Wav, Flac - download questions

I currently have NDX Qnap 2 x 3Tb - approx 500 CDs FLAC files - all works beautifully !

I saw a downloadable CD I liked - but it stated WAV

1. Can I buy download in WAV and convert it to FLAC (no idea how to do it) the same as my other files, or will it play okay as WAV - not sure where this is set up. I have only to date) copied CDs using dbPoweramp  and created FLAC files

2. I see on download sites :- Hi-Res 24bit, 96/24, 176/24, 192/24 - AIFF, WAV, FLAC ALAC.

Presumably if FLAC is an option then I will use it - would I notice the audible difference  between 96/24 & 192/24 with my current equipment (see profile please) ?

In one case 192/24 was cheaper than 96/24???

Any advice on the various options would be much appreciated, though I suspect the answer is to purely buy FLAC 96/24 which matches my current music collection

Thanks

Al

Original Post

Hi,

If you are using dBpoweramp this program includes a batch converter which can convert WAV files to FLAC.

AIFF and ALAC are Apple based audio formats so I would stick with FLAC as your other files are in that format.

176/24 format probably originates from music files issued in SACD format but your NDX will be able to play these. 

Some people find that there is a discernible difference between 192kHz and 96kHz sample rates. The downside to the higher rate is, of course, the file size. Only you can decide if the higher sample rate is worthwhile and that may vary between different recordings e.g. whether is actually any audio info in the higher frequency range. Perhaps you might try the cheaper 192/24 file and create a down sampled 96/24 version to compare. (Foobar or Audacity can probably downsample for you)

Otherwise, I agree that 96/24 FLAC is probably the format to go for.

The ideal format as far as the streamer is concerned is wav. It requires less work on the part of the streamer and can therefore sound better. Depending on the server software you're running on the Qnap, you may be able to have your cake and eat it though, by transcoding from flac to wav on the fly. That means the files are stored as flac files on the disc, but the server converts them to wav as it sends them. Many people, myself included, find this gives a boost to sound quality compared with streaming flac without transcoding.

And it means you still get the smaller file size and tagging advantages of flac (somewhat contentious, but a lot of people find flac tagging works better than wav tagging).

I don't have a qnap, so I'm not sure how you'd do it, but you should be able to find instructions etc on the net, or from other qnap users here.

Most of the forum peeps that have expressed opinions prefer WAV for the best SQ & most store as FLAC & transcode to WAV.   Myself I don't see the point,  storage is cheap & I store & play WAV.    

I buy in any format on offer & convert to WAV if required with dBpoweramp.    There is a small SQ difference between 96 & 192 & its worthwhile going for the 192 & especially so if the price is the same (which it can be these days)

Mike-B posted:

Most of the forum peeps that have expressed opinions prefer WAV for the best SQ & most store as FLAC & transcode to WAV.   Myself I don't see the point,  storage is cheap & I store & play WAV.    

I buy in any format on offer & convert to WAV if required with dBpoweramp.    There is a small SQ difference between 96 & 192 & its worthwhile going for the 192 & especially so if the price is the same (which it can be these days)

Is a valid option as well. While you can't always buy wav....., knowing what I know now I might also have followed your advise. It's just the most clean approach.

My dealer installed my new system on Wednesday and I asked the same question he said that the WAV was the best option for Naim Streamers. I was using Media Monkey but he installed dBpower amp and it is a joy to use just sorting my collection of CDs the sound quality is superb.

Artwork is very accurate but very easy to change if required must admit I'm very impressed.

Al

I always get the highest resolution possible and uncompressed files - AIFF (Apple Interchange File Format) or WAV (Waveform Audio File Format). You have a resolving system so it's best to get the highest quality files.

AIFF has a benefit of 'carrying' tags with them in an easier way that WAV. 

NDX will playback any file format currently available - WAV, AIFF, FLAC etc etc. It doesn't really matter what the rest of your collection is - you won't really notice any difference.

Adam

The differences are small, but I do think WAV is preferable in SQ terms. I can't tell on my system whether I'm playing WAV native or WAV transcoded from FLAC - it's identical as far as I can tell. So I store in FLAC and transcode . . . but honestly it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that you have a lossless version of the file. If one day I decide to convert the whole lot to AIFF or WAV then I can. And if the whim takes me, I can convert them all back again. That's the joy of lossless digital files. 

I recommend buying DBPoweramp and trying a few things out - listen for yourself.

I've downloaded a few WAV albums, mainly from the Erased Tapes label, and have had trouble with the metadata and art. So I convert them to FLAC with dbpoweramp, sort them out and then they are fine. I keep everything in FLAC and transcode the WAV via Asset. This gives me smaller files, easy control of metadata and best sound quality. It seems to be what a lot of us do. 

Great responses to all my questions - thank you all for that

I will continue to experiment (never enough time !?) with this. Yesterday I ripped a CD as I have always done using dbPoweramp to FLAC - then re-ripped the same CD to WAV

Loaded them in to my QNAP and went to have a listen. Perhaps my system is not up to it ? - but I could not really hear any audible difference. The FLAC file is 36Mb and the WAV file is 50Mb so there is a file size difference to consider.

Is it the case that unless one has say 252 or 552 upwards, these (presumably) small differences are not detectable?

HH - you said "... of metadata and best sound quality........." - can I assume from that, that you do hear a difference ?

Thanks

Al

I agree that storing as FLAC and using Asset or Minimserver to transcode from FLAC to WAV is probably the best of both worlds (ease of tagging and small file size with high quality playback). I believe that the rationale behind the preference for serving WAV files to the streamer is that it gives the streamer less work to do i.e. not having to unpack the FLAC file to get at the audio data or it being easier to unpack data from a WAV file. However, with transcoding this process is done by the UPnP server software before it reaches the streamer.

al9315 posted:

Great responses to all my questions - thank you all for that

I will continue to experiment (never enough time !?) with this. Yesterday I ripped a CD as I have always done using dbPoweramp to FLAC - then re-ripped the same CD to WAV

Loaded them in to my QNAP and went to have a listen. Perhaps my system is not up to it ? - but I could not really hear any audible difference. The FLAC file is 36Mb and the WAV file is 50Mb so there is a file size difference to consider.

Is it the case that unless one has say 252 or 552 upwards, these (presumably) small differences are not detectable?

HH - you said "... of metadata and best sound quality........." - can I assume from that, that you do hear a difference ?

Thanks

Al

Yes, I can clearly hear the difference. Like Solid Air says above, the WAV sounds more real. It's just nicer, perhaps less digitally. 

al9315 posted:

Yesterday I ripped a CD as I have always done using dbPoweramp to FLAC - then re-ripped the same CD to WAV

Loaded them in to my QNAP and went to have a listen. Perhaps my system is not up to it ? - but I could not really hear any audible difference. The FLAC file is 36Mb and the WAV file is 50Mb so there is a file size difference to consider.

You will probably find its more of an audible difference when you try 24-bit files,  a ripped CD will always be no better than 16/44.  

Mike-B posted:
al9315 posted:

Yesterday I ripped a CD as I have always done using dbPoweramp to FLAC - then re-ripped the same CD to WAV

Loaded them in to my QNAP and went to have a listen. Perhaps my system is not up to it ? - but I could not really hear any audible difference. The FLAC file is 36Mb and the WAV file is 50Mb so there is a file size difference to consider.

You will probably find its more of an audible difference when you try 24-bit files,  a ripped CD will always be no better than 16/44.  

But that's nothing to do with wav vs flac.

i, too, have not been convinced there's a difference, though not bothered to do more than a quick comparison - and of course may depend on the renderer.

I beg to differ,  I've tried it & I hear it.  I compared the ripped the CD of 461 Ocean Boulevard & the same album in 24/192.    I suspect that whilst its nothing to do with .wav vs .flac as such,  the detail carried in 16/44 (1411.2) is not as obvious as it is with the high res file.   The wav/flac difference with the CD rip is only just audible whereas with 24-bit is more obvious.  

The only other thing I'd offer to this discussion is that encoding FLAC at the default compression level (5) can improve the decoding on certain devices.  I've noticed random incompatibilities (not referring to anything Naim) w/ certain devices when I encode a level (8).  But even that is only something you would try if you're having issues w/ a particular device.

Outside of that I'm in the LPCM / WAV / FLAC are equivalent camp (assuming decoding device isn't struggling to decode).

sjbabbey posted:

Mike,

Have you tried the comparison between native WAV files and FLAC files transcoded and streamed as WAV and, if so, do you still find the same difference?

I have, and have heard no difference. I also sniffed the data on the line (using a WireShark network analyzer) between the original file being wav and transcoded FLAC file, and the first one thousand bytes or so of media were sample by sample identical. The renderer could not see any difference what so ever, it had no way of knowing whether the media originated as WAV or  FLAC files on the NAS... they were both identical.

Now if your media server was operating marginally in terms of I/O or memory, there might be an audible difference as the TCP parameters may be different between the two if the media server becomes I/O bound. I could not trigger this, but I could see that a 192/24 WAV file streamed as WAV PCM media stressed the I/O sub system on the media server/NAS the most.

To Prazvt, the FLAC decode process is identical whether the FLAC is encoded with minimum or maximum compression ... there is no difference in complexity in the decoding process, it is simply a case of the efficiency of the decoding process... maximum compression allows for the most efficient decoding.  The decoding Processor works identically with minimum or maximum compression. All the work is done by the encoder. Zero compression is different however. I store all my FLAC files with Max compression as my encoder is sufficiently fast that there is no meaningful time penalty in encoding with max compression, and I get the full advantage of the FLAC format for storage.

Simon

 

Hi there,

I do have the ND5XS and the most of music files which I do have  is in AIFF format. 

Is any one in here who can say something about that format?

The reason why Im downloading the AIFF music files is fact that I'm the macbook user and also what I have heard is that AIFF is uncompressed (the same as WAV) but has no problems with metadate (WAV has some issues about that)

regards,

Kacper

 

Kacper posted:

Hi there,

I do have the ND5XS and the most of music files which I do have  is in AIFF format. 

Is any one in here who can say something about that format?

The reason why Im downloading the AIFF music files is fact that I'm the macbook user and also what I have heard is that AIFF is uncompressed (the same as WAV) but has no problems with metadate (WAV has some issues about that)

regards,

Kacper

 

Hi Kacper

I think you've answered your own question 

One thing to 'watch out' for is the naming of the AIFF files. I had one issue, where a '.' (DOT) at the end of the actual file name caused it to be unrecongnisable. Removing the DOT from the file name, solved the problem (as per Naim's support advice).

Adam

Kacper posted:

The reason why Im downloading the AIFF music files is fact that I'm the macbook user and also what I have heard is that AIFF is uncompressed (the same as WAV) but has no problems with metadate (WAV has some issues about that) 

WAV does not have issues with metadata,   I've used it since I started streaming in early 2014 & believe me WAV is as easy to edit as any other file format.        

You don't need to buy in WAV,  buy in whatever is available & convert.  The last few albums I bought were in FLAC as thats all that was on offer from HighResAudio.   And you don't need to wait,  copy an album & convert the copy to WAV & then go play with the metadata & see for yourself & also see if you hear a difference.    I use a number of progs for editing dBpoweramp, Mp3tag & also I find a little freebie called AudioShell handy for the small adjustment work.  

Adam Zielinski posted:
Kacper posted:

Next time I will purchase some albums in WAV format, - just to try.

If there is a choice, I always take AIFF. That's my default setting on HD Tracks.

and that's the same with me, my default settings in HDtracks is AIFF. As far I know AIFF it's a competitor to WAV (uncompressed format) so there is no reason convert AIFF to FLAC. ( FLAC is a competitor for ALAC)

Kacper posted:

and that's the same with me, my default settings in HDtracks is AIFF. As far I know AIFF it's a competitor to WAV (uncompressed format) so there is no reason convert AIFF to FLAC. ( FLAC is a competitor for ALAC)

Don't get misled into thinking FLAC is played compressed,  FLAC is stored in a compressed state to economise on storage space,  but the server (NAS) un-compresses the file & streams it to the player uncompressed.

Mike-B posted:
Kacper posted:

and that's the same with me, my default settings in HDtracks is AIFF. As far I know AIFF it's a competitor to WAV (uncompressed format) so there is no reason convert AIFF to FLAC. ( FLAC is a competitor for ALAC)

Don't get misled into thinking FLAC is played compressed,  FLAC is stored in a compressed state to economise on storage space,  but the server (NAS) un-compresses the file & streams it to the player uncompressed.

Only if you transcode.  Other wise the datasteam sent across the network is FLAC and the streamer's digital processor uncompresses it.

Huge posted:
Mike-B posted:
Kacper posted:

and that's the same with me, my default settings in HDtracks is AIFF. As far I know AIFF it's a competitor to WAV (uncompressed format) so there is no reason convert AIFF to FLAC. ( FLAC is a competitor for ALAC)

Don't get misled into thinking FLAC is played compressed,  FLAC is stored in a compressed state to economise on storage space,  but the server (NAS) un-compresses the file & streams it to the player uncompressed.

Only if you transcode.  Other wise the datasteam sent across the network is FLAC and the streamer's digital processor uncompresses it.

That's correct, so again - there is no reason convert AIFF to FLAC.

Of course not.

Playing back compressed files directly on a streamer like your ND5XS increases processors computational load. This may lead to additional noise being introduced into the system as a reasult of that 'work'.

General consensus therfore is:

* Use uncompressed formats: WAV and AIFF

* If buying compressed: use FLAC, and set your UPnP server to transcode (to WAV)

Adam

Adam Zielinski posted:

Of course not.

Playing back compressed files directly on a streamer like your ND5XS increases processors computational load. This may lead to additional noise being introduced into the system as a reasult of that 'work'.

General consensus therfore is:

* Use uncompressed formats: WAV and AIFF

* If buying compressed: use FLAC, and set your UPnP server to transcode (to WAV)

Adam

I disagree with this 'general consensus'. I certainly wouldn't use an Apple format, and I wouldn't store in WAV. While I agree that mostly there are no problems with WAV metadata in general use, switching between UPNP servers can result in issues.

Better to store in FLAC and transcode. FWIW, in my tests I can't tell the difference.

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