). In that environment decoding potentially dozens to hundreds of compressed streams real time, in parallel, would be far too much overhead to be feasible. In that setting raw PCM makes sense.

For everything else lossless compression (FLAC, ALAC, etc) is the best option. You gain space efficiency, metadata(tags), and built in error detection.

If you want to burn an audio CD your CPU is likely fast enough to decode the FLAC file faster than your burner can write the data to the disk.

As a test I just decompressed a 23 minute 16 bit/44.1KHz FLAC file. The resulting WAV file size is roughly 245MB. it decoded in 4.33 seconds. I've never seen a CD burner that can write at 56MBps.
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nastea
post Aug 29 2012, 16:44
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I just did a test, and flac gave an error message after 29% of the decoding process, and stopped the decoding.
Before that I had altered one byte in a flac file, using a hex editor.
( I'm using flac 1.2.1 by the way. )

I wasn't aware of the fact that FLAC can skip over a damaged section of file, like tuffy said, so I changed my mind now and agree that flac is the best choice for a back up of audio files. happy.gif
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greynol
post Aug 29 2012, 16:53
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There is a switch that forces the decoder to continue through errors.

Next time instead of making stuff up, please do a little research.


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JJZolx
post Aug 29 2012, 18:39
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QUOTE (LimitBreaker15 @ Aug 29 2012, 02:30) *
I wanted to have a permanent back-up copy of my audio files


Tell me this.... Say you own 1000 CDs. You have a "backup" of those CDs in some lossless format like WAV or FLAC on a hard drive that you've stored off site. Your house burns down and all of the CDs are destroyed. Are you really going spend the time and effort to take those backup files and burn 1000 CDs? Or are you just going to switch from playing CDs to playing the files instead?

What I'm saying is ... forget about the notion of "backing up" or archiving your CD collection. Instead, concentrate on ripping your library to a lossless format, tagging it thoroughly and correctly. Find a playback system for those files that you like. Make sure you maintain backups of the files and keep a copy in a safe place. And enjoy the music.
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jayess
post Aug 29 2012, 19:18
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.Wav is a Microsoft and IBM standard.

That's how I roll, listen, and archive...
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Porcus
post Aug 29 2012, 20:55
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If you wanna use .wav, put it in a .zip file, using a recent version of the format. Then it becomes WavPack'ed.


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db1989
post Aug 29 2012, 21:09
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And less portable than FLAC. Plus, I really think that one would be better to cut out the unnecessary middle-man and go straight to a lossless format, but if the warm and fuzzy feeling of being able to check the archive and see a WAV file in it is that compelling, then whatever, I guess.
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Porcus
post Aug 29 2012, 21:31
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Well, to those who insist that .wav is better because it is an uncompressed format ...

... shouldn't Microsoft's compressed folders feature for NTFS degrade the .wav much less than .zipping, since it is nowhere near the same efficiency? emot-science.gif

This post has been edited by Porcus: Aug 29 2012, 21:31


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jayess
post Aug 29 2012, 21:37
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QUOTE (Porcus @ Aug 29 2012, 15:31) *
Well, to those who insist that .wav is better because it is an uncompressed format ...

... shouldn't Microsoft's compressed folders feature for NTFS degrade the .wav much less than .zipping, since it is nowhere near the same efficiency? emot-science.gif


I try to stay out of these .flac discussions because it's like a Democrat showing up at the Republican Convention, but touting .flac for its compression is silly when you consider that storage is dirt cheap and virtually unlimited for anyone above the poverty level.

Until the big players adopt .flac it's still a fringe format.

Does Itunes (not that I would load that crap software on my system) play .flac file?
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db1989
post Aug 29 2012, 21:42
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lol someone said “Republican”

QUOTE
but touting .flac for its compression is silly when you consider that storage is dirt cheap and virtually unlimited for anyone above the poverty level.
So are CPU cycles, at least if one defines “the poverty level” as generously as you seem to. By this other side of the coin, it would be “silly” not to compress.

FLAC is not the most space-efficient lossless codec out there, but it does enough and can save a significant amount of space over an entire library.

QUOTE
Until the big players adopt .flac it's still a fringe format.
So a lack of awareness among the majority means that no one should use it. Now I understand.

QUOTE
Does Itunes (not that I would load that crap software on my system) play .flac file?
If this is not just a snarky rhetorical question, you can quite easily answer it with a bit of the most basic research, so have fun.

This post has been edited by db1989: Aug 29 2012, 21:43
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LithosZA
post Aug 29 2012, 21:44
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I hate it when I extract my Word documents from a zip file and I find that they all have turned yellow and are torn a bit. smile.gif



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Just fooling around. Lossless compression won't affect the quality at all and FLACs can still be decoded if there are errors in the file. Only the affected frames won't be decoded correctly. I doubt that a corrupted zip/rar/7z etc file will still uncompress the WAV correctly...
So, I would say that FLACs are just as safe as WAVs for backup purposes and you save lots of space.
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