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AIFF vs. Apple Lossless, Do they really sound the same?
rob755
post Jan 20 2007, 01:01
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Hi, I unfortunately have VERY little time right now to search thru past threads to ask this probably well played out topic, so please no one take offense but..... I just started importing cd's in AIFF (on an iMac24"), knowing of all the consequences of drive space and ipod unfriendliness etc. I mostly ONLY want the best playback avail. thru an outboard dac and good stereo. I have gotten 150 or so discs in at this point, but many to go. It seems apple lossless is theoretically got to sound the same as aiff. After starting offmy library in AIFF, I did a little more research and thought I sure need to consider ALE as well.I just did a little a/b ing between them. I may be kidding myself, but it seems to me the aiff songs seem to have a bit (haha?) more sparkle to my ears. Do you think I'm kidding myself here?. I need to listen some more ,but thought I'd dive in hoping for others opinions. Any thoughts and experiences wacko.gif wacko.gif would be appreciated. Thanks. Kind Regards, Rob
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altaski
post Jan 20 2007, 01:14
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Well, as you know aiff is the ultimate but large. I was looking for the best quality for a portable hard drive to use in a car. But then I found out the head unit won't accept aiff, lossless, or mp3/wma over 320 kbps. So I'm stuck with some loss for that application. As for storing the files on hard drive I just went with aiff since I had a 250 gb drive. Put about 300 cds on it. At least then I can convert them to anything else later depending on application. I think either apple or wma lossless are about the same. Hope that helps.

QUOTE (rob755 @ Jan 19 2007, 16:01) *
Hi, I unfortunately have VERY little time right now to search thru past threads to ask this probably well played out topic, so please no one take offense but..... I just started importing cd's in AIFF (on an iMac24"), knowing of all the consequences of drive space and ipod unfriendliness etc. I mostly ONLY want the best playback avail. thru an outboard dac and good stereo. I have gotten 150 or so discs in at this point, but many to go. It seems apple lossless is theoretically got to sound the same as aiff. After starting offmy library in AIFF, I did a little more research and thought I sure need to consider ALE as well.I just did a little a/b ing between them. I may be kidding myself, but it seems to me the aiff songs seem to have a bit (haha?) more sparkle to my ears. Do you think I'm kidding myself here?. I need to listen some more ,but thought I'd dive in hoping for others opinions. Any thoughts and experiences wacko.gif wacko.gif would be appreciated. Thanks. Kind Regards, Rob
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dreamliner77
post Jan 20 2007, 01:26
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Lossless = without loss.


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Silversight
post Jan 20 2007, 20:29
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rob755: You're kidding yourself. An Apple Lossless file not only doesn't contain any audible loss - it doesn't contain any loss at all. It will reproduce exactly, bit for bit, the same audio data as the AIFF file. Hence the term "loss-less". There is no difference. AIFF is no better quality, it's just a bigger file.
So, AIFF isn't really "the ultimate", because it is inferior to any lossless codec when it comes to tagging and space occupation.


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Firon
post Jan 20 2007, 20:40
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Why do these threads keep popping up? I really don't see what part of lossless is so hard to understand, especially when you compare it to a ZIP or 7z archive. Do they lose any data? No. Lossless audio works the same way, just in a more optimized fashion.

This post has been edited by Firon: Jan 20 2007, 20:41
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benski
post Jan 20 2007, 21:52
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QUOTE (Firon @ Jan 20 2007, 14:40) *
Why do these threads keep popping up? I really don't see what part of lossless is so hard to understand, especially when you compare it to a ZIP or 7z archive. Do they lose any data? No. Lossless audio works the same way, just in a more optimized fashion.


I think because MP3, WMA, etc have been advertising "CD Quality" for so long, that "Lossless" might be viewed as just another marketing term.
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rob755
post Jan 20 2007, 22:14
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QUOTE (benski @ Jan 20 2007, 12:52) *
QUOTE (Firon @ Jan 20 2007, 14:40) *

Why do these threads keep popping up? I really don't see what part of lossless is so hard to understand, especially when you compare it to a ZIP or 7z archive. Do they lose any data? No. Lossless audio works the same way, just in a more optimized fashion.


I think because MP3, WMA, etc have been advertising "CD Quality" for so long, that "Lossless" might be viewed as just another marketing term.


Hi again, Thanks for the replies. I managed the time this morning to research this more. It seems some prefer AIFF just to feel more secure about long term compatibility with other systems and equipment. Having well over 1000 discs I am wanting to import common sense should point me at ALAC. If I import them all in ALAC and want to convert them all to AIFF down the road, does anyone know an easy, efficient way to do it without recreating each song twice, showing in iTunes library? Perhaps other software? Again, I am new to this and kind souls wishing to help us uneducated newbies sort through the myriad of audio topics and alternatives is a huge time saver, and greatly appreciated for some of us who can't get much computer time in. Happy Listening!
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Light-Fire
post Jan 20 2007, 22:22
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QUOTE (rob755 @ Jan 19 2007, 19:01) *
...I just did a little a/b ing between them. I may be kidding myself, but it seems to me the aiff songs seem to have a bit (haha?) more sparkle to my ears...


Yes. You are kidding yourself. It is the so called placebo effect. Your claim that a lossless file is better than another lossless file is extremely absurd. But if you still don't accept that try an ABX test (instead of "a/b ing between them") and you will understand.
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Kees de Visser
post Jan 20 2007, 23:25
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QUOTE (Light-Fire @ Jan 20 2007, 22:22) *
Your claim that a lossless file is better than another lossless file is extremely absurd. But if you still don't accept that try an ABX test (instead of "a/b ing between them") and you will understand.
At best an ABX test can fail to prove the existence of differences, but cannot prove that there are no differences. IMO in this case it's best to compare the audio data of the two sources (that's something computers are good at). If there are no differences, they shouldn't be audible.
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spockep
post Jan 20 2007, 23:43
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QUOTE (rob755 @ Jan 20 2007, 17:14) *
Hi again, Thanks for the replies. I managed the time this morning to research this more. It seems some prefer AIFF just to feel more secure about long term compatibility with other systems and equipment. Having well over 1000 discs I am wanting to import common sense should point me at ALAC. If I import them all in ALAC and want to convert them all to AIFF down the road, does anyone know an easy, efficient way to do it without recreating each song twice, showing in iTunes library? Perhaps other software? Again, I am new to this and kind souls wishing to help us uneducated newbies sort through the myriad of audio topics and alternatives is a huge time saver, and greatly appreciated for some of us who can't get much computer time in. Happy Listening!



Hi rob, welcome to the world of hydrogenaudio.

I don't get why you would want to convert to AIFF down the road. Or convert to AIFF at all. AIFF are simply apples version of the wav file for the apple branded machines. This would translate into more HD space wasted and no gain in quality(or security). I personally wouldn't choose ALAC either. Reason being there are more efficent lossless formats out there with a lot less hassle.

In short my advice would be for you to do some more reasearch on the lossless formats out there. For instance there is FLAC, WAVpack, Optimfrog just to name a few. And keep in mind the resulting output of any lossless file is just that...lossless. Or in other words an exact copy of the original. Here is a link that may help you out.

Lossless Comparison

This post has been edited by spockep: Jan 20 2007, 23:47
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Axon
post Jan 20 2007, 23:53
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If you are using only iTunes than ALAC is a bit safer than FLAC (quirky Ogg plugins and such). The big risk from ALAC is that since it's proprietary, you will have a very hard time using it with any non-Apple player down the road. But if that won't happen then you might as well use it.
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tgoose
post Jan 21 2007, 13:56
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There were rumours of a new release of OS X getting native FLAC support. I've no idea how substantiated they were but it's worth bearing in mind.
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vartman
post Mar 8 2007, 00:40
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Hi Rob, As it works out, you are right... and Dreamliner you are also correct. ALE will sound about 30% more muddy than AIFF under certain conditions.... when played under iTunes with "Sound Check" enabled. Turn it off and you get exactly the same sound. And even stranger is only happens with certain songs.

We have a recording studio and couldn't work out what the hell was goin on. I read about 50 websites and finally found the problem. It is a glitch in iTunes optional "sound check" function. for some unknown reason it kills certain frequencies of only certain ALE/M4A/AAC tunes. If i turn it off and you can hardly hear any loss in quality of even the latter 2 compressed formats if the sample rate is really high.

If you weren't listening through iTunes then fuggedaboudit...
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rob755
post Mar 8 2007, 05:18
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QUOTE (vartman @ Mar 7 2007, 15:40) *
Hi Rob, As it works out, you are right... and Dreamliner you are also correct. ALE will sound about 30% more muddy than AIFF under certain conditions.... when played under iTunes with "Sound Check" enabled. Turn it off and you get exactly the same sound. And even stranger is only happens with certain songs.

We have a recording studio and couldn't work out what the hell was goin on. I read about 50 websites and finally found the problem. It is a glitch in iTunes optional "sound check" function. for some unknown reason it kills certain frequencies of only certain ALE/M4A/AAC tunes. If i turn it off and you can hardly hear any loss in quality of even the latter 2 compressed formats if the sample rate is really high.

If you weren't listening through iTunes then fuggedaboudit...

Hi Vartman, This is just amazing....I have beew swamped terribly with projects far and near and JUST TODAY decided to get back at this new to me importing of my huge collection cd collection and decided to convert the couple of hundred albums that I had imported in AIFF to Apple Lossless, figuring duh, I guess it's a no brainer! I had just finished when your post to this old question showed up! I normally thought I had pretty darn good karma! haha?? Now..I have these bunch of cd albums hand typed (I can't type) and titled in iTunes "playlists" and don't know what else to use other than iTunes, and hope not to undo the work I've done as far as new "playlists" in another player program anyway. I did import all the discs with correction enabled. Is that when it would have to be disabled {unchecked)? Am I "done for" as far as this glitch is concerned? I hope you don't mind the questions. Thanks very much! Kind Regards, Rob
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audiomars
post Mar 8 2007, 07:13
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QUOTE (rob755 @ Mar 8 2007, 09:48) *
Now..I have these bunch of cd albums hand typed (I can't type) and titled in iTunes "playlists" and don't know what else to use other than iTunes, and hope not to undo the work I've done as far as new "playlists" in another player program anyway.

Hi rob, you can always transcode the ALAC file to any other format that you require. Since the source is a lossless format, you should not have any problem with audio quality. Most people here at HA have lossless files for archival and transcode them to lossy formats of their choice for playback on computer or portables.


QUOTE (rob755 @ Mar 8 2007, 09:48) *
I did import all the discs with correction enabled. Is that when it would have to be disabled {unchecked)? Am I "done for" as far as this glitch is concerned?

I am not familiar with iTunes as I do not use it but I suppose it will have an option to switch on or switch off the Soundcheck feature during playback. If what vartman says is true, just switch off Soundcheck and you should be okay.

Cheers,
audiomars


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ShowsOn
post Mar 8 2007, 09:17
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QUOTE (Firon @ Jan 21 2007, 04:40) *
Why do these threads keep popping up? I really don't see what part of lossless is so hard to understand, especially when you compare it to a ZIP or 7z archive. Do they lose any data? No. Lossless audio works the same way, just in a more optimized fashion.

Because ill informed people in audiophile forums continue to spread the myth that all audio compression ruins sound. Many of them don't even realise that there are lossless codecs, or don't understand the difference between lossless and lossy.


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rsdio
post Mar 25 2007, 10:06
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QUOTE (spockep @ Jan 20 2007, 15:43) *
I don't get why you would want to convert to AIFF down the road. Or convert to AIFF at all. AIFF are simply apples version of the wav file for the apple branded machines. This would translate into more HD space wasted and no gain in quality(or security). I personally wouldn't choose ALAC either. Reason being there are more efficent lossless formats out there with a lot less hassle.
First of all, I almost hate to nit-pick here, but AIFF is by no means "apples version of the wav file for apple branded machines." The fact is that AIFF was invented years before WAV. AIFF is an extension of IFF. Apple and SGI both use AIFF. Microsoft took IFF and reversed it to create RIFF. I imagine that the primary reason for doing this was that in the early nineties when WAV first appeared, it would have slowed the processor down to deal with big-endian data, and thus Microsoft needed a little-endian format which was nearly identical in all other respects. So, the correct statement is "WAV is simply Microsoft's version of AIFF for Windows/DOS machines." WAV came out about 6 years after IFF. Another issue to note is that the Common Data chunk in AIFF is much more flexible than the 'fmt ' chunk of RIFF/WAVE, meaning that AIFF is actually superior to WAV.

Now that I've got the nit-picking out of the way, there are good reasons to use ALAC. I use both ALAC and FLAC. Having recorded about 150 live shows, I regularly use FLAC because it can be operated from the command-line and makes archival much more convenient. I rarely use convenient players like iTunes for live shows, so the lack of support for FLAC is not an issue, and I really don't need tagging since there is no "album" associated with the recording anyway (well, except for a few cases where my recordings have been released). ALAC, however, gives roughly the same performance as FLAC, sometimes even more efficient and faster to decode as well, but not always. ALAC supports tagging from CDDA and is fully supported by iTunes. In the end, it depends upon how you will be using the audio files. Both choices are good, and AIFF serves as a nice intermediate that is supported by all professional audio programs.
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