ND555 Impressions

Richieroo posted:

My gut feeling is - any form of work that is required unpacking - on the fly - is liable to have some form of effect. When I rip CD's I always choose to avoid any form of compression. Hence my surprise - at some of the highly compressed flacs sounding so good ... I also avoid embedded pictures ...... 

It seems to me that a scientific look into this is required - and a standard set - so that when purchasing you know how the format has been compiled......

If your NAS converts FLAC to WAV on the fly, you r streamer doesn’t know or care that is was stored as FLAC, let alone what level of compression was used. Go for maximum compression and you still have a lossless stream. 

Richard

Any chance of an issue date for this?

 I think HFNRR touched on this in one of the editorials a while back; where they felt that a WAV rip with no embedded metadata sounded better than either WAV or FLAC where metadata was embedded.

The Absolute Sound ran some pieces a good while ago about 'rips' with and without metadata too.  I'll try to find the issue dates.

In the early days of the HDX, Malcolm Steward and I did a huge amount of experimenting with differing rips of the same CD and found quite large differences in what we perceived to be the swing in the music.  We preferred the HDX rips. I had conversations with my namesake at Naim who suggested quite logical reasons for differences which unfortunately I've forgotten. He also scolded me for not documenting the versions of apps like dBPoweramp I was using as he quite rightly stated that the next version may be different.  I'm sure things have settled and we have all learn a lot in that time so absolutely no implied criticism of dBP an app I use regularly.

ChrisSU posted:
Richieroo posted:

Try standing on both!!!

Try sitting on your backside, everything sounds better like that to me!

Very true, just wondering would it be worth trying a Power Line on the Electric Reclining Listening chair ?

Dark Bear has probably one of the most resolving system of the majority of members here, so it can explain that he can hear differences.   Perhaps he has also very good ears....

This debate on different sounding cd rips was already be made, in part, at the debut of the uniticore.  I remember some finding differences between serve rips, core and dppoweramp.

With each upgrade I have made - on the Naim journey - I have been astounded at the level of detail leveraged ........ the S1 in particular is a terrific technical achievement - and I can well believe DB will hear an ant fart ........ 3 rows back in the orchestra pit..........!!!

It's an easy enough task to compare two WAV files back to back, with and without embedded metadata. I've done it.

If you can hear a difference there is a difference. If not, then not. Don't trust anybody else's ears, however golden they claim to be.

Harry posted:

It's an easy enough task to compare two WAV files back to back, with and without embedded metadata. I've done it.

If you can hear a difference there is a difference. If not, then not. Don't trust anybody else's ears, however golden they claim to be.

I beg to disagree. You can have two files which are identical and still sound very differently to you. This does not imply that they are different.

The reasons why two identical files can sound differently well known to us: by the time we listen to the second file, we have already listened to the first one. We are then different and, like us, our replay systems might be different as well. Panta Rhei!   

Mike Sullivan posted:
Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

Richard, sorry that really is voodoo... akin to say listening standing on your left leg sounds better than  when standing on your right... sure in the limit the listener might be more comfortable standing on their left leg so it sounds ‘better’... but we are in the realms of unconscious and unsubstantiated subjective bias.

Actually, standing on your left leg will activate the right side of the brain, which is the creative side. Standing on your right leg will active the left side of the brain, which is the analytical. So that could affect how you perceive music.

That at least explains my incapability of finding any differences between identical rips: when I listen to music I'm typically sitting and both sides of my brain must be inactive!

Phil Harris wrote 21.2.2018 here in the forum:

I did some "testing" on this when we first developed the Naim DAC as that could play both WAV and FLAC from USB and it was easy to keep the playback chain simple and consistent.

I had several identical memory sticks with a WAV rip of an album on some and a FLAC conversion of exactly the same album on others, a couple of roomfulls of willing 'victims' and the sticks labeled so that only I knew which were which. The sticks would be switched around (as there were multiple WAV and multiple FLAC sticks then it wasn't as simple as the victims seeing me swapping a stick and knowing that they would be getting a different file format) and the same track played.

The overall result was that although almost universally the victims could reliably tell when the file format changed between WAV and FLAC and vice versa there was no significant bias as to which "sounded best" or which was definitely the WAV and which was definitely the FLAC with different listeners consistently preferring one to the other in roughly equal measure.

nbpf posted:
Harry posted:

It's an easy enough task to compare two WAV files back to back, with and without embedded metadata. I've done it.

If you can hear a difference there is a difference. If not, then not. Don't trust anybody else's ears, however golden they claim to be.

I beg to disagree. You can have two files which are identical and still sound very differently to you. This does not imply that they are different.

The reasons why two identical files can sound differently well known to us: by the time we listen to the second file, we have already listened to the first one. We are then different and, like us, our replay systems might be different as well. Panta Rhei!   

So if you can't hear a difference there is a difference, and if you can hear one, there isn't. This doesn't work for me. But if it works for you, then by all means stick with it. Trust your own ears and draw your own conclusions. It's your money.

T38.45 posted:

Phil Harris wrote 21.2.2018 here in the forum:

I did some "testing" on this when we first developed the Naim DAC as that could play both WAV and FLAC from USB and it was easy to keep the playback chain simple and consistent.

I had several identical memory sticks with a WAV rip of an album on some and a FLAC conversion of exactly the same album on others, a couple of roomfulls of willing 'victims' and the sticks labeled so that only I knew which were which. The sticks would be switched around (as there were multiple WAV and multiple FLAC sticks then it wasn't as simple as the victims seeing me swapping a stick and knowing that they would be getting a different file format) and the same track played.

The overall result was that although almost universally the victims could reliably tell when the file format changed between WAV and FLAC and vice versa there was no significant bias as to which "sounded best" or which was definitely the WAV and which was definitely the FLAC with different listeners consistently preferring one to the other in roughly equal measure.

Interesting but anecdotal, as I'm sure Phil would agree. Something obviously going on but nothing to support any tentative conclusions based on a non controlled study.  Scientific rigour would not be impossible to apply to an investigation along these lines, but the size of the sample and the huge resources required to carry out standardised procedures and analyse the results probably wouldn't be justified. I'm sure that if someone thought they could make enough money out of it, they would stump up the millions necessary to do it right and get it published. Although this assumes a statistically significant finding and a plausible explanation for it. Neither are a given.

When I did FLAC (lossless) vs. WAV test it tooked 30 sec sample to realise that WAV is clearly better. I do not undestand this "maybe something happened" in ripping. dBpoweramp there is AccurateRip comparison and you can be 100% sure that it does not get any better no matter what ripping system you are using. Then use NAS FLAC to WAV conversion on the fly. Job done and all the speculation can be ignored.

Gandalf_fi posted:

When I did FLAC (lossless) vs. WAV test it tooked 30 sec sample to realise that WAV is clearly better. I do not undestand this "maybe something happened" in ripping. dBpoweramp there is AccurateRip comparison and you can be 100% sure that it does not get any better no matter what ripping system you are using. Then use NAS FLAC to WAV conversion on the fly. Job done and all the speculation can be ignored.

Hi Gandalf,
Nothing strange about your listening results. WAV doesn't need the "processing" that FLAC needs. "Processing" means "noise".
Both contain the very same information, no doubt about that. But the way those files are processed is not the same.

Harry posted:
nbpf posted:
Harry posted:

It's an easy enough task to compare two WAV files back to back, with and without embedded metadata. I've done it.

If you can hear a difference there is a difference. If not, then not. Don't trust anybody else's ears, however golden they claim to be.

I beg to disagree. You can have two files which are identical and still sound very differently to you. This does not imply that they are different.

The reasons why two identical files can sound differently well known to us: by the time we listen to the second file, we have already listened to the first one. We are then different and, like us, our replay systems might be different as well. Panta Rhei!   

So if you can't hear a difference there is a difference, and if you can hear one, there isn't. ...

No, that's not what I wrote.

What I wrote is that two files may be identical (and thus, necessarily, not different) and yet be found to sound differently.

I trust DB to have listened to the 3 rips very carefully and and in a very revealing system and to have found out the rips to sound differently.

This strongly suggests that the rips are actually different and therefore not all bit perfect. The logical possibility that the rips are in fact identical cannot however be excluded. This is because (again, to the best of my understanding) DB has only listened to the files but he has not compared them bit-by-bit for equality.

All these considerations would be rather immaterial if DB had not concluded that he would use the system that produces the best sounding rips to build his music collection.

This would be a very bad choice if the system that yields the best sounding rips turned out to generate rips that are not bit perfect. Is that system yields bit perfect rips for certain, then the fact that these rips sound better than other rips is not a problem, of course.

...I'm regretting mentioning this in one respect, as whenever people think they understand something and something challenges this there can be a lashing-out at this affront to our framework we have established for getting a bearing in the world. This happens everywhere and in many scientific fields too at present where people get part of an answer and it becomes the whole answer and anything pointing to the fact you only had a part to begin with is not dealt with as it should be.

IMO the music data is a compound-form of bits arranged into Bytes within a frame-structure embedded within a data-storage format frame-structure and manipulated from different forms of static to dynamic memory in their own formats and eventually passed to the DAC.

The character of what I hear leads me to believe there is an ongoing translation process one is perceiving. One person who I respect in fact remarked they could hear the difference between a Western Digital drive used and another one we tried - I also listened and I heard what he meant as a kind of low-level tone-colouration. At that point in the demo I was mentally ranging about as to 'why' and what was happening - but it was undoubtedly there.

At the level of replay the ND555 offers and into the Statement System we used it is perhaps rather revealing of these things that perhaps before could be dismissed.

I used to design and manage database software for a few years and had to pull data from static to dynamic memory then packet into Ethernet packets and I know there is no one way of doing it.

At a higher level the data just has to be correct and all works well and how things are actually managed at a lower-level is nicely hidden and encapsulated in various device management protocols - I didn't need to know and it 'just works'.

But in a real-time data stream into wide dynamic-range audio system where incredible care is needed to keep noise to a minimum then and correlated noise due to all the lower-level data-wrapping mechanisms operating on the fly as the music is being un-packed and readied for the DAC probably could be audible.

While it is being debated I'll choose the best I can empirically, as that gets me where I need to be.

I purchased my HiFi and play music to escape my intellectual mind and it is one of the few means I find that allows the other deeper person to have some time here, so I can't run for a long time on speculation that blocks the path to my goal in the short-term.

The idea that a high-level check-sum of data integrity says all about the data in how it is arranged seems to be the thing I've realised (personally) is doubtful. As accurate data - yes it does! As how that arrangement of data will flow in real-time through a music system and be perceived - not that confident at all from these demos.

DB.

Richard Dane posted:

It's not a bad idea from French Rooster.  To avoid this ND555 thread disappearing down a rabbit hole, perhaps anyone who wishes to discuss differences with rips further could start a new thread in the Streaming Audio room.

OOPs - please feel free to gather and put anything I've put elsewhere Richard. I'll say no more on it!

DB.

yeti42 posted:

I think this was the article.

"https://www.hificritic.com/flac-wav-sound-quality-research.html"

In "" to avoid Richard removing a link but Richard, if you're OK with a link to HiFiCritic please remove the "".

Very interesting, thanks! But I understand that DB has compared three .wav files obtained with different ripping systems, not .flac vs. .wav files.

Darke Bear posted:

...I'm regretting mentioning this in one respect, as whenever people think they understand something and something challenges this there can be a lashing-out at this affront to our framework we have established for getting a bearing in the world. This happens everywhere and in many scientific fields too at present where people get part of an answer and it becomes the whole answer and anything pointing to the fact you only had a part to begin with is not dealt with as it should be.

IMO the music data is a compound-form of bits arranged into Bytes within a frame-structure embedded within a data-storage format frame-structure and manipulated from different forms of static to dynamic memory in their own formats and eventually passed to the DAC.

The character of what I hear leads me to believe there is an ongoing translation process one is perceiving. One person who I respect in fact remarked they could hear the difference between a Western Digital drive used and another one we tried - I also listened and I heard what he meant as a kind of low-level tone-colouration. At that point in the demo I was mentally ranging about as to 'why' and what was happening - but it was undoubtedly there.

At the level of replay the ND555 offers and into the Statement System we used it is perhaps rather revealing of these things that perhaps before could be dismissed.

I used to design and manage database software for a few years and had to pull data from static to dynamic memory then packet into Ethernet packets and I know there is no one way of doing it.

At a higher level the data just has to be correct and all works well and how things are actually managed at a lower-level is nicely hidden and encapsulated in various device management protocols - I didn't need to know and it 'just works'.

But in a real-time data stream into wide dynamic-range audio system where incredible care is needed to keep noise to a minimum then and correlated noise due to all the lower-level data-wrapping mechanisms operating on the fly as the music is being un-packed and readied for the DAC probably could be audible.

While it is being debated I'll choose the best I can empirically, as that gets me where I need to be.

I purchased my HiFi and play music to escape my intellectual mind and it is one of the few means I find that allows the other deeper person to have some time here, so I can't run for a long time on speculation that blocks the path to my goal in the short-term.

The idea that a high-level check-sum of data integrity says all about the data in how it is arranged seems to be the thing I've realised (personally) is doubtful. As accurate data - yes it does! As how that arrangement of data will flow in real-time through a music system and be perceived - not that confident at all from these demos.

DB.

I would like to throw another monkey wrench into the discussion that I think no one has mentioned.  The differences in rips between different hardware and different systems might have something to do with the fact that the original material is different for the experiences that many have posted.  It has not been constant so it might be a factor in why different members hear different things on different systems from rips of different source material.

Bailyhill

Darke Bear posted:

This happens everywhere and in many scientific fields too at present where people get part of an answer and it becomes the whole answer and anything pointing to the fact you only had a part to begin with is not dealt with as it should be.

 

Indeed. 

I find it useful to separate "perception" from "science," but the blending of one into the other is impossible to stop.  While you've been careful in each post to point out that such is your perception, and others' 'mileage may vary,' the collective "we" can't resist going down the science path. That's why this topic has traditionally gotten to where it is right now in this and every other thread that addresses "bit perfect rips" with anything more than "this one sounds better to me and I don't know why."  As soon as we start to postulate the why  . . . 

Darke Bear posted:

...I'm regretting mentioning this in one respect, as whenever people think they understand something and something challenges this there can be a lashing-out at this affront to our framework we have established for getting a bearing in the world. This happens everywhere and in many scientific fields too at present where people get part of an answer and it becomes the whole answer and anything pointing to the fact you only had a part to begin with is not dealt with as it should be.

IMO the music data is a compound-form of bits arranged into Bytes within a frame-structure embedded within a data-storage format frame-structure and manipulated from different forms of static to dynamic memory in their own formats and eventually passed to the DAC.

The character of what I hear leads me to believe there is an ongoing translation process one is perceiving. One person who I respect in fact remarked they could hear the difference between a Western Digital drive used and another one we tried - I also listened and I heard what he meant as a kind of low-level tone-colouration. At that point in the demo I was mentally ranging about as to 'why' and what was happening - but it was undoubtedly there.

At the level of replay the ND555 offers and into the Statement System we used it is perhaps rather revealing of these things that perhaps before could be dismissed.

I used to design and manage database software for a few years and had to pull data from static to dynamic memory then packet into Ethernet packets and I know there is no one way of doing it.

At a higher level the data just has to be correct and all works well and how things are actually managed at a lower-level is nicely hidden and encapsulated in various device management protocols - I didn't need to know and it 'just works'.

But in a real-time data stream into wide dynamic-range audio system where incredible care is needed to keep noise to a minimum then and correlated noise due to all the lower-level data-wrapping mechanisms operating on the fly as the music is being un-packed and readied for the DAC probably could be audible.

While it is being debated I'll choose the best I can empirically, as that gets me where I need to be.

I purchased my HiFi and play music to escape my intellectual mind and it is one of the few means I find that allows the other deeper person to have some time here, so I can't run for a long time on speculation that blocks the path to my goal in the short-term.

The idea that a high-level check-sum of data integrity says all about the data in how it is arranged seems to be the thing I've realised (personally) is doubtful. As accurate data - yes it does! As how that arrangement of data will flow in real-time through a music system and be perceived - not that confident at all from these demos.

DB.

As Eric Morecombe succinctly put it 'all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order'

Darke Bear posted:
Richard Dane posted:

It's not a bad idea from French Rooster.  To avoid this ND555 thread disappearing down a rabbit hole, perhaps anyone who wishes to discuss differences with rips further could start a new thread in the Streaming Audio room.

OOPs - please feel free to gather and put anything I've put elsewhere Richard. I'll say no more on it!

DB.

my idea was just thinking that it can bother Bert or some members specially interested in nd555 sound and software.    

Bart posted:
Darke Bear posted:

This happens everywhere and in many scientific fields too at present where people get part of an answer and it becomes the whole answer and anything pointing to the fact you only had a part to begin with is not dealt with as it should be.

 

Indeed. 

I find it useful to separate "perception" from "science," but the blending of one into the other is impossible to stop.  While you've been careful in each post to point out that such is your perception, and others' 'mileage may vary,' the collective "we" can't resist going down the science path. That's why this topic has traditionally gotten to where it is right now in this and every other thread that addresses "bit perfect rips" with anything more than "this one sounds better to me and I don't know why."  As soon as we start to postulate the why  . . . 

Science won't help you. We live in a quantum world full of all sorts of quantum 'weirdness', so I'm not at all surprised three identical bit-perfect rips sound different!

Bailyhill posted:
Darke Bear posted:

...I'm regretting mentioning this in one respect, as whenever people think they understand something and something challenges this there can be a lashing-out at this affront to our framework we have established for getting a bearing in the world. This happens everywhere and in many scientific fields too at present where people get part of an answer and it becomes the whole answer and anything pointing to the fact you only had a part to begin with is not dealt with as it should be.

IMO the music data is a compound-form of bits arranged into Bytes within a frame-structure embedded within a data-storage format frame-structure and manipulated from different forms of static to dynamic memory in their own formats and eventually passed to the DAC.

The character of what I hear leads me to believe there is an ongoing translation process one is perceiving. One person who I respect in fact remarked they could hear the difference between a Western Digital drive used and another one we tried - I also listened and I heard what he meant as a kind of low-level tone-colouration. At that point in the demo I was mentally ranging about as to 'why' and what was happening - but it was undoubtedly there.

At the level of replay the ND555 offers and into the Statement System we used it is perhaps rather revealing of these things that perhaps before could be dismissed.

I used to design and manage database software for a few years and had to pull data from static to dynamic memory then packet into Ethernet packets and I know there is no one way of doing it.

At a higher level the data just has to be correct and all works well and how things are actually managed at a lower-level is nicely hidden and encapsulated in various device management protocols - I didn't need to know and it 'just works'.

But in a real-time data stream into wide dynamic-range audio system where incredible care is needed to keep noise to a minimum then and correlated noise due to all the lower-level data-wrapping mechanisms operating on the fly as the music is being un-packed and readied for the DAC probably could be audible.

While it is being debated I'll choose the best I can empirically, as that gets me where I need to be.

I purchased my HiFi and play music to escape my intellectual mind and it is one of the few means I find that allows the other deeper person to have some time here, so I can't run for a long time on speculation that blocks the path to my goal in the short-term.

The idea that a high-level check-sum of data integrity says all about the data in how it is arranged seems to be the thing I've realised (personally) is doubtful. As accurate data - yes it does! As how that arrangement of data will flow in real-time through a music system and be perceived - not that confident at all from these demos.

DB.

I would like to throw another monkey wrench into the discussion that I think no one has mentioned.  The differences in rips between different hardware and different systems might have something to do with the fact that the original material is different for the experiences that many have posted.  It has not been constant so it might be a factor in why different members hear different things on different systems from rips of different source material.

Bailyhill

Most ripping systems typically make two or more rips of a given track. If they obtain different results, you'll see an error message in the log file of the ripping process.

There is actually nothing strange in the results reported by DB and the differences that he has heard are most likely due to the fact that the three files he was comparing were different.

The question of whether all the three files were faithful copies of the original or not is an interesting one. One who is about to rip a collection of CDs typically wants to use a ripping system that generates faithful copies of the originals. Unfortunately, it is a technical question that cannot be addressed by listening tests.

Darke Bear posted:

 

 

 

...

The idea that a high-level check-sum of data integrity says all about the data in how it is arranged seems to be the thing I've realised (personally) is doubtful. As accurate data - yes it does! As how that arrangement of data will flow in real-time through a music system and be perceived - not that confident at all from these demos.

If you doubt the effectiveness of checksum algorithms you should probably sell the ND555 and just rely on your CD555. 

But no matter what you doubt or believe: the effectiveness of checksum algorithms is irrelevant to the issue you raised. You have the three rips on your hard disk and you can easily check if they are equal or not. If the rips do not have the same length, they are certainly different. If they have the same length, you can check them for equality with the cmp command from the command line. The answer is at your fingertips.

If they are not equal it is not so surprising that they sound differently. If they are equal you should perhaps revise your listening tests.

Geko posted:
Bart posted:
Darke Bear posted:

This happens everywhere and in many scientific fields too at present where people get part of an answer and it becomes the whole answer and anything pointing to the fact you only had a part to begin with is not dealt with as it should be.

 

Indeed. 

I find it useful to separate "perception" from "science," but the blending of one into the other is impossible to stop.  While you've been careful in each post to point out that such is your perception, and others' 'mileage may vary,' the collective "we" can't resist going down the science path. That's why this topic has traditionally gotten to where it is right now in this and every other thread that addresses "bit perfect rips" with anything more than "this one sounds better to me and I don't know why."  As soon as we start to postulate the why  . . . 

Science won't help you. We live in a quantum world full of all sorts of quantum 'weirdness', so I'm not at all surprised three identical bit-perfect rips sound different!

What makes you believe the three rips are identical?

The upshot of all that FLACing about was that I decided to rip with a Core to WAV and live with the fact that some music will be hard to locate, not that different from trying to find a remembered piece in the vinyl rack when it's on a record with several other unrelated pieces and it's not what the record was filed under. Being able to edit more of the album information would help a bit rather than just title and performer so that could improve in due course.

 

If one were to rip the same CD on the same device, using the same software over a number of days, with different operators and other variables which I cannot think of right now, would the resulting ripped files necessarily be identical? Is the process 100% repeatable?

 

Darke Bear posted:
Richard Dane posted:

It's not a bad idea from French Rooster.  To avoid this ND555 thread disappearing down a rabbit hole, perhaps anyone who wishes to discuss differences with rips further could start a new thread in the Streaming Audio room.

OOPs - please feel free to gather and put anything I've put elsewhere Richard. I'll say no more on it!

DB.

Can't do that anymore.  However, FR has started an appropriate thread here:

https://forums.naimaudio.com/topic/rips-are-just-rips

nbpf posted:

There is actually nothing strange in the results reported by DB and the differences that he has heard are most likely due to the fact that the three files he was comparing were different.

The question of whether all the three files were faithful copies of the original or not is an interesting one. One who is about to rip a collection of CDs typically wants to use a ripping system that generates faithful copies of the originals. Unfortunately, it is a technical question that cannot be addressed by listening tests.

They were the same CD - and are the same CD generating three files from three Rips over a period of about 40 mins.
...but my new Ripping machine is here and I've things to play with. If someone - not me - starts another thread I'll make further comment if I feel that will not make too many heads explode; a few will be fine but got to keep this all civil.

The ND555 run-in is at a nice point right now and I'm enjoying the big open sound it gives. I know there is more run-in to go so this may not last, but I feel it is definitely making progress.

DB.

Richard Dane posted:

Simon, I'm just saying what has been reported elsewhere. The metadata may well be a red herring, or not. Maybe "voodoo". I don't know. But the piece was certainly an interesting read. My point is that there must be more going on than we currently understand, otherwise how to explain it?

As I say, i haven't tried it myself - it would need a properly managed listening test - but if someone says they think it sounds better to them, who am I to argue with that?

Hi Richard.. as discussed previously on the forum a few years back there are potential differences in how the file is written and on different media servers when streaming... I shared some of my findings with Naim engineering a little time back... and at the time I was told how Naim are looking to mitigate with the then unlaunched new streamers... but it was nothing to do with meta data in a WAV file... albeit one legacy format of WAV file encoding does  only support basic chunk types...

So my point is that it is absolutely interesting and worthwhile talking about differences, but careful consideration is required on cause and effect so as not to jump to inappropriate or unsubstantiated conclusions of what is causing the difference..in my experience there is usually clear and well acknowledged engineering or scientific cause and sometimes that cause is not what otherwise would appear obvious.... and yes I realise one might need an engineering bent to be able to explore cause and effect... but anyone can of course experience differences.

Clive B posted:

If one were to rip the same CD on the same device, using the same software over a number of days, with different operators and other variables which I cannot think of right now, would the resulting ripped files necessarily be identical? Is the process 100% repeatable?

Reproducibility (within the limits of physical wear and modulo differences in the metadata that can contain time-dependent information) is an important quality measure for ripping software. A failure to deliver consistent results over time would be a software error. I would expect any decent ripping software to yield reproducible results in the limits mentioned above. 

Good ripping software should also support detailed ripping logs.  A CD might be damaged or be for whatever reasons problematic. In these cases a good software should warn the user that something might be wrong with the ripping process. The worst software is software that fails silently! 

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