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Sagittarius

Best file format for Mac & converter software

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Hello,

I have my music collection on a PC in a mix of FLAC, Ape and WAV files. I am new to MAC and I would like to covert the audio files to a MAC-friendly format which will hopefully also be PC-friendly. I use Pure Music on the MAC and J. River player on the PC. I am new to MAC computers and due to the amount of effort and time this procees will take, I would like to cut through the trial and error.

 

- I am considering converting the collection to Apple lossless or AIFF. Are these optimal formats for MAC?

- Are there any recommended converters ? My search has led me to Max for MAC and DBpoweramp for PC. The batch mode of DBpoweramp is particularly useful. However, I got to know that Apple has not documented its Apple Lossless format. Max seems to be using CoreAudio for conversion so I wonder if its conversion is more accurate.

 

regards,

Hesham

 

 

 

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Max and XLD seem to be the converters of choice on the Mac platform. I've used both, but gravitate towards Max as the GUI is more to my liking. I can't speak to the accuracy of either, but they seem to do a great job.

 

BTW, there's a known problem with Max and OSX 10.6.5 & 10.6.6 in that it can crash when selecting the 'Formats' tab in Preferences. (Doesn't happen each and every time, but it happens more often than not.) The problem has been fixed, but it's only in the "unstable" version that also downloadable from the Max site. (I've been using the unstable version without any issues.)

 

Russell

 


MacBook Pro (early 2011, 16MB RAM, OS X High Sierra) > Audirvana Plus  > Pangea Audio USB-AG > Sony TA-ZH1ES > Nordost Heimdall 2 > Audeze LCD-3

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It depends what you are looking for, if having album art and metadata is important, AIFF is probably the best bet in the uncompressed formats.

 

However if you are after the best sound I have found that WAV gives the most realistic sound of all the formats, however it does have downsides if you want album cover art and metadata support.

 

It also depends on the type of music you like listening to, if you like the sound of real instruments recorded in a good acoustic space, then I've found WAV is supreme for realism especially if played back using Audirvana with the SRC libSampleRate, with or without upsampling. If upsampling 2x / 4x use libSampleRate one notch down from Best, as it uses a lot of CPU, which is too much for my 2007 Mac mini.

 

I must also say that this may be system dependent, as some people on this site find no difference between AIFF, WAV and Apple Lossless, so I would suggest you experiment with a track from a CD you love and rip it to each in turn then have a critical listen to each to find the one you prefer.

 

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Completely agree with post above, and this is from a PC user. I will never use compressed lossless (flac alac etc) as a final listening format. uninvolved, flat and less emotion in comparison to WAV (or AIFF). I'm still out on the AIFF vs WAV thing, i sometimes do hear that WAV is better, then others days no difference. ultimately i would go for WAV as it tags well in J River, but due to compatible tagging meta-data with my iphone, i use AIFF.

 


Windows 10 | Roon | Lossless | ASIO

Metrum Acoustics Onyx NOS DAC

Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck

Yamaha A-S3000

PMC Twenty5.23

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WAV for serious listening, on a Mac. I don't (doesn't want to) know under Windows.

 

AIFF for metadata (art et al), on a Mac.

 

MAX conversion Version 0.9.2 under Mac Snow Leopard. (Developer says "inestable", but IT IS very estable, maybe he wants feedback).

 

DBPowerAmp under Windows.

 

Happy listening,

 

Roch

 

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damn it!

had another serious listen to WAV vs AIFF just then. I have an AIFF file, converted it using beloved dBpoweramp to WAV. listened to the song all way through. WAV wins. sounds less 'scratchy' and little more depth and space around instruments. i really don't want to go to WAV for compatibility reasons, but stuff the iphone.. i'm converting to WAV. thank god J River reads the WAV meta data.

 

PS, the "I don't (doesn't want to) know under Windows" comment from above, bit harsh as their are many PC audio users and have quite capable if not better tweaked machines than some Macs. I'm not a Mac basher, and do enjoy other peoples observation between the 2 systems. It's keeping an open mind. one is never better than the other. It's the user that makes the machine his own.

 


Windows 10 | Roon | Lossless | ASIO

Metrum Acoustics Onyx NOS DAC

Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck

Yamaha A-S3000

PMC Twenty5.23

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I'm sorry blaine78!

 

I didn't want to offend any Windows user here, but, I was born (in computer years) under Mac OS (when the Mac was a toy), and will die under Mac OS.

 

Please remember Windows users are more intelligent than us, Mac OS users, since you could be almost an analphabet an "drive a Mac".

 

Also there is more software for Windows than for Mac, that's why I have sometimes to drive a Windows PC, but it's very difficult to me, since I'm a senior, but Windows 7 is a far lot more intuitive than previous versions.

 

Then, WAVE (WAV) is a Windows invention, and I'm with WAV!

 

I don't understand your claim...

 

Happy listening,

 

Roch

 

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ah sorry, miscommunication. :) thought was a mac better than pc thing :)

 


Windows 10 | Roon | Lossless | ASIO

Metrum Acoustics Onyx NOS DAC

Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck

Yamaha A-S3000

PMC Twenty5.23

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I have used Cardas Myrtle Wood blocks with my DAC, Pre-amp, & Amps; with pleasing results. However, I have not yet used any resonance control with my Mac mini.

 

The Sort Kones have peeked my interest. Which ones are you using?

 

How about others on the forum? Do you use any sort of resonance control with you minis?

 

Thanks,

Des

 

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FYI: There's a new CD ripper for Mac, Phile Audio, that rips to a variety of formats (including AIFF, FLAC & WAV). It's available from Apple's new App Store for Mac. It allows you to create several formats simultaneously (I generally rip to AAC and ALAC), will automatically place the file type(s) of your choice into your iTunes library, and provides options for finding cover art, etc. I've been using it for a few weeks, and have found it very easy to use. I wish it would also convert already existing audio files to different formats, but it seems you have to start with a CD. So MAX is probably still the best option for that.

 

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xld does the same for $7.99 less (i.e., free), plus it will do all the file conversions after ripping. I haven't used Max but suspect the story is the same.

 


--

Do facts matter?

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Thanks Blu. Am thinking I'll give these a try.

Appreciate your reply.

 

I presume your DAC is dedicated to the mini's audio ouput? Not using the built in output with your system?

 

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I converted a few AAC files to AIFF to see if I could hear a difference. AAC sounds a bit 'flatter' and AIFF is a tad more musical. Perhaps this has something to do with the lowered CPU activity; not having to deal with a compressed AAC file...

 

Now I am contemplating converting all my old AAC to AIFF. Would it be better to use Max or is iTunes adequate... I recognize I'm starting with AAC files.

 

Anyone have experience with this?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

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@desbiss:

 

Yes I give the player exclusive access (hog mode) to the DAC.

 

I don't think it would be worthwhile converting from AAC to AIFF as AAC is produced by removing sections of the original file which you can not get back by converting to AIFF. The only thing you would be doing is increasing the size of the file, with very little gain in sound quality. I don't have the figures in front of me at present but I think that AAC filies are about a tenth of the size of AIFF files for the same length of music track. Therefore a normal CD of music in AIFF would be about 600 to 700 MB, while in AAC it would be 60 to 70 MB.

 

However if you ripped original CD's to AAC, it would be better to rerip them to AIFF for better sound, although I would rip them to WAV format. However WAV does not support album art and little metadata, so if you wanted to use iTunes, AIFF would be the way to go.

 

However some people on the forum, cannot hear a difference between AIFF or Apple Lossless, both of which work well in iTunes for album art and album metadata information. However Apple Lossless takes up about two thirds of the space of AIFF, so if hard drive space was a problem and you cannot notice any difference between them, you would save a bit of space with Apple Lossless.

 

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Thanks for all who replied.

 

I have a question for Blu. Does WAV sound better than other formats in both Audirvana and Pure Music. The reason I am asking is that Pure Music decompresses files before buffering them in memory and as such should level the playground between uncompressed and lossless-compressed formats.

 

I guess I will buy a license for Pure Music and compare WAV to AIFF and Apple lossless in my setup.

 

 

 

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Why not get the free trial for Pure Music and then try to set up a blind test to determine whether you can hear a difference between the files, and between it and Audirvana. (I sure can't, and I'd hate to see you throw away money).

 


--

Do facts matter?

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@Sagittarius,

I have found WAV format music files to sound better on my system than other formats, playing in Pure Music as well as Audirvana.

 

However I should point out that you really should try the comparison yourself, as you may not hear the difference on your system, as wgscott stated he cannot hear any difference between the formats on his system.

 

Pure Music is available for a 15 day trial period, so that should help.

 

Whether the file formats sound different on your system could also be related to the type of music you listen to. I listen a lot to classical music so I'm looking for the most realistic sound of musical instruments playing in an acoustic space. For example it is difficult to get the sound of the piano right, so you have a nice bell like sound in the upper range of the piano especially if it is a Steinway. Not all brands of piano will give the degree of bell like quality as the Steinway.

 

On the other hand if you like electronic or rock for example, you may be more interested in bass impact and pace which may not be affected as much by the file format the music is stored in.

 

Which only goes to show that a large number of variables go into the mix to produce the sound coming out of your sound system, you change a component or format the music is stored in and it changes the sound of the music you get from your sound system.

 

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@Blue,

 

What do you think about cdparanoia?

 

I was on EAC (Windows only) and was very happy with the results ripping CD's from the original CD to a very good CDR medium, in order to get better sound from my CD collection. Never try it to rip to HD, since computer audio didn't exist by that time (at least for amateurs users).

 

When I went to computer music I was, as always, in Mac OS & Mac PC's, and didn't want to return to Windows, in order to get EAC working, even on "virtual machines" from the Mac, since doing this, 3 years ago my HD was destroyed by a Windows virus and another problems.

 

Do you think cdparanoia is as good as EAC, since I don't like the results ripping with iTunes, even with error correction checked.

 

You can get track names & number as in iTunes? I don't need album art, since I rip to WAV. But if to AIFF, can you get the art?

 

Thanks,

 

Roch

 

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Roch,

I have used EAC, when I had a Windows computer before I upgraded to the Mac mini, since then I have found 'Max 0.9.2' with cdparanoia to be excellent. This version of Max is referred to as the unstable version on the site, if you click on the link 'Max-r1438.tar.bz2', you can download it and double clicking will unarchive it. I have not had any stability problems, this version was updated in January 2011.

 

Tonight I have been comparing the sound of a 24/44.1 FLAC album with two 24/44.1 WAV copies. The album is 'Classics Of My Soul' by Waldemar Bastos, downloaded from 'B&W Society of Sound'.

 

The converter software programs I used to convert the FLAC files to WAV files was 'XLD version 20110226' and 'Max version 0.9.2' while the player software used to listen to the different copies was 'Audirvana 0.7.1'.

 

The version giving the most realistic sound was the WAV copy from 'Max', which was more real than the WAV copy from 'XLD' which was better than the original FLAC copy.

 

The most realistic sound was determined by comparing the metallic ringing sound of fingers plucking the guitar strings in the front, the lush delicate sound of the massed violins ( they shouldn't be strident ), from the London Symphony Orchestra at the rear left and the emotion in Waldemar's voice on the first track '01. M biri M biri featuring the LSO'.

 

I hope this information helps people enjoy the music more from their music servers.

 

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Does the checksum for the wav file produced by Max differ from that produced from the same flac file by xld?

 

If so, it suggests one or the other is somehow corrupting the content.

 

If not, it suggests the differences you hear are imaginary.

 

 

 


--

Do facts matter?

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Thanks Blue! for your more than detailed explanation.

 

Yes I have the 'Max version 0.9.2' and my favorit player is Audirvana, because even at 16/44.1 (in good recordings) it sounds to me as "Master Tape" under WAV of course.

 

And @wgscott regarding: "If not, it suggests the differences you hear are imaginary." Welcome to the Imaginary World®.

 

I have two ("identical"?) WAV files with the same checksum (size & end of file) that sound different. It's inexplicable (under mathematics, physics & algorithms theories), then I can't not answer you, nor explain what's happening here. Somebody said that it is a jitter, but I really don't know. File corruption? I don't believe, since the file will not play at all, or will be no recognized for your PC or app.

 

Happy listening,

 

Roch

 

 

 

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WAV files created by Max and XLD will always compare with different MD5 checksums. In fact, successive WAVs created by Max from the one FLAC will differ, but still contain the same actual audio content.

Max puts extra data, including the time (to the second) at the end of a WAV file, which XLD does not. Therefore an MD5 checksum can correctly say WAV files are not duplicates even when neither is corrupt and they contain exactly the same audio data.

There is a similar checksum, ST5, which operates on the audio data only.

I doubt that the mere absence or presence of a little metadata including a timestamp at the very end of a WAV file makes any objective difference to the sound on playback. Of course, we each live in our own subjective universe, so I accept that some others hear a difference.

 

 

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Can you tell me which of the WAV settings you use? I'm going to experiment a little with MAX and under the WAV format choices it give the following:

 

Core Audio>Linear PCM

 

16 bit little endian signed integer

24 bit " " " "

32bit " " floating points

 

A bunch of choices to choose from!

 

Thanks in advance for your help!

 

Rene

 


Oyen Digital Mini-Pro 1TB HDD->Wireworld Starlight USB cable->Auraliti PK90->W4Sound USB cable>SOtM dx-USB HD USB to SPDIF Conv.-> Black Cat SilverStar 75 digital cable->Wyred4Sound Dac2->Cardas Quadlink XLR balanced cables->Anthem 225 integrated amp->Straightwire Rhapsody S->PSB Imagine T speakers

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