Download: FLAC, WAV ?

Innocent Bystander posted:
Simon-in-Suffolk posted:
allhifi posted:

Do you feel, believe, know (lol) if a FLAC file can be 'un-packed' to a precise, bit-for-bit accurate WAV file ?

When I have done technical analysis of transcoded FLAC and Wav using WireShark and using Asset or MinimStreamer the PCM rendered has been bit for bit identical over gigabits of material. The technology used is prevalent in the IT world and digital communications - and if it didn't work much of our use of IT services would collapse into a big messy puddle.

Now here is the interesting bit - if there was some future encoding format or transmission format that didn't quite do bit by bit identical and added continuous low level digital errors, as opposed to analogue audio errors, then the resultant audio would sound a mess....

S

Or indeed present (MQA).

S.I.S.: Thanks for sharing. That's impressive (i.e. technically accurate) technical credentials.

Yet (for me), two things stand out:

1) Why can I (and many others) consistently, accurately pick-out/identify the better sounding format ?  (if above statements apply - I really don't know)

2) The "system" indeed works, no one doubts its (digital transmission) robustness. However, music (sound) reproduction authenticity has been shown to be exquisitely sensitive to unnatural sounds. And a such, one cannot use general digital file/transmission theory (or even practice) when evaluating authenticity (or simple enjoyment) of recorded music that our  remarkably accurate hearing mechanisms routinely exploit.        

Another MQA "shamer"  ! lol. I have never heard/experienced an MQA file, but the technical specifications of the format intends to/proves? that it does the opposite (of introducing digital errors). In fact, it claims (and shows/demonstrates) to correct any previous "errors".

Other than the floating around "money-grab" (primary) intentions of MQA (that I seriously doubt), I tend to pay attention when such a respected talent as Stuart (and team) has something to say. With that said, I'm really enjoying what's currently available (non MQA). If MQA does not (obviously) improve upon current  sound quality, I shall continue on as per usual. Nothing but gains can come from a deeper analysis into digitally recorded music, something MQA has invested considerably.  

pj

Harry posted:

I use dBpoweramp also. Life would be easier if I couldn't hear a difference between FLAC and WAV. But I do.  So I convert when I can't obtain a WAV file, which is rare.

Hi Harry: No kidding -about life being easier if ... !

Since Wav is so readily available, what wold be your (or communities) thoughts of an MQA file sent in a FLAC container ?

peter 

ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:

I can easily hear the difference between wav and flac. To me also wav sounds better. I feel transcoding must have some musical loss, although ive never tried this myself. If you have enough storage then why not just rip to wav in the first place?

Loss of what? No bits are lost in transcoding. 

Musical loss. Im not very techy but ive heard differences when some people quote its all ones and zeros so there can’t  possibly be a difference. 

Ive never tried transcoding so I cannot say whether there is a difference or not, but im sure, as has been the case before, it won’t be a simple case of bits lost or not. But hey, maybe it would be identical sounding, as I said ive never tried.

Naim (legacy) streamers are said to have been developed to play WAV, and the theory goes that if you send one a FLAC stream, it has more work to do to unpack the data....and more work can create more electrical noise, which may affect the sound you hear. 

The point of transcoding to WAV on the fly is that your NAS does it remotely, so the data it sends to your streamer over the network is WAV, just the same, regardless of the format it used to be stored in. I’m not suggesting for one moment that you should blindly follow the ‘bits are bits’ creed that some people tend to push when discussing any digital matters, but in this case, I think it’s fair to say that bits actually are bits - or at least, packets of WAVs are packets of WAVs. 

And yet (if this applies-I really don't know), why then is Flac (to this chap), clearly inferior to Wav?

Are bit not bits in this example (flac vs. Wav) ? As in I have a CD. I make copies of the CD as a Flac, Wav, AAC and AIFF file. I playback using Foobar 2000 (dB poweramp to rip). AND, WAV is easily identifiable (and i am "listening" through my desktop (outboard, though authentic 3-ways lol) speakers. This, over several days/weeks, in the AM, PM etc.

 Don't beat me up, I need to know whats what moving forward. If I can garner some time-saving experience/expertise on this forum, I'll be step or two ahead  ...

pj 

Is anyone here using AIFF files? I recall Jason Gould demonstrating both that and WAV at Bristol a number of years ago and, although the audience was split, it was clear to me that AIFF sounded better.

My NS01 rips to WAV btw, so that's what I mainly use at home. 

allhifi posted:

Mr. H: Indeed, I too believe there must be some type of loss in any conversion process -for reasons not understood at this time. As a crude example, my flac/Wav comparison proves this beyond any reasonable doubt -employing listening skill. 

Actually, what you've proved is that with your renderer .flac sounds different from .wav, not whether .flac is truly lossless or whether music can be transposed between the two formats without change. I refer you to my previous post for a way to assess the latter.

allhifi posted:
Harry posted:

I use dBpoweramp also. Life would be easier if I couldn't hear a difference between FLAC and WAV. But I do.  So I convert when I can't obtain a WAV file, which is rare.

Hi Harry: No kidding -about life being easier if ... !

Since Wav is so readily available, what wold be your (or communities) thoughts of an MQA file sent in a FLAC container ?

peter 

Not answering for Harry, who no doubt will respond appropriately, but as already mentioned, MQA is not lossless. If you search the forum you'll find discussions about MQA earlier this year.

Innocent Bystander posted:
allhifi posted:

Mr. H: Indeed, I too believe there must be some type of loss in any conversion process -for reasons not understood at this time. As a crude example, my flac/Wav comparison proves this beyond any reasonable doubt -employing listening skill. 

Actually, what you've proved is that with your renderer .flac sounds different from .wav, not whether .flac is truly lossless or whether music can be transposed between the two formats without change. I refer you to my previous post for a way to assess the latter.

Absolutely...

As an example of a lossless conversion, take the ZIP file conversion,  it will compress most things, but what you always get after unzipping a file is the same data you put in in the first place.

Think of FLAC as being similar to ZIP, except is applies to the music content ONLY.  The metadata aren't compressed.  The music data are encoded (and compressed as part of the encoding) in such a way that you ALWAYS get the same data back out when you decode (and hence uncompress) it.  WAVE is uncompressed anyway, so as far as the music data are concerned, coded and then decoded FLAC  data are identical to WAVE data.

The reason WAVE sounds better is the extra internal electrical interference in the player, caused by the extra computing activity needed to decode the FLAC data stream.

allhifi posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:

I can easily hear the difference between wav and flac. To me also wav sounds better. I feel transcoding must have some musical loss, although ive never tried this myself. If you have enough storage then why not just rip to wav in the first place?

Loss of what? No bits are lost in transcoding. 

Musical loss. Im not very techy but ive heard differences when some people quote its all ones and zeros so there can’t  possibly be a difference. 

Ive never tried transcoding so I cannot say whether there is a difference or not, but im sure, as has been the case before, it won’t be a simple case of bits lost or not. But hey, maybe it would be identical sounding, as I said ive never tried.

Naim (legacy) streamers are said to have been developed to play WAV, and the theory goes that if you send one a FLAC stream, it has more work to do to unpack the data....and more work can create more electrical noise, which may affect the sound you hear. 

The point of transcoding to WAV on the fly is that your NAS does it remotely, so the data it sends to your streamer over the network is WAV, just the same, regardless of the format it used to be stored in. I’m not suggesting for one moment that you should blindly follow the ‘bits are bits’ creed that some people tend to push when discussing any digital matters, but in this case, I think it’s fair to say that bits actually are bits - or at least, packets of WAVs are packets of WAVs. 

And yet (if this applies-I really don't know), why then is Flac (to this chap), clearly inferior to Wav?

Are bit not bits in this example (flac vs. Wav) ? As in I have a CD. I make copies of the CD as a Flac, Wav, AAC and AIFF file. I playback using Foobar 2000 (dB poweramp to rip). AND, WAV is easily identifiable (and i am "listening" through my desktop (outboard, though authentic 3-ways lol) speakers. This, over several days/weeks, in the AM, PM etc.

'This chap' is comparing WAV to FLAC when the streams are received as such by his streamer. My point is that if the FLAC files are converted to WAV on the NAS, before they are sent to the streamer, then you are comparing WAV with WAV, and these can be proved to be bit perfect regardless of any lossless storage format that may have been used in the past - including the very recent past if transcoding on the fly.

Huge posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:
allhifi posted:

Mr. H: Indeed, I too believe there must be some type of loss in any conversion process -for reasons not understood at this time. As a crude example, my flac/Wav comparison proves this beyond any reasonable doubt -employing listening skill. 

Actually, what you've proved is that with your renderer .flac sounds different from .wav, not whether .flac is truly lossless or whether music can be transposed between the two formats without change. I refer you to my previous post for a way to assess the latter.

Absolutely...

As an example of a lossless conversion, take the ZIP file conversion,  it will compress most things, but what you always get after unzipping a file is the same data you put in in the first place.

Think of FLAC as being similar to ZIP, except is applies to the music content ONLY.  The metadata aren't compressed.  The music data are encoded (and compressed as part of the encoding) in such a way that you ALWAYS get the same data back out when you decode (and hence uncompress) it.  WAVE is uncompressed anyway, so as far as the music data are concerned, coded and then decoded FLAC  data are identical to WAVE data.

The reason WAVE sounds better is the extra internal electrical interference in the player, caused by the extra computing activity needed to decode the FLAC data stream.

From a completely non technical standpoint, and to agree with the final sentence from HUGE, when I first got into streaming ripped CDs, the theory was that this might well sound better than playing the original CD, as there was no ongoing error correction process being employed, as was the case with my CD player.

Similarly, whilst FLAC conversion to WAV, on the fly, can be shown to contain identical data to the original WAV file, I've always thought that the extra computing activity involved might somehow degrade the sound arriving at my aural receptors.

This might well be just another example of expectation bias on my part, but is part of the reason why, to me, WAV just sounds "better".

dave marshall posted:
Huge posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:
allhifi posted:

 

 

 

 

Similarly, whilst FLAC conversion to WAV, on the fly, can be shown to contain identical data to the original WAV file, I've always thought that the extra computing activity involved might somehow degrade the sound arriving at my aural receptors.

This might well be just another example of expectation bias on my part, but is part of the reason why, to me, WAV just sounds "better".

There is a distinction here between a FLAC transcoded on the fly to WAV by the NAS and a FLAC transcoded in the streamer. The first should not give rise to any sound quality difference between FLAC and WAV at all, but the second might show WAV as being superior because of the negative effect of the extra computing activity in the streamer as mentioned by Huge.

best

David

Huge posted:

NBPF, unfortunately that test is only valid for the file not specifically for the music payload, hence can reveal false negatives.

On conversion from FLAC to WAVE, the format the software uses for the metadata blocks in the WAVE file may not be precisely the same as the format for the original FLAC file, and some change may occur.  On going back from WAVE to FLAC, if the metadata in format the software uses for the WAVE file are not in a format that is directly compatible with the stricter format definition of metadata for FLAC, there will again be some data conversion of the metadata going WAVE to FLAC.  Unlike the definition of the music data, this conversion of the metadata isn't mathematically defined as lossless, so changes can occur here without affecting the music data.

S-i-S has checked the data in this conversion process and found them to be identical when decoded to LPCM (as is indeed guaranteed by the maths!).

Agree, my post was meant to illustrate that a reversible conversion between .wav and .flac formats is possible and therefore there is nothing, in principle, that speaks against transcoding if one wishes to do so. Of course, transcoding requires in practice some CPU time and might generate some additional heat. Thus, environment aware listeners will prefer to transcode in winter and refrain from doing so in summer. And hard boiled environmentalists might prefer not to transcode at all. I am probably a rather inconsistent envirinmentalist and an happy transcoder :-)  

nbpf posted:

@Allhifi: if you are on a Linux machine, just install the flac package, read the manual (man flac) and try it out. This will show you that .flac files can be converted to .wav files (and vice versa) without loss of information. For simple conversion commands between different file formats, please google "oreilly convert audio between mp3, flac, wav". Best, nbpf

Hi nbpf: Thank you for that. I'm using a PC.

peter

allhifi posted:

........................        (Excellent insight. But there is the "but" qualifier. I have no doubt it is completely accurate. For  practical concerns, I too would prefer to convert & store as WAV -so long as someone has undertaken listening comparisons to verify if no identifiable differences exist between a straight PCM/wav. file and the same when converted/manipulated and played back)

You guys have been busy today while I've been away,    Not sure it's been answered already, but here goes.         

Remember, I wish all of my music-files to be encoded in wav.    A  FLAC 'container' (or another lossless format) converted by dBpoweramp to WAV becomes a WAV formatted container - ending in .wav.

I must ask; did you actually listen/compare this to be true/ confirm?   -  YES.     I played identical albums bought or converted from WAV to FLAC or FLAC to WAV & played from a NAS.  The WAV sounds different to FLAC - & I prefered WAV.    Transcoding the same FLAC album to WAV,  comparing it to the straight WAV album,  I could not detect any difference  

nbpf posted:
Huge posted:

NBPF, unfortunately that test is only valid for the file not specifically for the music payload, hence can reveal false negatives.

On conversion from FLAC to WAVE, the format the software uses for the metadata blocks in the WAVE file may not be precisely the same as the format for the original FLAC file, and some change may occur.  On going back from WAVE to FLAC, if the metadata in format the software uses for the WAVE file are not in a format that is directly compatible with the stricter format definition of metadata for FLAC, there will again be some data conversion of the metadata going WAVE to FLAC.  Unlike the definition of the music data, this conversion of the metadata isn't mathematically defined as lossless, so changes can occur here without affecting the music data.

S-i-S has checked the data in this conversion process and found them to be identical when decoded to LPCM (as is indeed guaranteed by the maths!).

Agree, my post was meant to illustrate that a reversible conversion between .wav and .flac formats is possible and therefore there is nothing, in principle, that speaks against transcoding if one wishes to do so. Of course, transcoding requires in practice some CPU time and might generate some additional heat. Thus, environment aware listeners will prefer to transcode in winter and refrain from doing so in summer. And hard boiled environmentalists might prefer not to transcode at all. I am probably a rather inconsistent envirinmentalist and an happy transcoder :-)  

During winter at least the extra heat produced by the transcoding task offsets the need to heat your home by a small amount. So it's only summertime which is potentially a worry.....

ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:

I can easily hear the difference between wav and flac. To me also wav sounds better. I feel transcoding must have some musical loss, although ive never tried this myself. If you have enough storage then why not just rip to wav in the first place?

Loss of what? No bits are lost in transcoding. 

Again (forgive my naivety -or stupidity), yet why is it then that I can (and many others) clearly hear a very distinctive SQ improvement when WAVE is used (in my case,a CD rip -using dB power & Foobar 2000 for playback.

Therefor, as Mr. H posted (and I experience nearly every single time) how is it that a bit-for-bit so-called "lossless compressed" FLAC file sounds clearly inferior to WAVE files (in my admittedly early, non-extensive) comparisons ?  WAVE sound quality is superior -by a wide margin. It really is, an obvious, easily discernible difference.

pj      

allhifi posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:

I can easily hear the difference between wav and flac. To me also wav sounds better. I feel transcoding must have some musical loss, although ive never tried this myself. If you have enough storage then why not just rip to wav in the first place?

Loss of what? No bits are lost in transcoding. 

Again (forgive my naivety -or stupidity), yet why is it then that I can (and many others) clearly hear a very distinctive SQ improvement when WAVE is used (in my case,a CD rip -using dB power & Foobar 2000 for playback.

Therefor, as Mr. H posted (and I experience nearly every single time) how is it that a bit-for-bit so-called "lossless compressed" FLAC file sounds clearly inferior to WAVE files (in my admittedly early, non-extensive) comparisons ?  WAVE sound quality is superior -by a wide margin. It really is, an obvious, easily discernible difference.

pj      

Oh dear! As already said by others as well as me: because it is the effect of your renderer (Foobar and your computer) rendering the file into a digital music stream. Nothing to do with whether the two file formats contain exactly the same digital description of the music. Flac is just 'squashed up more', to put it crudely, and your renderer may be less good at teasing it back out unchanged. Other renderers may be more or less good at it, and some may be perfect (so some people may report no difference). Or it can be teased out in a process seperate from the renderer, either on-the-fly if the serving NAS or computer has sufficient power, as others have described, or some time earlier, e.g  after downloading a flac file convert to wav before storing, with a program like dBPoweramp.

But note again, this is talking about a standard flac file, not MQA flac.

allhifi posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:

I can easily hear the difference between wav and flac. To me also wav sounds better. I feel transcoding must have some musical loss, although ive never tried this myself. If you have enough storage then why not just rip to wav in the first place?

Loss of what? No bits are lost in transcoding. 

...

Therefor, as Mr. H posted (and I experience nearly every single time) how is it that a bit-for-bit so-called "lossless compressed" FLAC file sounds clearly inferior to WAVE files (in my admittedly early, non-extensive) comparisons ?  WAVE sound quality is superior -by a wide margin. It really is, an obvious, easily discernible difference.

The reason has been explained in detail in this thread and has nothing to do with losses of information in the conversion between .wav and .flac or vice versa. Is it so difficult to understand? For example, a dac that can process .wav files but not .flac files will certainly sound very differently when fed with a .wav file and when fed with its equivalent .flac counterpart: in the latter case, it will produce no sound or pehaps just noise. This in spite of the fact that the two files are equivalent that is, that each can be converted to the other and back! 

allhifi posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:

I can easily hear the difference between wav and flac. To me also wav sounds better. I feel transcoding must have some musical loss, although ive never tried this myself. If you have enough storage then why not just rip to wav in the first place?

Loss of what? No bits are lost in transcoding. 

Again (forgive my naivety -or stupidity), yet why is it then that I can (and many others) clearly hear a very distinctive SQ improvement when WAVE is used (in my case,a CD rip -using dB power & Foobar 2000 for playback.

Therefor, as Mr. H posted (and I experience nearly every single time) how is it that a bit-for-bit so-called "lossless compressed" FLAC file sounds clearly inferior to WAVE files (in my admittedly early, non-extensive) comparisons ?  WAVE sound quality is superior -by a wide margin. It really is, an obvious, easily discernible difference.

I'm not disputing that you can hear a difference (although I believe most would describe it as subtle or marginal, but there are many variables.) The point, again, is that we are discussing the difference between WAV transcoded from FLAC on the fly before it gets anywhere near your streamer, and WAV stored as WAV. Either way, your streamer is getting WAV. This is not the same as comparing WAV to your streamer vs FLAC to your streamer.

Mike-B posted:
allhifi posted:

........................        (Excellent insight. But there is the "but" qualifier. I have no doubt it is completely accurate. For  practical concerns, I too would prefer to convert & store as WAV -so long as someone has undertaken listening comparisons to verify if no identifiable differences exist between a straight PCM/wav. file and the same when converted/manipulated and played back)

You guys have been busy today while I've been away,    Not sure it's been answered already, but here goes.         

Remember, I wish all of my music-files to be encoded in wav.    A  FLAC 'container' (or another lossless format) converted by dBpoweramp to WAV becomes a WAV formatted container - ending in .wav.

I must ask; did you actually listen/compare this to be true/ confirm?   -  YES.     I played identical albums bought or converted from WAV to FLAC or FLAC to WAV & played from a NAS.  The WAV sounds different to FLAC - & I prefered WAV.    Transcoding the same FLAC album to WAV,  comparing it to the straight WAV album,  I could not detect any difference  

Hi Mike: Excellent. Thanks for that.  if I should get around to doing same I'll report.

Hold on (lol); you said you purchased music/album WAV-to-Flac & Flac-to-Wave, and you preferred WAVE. (Man I lover WAVE too !)

But "transcoding" (forgive my noobism) ? How does transcoding differ from downloading ?

Cheers,

peter 

David Hendon posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:
imperialline posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:

Well, I can't say I can tell any difference between flac and wav - may be my ears, may be the fact that my renderer is not Naim and is on a computer with plenty of processing power (and sounds better than did renderer stage of ND5XS).

IB, you may be surprised to know that the output of Audirvana to a DAC is always in WAV.

Indeed I was unaware. May be why I could't hear a difference when I compared...

I think you should be pleased with yourself and your clearly objective listening skills!

best

David

Hi David,

Sorry for my intent to correct: the outcome of the subjective listening impressions and conclusions of IB seem to be explainable.

b.r. Peter

allhifi posted:

Hi Mike: Excellent. Thanks for that.  if I should get around to doing same I'll report.

Hold on (lol); you said you purchased converted music/album WAV-to-Flac & Flac-to-Wave, and you preferred WAVE. (Man I lover WAVE too !)

But "transcoding" (forgive my noobism) ? How does transcoding differ from downloading ?

Downloading is when the purchased album comes down the internet into your Laptop/PC/Mac 

Transcoding (in the Naim world) is setting up a programmable feature in your NAS media server software that converts a lossless encoding such as FLAC & streams it to the Naim player as a WAV.  This is commonly called transcoding on the fly.    

Mike-B posted:
allhifi posted:

Hi Mike: Excellent. Thanks for that.  if I should get around to doing same I'll report.

Hold on (lol); you said you purchased converted music/album WAV-to-Flac & Flac-to-Wave, and you preferred WAVE. (Man I lover WAVE too !)

But "transcoding" (forgive my noobism) ? How does transcoding differ from downloading ?

Downloading is when the purchased album comes down the internet into your Laptop/PC/Mac 

Transcoding (in the Naim world) is setting up a programmable feature in your NAS media server software that converts a lossless encoding such as FLAC & streams it to the Naim player as a WAV.  This is commonly called transcoding on the fly.    

Adding to this, with reference to MQA that the OP seems to be interested in, if you download an MQA file, even if called flac, IIUC it can be played undecoded, but far from as anything like the original hi res file, for that it needs decoding before playing. A software decoder will take you part of the way there, presumably improving the sound over the fully encoded version downloaded, but an MQA-enables DAC is needed for full decoding. And then it still may not a precise copy of the original file because the MQA process is lossy and there are aparently artefacts produced in the decoding process that you may hear depending on system and ears. However, some people actually find the effect of the aberrations pleasing. 

allhifi posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:

I can easily hear the difference between wav and flac. To me also wav sounds better. I feel transcoding must have some musical loss, although ive never tried this myself. If you have enough storage then why not just rip to wav in the first place?

Loss of what? No bits are lost in transcoding. 

Again (forgive my naivety -or stupidity), yet why is it then that I can (and many others) clearly hear a very distinctive SQ improvement when WAVE is used (in my case,a CD rip -using dB power & Foobar 2000 for playback.

Therefor, as Mr. H posted (and I experience nearly every single time) how is it that a bit-for-bit so-called "lossless compressed" FLAC file sounds clearly inferior to WAVE files (in my admittedly early, non-extensive) comparisons ?  WAVE sound quality is superior -by a wide margin. It really is, an obvious, easily discernible difference.

pj      

Hi pj, in an additional attempt to clarify (or make it even more complicated):

The music information contained in a FLAC or corresponding WAV file is exactly the same. But this is according the common mathematical models of 0 & 1's. In real live this information model is translated into an electromagnetic model with energy("charge")-units. However, digital voltage or current units do not exist, it's all "analog" and streaming is based on a electromagnetic energy transportation that will interact with all involved equipment. It's also the reason why the "digital" gear (ethernet, USB, cabling/connectors, switches, etc ) make an audible difference. In my experience the processing of a WAV file sounds superior to a FLAC on Naim streaming equipment. The mathematical music information in FLAC and WAV files remain interchangeable and identical though. 

b.r. Peter

Innocent Bystander posted:
allhifi posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:

I can easily hear the difference between wav and flac. To me also wav sounds better. I feel transcoding must have some musical loss, although ive never tried this myself. If you have enough storage then why not just rip to wav in the first place?

Loss of what? No bits are lost in transcoding. 

Again (forgive my naivety -or stupidity), yet why is it then that I can (and many others) clearly hear a very distinctive SQ improvement when WAVE is used (in my case,a CD rip -using dB power & Foobar 2000 for playback.

Therefor, as Mr. H posted (and I experience nearly every single time) how is it that a bit-for-bit so-called "lossless compressed" FLAC file sounds clearly inferior to WAVE files (in my admittedly early, non-extensive) comparisons ?  WAVE sound quality is superior -by a wide margin. It really is, an obvious, easily discernible difference.

pj      

Oh dear! As already said by others as well as me: because it is the effect of your renderer (Foobar and your computer) rendering the file into a digital music stream. Nothing to do with whether the two file formats contain exactly the same digital description of the music. Flac is just 'squashed up more', to put it crudely, and your renderer may be less good at teasing it back out unchanged. Other renderers may be more or less good at it, and some may be perfect (so some people may report no difference). Or it can be teased out in a process seperate from the renderer, either on-the-fly if the serving NAS or computer has sufficient power, as others have described, or some time earlier, e.g  after downloading a flac file convert to wav before storing, with a program like dBPoweramp.

But note again, this is talking about a standard flac file, not MQA flac.

Now that I CAN understand. SImply put, this noob is (or may be) experiencing the limitations of a basic 'renderer' (Foobar 2000).

If I understands correctly; Foobar may have a 'preference' for WAVE, or I may be experiencing the limitations of encoding using dB poweramp whether program related or my computer processor/power supply/noise levels running in the background causing some  interference (for lack of a better term) ? Naturally (I'd assume) A FLAC file would be more sensitive to (let's say) internal computer noise as it is computing compression as opposed to FLAC -that requires less a pristine recording/encoding or indeed decoding process.  

I also understand (from what you've said) that a superior renderer may very well render (no pun) FLAC/WAVE much closer (in SQ) to what I've discovered thus far using the 'system' on hand.  

Tell me I've got it ! (at least a bit -again, no pun)  lol

pj

Bowers posted:
allhifi posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:

I can easily hear the difference between wav and flac. To me also wav sounds better. I feel transcoding must have some musical loss, although ive never tried this myself. If you have enough storage then why not just rip to wav in the first place?

Loss of what? No bits are lost in transcoding. 

Again (forgive my naivety -or stupidity), yet why is it then that I can (and many others) clearly hear a very distinctive SQ improvement when WAVE is used (in my case,a CD rip -using dB power & Foobar 2000 for playback.

Therefor, as Mr. H posted (and I experience nearly every single time) how is it that a bit-for-bit so-called "lossless compressed" FLAC file sounds clearly inferior to WAVE files (in my admittedly early, non-extensive) comparisons ?  WAVE sound quality is superior -by a wide margin. It really is, an obvious, easily discernible difference.

pj      

Hi pj, in an additional attempt to clarify (or make it even more complicated):

The music information contained in a FLAC or corresponding WAV file is exactly the same. But this is according the common mathematical models of 0 & 1's. In real live this information model is translated into an electromagnetic model with energy("charge")-units. However, digital voltage or current units do not exist, it's all "analog" and streaming is based on a electromagnetic energy transportation that will interact with all involved equipment. It's also the reason why the "digital" gear (ethernet, USB, cabling/connectors, switches, etc ) make an audible difference. In my experience the processing of a WAV file sounds superior to a FLAC on Naim streaming equipment. The mathematical music information in FLAC and WAV files remain interchangeable and identical though. 

b.r. Peter

B.r. Peter: That actually served to enlighten. Yet, in the end, using your own words: " In my experience the processing of a WAV file sounds superior to a FLAC on Naim streaming equipment.  (As it does on my simple system/experiment, namely; converting from CD on my  dB poweramp 'ripper' and playing back using the (potential bottleneck)  Foobar 2000 -and/or associated  cables/switches/ connectors etc.

The mathematical music information in FLAC and WAV files remain interchangeable and identical though. (In which case one is to deduce, what exactly ? )  

Don't misinterpret; I'm grateful for all the information and effort put forth. No dubt a continuing learning curve remains. But, I will say this; for all the potential greatness of Streaming/Computer Audio, there is indeed something to be said for the simplicity (and consistency) of spinning the old silver disc.

Final question: Since I will continue to convert the remainder of my CD collection is at least three formats, WAVE, FLAC and AAC -various (AIFF proved awful in my set-up), what is the best, most consistent way to use those WAVE files ? (I have a basic Pi 3B running moode/MPD. By the way,  I was slack-jawed when I connected a AQ "Carbon" USB cable from Pi to DAC. Incredible.

Thanks,

pj 

Mike-B posted:
allhifi posted:

Hi Mike: Excellent. Thanks for that.  if I should get around to doing same I'll report.

Hold on (lol); you said you purchased converted music/album WAV-to-Flac & Flac-to-Wave, and you preferred WAVE. (Man I lover WAVE too !)

But "transcoding" (forgive my noobism) ? How does transcoding differ from downloading ?

Downloading is when the purchased album comes down the internet into your Laptop/PC/Mac 

Transcoding (in the Naim world) is setting up a programmable feature in your NAS media server software that converts a lossless encoding such as FLAC & streams it to the Naim player as a WAV.  This is commonly called transcoding on the fly.    

Understood. Thanks.

pj

allhifi posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:
allhifi posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:

I can easily hear the difference between wav and flac. To me also wav sounds better. I feel transcoding must have some musical loss, although ive never tried this myself. If you have enough storage then why not just rip to wav in the first place?

Loss of what? No bits are lost in transcoding. 

Again (forgive my naivety -or stupidity), yet why is it then that I can (and many others) clearly hear a very distinctive SQ improvement when WAVE is used (in my case,a CD rip -using dB power & Foobar 2000 for playback.

Therefor, as Mr. H posted (and I experience nearly every single time) how is it that a bit-for-bit so-called "lossless compressed" FLAC file sounds clearly inferior to WAVE files (in my admittedly early, non-extensive) comparisons ?  WAVE sound quality is superior -by a wide margin. It really is, an obvious, easily discernible difference.

pj      

Oh dear! As already said by others as well as me: because it is the effect of your renderer (Foobar and your computer) rendering the file into a digital music stream. Nothing to do with whether the two file formats contain exactly the same digital description of the music. Flac is just 'squashed up more', to put it crudely, and your renderer may be less good at teasing it back out unchanged. Other renderers may be more or less good at it, and some may be perfect (so some people may report no difference). Or it can be teased out in a process seperate from the renderer, either on-the-fly if the serving NAS or computer has sufficient power, as others have described, or some time earlier, e.g  after downloading a flac file convert to wav before storing, with a program like dBPoweramp.

But note again, this is talking about a standard flac file, not MQA flac.

Now that I CAN understand. SImply put, this noob is (or may be) experiencing the limitations of a basic 'renderer' (Foobar 2000).

If I understands correctly; Foobar may have a 'preference' for WAVE, or I may be experiencing the limitations of encoding using dB poweramp whether program related or my computer processor/power supply/noise levels running in the background causing some  interference (for lack of a better term) ? Naturally (I'd assume) A FLAC file would be more sensitive to (let's say) internal computer noise as it is computing compression as opposed to FLAC -that requires less a pristine recording/encoding or indeed decoding process.  

I also understand (from what you've said) that a superior renderer may very well render (no pun) FLAC/WAVE much closer (in SQ) to what I've discovered thus far using the 'system' on hand.  

Tell me I've got it ! (at least a bit -again, no pun)  lol

pj

Getting there, I think, but a few points to clarify

1) dBPoweramp's conversion (transcoding) is not in question (well, only by you!): it either converts [accurately] or it fails, and the effect of a lesser computer is simply a longer time to do the job, which is of no consequence because it is not playing it at the same time. So you can safely download, say, .flac files (not MQA) and convert to .wav with dBPoweramp before storing in your library, which is what some people do if they are concerned about either the renderer coping adequately with .flac, or the reliability of transcoding on the fly (see 4 below).

2) In rendering an uncompressed file that is in the format for which the renderer is designed (usually .wav, except maybe Apple renderers), it could be 'bit perfect' or not - hifi oriented renderers will always at least intend to be bit perfect - however, sound quality can be affected by other aspects such as jitter and superimposed electrical (RF) noise, depending on the susceptibility of the DAC that it feeds, which is where the argument "it's just 1s and 0s" can fall down.

3) How well any given renderer deals with a compressed file that needs unpacking (like .flac), or a non-native format that needs transcoding to the native one (possibly in your case this applies to AIFF), bears no relationship to the sound quality dealing with a file in the native format (commonly .wav), so one could have a perfect .wav renderer that sounds hopeless with other formats, or they could sound equally good (or equally poor).

4) Transcoding 'on the fly' before reaching the renderer, i.e while the music is being streamed from the store to the renderer, such as when done in the NAS, need not have any negative effect provided that the device has sufficient processing capacity to do that as fast as is necessary for the rate of streaming to be unaffected. But if processing power is limited, or, possibly, diverted due to something else happening in the NAS/computer, then it could adversely affect the process and hence the sound - the biggest risk of this may be if the processor is not dedicated to the music serving function, e.g. if the device is a computer being used at the same time for something else*, or perhaps a NAS simultaneously serving other files on the network. (*Which potentially could also affect the renderer's performance if the computer is also doing the rendering.) 

Hmmm. Omitting point (4). let me ask simply: I have a CD. I copy that CD to my computer (using internal CD/DVD ripper).

Using dB poweramp, I decide to "rip" the CD in three file formates; WAVE, FLAC, AAC . All file formats are completed with no hitch.

Using Foobar 2000 for playback of just copied files, I proceed to press "play", and listen to Version 1. Then Version 2, then three -all the while not knowing which is which (FLAC, WAVE, AAC.)

On my little note-pad, I rate file #1,#2 and #3 -from Best down (with detailed accompanying SQ notes -how it differed.

In all cases (likely 20 songs thus far), WAVE was selected BEST, and by a substantial margin ! 

Please explain.

pj

allhifi posted:

Hmmm. Omitting point (4). let me ask simply: I have a CD. I copy that CD to my computer (using internal CD/DVD ripper).

Using dB poweramp, I decide to "rip" the CD in three file formates; WAVE, FLAC, AAC . All file formats are completed with no hitch.

Using Foobar 2000 for playback of just copied files, I proceed to press "play", and listen to Version 1. Then Version 2, then three -all the while not knowing which is which (FLAC, WAVE, AAC.)

On my little note-pad, I rate file #1,#2 and #3 -from Best down (with detailed accompanying SQ notes -how it differed.

In all cases (likely 20 songs thus far), WAVE was selected BEST, and by a substantial margin ! 

Please explain.

pj

I have explained, in some detail, as have others!!!

Please re-read my posts, in particular carefully study my post showing as 16 or 17 hours before this post, and paragraph 3) in my last post, and NBPF's post immediately after mine 16 hours ago.

If you still have questions, please explain what it is that you do and don't understand about our explanations, and I will try to clarify.

And if you still have concerns over the accuracy of dBPoweramp's conversion of the ripped files, please try my suggestion in my 5th post.

OK. Thanks.

RE:  "And if you still have concerns over the accuracy of dBPoweramp's conversion of the ripped files, please try my suggestion in my 5th post".

Actually, I have no concerns, I thought someone said the type/quality of 'renderer' I'm using  may impact SQ impressions. I thought it was you.

pj 

allhifi posted:

OK. Thanks.

RE:  "And if you still have concerns over the accuracy of dBPoweramp's conversion of the ripped files, please try my suggestion in my 5th post".

Actually, I have no concerns, I thought someone said the type/quality of 'renderer' I'm using  may impact SQ impressions. I thought it was you.

pj 

I did say something like that - but my comment was because I was unclear as to whether you yet accepted the file conversion, or still harboured suspicions.

Bart posted:

We should clarify whether we're interested in math and science, or "feelings" and "suspicions."  Objective, or subjective?

There is room for both discussions!  But they get hopelessly confounded.  

Isn't that what digital music play is, a fusion of objective maths/science and subjective feelings (hearing)?  Suspicions are another matter: suspicion can kill pleasure.

Huge posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:
allhifi posted:

Mr. H: Indeed, I too believe there must be some type of loss in any conversion process -for reasons not understood at this time. As a crude example, my flac/Wav comparison proves this beyond any reasonable doubt -employing listening skill. 

Actually, what you've proved is that with your renderer .flac sounds different from .wav, not whether .flac is truly lossless or whether music can be transposed between the two formats without change. I refer you to my previous post for a way to assess the latter.

Absolutely...

As an example of a lossless conversion, take the ZIP file conversion,  it will compress most things, but what you always get after unzipping a file is the same data you put in in the first place.

Think of FLAC as being similar to ZIP, except is applies to the music content ONLY.  The metadata aren't compressed.  The music data are encoded (and compressed as part of the encoding) in such a way that you ALWAYS get the same data back out when you decode (and hence uncompress) it.  WAVE is uncompressed anyway, so as far as the music data are concerned, coded and then decoded FLAC  data are identical to WAVE data.

The reason WAVE sounds better is the extra internal electrical interference in the player, caused by the extra computing activity needed to decode the FLAC data stream.

Talk about " ... a can of worms". Ouch.

The subtleties, if and but's (all valid, accurate and most imperative to discuss) tells me one thing; our exquisitely sensitive ability to discern nuanced distinctions (in sound quality) is truly extraordinary. And, the reason  we have on-going research into discovering, unraveling, why ?

Without the 'audiophile' crowd, the current (and impressive) sound quality afforded my modern digital would be decades behind. The way it is currently, I couldn't even begin to imagine a return to having a rock carve through a plastic substrate. And this, coming from a guy who had a hard time tolerating (let alone advocating) CD-sound -up until about the turn-of-the-century, a near twenty year, painful wait. Mercifully, it has grown by leaps-and-bounds since.

Yet, it remains clear that 'digital' sound is anything but an automatic given -even in today's modern age

pj.  

Bart posted:

We should clarify whether we're interested in math and science, or "feelings" and "suspicions."  Objective, or subjective?

There is room for both discussions!  But they get hopelessly confounded.  

Bart: Forget not the wesbsite/forum before us; it's not anything but (or should be?) one that discuss the 'musical' merit of hi-fi. It is not ambiguous as to what its role, nor what is sought.

So in answer, let me chime in by saying I wish to determine why (or at least take note) of how I can enjoy the most musical, natural rendition of recorded music. I fully understand that this involves technical discussion, and I for one seeks to establish a relationship -if one can be found.

 All in effort so I can sit back and enjoy music to its maximum. And by that, I mean truly reveling in the details, subtleties, nuance that make music that much more compelling, enlightening and enjoyable.

pj 

Innocent Bystander posted:
Simon-in-Suffolk posted:
allhifi posted:

Do you feel, believe, know (lol) if a FLAC file can be 'un-packed' to a precise, bit-for-bit accurate WAV file ?

When I have done technical analysis of transcoded FLAC and Wav using WireShark and using Asset or MinimStreamer the PCM rendered has been bit for bit identical over gigabits of material. The technology used is prevalent in the IT world and digital communications - and if it didn't work much of our use of IT services would collapse into a big messy puddle.

Now here is the interesting bit - if there was some future encoding format or transmission format that didn't quite do bit by bit identical and added continuous low level digital errors, as opposed to analogue audio errors, then the resultant audio would sound a mess....

S

Or indeed present (MQA).

But of course MQA isn’t random

Innocent Bystander posted:
allhifi posted:

Hmmm. Omitting point (4). let me ask simply: I have a CD. I copy that CD to my computer (using internal CD/DVD ripper).

Using dB poweramp, I decide to "rip" the CD in three file formates; WAVE, FLAC, AAC . All file formats are completed with no hitch.

Using Foobar 2000 for playback of just copied files, I proceed to press "play", and listen to Version 1. Then Version 2, then three -all the while not knowing which is which (FLAC, WAVE, AAC.)

On my little note-pad, I rate file #1,#2 and #3 -from Best down (with detailed accompanying SQ notes -how it differed.

In all cases (likely 20 songs thus far), WAVE was selected BEST, and by a substantial margin ! 

Please explain.

pj

I have explained, in some detail, as have others!!!

Please re-read my posts, in particular carefully study my post showing as 16 or 17 hours before this post, and paragraph 3) in my last post, and NBPF's post immediately after mine 16 hours ago.

If you still have questions, please explain what it is that you do and don't understand about our explanations, and I will try to clarify.

And if you still have concerns over the accuracy of dBPoweramp's conversion of the ripped files, please try my suggestion in my 5th post.

I.B.: In point form (Coles Notes -lol) summarize for me.

I find it difficult to 'rewind' and look at the numerous replies (including yours) that are most  appreciated but my newness to the site makes it difficult.

Thanks.

 pj  

allhifi posted:

B.r. Peter: That actually served to enlighten. Yet, in the end, using your own words: " In my experience the processing of a WAV file sounds superior to a FLAC on Naim streaming equipment.  (As it does on my simple system/experiment, namely; converting from CD on my  dB poweramp 'ripper' and playing back using the (potential bottleneck)  Foobar 2000 -and/or associated  cables/switches/ connectors etc. 

PJ: And don't forget the rest of your system including your brain..............................

The mathematical music information in FLAC and WAV files remain interchangeable and identical though. (In which case one is to deduce, what exactly ? 

PJ: As stated before: the mathematical (audio) information in bits "0&1's" that can be stored as corresponding "EM charge" information on a HDD magnetic disc, USB stick, optical disk etc.................. 

Don't misinterpret; I'm grateful for all the information and effort put forth. No dubt a continuing learning curve remains. But, I will say this; for all the potential greatness of Streaming/Computer Audio, there is indeed something to be said for the simplicity (and consistency) of spinning the old silver disc.

Final question: Since I will continue to convert the remainder of my CD collection is at least three formats, WAVE, FLAC and AAC -various (AIFF proved awful in my set-up), what is the best, most consistent way to use those WAVE files ? (I have a basic Pi 3B running moode/MPD. By the way,  I was slack-jawed when I connected a AQ "Carbon" USB cable from Pi to DAC. Incredible.

PJ:

"Once we've made sense of our world, we wanna go **** up everybody else's because his or her truth doesn't match mine. But this is the problem. Truth is individual calculation. Which means because we all have different perspectives, there isn't one singular truth, is there?"

These are the first spoken words on the new album "To The Bone" of Steven Wilson. Wonderful music and lyrics according to my truth. Please enjoy your ride discovering your truth. 

wish you best, Peter

Thanks,

pj 

 

Wow. Shockingly philosophical. Kumbayah my friend.

P.S. What "truths", liking/disliking ? I'm here to ask questions and get others thoughts. That I commented that my (VERY EARLY) experience favors WAVE -by a wide margin, actually startled me, considering the notion/understanding that FLAC is indeed a identical (sounding) replica of the original LPCM file.

I've been informed (graciously here) of the variables involved, and perhaps how my personal impressions may change moving forward.

Personally, I couldn't care less if AAC, FLAC or an y other format is the preferred (collectively understood) best option.  

pj 

Innocent Bystander posted:
allhifi posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:
allhifi posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Mr Happy posted:

I can easily hear the difference between wav and flac. To me also wav sounds better. I feel transcoding must have some musical loss, although ive never tried this myself. If you have enough storage then why not just rip to wav in the first place?

Loss of what? No bits are lost in transcoding. 

Again (forgive my naivety -or stupidity), yet why is it then that I can (and many others) clearly hear a very distinctive SQ improvement when WAVE is used (in my case,a CD rip -using dB power & Foobar 2000 for playback.

Therefor, as Mr. H posted (and I experience nearly every single time) how is it that a bit-for-bit so-called "lossless compressed" FLAC file sounds clearly inferior to WAVE files (in my admittedly early, non-extensive) comparisons ?  WAVE sound quality is superior -by a wide margin. It really is, an obvious, easily discernible difference.

pj      

Oh dear! As already said by others as well as me: because it is the effect of your renderer (Foobar and your computer) rendering the file into a digital music stream. Nothing to do with whether the two file formats contain exactly the same digital description of the music. Flac is just 'squashed up more', to put it crudely, and your renderer may be less good at teasing it back out unchanged. Other renderers may be more or less good at it, and some may be perfect (so some people may report no difference). Or it can be teased out in a process seperate from the renderer, either on-the-fly if the serving NAS or computer has sufficient power, as others have described, or some time earlier, e.g  after downloading a flac file convert to wav before storing, with a program like dBPoweramp.

But note again, this is talking about a standard flac file, not MQA flac.

Now that I CAN understand. SImply put, this noob is (or may be) experiencing the limitations of a basic 'renderer' (Foobar 2000).

If I understands correctly; Foobar may have a 'preference' for WAVE, or I may be experiencing the limitations of encoding using dB poweramp whether program related or my computer processor/power supply/noise levels running in the background causing some  interference (for lack of a better term) ? Naturally (I'd assume) A FLAC file would be more sensitive to (let's say) internal computer noise as it is computing compression as opposed to FLAC -that requires less a pristine recording/encoding or indeed decoding process.  

I also understand (from what you've said) that a superior renderer may very well render (no pun) FLAC/WAVE much closer (in SQ) to what I've discovered thus far using the 'system' on hand.  

Tell me I've got it ! (at least a bit -again, no pun)  lol

pj

Getting there, I think, but a few points to clarify

1) dBPoweramp's conversion (transcoding) is not in question (well, only by you!): it either converts [accurately] or it fails, and the effect of a lesser computer is simply a longer time to do the job, which is of no consequence because it is not playing it at the same time. So you can safely download, say, .flac files (not MQA) and convert to .wav with dBPoweramp before storing in your library, which is what some people do if they are concerned about either the renderer coping adequately with .flac, or the reliability of transcoding on the fly (see 4 below).

2) In rendering an uncompressed file that is in the format for which the renderer is designed (usually .wav, except maybe Apple renderers), it could be 'bit perfect' or not - hifi oriented renderers will always at least intend to be bit perfect - however, sound quality can be affected by other aspects such as jitter and superimposed electrical (RF) noise, depending on the susceptibility of the DAC that it feeds, which is where the argument "it's just 1s and 0s" can fall down.

3) How well any given renderer deals with a compressed file that needs unpacking (like .flac), or a non-native format that needs transcoding to the native one (possibly in your case this applies to AIFF), bears no relationship to the sound quality dealing with a file in the native format (commonly .wav), so one could have a perfect .wav renderer that sounds hopeless with other formats, or they could sound equally good (or equally poor).

4) Transcoding 'on the fly' before reaching the renderer, i.e while the music is being streamed from the store to the renderer, such as when done in the NAS, need not have any negative effect provided that the device has sufficient processing capacity to do that as fast as is necessary for the rate of streaming to be unaffected. But if processing power is limited, or, possibly, diverted due to something else happening in the NAS/computer, then it could adversely affect the process and hence the sound - the biggest risk of this may be if the processor is not dedicated to the music serving function, e.g. if the device is a computer being used at the same time for something else*, or perhaps a NAS simultaneously serving other files on the network. (*Which potentially could also affect the renderer's performance if the computer is also doing the rendering.) 

As I re-read your points above (1-3 specifically) I appreciate the thoroughness of the reply.

I suppose I was simply overloaded with conceptualizing previously.  

Here (thanks to you) is what I've "newly" read/understood  (lol):

"So you can safely download, say, .flac files (not MQA) and convert to .wav with dBPoweramp before storing in your library, which is what some people do if they are concerned about either the renderer coping adequately with .flac, or the reliability of transcoding on the fly (see 4 below)."

Got it. Finally !

POINT-2: 

2) In rendering an uncompressed file that is in the format for which the renderer is designed (usually .wav, ..."

Again, thank you.

POINT-3: 

3) " ...How well any given renderer deals with a compressed file that needs unpacking (like .flac), or a non-native format that needs transcoding to the native one ..."

My head may be hard (and square), but things do eventually penetrate !

Much appreciated.

pj 

 

 

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