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Ripping from CD to WAV yields unacceptable results


rhodespianoman
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First I have to say how excited I am to find this site/forum. I am a computer and audio geek (I hesitate to apply the term audiophile to myself) and also have a great interest in ultra-high quality portable audio.

 

I've done some looking around on the forums and haven't found what I'm looking for. The basic problem is this: when I play a cd through my computer (and through my respectably hi-fi audio system) I get fantastic sound quality. Then when I rip that cd to WAV (using dbpoweramp) and play the resulting WAV file, the audio quality is just slightly diminished. I want to archive my cd collection but I demand absolute cd quality or else I won't do it.

 

Does anyone have any suggestions?

 

 

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If the CD sounds good when played using your PC, that suggests the OS and replay software are OK, so the finger points to the ripping software.

 

I'm not familiar with dbpoweramp, as I only ever use iTunes for CD importing, and that gives a bit-perfect copy (on a Mac). Have you tried iTunes for the PC ?

 

Chris.

 

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Hi Fi enthusiasts do use all sorts of software for ripping CDs, when in my opinion they really would be better off with iTunes. It's easy to use and does everything you need including ripping to WAVs, Lossless or AIFF without any difference in sound between them. However if you have XP, there are issues and they are dealt with not only on the Linn website but by Sound On Sound who run four pages each in month dealing with Windows issues. Interestingly, although far more people use Macs for music there are rarely ever any.

 

Ashley

 

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They also do 4 pages a month on osx, if i know the pages you refer to.

 

Panasonic PXP 42 V20; Panasonic DMP BD35; Sky+ HD Box. [br]Optical out from Asus P7H55-M into AVI ADM 9.1 speakers. [br]\"Music will provide the light you cannot resist\"[br]

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First off, let me say Hi to one and all - been 'lurking' for a while and decided to join in the fun! :)

 

rhodespianoman,

 

You may also like to have a look around here :

 

http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/wiki/index.php/Computer_Audio_Playback_-_Setup_Guide

 

This is an excellent and well written guide, by the good folks over at Benchmark, which will go a long way to both explaining, and helping you to sort out, the various issues involved in getting Vista/iTunes to play nicely.

 

Good luck with it!

 

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I have a feeling that like all things in Audio this is a subject blown out of all proportion.

Some years ago when we started to get sound from a PC, we noticed that one of our Dells sounded worse than another, we assumed it was the speakers they came with and thought no more of it. Computers sound crap as hi fi religion would have us believe. However I'd heard that an M-Audio 2496 was extremely good and cheap (as pro gear is) so I bought one, installed it and coupled up a hi fi system. The result was cleaner distortion. I put another 2496 in the home Dell and got astonishing results. There was something wrong with the work Dell and we needed to find out what it was. I called in a 75 pounds an hour IT chap and he couldn't sort it, so I asked another who was more into music recording and production as well as installing music publishing software etc and despite warning me that he'd never use a Windows PC himself (he came with a Macbook), he fixed it in seconds and we've been friends since. His attitude is that Windows is a licence for IT people to print money, but that if you want a computer for personal use, buy a Mac!

 

When ADM9s went into production we'd assumed that most customers would use PCs and provided a USB connection as they tended not to have optical digital outputs at the time. In the event few sold and we had to quickly produce an Optical Digital version. However we have had a few PC customers and a surprising number with this same distortion, it's audible form the digital and analogue output. I believe it's an XP only problem and now better understood and easily resolved however, I'm grateful to it for it converting me to Apple Computers.

 

 

Ashley

 

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Ashley - interesting observations. I haven't been converted from my Vista PC to the MAC - yet anyway. But I try not to get caught up in the whole PC vs MAC thing; they will both get the job done (PLEASE don't anyone jump on me for that comment).

 

Regardless, I am very content with the sound of my system at the moment. The only problem is the one I spoke of before: playing a cd through the computer (using WMP) sounds great; but when I rip to WAV and play that file (using WMP) I have a subtle loss of quality; it loses a little presence, gets just very slightly muffled, it loses a little of the punch or pop, the sense of space around the more percussive sounds is diminished.

 

I don't claim to have golden ears - or even silver or bronze for that matter - but I want my audio to live up to what is currently my gold standard. I want the digital files that I archive from my CD collection to sound exactly as good as listening directly to the CD.

 

Following everyone's advice, I am going to try ripping with iTunes. I will also give EAC a try. I am skeptical, though. From what I have read, dbpoweramp is their equivelant. It's worth a try.

 

I think it must be one of two things; either the WAV is not quite perfect, or the software WAV player has an issue. I'll keep everyone informed.

 

rhodespianoman

 

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Rather than all the tooting of MAC horns here masquerading as advice, there is a simple way to address this issue for yourself:

 

i) Use EAC to rip your CDs to WAV (make sure you have the configuration wizard set everything for quality rather than speed)

 

ii) Rip the resulting WAV files to CDR, again using EAC (se note below*)

 

iii) Play the CDR back on your hifi. It should sound identical to the original. If you find that it doesn't, and you can confirm that you didn't mess up anywhere, then your ears may well be too 'golden' for computer audio!

 

* Note: EAC is an easy but capable piece of freeware -- rather than explain all the details of ripping and writing, I suggest that you get to grips with it yourself. If you're serious about ripping digital, then this software is all you need. I have an iPod Touch packed full of EAC-ripped MFSL WAVs -- I have never looked back; when I can send those WAVs to a pure digital (PWM) amplifier, I never will...

 

Hope this helps...

 

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Use Exact Audio Copy! Do not use Itunes!

 

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The difference between me and other posters on here is that I have to listen my customers and do as they wish if at all possible. Mine isn't an accurate statistical analysis of the entire market, but in my opinion it's a guide to the thinking of audiophiles in the many countries who bought AVI.

 

This means that the opinions I express are not necessarily my own, but that they may be a consensus and they are from a significant number of people. I don't have sufficient expertise in these matters to do more than that.

 

My comments about Windows are based on personal and customers experiences, but others are happy with it, especially those with a high level Computer Literacy. The rest prefer the looks and convenience of Apple and the fact that it's a ready made and upgradeable Hi Fi system. I don't believe there are are sound quality differences between a properly set up Windows system and Apple and I certainly don't believe there is any merit in DBpoweramp, foobar, EAC or any other complex solution to a simple problem. I say this because when we first introduced ADM9s, numerous people came here with very expensive CD players anxious to be sure computer music would be as good. Many were worse than whatever I imported music into iTunes at, in fact I was surprised that there are still bad CD players out there, a lot were OK and a Cambridge Audio Music server was amongst the best! It was easy to see that Apple Lossless, that I settled on, was as good as CD.

 

I've played Flacs through VLC and airfoil, I have Apple TV, a Macbook Pro, a Mac Mini and several Airport Express and I can switch between them to play different tracks, files sizes and so on. I have to say that I and the numerous people that come here don't hear format differences and some are professionals or have surprisingly acute hearing. They aren't fools, so I risk offending other more entrenched people on Forums by relaying what I believe to be a reasonable consensus.

 

In my book WAV sounds fine as you'd expect and if you're having trouble, it's not WAV's it's a configuration issue that's difficult to resolve by remote control.

 

I really am trying to help and not offend.

Ashley

 

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rhodespianoman,

 

In my playing with such things, I certainly couldn't tell the difference between rips with iTunes and with EAC. Provided iTunes is set to correct errors, it works just fine for me. The big difference I found, as disussed in the Benchmark articles, is making sure everything is set to play back the files without interfering with them.

 

This means making sure that ALL volumes, system and player, are set to max - if you don't do this then Windows Kmixer will use itself to adjust the volume with, on my system, catastrophic results! The other thing is to make sure that Quicktime is set to play back audio at the resolution of your audio files. As iTunes uses the Quicktime settings to set its replay parameters, if you don't do this then things get resampled en-route to iTunes.

 

These two settings were at the core of things for me and, once sorted, all was well.

 

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Thank you to everyone for your helpful comments - and Ashley, by no means did I take any offense at anything you have expressed.

 

I tried EAC and dbpoweramp and both have yielded the expected results: I cannot distinguish any difference in sound quality between the original CD and the ripped WAV file (FLAC also). I can now move forward with the archiving project. I will be ripping and converting to FLAC (this will enable me to use the same files in my portable audio player - Cowon D2 - without any further conversion).

 

For what it's worth: EAC can obviously create incredibly accurate rips, but the time investment is more than I am willing to give (I realize it has a burst mode). I am currently leaning towards dbpoweramp for most of my ripping and using EAC for the tracks or CDs that give me errors in dbpoweramp. My comparisons yielded 12-18 minutes per CD in secure mode using EAC (I never did get Fast mode to work correctly) versus 2-4 minutes using dbpoweramp. My CD collection tends to hover around being mildly obscure and so far I am seeing about 10% of my CDs not being in the Accuraterip database or being different pressings.

 

Comments anyone?

 

I have to throw this out there just to be controversial and see what everyone has to say in response: in my opinion MP3 is the worst thing to happen to audio since country-western music. We are regressing instead of evolving. It's interesting to compare/contrast it to what is happening in the TV world: in TV land we are going from low quality (low resolution) to high quality (1080p hi-def, blu-ray) and beyond. In audio land we are going from high quality (CD) to low quality (MP3). Video is evolving; audio is regressing. Sad, sad, sad.

 

Is it because audio (music) is a more subtle thing and is lost on the casual consumer whereas the same consumer is more visually oriented? Sort-of a lowest common denominator thing?

 

rhodespianoman

 

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Try ripping a track in MP3 in EAC (hight bit rate VBR or a constant 320 kbps) and the same track in FLAC with EAC, and i bet the difference will be hard to tell. So, MP3 isnt always that bad.

 

You may have trouble doing that, however, as i think you would have to re-configure EAC to use MP3, then back again so you can continue to rip in FLAC.

 

And its academic anyway, as i rip in flac and always will rip losslessly now.

 

Panasonic PXP 42 V20; Panasonic DMP BD35; Sky+ HD Box. [br]Optical out from Asus P7H55-M into AVI ADM 9.1 speakers. [br]\"Music will provide the light you cannot resist\"[br]

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