Jump to content
IGNORED

Why do WAV and FLAC files Sound Different


Recommended Posts

In the last four months, I ripped all of my CDs to a NAS in FLAC format and now I read the following article at the Enjoy the Music.com High-End Audio & Hi-Res Audio (HRA) Equipment Reviews Plus Show Reports. Your Resource For Audiophile News & Information. website explaining how FLAC files do not convert perfectly between FLAC and WAV when the album data is included in the process. I had been under the impression that FLAC would convert to WAV flawlessly.

 

Why Do WAV And FLAC Files Sound Different? Article By Dr. Charles Zeilig And Jay Clawson

 

The article is a bit above my head, but has anyone looked at it and have any thoughts?

1) Selah Audio Fedele Speakers (Revel in ceiling surrounds) QNAP TS-251 NAS accessed w/ a Ruku Ultra through SPDIF ipurifier into a Marantz SR7008 A/V receiver.

2) Freya + preamp, Hypex NC400 Amp, Zaph L18 Speakers, Martin Logan Dynamo sub-woofer

Bluesound Node 2 and Pro-Ject Expression w/ AT440mlb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Mike - that article is just crazy talk. Great heaping gobs of crazy talk, with just enough truth thrown in to introduce doubt. The conversion from FLAC to WAV and back is perfect, and there is no reason to worry about doing so.

 

Addressing the Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) introduced by this article and others by that pair - there can, at least in theory, be an audible difference between a WAV and a FLAC file.

 

The best thinking I know of says that those differences are in all probability, due only to the processing signature on the computer you are listening to. In line with this thinking, myself and other folks have found that a very low powered computer may exhibit those differences, but as soon as you put the same files on the same media on a higher powered computer, those differences tend to vanish.

 

All of that is, of course, pretty much arguable, but what is not arguable to me is those two nuts , Zellig and Clawson, are not discovering new science and are anything BUT authoritative on this subject.

 

YMMV, but not too much, I hope! :)

 

-Paul

 

 

 

 

In the last four months, I ripped all of my CDs to a NAS in FLAC format and now I read the following article at the Enjoy the Music.com High-End Audio & Hi-Res Audio (HRA) Equipment Reviews Plus Show Reports. Your Resource For Audiophile News & Information. website explaining how FLAC files do not convert perfectly between FLAC and WAV when the album data is included in the process. I had been under the impression that FLAC would convert to WAV flawlessly.

 

Why Do WAV And FLAC Files Sound Different? Article By Dr. Charles Zeilig And Jay Clawson

 

The article is a bit above my head, but has anyone looked at it and have any thoughts?

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not familiar with Zeilig and Clawson, but I am glad to hear that this is not definitive. Takes an awful long time to rip an entire collection.

1) Selah Audio Fedele Speakers (Revel in ceiling surrounds) QNAP TS-251 NAS accessed w/ a Ruku Ultra through SPDIF ipurifier into a Marantz SR7008 A/V receiver.

2) Freya + preamp, Hypex NC400 Amp, Zaph L18 Speakers, Martin Logan Dynamo sub-woofer

Bluesound Node 2 and Pro-Ject Expression w/ AT440mlb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with the article - WAV ripped to FLAC doesn't sound the same to my ears. There is quite a substantial sound quality loss connected with the process. I searched for an explanation on the net and the most convincing one I found says that decoding FLAC introduces much higher number of computer errors than decoding WAV. Someone's got a better explanation of this phenomenon.?

What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well.
It helps men to rise above themselves.
 
  ―  Albert Camus, The Plague.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with the article - WAV ripped to FLAC doesn't sound the same to my ears. There is quite a substantial sound quality loss connected with the process. I searched for an explanation on the net and the most convincing one I found says that decoding FLAC introduces much higher number of computer errors than decoding WAV. Someone's got a better explanation of this phenomenon.?

 

What do you mean by "computer errors"? Is the sound quality restored if you decode the FLAC to a WAV and play that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FLAC includes data about the recording plus images for easier sorting. If you're using Apple products, WAV files are easily recognized.

 

Both have the same unpacked bandwidth, without frequency truncations.

 

FLAC files may be smaller, which may not matter much in an era of cheap storage.

 

BACKUP YOUR DATA!

 

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with the article - WAV ripped to FLAC doesn't sound the same to my ears. There is quite a substantial sound quality loss connected with the process.

 

I agree with what you are saying too. There is a loss of openness, and HF detail/transients are softened.

The problem isn't due to errors though.

 

Alex

 

P.S.

Please check your PMs.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with the article - WAV ripped to FLAC doesn't sound the same to my ears. There is quite a substantial sound quality loss connected with the process. I searched for an explanation on the net and the most convincing one I found says that decoding FLAC introduces much higher number of computer errors than decoding WAV. Someone's got a better explanation of this phenomenon.?

 

I have not read the article, and have no opinion regarding this subject. I would just reiterate what you are saying. A WAV file is is uncompressed, and a FLAC file is compressed. The computer is required to work a little more to uncompress the FLAC.

 

I use AIFF, an uncompressed lossless format supported by HQPlayer, Audirvana, and iTunes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The computer is required to work a little more to uncompress the FLAC.

 

Maybe. Decompressing FLAC requires very little computation. It could well be that reading an uncompressed file from disk requires more work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe. Decompressing FLAC requires very little computation. It could well be that reading an uncompressed file from disk requires more work.

 

How's that? Because the file is larger? The premise here is that the uncompressed format sounds better. If what you say is true, then hi-res files should sound worse, because the file sizes are much larger.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've a-b'ed it myself and can't consistently hear a difference. Take a few files and try it. If you can't consistently pick which one is which in a blind trial, the difference (if it exists) is something so small you shouldn't concern yourself with it. If the difference is large enough, you will consistently hear it.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How's that? Because the file is larger? The premise here is that the uncompressed format sounds better. If what you say is true, then hi-res files should sound worse, because the file sizes are much larger.

 

Yes, because the file is larger. Some people worry about hard drives causing audible electrical interference, and without a doubt reading a larger file causes more disk activity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This would have been a good example for the "Why do Objectivists Hate America So Much?" thread.

 

Agreed, but I think Zelig and Clawson are charlatans rather than true objectivists. They have invented an alchemy, perceived image height, that only seems objective superficially. They have never objectively proven the validity of their image height hypothesis, yet they build this whole new paper on that shaky ground.

 

True objectivists would have used traditional measurements of frequency response, jitter, S/N, etc. If that revealed nothing, further objective testing could have been done via double blind, bias controlled listener tests for difference, such as ABX. They used single blind and avoided anything like ABX. Given how long WAV and FLAC have been around, we would have seen some credible papers on the sonic difference by now using well accepted techniques, if there really was one.

 

Unfortunately, many will be snookered into believing this paper represents objective proof, rather than the garbage it is. Their earlier papers are no better.

 

BTW, I believe that FLAC level 0 is uncompressed, for those concerned about CPU processing loads in decompression.

 

And, the contribution of album art thumbnail size based on its pixel resolution or any other metadata contained in FLAC would seem insignificant, one time "header" information compared to the all the bits in the music stream samples themselves. How could metadata make a sonic difference beyond the first few seconds into playing back a particular track? I do not know the exact internal file formats or that they could possibly cause the issues they cite. But, they have not presented that either to try to support their case.

 

I would be inclined to believe this whole theory if there were some semblance of true objectivity. But, we do not get that from these two fakers. Objectivists they are not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do agree with one aspect of the 'write up':

 

"Since storage capacity is so cheap these days, unless there are bandwidth or download speed issues, or maintenance of metadata concerns, do not use compression (ie, use WAV or AIFF in place of FLAC or ALAC)."

 

The rest is hilarious.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Flac level 0 is NOT uncompressed. Flac "uncompressed" is. Not all Flac conversion software comes with the flac uncompressed feature, as it isn't a standard flac feature. dbPoweramp does have this feature, as do some other conversion softwares.

 

Flac uncompressed files are the same size as the parallel wav file, other than the extra bits for the metadata, which is a negligible amount. The processing of them is the same amount of "work" as processing a wav file.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What do you mean by "computer errors"? Is the sound quality restored if you decode the FLAC to a WAV and play that?

 

 

No, it's not.

What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well.
It helps men to rise above themselves.
 
  ―  Albert Camus, The Plague.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A mate of mine was adamant that Flac files didnt sound as good as wav. I set up a blind test of 6 songs. Each song had a flac version and wav version, but he didnt know which was which.

 

He preferred the flac file 5 times out 6. Case closed.

 

Btw. He reckoned that the problem was due to the load on the computer when unpacking fkac file. Really? Play a flac file and check the cpu useage in task manager. Tell me what you see.

 

Sent from my SM-G900I using Computer Audiophile mobile app

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So you are saying if a Wav file goes through this process:

 

WAV>FLAC>WAV that the WAV on the far side of the conversion process is sonically compromised?

 

Yep. To my ears. And not only to mine.

What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well.
It helps men to rise above themselves.
 
  ―  Albert Camus, The Plague.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yep. To my ears. And not only to mine.

 

Great.

 

I have a $1000 says you and your friends can't.

 

I'll setup an FTP server with an A and B directory. Alternate I can ship out a USB key.

 

Each directory will have tracks 0 through 9. One track will be converted from WAV>FLAC>ZIP>UnZIP>WAV. The MD5 checksums will be identical. Included will be a password protected zip file with the answer.

 

The creation process will be video documented.

 

I'll use the touch command line utility to flatten the file creation/mod dates. You and your friends can evaluate with any ears only evaluation you like. Take 30 days. Post back your findings.

 

I'll use "Mars: Bringer of War" from Telarc, Yoel Levi 20bit CD.

 

If you can't give a $100 donation to a charity of my choice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...