Converting from WAV to FLAC

Posted by: Timmo1341 on 16 December 2018

Advice only from those members with practical, as opposed to theoretical, experience please.

I use a 2TB Unitiserve as my primary server. I currently have approx. 3,200 albums ripped to WAV stored in the MQ folder. Iíve calculated there is space for only another 250-300 albums max. 

Any other issues Iíve overlooked / not thought of?

Thanks in advance!

 

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by ChrisSU

I would suggest converting a few albums you know well, and listening to them to see if they still sound OK. Then you can set the US to convert FLAC to WAV on playback, so your streamer will never know they were stored as FLAC. 

The conversion will take some time. I would do it in batches , for example, one genre at a time, and leave it running overnight when the US is otherwise unused. File size will certainly be a fair bit smaller. 

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by ChrisSU

.....regarding the backup, yes, the files on the Synology should be overwritten with FLACs too, which has the added advantage that if your US dies, you can run this with Minimserver as a reserve NAS, and the metadata will be usable with non-Naim devices, so itís a more versatile approach all round. 

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by Simon-in-Suffolk

Hi regarding how much extra storage,.. no it is unlikely to double, but if you set FLAC at max compression (as I do) then on average you can safely assume around 35% extra storage... the exact compression possible will vary from track to track ...  if you like listening to clean triangular  tones, you will get phenomenal compression 

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by ChrisSU

As far as I know, the Unitiserve doesnít allow you to set the compression level on FLACs, but it certainly reduces file size significantly. 

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by Bart

Tim, converting from wav to flac is not your only option.  Do you use a nas to backup the UServe? If so, or even if not . . . you could set up a share on a nas and use that to provide storage beyond your 2tb limit on your UServe.

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by Timmo1341

Thanks all.

Iíve taken the plunge and started the conversion process! To my surprise I can still stream from the ĎServe whilst this is going on. There was no compression rate offered, nor did it appear possible to convert in sections - all I got was an Ďall or nothingí option! 

I know many knock the US and advocate using NAS as a replacement. I personally find the way the US deals with metadata absolutely fine for 99% of the time (I do very little classical), and N-Serve is a great little editor when needed. Using the Download folder via the iMac and dBpoweramp I find to be incredibly tedious! It works, but nowhere near as easily as the US. 

Iíll report back when the conversion has finished (some time next week I suspect!).

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by Harry

The US doesn't deal with metadata. It ignores it! At least for WAVs.

Are you happy with how your FLACs sound? Have you checked to see how much space you are saving per album conversion? Have you considered using a NAS as primary storage, so that if your US ever spikes, you won't need to restore a backup onto the repaired internal drive? This also allows scaling , so that rather than converting to a format with a smaller file size, (if you introduce compression - AKA losses), you can continue ripping to WAV as Naim recommends.

Just a thought or two. It could be that you can't detect a difference between how WAV and FLAC sounds. If you can't hear a difference or possibly prefer FLAC you can't lose. And your metadata just got better. In as much as you now have some.

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by jsaudio

Does the US allow  converting FLAC to WAV on playback?

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by Klout10
jsaudio posted:

Does the US allow  converting FLAC to WAV on playback?

Yes, the HDX and UnitiServe have the possibility to transcode FLAC to WAV on the fly ... still a shame the Core doesn't have this functionality ...

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by Timmo1341
Harry posted:

The US doesn't deal with metadata. It ignores it! At least for WAVs.

Are you happy with how your FLACs sound? Have you checked to see how much space you are saving per album conversion? Have you considered using a NAS as primary storage, so that if your US ever spikes, you won't need to restore a backup onto the repaired internal drive? This also allows scaling , so that rather than converting to a format with a smaller file size, (if you introduce compression - AKA losses), you can continue ripping to WAV as Naim recommends.

Just a thought or two. It could be that you can't detect a difference between how WAV and FLAC sounds. If you can't hear a difference or possibly prefer FLAC you can't lose. And your metadata just got better. In as much as you now have some.

Thatís news to me! Iíd assumed the track titles, genre info, date recorded, album art etc. that magically appear within the Naim App once the UnitiServe has finished ripping was called metadata? If not, what is it? I have MinimServer on my Synology NAS and can play back direct from that - is it that you mean by provision for if/when the US HD fails?

As to the WAV/FLAC debate, no, I canít detect any difference! Must be the trimming of my upper ranges that older age has gifted me.

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by ChrisSU

The difference between WAV and FLAC are fairly subtle to my ears, but no matter, you can set the US to transcode on playback in future should you wish. 

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by Guinnless

FLAC/WAV is subtle but detectable. Try with some female vocal.

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by Bart
Timmo1341 posted:
Harry posted:

The US doesn't deal with metadata. It ignores it! At least for WAVs.

Are you happy with how your FLACs sound? Have you checked to see how much space you are saving per album conversion? Have you considered using a NAS as primary storage, so that if your US ever spikes, you won't need to restore a backup onto the repaired internal drive? This also allows scaling , so that rather than converting to a format with a smaller file size, (if you introduce compression - AKA losses), you can continue ripping to WAV as Naim recommends.

Just a thought or two. It could be that you can't detect a difference between how WAV and FLAC sounds. If you can't hear a difference or possibly prefer FLAC you can't lose. And your metadata just got better. In as much as you now have some.

Thatís news to me! Iíd assumed the track titles, genre info, date recorded, album art etc. that magically appear within the Naim App once the UnitiServe has finished ripping was called metadata? If not, what is it? I have MinimServer on my Synology NAS and can play back direct from that - is it that you mean by provision for if/when the US HD fails?

As to the WAV/FLAC debate, no, I canít detect any difference! Must be the trimming of my upper ranges that older age has gifted me.

It's metadata, but the UnitiServe (and thus Core I'm pretty sure, only because I've never owned one) doesn't embed the metadata into the file the way most others do. Rather, the UnitiServe builds its own database of metadata so to speak; it's stored in files separate from the music.  The next result, when all is working as intended, is that you do see the metadata in the Naim app (meaning, you see album names, file names, genre) as you browse your music. It's just that the metadata has not been embedded into the .wav itself.

Naim when it came up with this system years ago apparently felt that it sounded better than when metadata is embedded. But unfortunately it's a 'proprietary' system such that if you ever try to move your .wav files to a different system, such as a nas running Asset or MinimServer, you have no (simple) way to really access the metadata and get it embedded or otherwise associated with the files.

Posted on: 16 December 2018 by Harry

What Bart said. 

I was a very happy HDX user. It wasn't until I needed to take the HDX out of my system (factory repairs) that I realised what a dog's breakfast it made of tagging WAVs. Or to be pedantic, not tagging WAVs.

I'd been getting most of my WAVs from ripped CDs, but also from from other sources, such as DVDA and downloads. I used dBpoweramp for tagging my downloads and DVDA rips, or for correcting the tags they came with. The HDX would read them as if it had ripped them itself. But nothing else would read the HDX tags of WAV files, because they didn't actually exist. Sure, they were available in a discrete file in the directory, such as you might find the album artwork, but what use is that? The world doesn't work like that. The Naim world does, but the wonderful thing about streaming is its non propitiatory platform independence. 

Because most downloads came as FLAC by default in the early days, it didn't take me long to hear a difference, and in my case, not a small one. Formats are inter convertible and easy to do. You can knock up a few FLACs from copies of WAVs and listen to them back to back.  This is how I did my comparisons of formats, and still do from time to time, just to check. It saves a ton of time if you don't like the first few.