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ALAC to AIFF question - help!


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hey guys, I currently have a mac setup and have transfered most of my CDs to ALAC via itunes using the recommended setting. After reading many post here, there are some folks who believe that AIFF is superior, and given that hard drive is cheap, there is no downside.

 

I don't want to reopen the format discussion since I already decided to use AIFF, but the question is whether I should delete all my ALAC songs and re-transfer all my CDs to AIFF via itunes OR can I just use the transfer function in itunes to convert FLAC to AIFF. I'm really hoping the latter works but ultimately, quality is what matters most to me so need your guidance on this.

 

thanks!

Dion

 

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Hi Dion - You're in luck. Just change your default import settings in iTunes to AIFF. Then right click all your ALAC songs and select Create AIFF version. You can do all songs at one time if you want. After the conversion is done you can sort your library by Kind (AIFF / Apple Lossless) then delete the Lossless version.

 

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"COULD have flaws" ... highlight COULD.

It's unlikely unless the CD is well used, dirty or scratched.

There was a link posted on here somewhere comparing rips... I think iTunes performed just perfectly.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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It also depends on the drive.

 

If you rip 500 cds of mixed age and condition, you will very likely have several flaws without secure ripping. Some flaws you cannot hear. Some are obvious. The nasty ones are those that cause small imperfections. These can drive you mad, since you have to check every minor imperfection with the cd whether it is a ripping flaw or not. I have tried this and not fun at all.

 

 

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If you value the quality, you will re-rip. I'll explain why. There was a bug in the ALAC ripper of itunes that has been fixed in version 8 iTunes. Try re-ripping an ALAC using the new download of iTunes. If you hear a difference in this and the original rip, I would start from scratch.

 

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 

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If you hear a difference in this and the original rip, I would start from scratch.

 

Nah ... If I'd hear a difference, I would compare the files first.

 

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steve, what is an "ALAC ripper"?

 

iTunes (like many other audio SW packages) has a rip engine which extracts raw audio from the CD; it is then followed by compression/formatting appropriate for the selected target format, such as ALAC.

 

so, clarification, pls: what was the "ALAC ripper" bug you alluded to, and could you kindly point to a public source of explanatory info? appreciated.

 

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Look, I use a secure ripper so I'm aware of any read errors but, seriously,

 

Unless OP is planning on ditching his disks, he can just rerip a disk when and if he hears a flawed rather than going through a very tedious process chasing what may be ghosts.

 

So just convert the files.

 

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"Some flaws you cannot hear. Some are obvious. The nasty ones are those that cause small imperfections. These can drive you mad, since you have to check every minor imperfection with the cd whether it is a ripping flaw or not. I have tried this and not fun at all."

 

Not sure I follow. There are glitches, right, that are audible. If you hear one, rerip.

 

Then there are flaws you can't hear. A bit here or there is off. If it's not audible, then it's not a concern unless OP is a sound archive. Is that what you mean by small imperfections?

 

Or are you talking about some vague but unidentified sense of imperfection that the rip is not sounding as it should. This is likely a projection of anxiety, since iTunes ripping has been shown to be bit transparent.

 

If OP is worried about bit transparency and has an HDCD dac, play back an HDCD disk (many Neil Young-associated disks are) and see if the light goes on. If so, no worries.

 

 

 

 

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I've used Itunes to rip over 1600 CDs, and almost all of them sound perfect. A few have had errors. Given that the computer I'm using is a 5-year-old Powerbook I'm not too surprised. When I hear a problem, I re-rip the CD on a different computer and then copy the ALAC files to my library. A different drive used on the same computer would probably work as well.

 

Some CDs have deeper problems, even a second copy. This has happened two or three times. Once I gave up. The other time I ripped it on a third computer and that time it was OK. The oddest problem was a CD that Itunes on the Mac wouldn't rip or play the first second or so of the first track. Neither would my home PC. The work PC with Itunes read it just fine, so I ripped it there and took the files home on flash drive.

 

I considered switching to AIFF after reading some articles, but decided that ALAC sounds so good I'd just stay with that. My system is basically a Benchmark DAC1 and Denon AH-D7000 headphones.

 

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There is no public admission by Apple that there was a problem, and yet they definitely fixed something here. Gordon and I and several of my customers immediately noticed it. Prior to version 8 iTunes, EAC ripped files on PC and then converted to ALAC using iTunes were superior. Now, iTunes rips are as good or better than thos ripped using EAC on a PC.

 

This has nothing to do with errors or even jitter I think. There is something more insidious working here. Ask Chris.

 

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 

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"Or are you talking about some vague but unidentified sense of imperfection that the rip is not sounding as it should. This is likely a projection of anxiety, since iTunes ripping has been shown to be bit transparent."

 

A lot of music has small imperfections that are present on the master tapes. Some of these imperfections sound just like small ripping errors. If you know the music very well you may be able to ignore them. But if you suspect your collection could be ripped incorrectly you begin listening for these imperfections (well I did anyway). And it is a major pain to compare every impection with the original.

 

So my point is really: Not all glitches are obvious.

 

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Ah yes, there are all kinds of flaws in master tapes (especially in older tapes remastered). Another reason for AccurateRip. I know if 3 or 30 people have the same rip I do, anything left is in the playback or on the tape.

 

Now, how often did you find that a flaw was due to the rip?

 

 

 

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I have some CDs that have outstanding sound. Some are from the 1970s. I have others that sound bad in comparision, and some of these are new. Problems vary widely: digital or analog clipping on some instruments, high distortion, a bad-sounding room, too much compression, recording that just mushes everything together, cymbals that sound like a generic crash of high frequencies. I figure these are all due to mastering problems. Most CDs sound pretty good. Classical music tends to be better mastered. Biggest problem with modern CDs is the absolutely horrendous compression ratios. Listen to one of those, and then pick up something by Paul Winter. Even though they're old, they have great atmosphere.

 

Given that all these have been ripped, and are played, on the same system, I attribute the former problems to mastering. If the CD skips, however, that's a rip problem. If a disc has been damaged there's not much I can do. Cleaning them often helps, wiping radially with a soft cloth. If it's really dirty I use soap and water.

 

Some skips are introduced by USB. This is rare. These sound different from ripping skips and won't repeat when the passage that skipped is played again. I may try moving the DAC to the Mac's digital output instead of using USB and see if that helps, or switch to using a Firewire hard disk instead of USB. I figure the USB is running near capacity, passing disk data in and audio out on my elderly laptop.

 

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"Now, how often did you find that a flaw was due to the rip?"

 

I was many years ago, but I think it was something along: Ripped 400 discs, found some 10-15 ripping errors, found add. 20-30 flaws in the master that I tested against the disc.

 

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So 1 in 25 at worst. I'd personally live with that and rerip as necessary rather than do them all over.

 

Now as to other glitches I am still getting them all the time. I won't have time for a week or two to go chasing them down, but so far I can not get glitch free audio via Airtunes nor via ethernet (for Data to pc) and HagUSB (for pc to DAC, using Itunes, MediaMonkey or Foobar) or from computer to headphones (itunes or Foobar).

 

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Just change your default import settings in iTunes to AIFF. Then right click all your ALAC songs and select Create AIFF version.

 

So, if I'm reading other posts correctly, does this result in your 24 bit files (if you have any in ALAC) getting converted to 16 bit AIFF files?

 

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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