Most EAC like compression to use?

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phrarod
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Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 5:25 am

Most EAC like compression to use?

Post by phrarod » Sat May 19, 2007 5:28 am

I've been playing with Max and I really like how it can automatically put the files into iTunes.

I just tried Wavepack but it seemed like it would take an hour to rip one CD. I then AIFF which was faster. The results were no where near EAC.

I want the best audio rip. I use WAV in EAC. What should I use in Max?

I did search about this but I couldn't find a definite answer.

Mike1
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Post by Mike1 » Sat May 19, 2007 11:30 am

You're confusing ripping and encoding.

I may be wrong but I don't believe that Max can stop a drive from caching audio. If so, that's the only important difference between Max and EAC. As I understand it, the thought behind EAC is rip multiple times and compare the rips--that's not possible unless you can stop the drive from caching. Practically speaking, I doubt it matters.

Encoding is a different matter. WAV and AIFF are both uncompressed formats; the former is (primarily) Windows; the latter, Mac.

Uncompressed files are bulky. Consequently, few people use them. There are two better alternatives: losslessly compressed files, and lossy compressed files.

Now, losslessly compressed files are smaller but lose nothing in the compression, and can be expanded back to the uncompressed state with no loss at all. It's really no different to zipping up a Word document, and unzipping it when you want to use it.

Files that use lossy compression by contrast do lose information--however, what's taken out is not--unless a very low bitrate is used--of significance to the listener. Heck, some of it is even outside the range of human hearing; so, unless the listener is a bat or something, it's not a problem.

Suggestions:

If storage space is a worry--as with a portable player such as an iPod--use a lossy format. LAME MP3 at the "transparent" setting or AAC at 160 kbps VBR will be indistinguishable from the source material for most listeners with most material under most listening conditions.

However, if you have the storage space and want to lose nothing, use a lossless compression format. It will have all the information bit-for-bit that WAV or AIFF has but stored in a smaller file. FLAC is the most widely used of the lossless formats and the most widely supported across all platforms, so that would be a good choice. The only caveat: if you want to use iTunes for playback, choose Apple lossless instead, because iTunes does not (yet) support FLAC. Note: you can also re-constitute a CD from lossless files if the original gets scratched, and you can transcode from a lossless format to a lossy format if you need to (say, for an iPod)--and that is, effectively, the same as encoding direct from a CD to a lossy format, since a lossless file has all the information that a CD has.

phrarod
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Post by phrarod » Sat May 19, 2007 4:44 pm

Mike,

Thanks for the great post. I was confusing rip and encoding. Theoretically, I understand everything you say. Practically I get much better sounding digital files with EAC. I wish I didn't. Apple lossless via iTunes is the worst.

What I want to do is back up my whole collection (1K+ CDs) over time. I'll do hard drive to DAC in my home system. Then for car/iPod I can just have iTunes convert since its not that critical.

Trust me. In a high resolution system you can hear an incredible difference. the EAC files sounds like it has 30% more music. The bass is better and tighter. Low level detail and overlaying is unsurpassed by only a great turntable.

z15
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Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 1:35 pm

Post by z15 » Sat May 19, 2007 5:48 pm

the only difference between apple lossless, flac, wav and aiff would happen during the CD ripping. trust me, it doesn't matter at all what format of those four you use, they all are able to store whatever the CD ripper can get from the CD, sample by sample. nothing is lost or changed in any of the formats, flac and apple lossless just pack the file to smaller size but don't change the sound data itself.

now, if you really are playing all the files on exact same DAC and speakers and hearing a difference, it will be because of the CD ripping software's settings or the CD drive you're using to rip. not the format you save the CDs to. if you have CDs that are in really good condition (no noticeable scratches or dust), most rippers and CD drives should be able to handle them alright.

however, if the CDs are not in perfect condition or the CD drive in your computer isn't good, there can be errors in the reading that basic rippers won't try to correct too meticulously, which can make a difference in the resulting files. try changing the ripper in max (preferences -> ripper) to comparison ripper or cdparanoia. both of them try to correct errors more than the basic ripping algorithm and should provide results similar to EAC. rip an album using different rippers and see if it makes a difference. use wav, aiff, apple lossless or flac as the output format. compare the results obtained with different rippers to each other and to the same album you ripped with EAC.

just to make doubly sure: are you using the exact same setup for listening and have you compared the same tracks ripped by EAC, max and itunes blindly side by side by playing them in the same software thru same speakers and DAC? if you don't have an ABX blind testing software, do a little test: ask one of your friends to use the player software for you and play the same track ripped with different rippers, without you knowing which ripper has been used. check out how much difference you can hear.

there can be real differences in the results but there's also a LOT of psychological effect going on in listening music too, sometimes you can hear bigger differences than there actually are if you just THINK something is better. i have reasonably good DAC and speakers and my hearing isn't bad. i can hear a difference between really good and not so good converters or a lossy packed file (mp3 / ogg) and a lossless one (flac, apple lossless, wav, aiff, whatever)... but to my ears, there isn't really a difference between using different rippers unless the source CD is so unreadable that lots of error correction and verification is needed.

hope this helps to solve your problem.

phrarod
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Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 5:25 am

Post by phrarod » Sat May 19, 2007 6:03 pm

I was very careful with this. We used the same high resolution system each time. However, its apparent on any good system. I duplicated the exact process using the exact same equipment sans the MAC substituing for a PC. I used the same CD blanks.

I would make several versions of each song using different compression for comparison. We would listen for the differences. In this test WAV always surpassed lossless anything. Once we found the best iTunes compression or lossless or no compression sheme we then compared that track to the test CD I made on the PC using EAC. No contest.

To absolutely certain I then took both digital files (iTunes WAV and EAC file) and burned them to the same CD.

Again, no change. The EAC version was clearly and instantly better. I did the blind test with my friend never telling him what track was what. It only took seconds to pick the EAC version out.

Again, I really wish this was not true. I actually bought a PC just to use EAC. Now that digital files have come of age with hi-end playback for home I was hoping the CD element which is critical ( I use black Melody CDs which are no longer available. Memorex black are the second choice) would be eliminated and just the digital files are left.

z15
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Post by z15 » Sat May 19, 2007 6:18 pm

okay - in that case i'd advise you to try the comparison ripper and cdparanoia options in max preferences and see if they make a difference. i can't really think of any other thing that would make a difference.

because the thing is, if you rip a piece of music to aiff or wav, pack it to flac or apple lossless and unpack to aiff or wav again, the audio data should be exactly the same in all the steps. it's just the nature of the lossless packing, if any of those formats sounded different, there would be something seriously wrong in the software used.

it's the same thing as when you download a software from the net and extract the package to your hard drive, you end up with the exactly same data that the one who made the package originally compressed. if even one bit was different, the software probably wouldn't work at all, so there's error correction that ensures that anything that goes to the archive comes out exactly the same - and if not, the software tells you that the archive is broken and shouldn't be trusted. when you compress a wav or aiff to apple lossless or flac and play it, the software just decompresses the data on the fly and gives the DAC the same info as when playing from wav or aiff directly, and if there's any differences, the software should say that the file is broken.

however, the best explanation i can think of is that itunes ripper might be performing worse than max basic ripper and max basic ripper may be worse than EAC. but cdparanoia and comparison ripper in max should operate quite similarly to EAC and make good copies of the CD. you may find one of them performs better than the another.

there's also a possibility that some setting in the processing / ripping chain is simply not right. maybe some software is adding unwanted post-processing to the audio when ripping, packing or compressing to a different format, without you noticing it. that's the other explanation i can think of besides the ripper differences.

phrarod
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Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 5:25 am

Post by phrarod » Sat May 19, 2007 6:35 pm

z15 wrote:okay - in that case i'd advise you to try the comparison ripper and cdparanoia options in max preferences and see if they make a difference. i can't really think of any other thing that would make a difference.
______
I did that last night. I tried both. It took 40 minutes on cdparanoia to grab one test track. I was both impressed and shocked thinking it will take years to achive my collection. I did both WAV and Apple AIFF.

Same result. Which really shocked me.

_____

because the thing is, if you rip a piece of music to aiff or wav, pack it to flac or apple lossless and unpack to aiff or wav again, the audio data should be exactly the same in all the steps. it's just the nature of the lossless packing, if any of those formats sounded different, there would be something seriously wrong in the software used.

_______


I believe you. Everything you say makes perfect sense. What makes me differ is due to this burning process started by the owner of Genesis Audio. It will make no theorectical sense and when try to explain it people roll their eyes. So instead I just play them the difference.

Here's the link to the white paper.

http://www.genesis80. com/whitepaper/Black_CDsII.pdf

You'll see if you do a search this is now accepted within the high-end industry simply because of the results.

I show with clients at the high-end audio CES shows. You know where a power cord can cost up to $10K. I made a test CD for checking a system and mods that I do to see if I'm on the right track. I take this test CD to set up and check the systems. People with pure vinyl are shocked. One of the exhibitors said several cuts were actually better than his turntable. I find this hard to believe however I can never listen to factory CDs with all the horrible glare.


_________



it's the same thing as when you download a software from the net and extract the package to your hard drive, you end up with the exactly same data that the one who made the package originally compressed. if even one bit was different, the software probably wouldn't work at all, so there's error correction that ensures that anything that goes to the archive comes out exactly the same - and if not, the software tells you that the archive is broken and shouldn't be trusted. when you compress a wav or aiff to apple lossless or flac and play it, the software just decompresses the data on the fly and gives the DAC the same info as when playing from wav or aiff directly, and if there's any differences, the software should say that the file is broken.

Again in theory I have no argument. Have I never found that white paper and been doing CDs or digital files that way I wouldn't even know the difference.

however, the best explanation i can think of is that itunes ripper might be performing worse than max basic ripper and max basic ripper may be worse than EAC. but cdparanoia and comparison ripper in max should operate quite similarly to EAC and make good copies of the CD. you may find one of them performs better than the another.

I only tried cdparanoia. I did not try comparison ripper. I'll give it a go again because I really want this to work. I'll just go headphone out from the computer to my studio system. Its pretty good tube and DAC setup. Certainly good enough to A/B work.



________

there's also a possibility that some setting in the processing / ripping chain is simply not right. maybe some software is adding unwanted post-processing to the audio when ripping, packing or compressing to a different format, without you noticing it. that's the other explanation i can think of besides the ripper differences.
I posted within your quote. Hopefully you can read it. If I'm getting that wouldn't it affect both tracks? I have burned with both the EAC file and the Apple or Max file on the same CD. The difference is still there.

I really appreciate your knowledge and help on this. People like you make the net a special place to learn and trade ideas.

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sbooth
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Post by sbooth » Sat May 19, 2007 7:32 pm

I think apples and oranges are being mixed here. The processes of ripping, encoding, re-burning and playback are being lumped together, which isn't right.

I think two distinct tests need to be performed to determine what is going on here.

First, rip the same disc (one track should suffice) to FLAC using EAC and Max. Check the MD5 sums of the audio (using metaflac) and make sure they match. If they match, the rips are identical. If there is still some doubt, even with matching MD5s (which there shouldn't be), take both FLACs to your PC and use foo_abx to perform a double-blind listening test to assure yourself they are the same.

If the MD5s do not match, the rips are not identical. A double-blind listening test should still be conducted to determine if there is an audible difference in the two files. But, the best option in this case it to try varying the rip settings until you can come up with two identical FLACs.

Once this is done, burn the two FLACs to CD twice, once on your PC and once on your Mac. Then another double-blind listening test should be performed, with each track on each CD compared to all the others.

I don't doubt that it is possible to hear differences in different CD media, burned on different platforms. I do doubt, though, that identical FLACs can be differentiated in an ABX test, when played back on the same computer using the same software and hardware.

phrarod
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Post by phrarod » Sat May 19, 2007 7:36 pm

Its an excellent suggestion. I'll do it and post the results.

Thanks for info and the great program!
sbooth wrote:I think apples and oranges are being mixed here. The processes of ripping, encoding, re-burning and playback are being lumped together, which isn't right.

I think two distinct tests need to be performed to determine what is going on here.

First, rip the same disc (one track should suffice) to FLAC using EAC and Max. Check the MD5 sums of the audio (using metaflac) and make sure they match. If they match, the rips are identical. If there is still some doubt, even with matching MD5s (which there shouldn't be), take both FLACs to your PC and use foo_abx to perform a double-blind listening test to assure yourself they are the same.

If the MD5s do not match, the rips are not identical. A double-blind listening test should still be conducted to determine if there is an audible difference in the two files. But, the best option in this case it to try varying the rip settings until you can come up with two identical FLACs.

Once this is done, burn the two FLACs to CD twice, once on your PC and once on your Mac. Then another double-blind listening test should be performed, with each track on each CD compared to all the others.

I don't doubt that it is possible to hear differences in different CD media, burned on different platforms. I do doubt, though, that identical FLACs can be differentiated in an ABX test, when played back on the same computer using the same software and hardware.

z15
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Post by z15 » Sat May 19, 2007 7:45 pm

I believe you. Everything you say makes perfect sense. What makes me differ is due to this burning process started by the owner of Genesis Audio. It will make no theorectical sense and when try to explain it people roll their eyes. So instead I just play them the difference.
that's interesting. having a bit of background in music production, basic audio electronics and likes, i'm usually a bit skeptic about some of the really esoteric high-end stuff like the 10k power cables being neccessary or black cds being superior type of things. but i do know there's some quality difference in cd brands, burners and players, and by using quality media and burning the disc in slow speed more cd players are able to read the disc well and the result potentially sounds better.

it's kind of same thing with audio cables for example, you can trick yourself to believe that insanely expensive cables make things sound way better than standard ones. the thing is, if you have an amplifier that's designed in certain way, it doesn't really matter whether you use good standard audio cables or superb and expensive ones, but if the amp's output has certain properties, the cables can change the sound in a really noticeable way. and it doesn't really correlate to the quality of the amplifier itself so with some high-end amps changing cables might not make a difference at all and in some you'll hear something has definitely changed. in the same way, if you have reasonably good and well-burned cd, it should play really fine if the cd player isn't picky. and some really good cd players CAN be picky.

on the other hand, i'm not going to say that people with good ears doing blind tests are wrong. i'm just skeptical and my first thought would be that there is something else going on that explains the difference. but i'm not as knowledgeable as to say what it could be. and because i haven't done the test myself, i can't really say anything for sure about the subject. i did make a cdr release of my own music some years back that was burned on black cds, but i chose the colour because of the looks and not sound / quality.

but as for the differences in ripping, stephen is right - it should be a separate test from the re-burning and it's not really a fair test otherwise. you should do as suggested and see what the results are. i could try doing the rip with eac and max myself and check that they are the same, but i don't have a windows installation on my machine at the moment.

eac is a great program too btw, that's what i used when my main computer was a windows one. now i'm using max.

z15
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Post by z15 » Sat May 19, 2007 8:07 pm

let's clarify what i just tried to say, that came out a bit too long:

1) i do believe there can be differences with different combinations of CD media and players, and that some CD media can be better, that depends on several factors - it might be that there's no difference between different media on some player, and a big difference on another

2) the black CDRs i've used have been of good quality so far, but i'm not sure if i believe that all black CDRs are superior in quality. i can believe the guy's experiences who wrote the article and i'm sure he's got really good ears and has done thorough testing and reported his findings, but i'd have to do pretty thorough tests myself if i wanted to figure out something about the subject.

3) i can't really believe that good quality error correcting rippers like eac or max have would produce different results compared to each other. but a bad quality ripping of a CD that's hard to read (or using a bad quality CD drive) can differ dramatically from a good quality error corrected rip.

phrarod
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Post by phrarod » Sun May 20, 2007 1:05 am

My friend had dinner with an older gentleman who worked for RCA and designed vacuum tubes for them. He said in designing the tubes it was 80% science and 20 black magic because certain things effected sound reproduction were could not be plotted scientifically. When solid state came in the designed looked at the specs of tubes and said, oh yeah we can beat those specs and you'll never have to worry about replacing tubes. Finally some 25 years later even audiophile companies on the lower end are building tube equipment again.

We can display charts and math all day. With audio its in the listening. Does it make sense that a copy of the factory CD sounds better and seems like it has more information? No way. Its digital. However, I can play you a black CD of the factory pressing and they will sound completely different. Now with the trend among hi-end trying to perfect drive to dac and avoiding jitter associated with CD transports it should sound that much better than the factory CD.

I just did most the compressions available in Max. I went directly out from the headphone jack in the computer to my studio system. Getting rid of the CD will make it easier to judge playback.

Still the EAC file has the qualities I mentioned above over the others. I'm getting frustrated. The closest I can get is with WAVPAC and then covert to Apple AIFF. I know there's a solution somewhere....

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