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A Couple Questions About Apple Lossless & Disc Images
Hectic
post Oct 20 2010, 20:56
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I wanted to defer to people who are more of experts on these subjects than I.

BACKGROUND:

I'm starting to look into lossless formats, just as a way of preparing for the future. I use a 64GB iPod Touch (3rd Gen) as my only PMP device to listen to my music on the go (via earbuds or plugged in my car radio; usually the latter). This limits the number of different codecs I can use for my music library (my computer w/ winamp can play pretty much any codec, but it needs to be compatible w/ the ipod), so at first I use to use the standard .mp3 (even before I started using ipods), then switched over to AAC (.m4a) and recently re-ripped everything at a higher bitrate in the same format (300kbps VBR). This of course sounds better than the previous bitrate I was using (half that), but I want to go lossless (eventually). About the only thing that is holding me back is the ipod's disk space. As it stands now, my music library is at 33GB. I don't have quite all of my library on my iTouch, but I'd say somewhere in the neighborhood of 70% of it. Of course, that's not all I have on there (videos & apps too). If I were to re-rip everything to say, Apple Lossless, it would pretty much triple the size of my library. Not a problem for storage on my computer, but definitely a problem for the ipod. So until they double the memory for the iTouch (hopefully next year), I will have to wait.

QUESTIONS:

You pretty much only have 3 choices in lossless when using an ipod: AIFF, WAV or Apple Lossless. WAV has poor ID tag info, so that's out. AIFF is uncompressed but takes up as much space as the CD/WAV does and I would like to save some space, so I'm dropping that one as a possibility as well. Apple Lossless seems to be the only viable option. (I would like to use FLAC, but again, ipods don't play that...unless Apple will change that in the future) Now as I understand it, Apple Lossless (or FLAC for that matter) IS lossless, i.e., none of the audio data is missing, it is just compressed like a zip file which accounts for its smaller size in comparison to AIFF or WAV. When being played it has to be "unzipped" so to speak, either by the software or hardware that is playing it and this (for some players) takes up more processing power/battery life. I know for the ipod classic this is true (since it uses a spinning hard drive and has to buffer to memory), but what about for an iTouch which uses solid state memory? Does playing the Apple Lossless format use up more power than playing a lossy AAC or uncompressed lossless AIFF?

Also, I've read an argument as to the quality of Apple Lossless VS AIFF. Some people state that when Apple Lossless is being read, the uncompressing of the music can cause it to sound flat or something to be lost or delayed in the listening experience of the music? Is there actually something to this or is it a load of BS, people hearing what they want to hear? I can say that I just ripped one of my albums into Apple Lossless and am listening to it right now on my computer (good sound setup on my rig!) and it definitely sounds a bit better to its AAC lossy equivalent.

Another question that I am pondering is ripping music files directly from image files I made of my music CD's. I had an extra portable hard drive that I didn't use, so I decided to backup (most) of my music CD's as disk image files, namely Nero disk images, .nrg. I chose to use .nrg since it leaves only 1 file (not any of that .mds crap) and these can be read by most image mounting software. (At least by any of the ones I use) So I guess my question is, would it be OK (safe) to mount the disc image, rip music files from them and not get any errors or degradation, etc. or should I rip straight from the CD?

P.S.- I use dBpoweramp to rip everything.

This post has been edited by Hectic: Oct 20 2010, 21:00
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