Dazed & Confused about Apple Lossless

Discuss Max, an open source CD audio extractor and audio converter.
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igroucho
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:08 am

Dazed & Confused about Apple Lossless

Post by igroucho » Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:28 am

I'v searched hi & lo to sort things out about ALAC and get going to convert and replicate my large flac archive (thoroughly tagged for use with my Slimserver) to ALAC to conveniently have a duplicate archive suited to tank up my ipods. But among Max output options I see no "ALAC" or "Apple Lossless". When I rip a CD just for testing purposes in iTunes choosing "Apple Lossless" they show up in Finder with the suffix .m4a and in the info-window "Kind: MPEG-4 Audio file". Then searching on the web for listings on "lossless audio codecs" MPEG4 is not rated as such.
I'm getting confused here. Can someone please enlighten me?
1) Which output option should I choose in Max to get true Apple Lossless?
2) Aint files ending .m4a equal to MPEG4 (which due to my info is not "lossless")? And if so am I mixed up somehow and what could this misconception stem from?

I'm a nob so please bare with me...

BTW: Max seems to be EVERYTHING I've looked for: KUDOS!

igroucho
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:08 am

Re: Dazed & Confused about Apple Lossless

Post by igroucho » Sat Sep 01, 2007 9:19 am

more searching after a nights rest and I have it sorted out, for ex: http://sbooth.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1015
(The 2 mpeg 4 alternatives are a bit confusing, maybe some xtra work here would eliminate dumb qs like mine?)

RonaldPR
Posts: 433
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 8:27 am
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Re: Dazed & Confused about Apple Lossless

Post by RonaldPR » Sat Sep 01, 2007 10:03 am

I have stated in these forums again and again that in Max user interface the names for the encoding formats should be changed to what an average user can understand. "MPEG4 Audio" means nothing to an ordinary user looking for Apple Lossless and that same user is bound to (wrongly) choose "AAC ADTS" instead of "MPEG4 Audio" if he wants to use AAC (m4a) as encoding format.

igroucho
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:08 am

Re: Dazed & Confused about Apple Lossless

Post by igroucho » Sat Sep 01, 2007 12:25 pm

and to make it even worse: I have 2- identical! - "mpeg4 audio" options...

RonaldPR
Posts: 433
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 8:27 am
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Re: Dazed & Confused about Apple Lossless

Post by RonaldPR » Sat Sep 01, 2007 12:57 pm

They are identically named, but not identical. Indeed another source for confusion.

Mike1
Posts: 201
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 3:55 pm

Re: Dazed & Confused about Apple Lossless

Post by Mike1 » Sun Sep 02, 2007 8:16 pm

igroucho wrote:and to make it even worse: I have 2- identical! - "mpeg4 audio" options...
The top one will give the extension .m4a to your files; the bottom, .mp4.

The extension .mp4 is actually the "correct" one for a file that's in an MP4 container and what encoders other than iTunes, such as Nero's AAC encoder, use. Apple, however, uses the file extensions .m4a and .m4b and .m4p [*note] in order to confuse things -- oops! -- I mean, in order to give users some indication of what's in the container.

Apple Lossless is a proprietary Apple format, so only used by Apple. So although it comes in an MP4 container, it's only ever named with a .m4a extension in accordance with Apple's usual practice. It's not listed on the second menu item in Max. (BTW, Apple's not only the only one to use the format (although it has been reverse engineered by the open-source people). No one else can even distribute in it either: Linn Records asked if they could make lossless downloads available to Apple users in it and were told to go and take a running jump by Apple. Fortunately, Linn has offered FLAC instead, which Play will play.)

In general, Apple seems fairly standards-friendly. AFAIK, Apple Lossless only exists because Apple wanted to have a lossless format available and wanted to use the MP4 container for it, and the standards-based lossless MP4 solution -- ALS -- wasn't ready at the time. These days FLAC seems to be the most widely supported lossless format. But iTunes, unfortunately, doesn't support FLAC, so that Apple Lossless seems to be the only real choice for anyone who wants lossless but uses iTunes.


*Note: a for audio, b for audiobook, p for protected (i.e. with "Fairplay" DRM added)

igroucho
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:08 am

Re: Dazed & Confused about Apple Lossless

Post by igroucho » Mon Sep 03, 2007 9:46 am

Thanks Mike for your elaboration on audio formats. I'm a bit wiser.

scottxbenson
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:37 am

Re: Dazed & Confused about Apple Lossless

Post by scottxbenson » Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:54 am

Very well said, Mike. Thanks for that.

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