WAV or FLAC Lossless? And tags etc etc....

Hi all. I think I remember some talk on here a while back about dbPoweramp now supporting lossless FLAC. FLAC is always lossless though is it not? My understanding is as follows: FLAC is lossless. It's a compression which is reversed when the FLAC file is played, as opposed to MP3 which is a compression and also a selective crop of some sort (drops out data containing inaudible frequencies). WAV doesn't require the same decompression the FLAC does when played and usually this gives an advantage in terms of sound quality over FLAC because the hardware playing the file is freed of this process. WAV does not usually support tags. FLAC supports tags. 

 

Is this all correct? I am asking because I am hoping to someday acquire an ND5/NDX and I also have the following questions:

 

1. If my WAV files are encoded with dbPoweramp will the NDX and Upnp be able to read the tags just like they would with MP3 or FLAC? I have some WAV files that were encoded with XLD, will these also have some sort of tags imbedded or will I need to fire them through dbPoweramp to achieve this? If I have the right sort of Upnp software installed, will the tagged WAVs be essentially the same from a functionality point of view to FLACs?

 

2. Does dbPoweramp support an uncompressed FLAC format? And if so, is this going to sound the same as a comparable WAV file? Is this essentially a WAV file in FLAC guise? A WAV with the tagging advantages of FLAC?

 

3. This one isn't really so important. If the files on my NAS drive, FLAC, tagged Wav or whatever, are tagged properly can you browse using n-Stream by artist or album like you can on an iPod or iPhone? Or do you browse using the folder structure on the NAS?

 

Sorry to ask so many questions at once! I'm sure much of this has been covered before. I did a quick search but couldn't see any threads on this topic. Appreciate any help!

Original Post

straight in at No.2

 

FLAC uncompressed has been supported by DBpoweramp since about May. It's essentially the PCM/WAV within a FLAC shell. So good sound quality, with good meta data handleing.

 

No.3

 

You can search for music using Album, Track Title, Artist, Artist/Album, or file structure; But, this also depends on which UPnP server you use. More advanced servers may allow composer or conductor look up.

 

No. 1

 

Depends on your UPnP server. Poweramp will embed meta data on a WAV, but not all servers will read them. If you use Asset, running on a windows server or PC, then you are ok, if you use Twonky, then probably not, but it does work if you're using FLAC Uncompressed.

 

You best bet is to listen to the same CD ripped as WAV, FLAC UC, and maybe even FLAC, then decide which sounds the best. Your ears are the ones to trust. remember any WAV rips can be converted to FLAC /FLAC UC without the need to re-rip the discs.

> AIFF is a better codec for tagging than WAV


Yes the Amiga Interchange File Format rules OK

[It's a kind of Electronic Art]


The Vortexbox dudes advised me to go FLAC so been converting my AIFF files: what an interesting life I lead 


FLAC, ALAC, AIFF even WAV all sound the same to me


[However I did some work on a PC today, wrote a fantastic document solving one of life's great mysteries, zipped it up, unzipped and half of it was missing - I wished I'd used an expensive magic zipper - as now my solution to world poverty is lost forever]. 

Thanks everyone for the responses. Also I just found a thread on Uncompressed FLAC. Uncompressed was the word I was looking for, not lossless. It sounds like that is the best format to use if Naim suggest WAV for best performance and this FLAC is essentially a WAV hidden in a FLAC shell with all the proper tagging.

 

Does Naim give any recommendations for brands of NAS drives or the best Upnp servers to use?  

 

spent hours on wav/ flac. and at this moment most downloads are in flac. the differences were ruled by the moon. i was concerned about meta data so i went for the less compressed flac../dbpower

 

high res from hd tracks downloaded to th nd5x 25bit/192k/flac.are excellent .all we want now is more downloads and the price to fall

Naim has traditionally used the Netgear ReadyNas Duo in all their demoes. However, in February they were using a QNAP at the show. Lately the Sinology 212 (not the 212j which is inferior) has also been getting a lot of good write-ups for this sort of thing. A friend of mine just bought one after his Iomega bit the dust and he's very happy with it. I recently bought a Netgear ReadyNAS Duo V2 at a cracking £200 inc 2 drives and it seems to do the job very well too.

 

Regards,
Frank.
All opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinion of any organisations I work for, except where this is stated explicitly.

Originally Posted by Guido Fawkes:

> AIFF is a better codec for tagging than WAV


Yes the Amiga Interchange File Format rules OK

[It's a kind of Electronic Art]


The Vortexbox dudes advised me to go FLAC so been converting my AIFF files: what an interesting life I lead 


FLAC, ALAC, AIFF even WAV all sound the same to me


[However I did some work on a PC today, wrote a fantastic document solving one of life's great mysteries, zipped it up, unzipped and half of it was missing - I wished I'd used an expensive magic zipper - as now my solution to world poverty is lost forever]. 

 

Thank God someone remembers where AIFF came from ...

 

... I get so frustrated when people tell me that AIFF is a format created by Apple.

 

Phil

Spent a couple of evening trying to get my SB Touch to recognise 24bit 96khz WAV files I'd created using a soundblaster external sound card. The files are on the NAS, SBT can see the folder but thinks it's empty.

 

Gave up on that and converted to FLAC using media monkey. The SB Touch will play these files, but they are now 16bit 96khz not 24bit. Does flac do 24bit, or I have done something wrong.

 

Tried to tag them but gave up, thats a job for the weekend.

Sorry for the spoiler but it was the IFF standard that came jointly from Elechronic Arts and Commodore Computers [alas our Amiga and Commodore 64 are no more, who remembers Attack of the Mutant Camels by Jeff Minter's Llamasoft. ] . Apple in the late 80s then developed a superset of the EA IFF format and it was this that was called AIFF. The IFF structure also spawned WAVs as well. Therefore AIFF and WAV file construncts are very similar other than the sample byte values are reversed, and they contain different Chunk types - so they should decode pretty much the same.

Originally Posted by fatcat:

Spent a couple of evening trying to get my SB Touch to recognise 24bit 96khz WAV files I'd created using a soundblaster external sound card. The files are on the NAS, SBT can see the folder but thinks it's empty.

 

Gave up on that and converted to FLAC using media monkey. The SB Touch will play these files, but they are now 16bit 96khz not 24bit. Does flac do 24bit, or I have done something wrong.

 

Tried to tag them but gave up, thats a job for the weekend.

FLAC certainly does do 24bit files.  I'm not familiar with Media Monkey, but no doubt someone who is will be along shortly to tell you how to do it.

 

As regards the original thread topic, on my NDX/555PS/nDAC, I hear no difference between WAV and FLAC - whether compressed or uncompressed.  The NDX decodes the FLAC files to WAV which are then presented to the NDAC.  IIRC correctly Phil Harris has already said in another thread that this is the way it works!

Originally Posted by Dungassin:
 

As regards the original thread topic, on my NDX/555PS/nDAC, I hear no difference between WAV and FLAC - whether compressed or uncompressed.  The NDX decodes the FLAC files to WAV which are then presented to the NDAC.  IIRC correctly Phil Harris has already said in another thread that this is the way it works!

 

 

If you have an NDX connected via its S/PDIF to a DAC (there's no such thing as an nDAC or NDAC - must point that out to keep our marketing dept. happy) then the NDX pulls the file being played from the UPnP server and then decodes it to PCM.

 

This is then piped out of the S/PDIF output as a bitstream to the DAC where it is then converted to analogue audio.

 

The DAC won't "play" WAVs, FLACs or any file formats - it only handles 2 channel PCM audio via S/PDIF...

 

Cheers

 

Phil

Sorry, I mis-spoke myself.  That's what I meant to say.  Needless to say, my point still stands - the DAC whether external or internal, plays PCM files, and unless one truly believes that encoding to FLAC will permanently degrade the sound, then an external DAC will be using it's own power supply etc.   Hence FLAC or WAV into the NDX>DAC shouldn't matter at all - and this is exactly what I am hearing.

 

I am so convinced of this, that I now keep my music files as compressed FLAC.  i am using Asset, which I have set to transcode to WAV before sending the output to my NDX, but can hear no difference between that  and using Twonky (on my NAS).  Using Asset, the NDX reports the files as WAV, using Twonky the files say they are FLAC.  (exactly as one would expect)

Get a Transporter and maybe a Naim DAC (not necessary). In a Naim system and NAS with flac files and good cabling you'll be happy with the result.

Stop playing your CD's (end of an era)  and resume playing vinyl (after all these years) for extreme quality and fun. 

gr

Rudolph

sometimes ripped cds sound much better than cds but the data is limited to 16 bit from a system was flawed and released too early....so the output from any expensive unit is still limited by the source... cd    ,downloads are very limited with very few new music  albums.   flac/wav is really something to discuss ,it will take years for the streaming format to settle, lets hope the very expensive steamers  and over priced high res albums dissappear for most of us

Rich, it's probably safe to assume nothing in this area will settle down, by the nature  of consumer technology it will constantly evolve. Streaming has been around for 15 years  ( at least that i am aware of) in the consumer space, with only the early adopters and well healed playing back then...I remember dabbling with RealAudio in the 90s but didn't get  fully immersed.  In another 15 years I am sure it will be quite different, with hopeful legacy support for what we use now.

Simon

Hi Dungassin,

 

I am using Assett already some time and am very happy with it. My music is in FLAC format. Today I tested with setting the Assett Transcode to WAV. AFter a few hours, I disabled the transcode again: my pc is one year old laptop with 8gb RAM. The transcoding caused the processor permanently on 45%+ and a RAM allocation of at least a Gig. More important, I felt that the sound quality did not improve at. SO I am back with where I was this morning ..... with a smile, since I bought some superb Eliane Elias music :-)

 

Do you have the same experience with the transcoding: the computer being processing very intensly ??

 

Iver

I never quite understand the concept that WAV sounds better than lossless files. I've done a comparison between AIFF, WAV and ALAC on a PC. There was actually no detectable difference in CPU utilization. So even though lossless formats were decoded on the fly for "decompression", doesn't seem like its putting a dent in the CPU usage, and hence don't see how more electrical noise's increased. Either case, personally I didn't hear a real audible difference for most of the files I played. Only two or so of them had a hair-splitting diff ...

I have never succeeded in finding a difference betwen the lossless formats and WAV, even if the lossy format - MP3 - is sometimes clearly not nearly of the quality of the lossless formats.

 

What is certain is that the differences between different recordings' quality is completely clear, and is far more significant.

 

ATB from George

George, I agree that mastering and recording are very significant, but for the same recording/ master some of us can hear  differences in the decoding of file types, and with Naim equipment WAV can sound more natural than FLAC. At a recent NDS demonstration I was in a room with several gentlemen and we listened to two identical tracks, apart from one was being streamed WAV and the other FLAC, and we didnt know which was which. To me  difference was quite clear.But I kepr initially quiet and looked around the room for feedback and most clearly identified the format with one memorable comment of " where has all the music gone?" - needless to say that was the FLAC. 

Now this difference in sound is more with the vibe and atmosphere rather than the tone of the music, and yes I am sure only certain systems are sensitive to this.

 

This takes me to Zinger's point, if you are using a general purpose CPU to decode in a multi tasking operating system environment I would be surprised if there was any appreciable difference in loads between the two . However in several pieces of Naim equipment the decoding is done by an optimised micro controller sharing resources with the rest of the player. The number and type of micro controller cycles per second of sound varies between WAV and FLAC. This has the possibility of producing RF modulation on the internal Powerlines and ground as well as EMI. If this happens it will produce a signature in other connected circuits, and we may be hearing that the signature from WAV has a different effect to FLAC.

You could argue this shouldn't happen, and I am sure Naim work tirelessly to minimise it, (still don't know why they don't twist the internal Powerlines though), however in the real world in certain conditions it happens, as with this (factory sample) NDS, and in this case WAV brought the more emotion and enjoyment, and surely that's what it is all about.

Simon

 

Originally Posted by Iver van de Zand:

Hi Dungassin,

 

I am using Assett already some time and am very happy with it. My music is in FLAC format. Today I tested with setting the Assett Transcode to WAV. AFter a few hours, I disabled the transcode again: my pc is one year old laptop with 8gb RAM. The transcoding caused the processor permanently on 45%+ and a RAM allocation of at least a Gig. More important, I felt that the sound quality did not improve at. SO I am back with where I was this morning ..... with a smile, since I bought some superb Eliane Elias music :-)

 

Do you have the same experience with the transcoding: the computer being processing very intensly ??

 

Iver

I haven't actually looked at CPU usage, but will say that the laptop fan isn't whirring away si I don't worry about it.  ATM most of my listening is being done viaTwonky while the laptop writesDSD files to anotherf NAS (don't want to slow Audiogate down, after all)

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