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WAV vs. AIFF


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Well I would like to let the cat out of the bag and just start off by saying compressed lossless formats fail in comparison to WAV or AIFF. Now i am aware that this is just my humble opinion, and if you don't agree that's fine. There are other threads here that you can go argue that back and forth. I know people mention that flac and m4a and whatnot are mathematically identical to an uncompressed lossless audio file, well for my money I would say that monkey audio’s theory page might just make you think differently about statements like that as well…http://www.monkeysaudio.com/theory.html

But enough about silliness like that. Some of you are just convinced by your own ears that WAV is the way to go. Which brings me to the crux of the matter…why does WAV, which is supposedly raw pcm data, have more depth and clarity to my ear, than AIFF, which is raw pcm data? It is sometimes so subtle a difference that I wonder if I am just making this up, but it nags at me that I may be making the wrong choice in AIFF. Now I only bring this up because AIFF has id tags, e.i. metadata that can be read by iTunes, whereas WAV does not. Why in god’s name anybody would make a music format that does not have metadata is beyond me, and damn them for it, but alas Microsoft will probably remain the in the dark for some time. Moving on, has anyone done studies on this phenomenon of WAV vs. AIFF? Could it be due to my windows architecture that WAV sounds better? In that if I were to switch to a mac output, would AIFF have some sort of magical upper hand? Or rather, is it like a fun mp3 test, where if one creates a high a quality mp3 file as is possible in iTunes, it bears characteristics of purity that emphasize certain moments that make it sound even better than a WAV file? (yea it’s a fun test, try it sometime). Or are we all just hearing things?

 

 

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Noting that lossless is something different from losSY ... you will be hearing the same difference as can exist between e.g. FLAC and WAV on Windows. Nothing strange about that (says me). However, if you are hearing these differences (thus including WAV vs AIFF) with XXHighEnd, I will be telling you you are hearing things, yes.

Did you try that ? (not that you should)

 

:-)

 

Peter

 

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Do you mind if I call you CAP? (Copy And Paste - as that is what I shall have to do with your username :) )

 

Maybe it's the fact that wav doesn't have metadata. Maybe it's down to using the OS's native version. Maybe you are, indeed, hearing things.

 

More to the point is that it doesn't really matter. I personally use Flac files, but every time I run a comparison with wav files I think the wavs sound better. When I just listen to Flacs I'm not aware that I'm listening to something I don't like or that somethng is missing! I use Flac's purely for the reason that my Transporter handles wav files with all the aplomb and technical expertise of a wet cod and I can't be bothered to hold its hand!

 

I don't mind if I'm being tricked or fooled by anything I'm listening to. So much has happened to the sound that reaches my ears, from performance to speakers, that having a preference for one file type over another seems most trivial! If I like it, or can live with it for the sake of some compromise or another, then I'm happy.

 

It is my experience that being a happy listener leads to more listening and less worrying about infinitely debatable trivia such as which file type, or which OS, or which media player, is best. Such things give me the jitters!

 

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Use WAV it's fine for standard CD!

 

There is nothing wrong with your opinion or ears, others have concluded the same as you. I myself spent some time with Mac and PC and various formats and still with each PC build I prefer WAV for sound and Windows Media for convenience.

 

Regardless of my choices with Flac, Media Monkey and so forth, I didn't find any "better" sounding ripping sollution and I don't believe space is an issue these days, I use 1.5Tb WD Green drives for my music. The only thing I found Flac usefull for was higher resolution music, and sadly I do not have enough of such to worry about that due to the amount of music not to my taste.

 

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I have compared very extensively extensively WAV vs AIFF on Mac (w/ different rippers, Mac and Windows), and to my ears it's not even close. WAV by quite a margin. Have had others over with good ears and get some surprised responses when hearing the difference. I hate the lack of tagging / artwork support in iTunes (and by extension Amarra which uses iTunes), but the margin is so wide I always stick with WAV. Artwork support could always be added by Apple over time, however the ability to improve the quality of a ripped AIFF file to the level of a ripped WAV file, never going to happen without a re-rip....

 

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I heard the difference between AIFF and WAV -- blind A/B -- and that difference was significant and material. I really don't know why this is the case, but I am anxious to find out. I think broadcast wave format (BWF) allows tagging. Perhaps that is a route to explore?

 

Sanjay Patel | Ciamara Corporation | New York, NY | www.ciamara.com

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Bob,

You should ensure that your Squeeze Center server software is set to decode FLAC on the server, and send it across to the Transporter uncompressed. In Squeeze Center, go to Settings -> Advanced -> File Types. Under the Flac file type, set FLAC to disabled, MP3 to disabled, and PCM to flac. If should then no longer hear a difference between flac and wav.

 

Alan

 

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I think broadcast wave format (BWF) allows tagging. Perhaps that is a route to explore?

 

The tags BWF supports are squarely aimed at recordists and as such are extremely useful: coding history, description,origination date, origination time, originator, originator reference, SMPTE UMID, and Time Reference. They are of limited use for tagging cd rips.

 

cheers

Paul

 

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I will leave the lossless issue alone, per the original entry. I have always done everything AIFF, to a high standard, but I don't have anything to contribute. However I know Chris well enough to value his opinion on both critical listening and technical issues.

 

What do you think, Chris?

 

rick

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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One thing I have noticed, and I wonder if those of you with more computer knowledge than I can explain, is that when I convert native WAV files to AIFF in iTunes on a G5 PowerMac, the file size is significantly smaller as AIFF. It would seem to me that the size should be similar, and that with embedded metadata, the AIFF if anything should be larger. I haven't compared the sound, but now will. Chris seems to like AIFF better, I thought he concluded the sound was the same. CHRIS???????

 

2.26 GHz Mac Mini (Late 2009), 8 GB RAM, 2 External Seagate 7200 RPM 1TB / Firewire 800/ Wavelength Wavelink/ Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC / Nordost Blue Heaven IC / Musical Fidelity KW 750 / Nordost Blue Heaven Speaker cable/ Magnepan MG 3.6r with MYE stands / Custom purpose built listening room

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Hi Rick and Others - In my opinion, based on a lot of research and my own listening tests, AIFF and WAV sound identical.

 

If anyone is interested here are Wikipedia links for WAV and AIFF

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WAV

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_Interchange_File_Format

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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First I’d like to say thanks to everyone for their input. I am still trying to figure out how to create a BWF and whether or not iTunes would read that metadata.

 

In reference to rlodad’s question, I would guess that you probably have your AIFF import settings buggered. To fix that in iTunes go…

 

Edit, preferences, General tab, import settings, settings: custom, and set to red book standard…that being 44.1, 16bit, stereo.

 

However as a warning, I have done several conversion tests, and the resounding theme from those was that converting any audio format to any other audio format completely buggers it. As a rule I always go directly from the cd if i need an album in another format.

 

 

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ßålåñçæ,

 

Actually, what you recommend may be exactly the problem. I set iTunes import settings not to automatic (with error correction checked), but to 16 bit 44.1 Khz for CD ripping. The problem here, is that I think that setting affects all transfers to AIFF, even if not ripped from CD. I think it should be left "automatic." I know that when I converted HRx 24/172 files to AIFF, if the CD rip parameters in iTunes were 16/44.1, it would downsample the 24/172 to 16/44.1. Obviously, I deleted those files and re-ripped as WAVs and left 'em alone. I wonder if that is why some people think hi res downloads sound like CDs????? Off the subject, anybody know why my Lynx card will only allow 32 bit output? Is there a way to change it in the lynx mixer? Should it be changed? I assume the 32 bit is simply the native bit rate plus added nonsense bits that don't affect sound, but i want to make sure. Is there anything in this site regarding the lynx mixer settings? i haven't been able to find anything.

 

2.26 GHz Mac Mini (Late 2009), 8 GB RAM, 2 External Seagate 7200 RPM 1TB / Firewire 800/ Wavelength Wavelink/ Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC / Nordost Blue Heaven IC / Musical Fidelity KW 750 / Nordost Blue Heaven Speaker cable/ Magnepan MG 3.6r with MYE stands / Custom purpose built listening room

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Hi silverlight,

 

"I have compared very extensively extensively WAV vs AIFF on Mac (w/ different rippers, Mac and Windows), and to my ears it's not even close. WAV by quite a margin. Have had others over with good ears and get some surprised responses when hearing the difference. I hate the lack of tagging / artwork support in iTunes (and by extension Amarra which uses iTunes), but the margin is so wide I always stick with WAV. Artwork support could always be added by Apple over time, however the ability to improve the quality of a ripped AIFF file to the level of a ripped WAV file, never going to happen without a re-rip...."

 

I wonder if this is a function of the software being used. In my experience, taking the same file and saving it in different apps creates different sounding results. Just listening to it in different apps (as many have found) creates different sounding results - i.e. different apps *sound* different.

 

Personally, I have not experienced any sort of sonic difference between AIF and WAV files, properly created by a good app. Then again, I have seen claims that the same file on different parts of the same hard drive sounds different. This too, is as yet, outside of my own experience.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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"Personally, I have not experienced any sort of sonic difference between AIF and WAV files, properly created by a good app. Then again, I have seen claims that the same file on different parts of the same hard drive sounds different. This too, is as yet, outside of my own experience."

 

Same here, Barry, although I've not even tried to discern a difference in either case.

 

It's possible that the second example you cite could lead to the former.

 

Frankly, I'd personally be more likely to believe the latter than the former, as the difference between AIFF and WAV is very minor technical point, which I think is less likely to elicit extra load/disk access than were one file more/less fragmented than the other.

[note: extra processor load/disk access is so far the only 'logical' explanation for differences in sound, where none are expected, that I've come across]

 

Does anyone know of a tool (on OS X) for examining the contiguous-ness of individual data files?

 

Or a tool for guaranteeing contiguous-ness when copying files?

 

clay

 

 

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Hi Clay,

 

"...Does anyone know of a tool (on OS X) for examining the contiguous-ness of individual data files?..."

 

In view of how seamlessly modern audio editing apps can work, I would seriously doubt (to put it mildly) the quality of a system where audio output suffered as a result of non-continuous storage of an audio file. (Particularly with a Unix based system like OS X.)

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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I share your skepticism in general.

 

Perhaps we could agree that in a worst case scenario of unfragmented files there could be an impact on the sound due to excessive processor activity, high level of disk access, etc. (occurring simultaneously with audio streaming out to the DAC) and the resultant potential impacts on AC, noise, RFI/EMI, etc. throughout the computer?

 

If so, the question becomes, what is the smallest amount of unfragmentation that can affect audio.

 

A tool, such as I asked about, would perhaps inspire those who wanted to test for this circumstance to do so.

 

clay

 

 

 

 

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The thread seems to be meandering but it gives me the opportunity to ask something that has been bothering me. I did a seminar in the store and brought my hard drive, an Iomega, in with me to do it. Words of wisdom; hard drives don't like being dropped. It was still working but mechanically noisy and I quickly purchased one of the new Hitachi Global Storage Technologies 7200 rpm 1TB drives. Everything is working but I have noticed two things; the first is that start up time is noticeably slower than the old 5400rpm drive and I swear that I have lost a bit of sound quality. The system is pretty high performance and revealing.

 

I just keep feeling that something has slipped away. Any thoughts? Or if there is a thread I should go to, please share.

 

Thanks

 

Rick

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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I ran the following comparison over the weekend:

FLAC - Max - AIFF/ Automatic Import to iTunes vs. WAV drag and drop into iTunes.

 

I find no difference in the sound of the 2 files. . .

 

I run a Mac Pro/Lynx AES16e/Esoteric D-05/G-03X.

 

BPT 3.5 Ultra/Reference 3A Reflectors/MSB Technology S201 Amplifier/MSB Technology Analog DAC/MSB Technology Network Renderer/Audirvana +

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