Apple Lossless or not?

default -- Fri, 01/09/2009 - 15:11

I am new to this website and somewhat late to the music server discussion.
I recently began running a spare Dell desktop as a music server using iTunes.  It feeds a Cambridge Audio DacMagic via USB and then into my system.  I am listening and enjoying digital music now much more than before I began using the computer and the DAC. 
The question I have is this:  I only rip CDs now using the Apple Lossless format, but much of my music previously ripped into iTunes is in mpeg or AAC formats.  iTunes provides an option to convert all that music to Apple Lossless, but will the resulting music file duplicate the CD music file bit for bit as if it had originally been ripped from the CD in the Apple Lossless format?  It seems reasonable to me that there would be some degradation through the conversion.  If so, please explain.
Finally, I've been reading that many are somewhat disparaging about iTunes and Apple Lossless format.  What's wrong with it?

Carl Espy
c [dot] espy [at] live [dot] com

Steven Stone -- Sun, 01/11/2009 - 10:50

Upsmpling an MP3 file from the iTunes utility will not get any better sound than the original file.
The only way to improve the sonics of an MP3 file is to re-rip the original CD to a higher sample rate such as Apple Lossless or AIFF.
The only thing wrong with Apple Lossless is its lack of support on Windows Media Server platforms due to its proprietary nature.  PC-centric folks abhore anything "closed" or Apple-centric.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Carl Espy (not verified) -- Mon, 01/12/2009 - 09:41

Steven - thanks for the response. 
Before spending alot of time re-ripping my music, what format would you recommend I use, just how do I go about ripping a CD in that format and through what software would I then interface with my music? (My operating system is Windows XP, SP3)
Thanks for helping.  I am more excited about listening now that that I put the PC/DacMagic combination in place.  Digital is sounding much better.  And the convenience of a music server is compelling to me.
Carl Espy
c [dot] espy [at] live [dot] com

pmindemann -- Thu, 08/06/2009 - 10:58

I have to put in a vote for skipping any kind of compression and just ripping everything to WAV. You can always rip down, but you can never rip back up. And with storage being super-cheap these days, I can't see a good reason to compress anything.

jared (not verified) -- Mon, 01/12/2009 - 12:15

I've got over 10 000 songs converted to apple lossless. It's too late to go back now (it took forever to rip the cd's the first time round) and I can't seem to find a good batch converter that represents as little effort as I'm willing to put in (I can't fathom converting by an album or track at a time). If I could go back in time I would rip to FLAC. It's completely open, plays natively on things like the squeezebox, and seems to be the format of choice on many online music stores for hi-res digital.

Steven Stone -- Tue, 01/13/2009 - 11:58

 Jared, that is the Apple Lossless dilemma.
But I heard some information from several music server makers at CES that gave me hope that in the near future Apple iTunes users will have easier upgrade paths to many servers so they will not have to convert Apple Lossless to anything else.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Chris Heinonen (not verified) -- Wed, 07/08/2009 - 07:43

While this reply is obviously a few months late, you can convert from Apple Lossless (ALAC) to FLAC very easily using dbPowerAmp Music Converter.  The registered version can do a batch conversion of an entire folder (and all the sub-folders), so you could have it convert all your music easily.  It will take it quite a while (120 GB of Apple Lossless to FLAC took me 5-6 hours on a Quad Core PC), but it'll do the job that you're after.

rossop -- Fri, 02/17/2012 - 15:37

dbPoweramp costs money but it is very easy to use. Select your library, what you want to convert to, and let it rip. It might take a day or so but thats all you have to do. I use dbP and JRiver on pc format. Most of my files are aiff. Its all good.

mike817 (not verified) -- Sun, 05/17/2009 - 11:29

 The question is- which sounds better? The recent TAS suggests that AIFF sounds better than Apple Lossless. Has anyone done the experiment themselves? If so, would you like to share your opinion?

Ostensor (not verified) -- Fri, 08/07/2009 - 08:19

Bits are bits.  As long as the information is preserved the format doesn't matter.  The sound quality comes down to the quality of the DAC and downstream audio components.

CaptainStereo -- Thu, 02/09/2012 - 15:54

Yes, it does matter. I am soooo tired of the "it's digital, nothing matters" argument. I assume all of you are then using used Sony Walkman disc players since "it's digital, it don't matter!" One of the rags had a great article on the differences between the different lossless formats and then those to WAV. They sound different. Just because you don't understand it doesn't make it not true.

Barry Diament -- Mon, 03/08/2010 - 11:27

Hi mike817,

I recently conducted some experiments to determine if in fact the so-called "lossless" formats sound identical to the raw, un-reduced PCM original (i.e. .aif or .wav). I wanted to examine some of these formats as we were deciding on the formats Soundkeeper would use as of our next release when we'd add files-on-disk as an option. I'm also in the process of building a music server for my own listening.

Here's what I found:

With a so-called "lossless" format like FLAC (or Apple Lossless, etc.), it is possible to restore the original, bit-for-bit (as proven down to the sample level in a null test) BUT this is true ONLY when the extraction is performed outside of real-time, i.e. NOT while listening but as a separate process performed by the appropriate software.

On the other hand, when extracted in real-time, i.e. while listening, there is a sonic price to pay as the result sounds harder and brighter than the original, un-reduced, linear PCM file. This is not a "night-and-day" difference and I can imagine some listeners on some systems not detecting it. Nonetheless, the difference is quite audible and on our system, I was able (and every one of my listening partners were able) to identify the reduced file within the first few seconds of play. This was in a blind, direct comparison with the original file. Everyone got it 100% of the time, with different types of music and playing the files in different software applications (some of which are pro level apps I use in my work).

I have spoken with some colleagues about this and their experience has been the same. It is much the same as the case with the best sample rate conversion algorithms: when used off-line (i.e. not while listening), they can be utterly transparent; when used in real-time (i.e. while listening), the sound gets brighter and harder. (I hear exactly the same characteristics with DACs and CD players that apply real-time sample rate conversion, and so, I avoid them and don't recommend them.)

As a result of the tests, I have decided that Soundkeeper releases (as well as the server for my own listening) will include only non-reduced, raw, linear PCM (i.e. .aif or .wav) formats.

Best regards,

blackfly -- Sat, 02/04/2012 - 21:27

I have a 3 month old iMac and have ripped all of my CDs to Apple Lossless. I hear NO difference between AIFF and ALAC. NONE. Everything else on the system stayed the same. Comparision was fair.

In fact, I find ALAC better than CD played from my reference transport to DAC with a $600 cable. And I am using Airport Express and a $70 Toslink cable to the DAC. Go figure.

blackfly -- Wed, 02/08/2012 - 21:44

I need to ammend my comment.

I am now replacing all my rips from ALAC to AIFF. I was listening to Telarc Digital's recording of Don Dorsey "Ascent" and the difference between the ALAC version/AIFF version/CD version was striking, moreso than I expected. The CD was a bit behind the ALAC version, but the AIFF (pure bitstream) version was better. Treble was a bit smoother and the soundstage was better. Enough that I noticed it. I repeated the experiment on this one song for hours, able to hear every nuance. CONCLUSION: AIFF sounds better than ALAC on my iMac. Better than the CD source, which is no slouch.

I am reripping all my discs to AIFF. Nothing like a bit-for-bit clone of an original. No loss there.

Steven Stone -- Sun, 05/17/2009 - 13:29

 If you can hear a difference between the two then you should use AIFF.
I can't  and I don't. In direct matched level  A/B Apple Lossless verses AIFF on a high-resolution desktop system I can't hear any discernable differences between the two file storage methods.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

blueheronhollow... -- Sun, 05/17/2009 - 19:47

If both formats are lossless, and when replayed exactly replicate the original, how can one sound better than the other?  Am I missing something?

thenearnorth (not verified) -- Tue, 07/07/2009 - 11:14

Apple Lossless will sound as near as anything to the original CD. It is after all, in essence, a Zip file.

Steven Stone -- Tue, 07/07/2009 - 12:04

 The only reason I have for using AIFF over Apple Lossless is if you use or plan to use Amarra software with iTunes.
Amarra does not support Apple Lossless, but it does support AIFF.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

bherlihy -- Fri, 07/10/2009 - 03:36

Hi Steven,
i am investigating the Amarra software and have a question for you.  i am soon to receive the dCS Scarlatti stack.  I opted not to take a transport and will be using my Mac with the Scarlatti Upsampler.  I am trying to find out 1) if the Amarra software will work wiht the Scarlatti (i know it is not approved yet but seems most USB DACs work with Amarra) and 2) is there a send of double dipping, i.e. is the Upsampler from Scarlatti doing the same thing that the Amarra software or can you use them as compliments.  I am having a hard time determining where the upsampling takes place in the Amarra chain, i assume it is a software, not hardware application.  If this is true, i would assume you can turn it off or use it instead of the Scarlatti?  thoughts would be appreciated.

bherlihy -- Fri, 07/10/2009 - 04:47

Steven, you can ignore my last post.  I concurrently wrote to dCS and shore enough they were back to me within a few minutes.  I must say that their customer service is simply the BEST (and David Steven is brilliant)!  For everyone's interest, the dCS Scarlatti Upsampler is designed to keep the computer as a simple storage device of keeping bits.  I am not sharp enough to paraphrase what David Stevens wrote to me so i hope i get most of this right.  Their Upsampler is designed to do the upsampling in its own box using their proprietary ring technology.  However, more important to this conversation, they set up the USB to be an “Asynchronous USB” (NOT to be confused with asynchronous rate conversion). In this scenario, the audio device synchronizes the audio by providing a feedback pipe to the PC/Mac. The PC/Mac then is effectively locked to the audio device, which can have a much more accurate clock and much lower jitter.  In otherwords, (I think) the USB creates the equivilant of a VPN with stated bandwidth between the Upsampler and the computer.  this allows the dCS clock to take over and the computer to truely be a storage device.  Once in the Upsampler, then it can be a question of whether dCS product is better than the Computer/Amarra/DAC of choice. (Obviuolsy $ and value come into the equation). The one major advantage of the dCS Upsampler seems to be its anti-image filter which wouldn't be available in the Amarra soltuion.
Anyway, it is interesting the technical pursuits of these different options.  the guys at dCS are incredibly sharp and i think there is merit to that route (admittedly a very expensive route).

marty817 (not verified) -- Sat, 08/01/2009 - 11:00

I'm curious to know if you have considered any other options besides the dCS Scarlatti stack for the back-end/Mac transport system? I can appreciate that in the end it comes down to personal taste, but I simply can't warm up to the dCS sound. In every product I've heard, including their current offerings, they leave me unmoved by what I would characterize as very good but sterile sound. I was in Goodwins recently and compared the dCS gear to the Spectral CD player and preferred the latter. In a head to head at a dealer in Florida, I found the one box Meitner CDSA far superior to the much costlier dCS stack. I want to create a similar Mac based system capable of driving 176 HiRez files through my main system. I am intrigued by the Playback Designs unit (which can accept virtually any external input) since their digital engineer Andreas was involved in the design of the Meitner algorithms that I seem to favor sonically. However I don't require the redundancy of a transport so I'm stuck for the moment. Any thoughts other than dCS would be appreciated.

oneobgyn -- Mon, 08/03/2009 - 08:54

 Easy answer Marty
You need the Playback Designs MPD5 DAC 

bherlihy -- Tue, 08/04/2009 - 08:48

marty817 - i have done some comparisons.  Most of my comparisons were the full system was apples to apples ended up being between two redbook CD players (burmester and zanden) and the dCS Scarlati stack.  I certainly can understand people saying is a sterile sound.  although amazing and producing sounds often not heard before, it will not convince me throw away my turntable.  I have heard the a set up with the Berkeley DAC but cannot give a true comparison as i did not like the full system as much as i did the one with the dCS (the dCS was set up first with Zanden pre-amp and tubes and then Soulution SS and Magico 5; whereby the Berekely was Burmester and the Grand Utopia EM III).  So both very serious systems capable of showing off the system but i seemed to prefer the Magico's to the Grand Utopia's and that might have prejudiced my position. 
I appreciate your comments and need to think about it seriously as i am moving forward with a purchase.  What i have always appreciated with dCS is that they stay cutting edge and their software upgrades are the easiest in the industry and their service is excellent, any issue (or question and they are on the phone or email immediately).  Now ultimately, this contributes but it is the sound that matters.  I think on this issue, the type of music influences me quite a bit.  I am a big tube fan but ultimately went with solid state.  it has to do with the fact that most of the music i am listening to is Rock, vocals and blues guitar.  truley, if i could, i owuld have a complete different system for just classical as i do think you need the air of tubes when listening to classical, but that same air is sometimes too much for rock.  with dCS it might be some of the same (i am not defending it and will definitely try some of your recommendations above before purchasing) but witht those rock and female vocals i feel that the dCS might get it more exact - just my opinion.  willl look at the Playback and come back you.

bherlihy -- Tue, 08/04/2009 - 10:27

Looking at the Playback technology, it appears they are accomplishing a very similar effect as the dCS upsampler in forcing the computer to be a dumb terminal in terms of sychronizing the signal - i.e. removing jitter by eliminating the computers clock.  What is the price point of the Playback equipment? i would guess they are more competitive than the dCS equipment?

oneobgyn -- Tue, 08/04/2009 - 11:14

 Player/DAC is $15K
DAC alone is $10K
The only input it lacks is Firewire but has all others

Cemil Gandur -- Thu, 08/06/2009 - 04:32

I've got the player/DAC. Still burning it in, but I can highly recommend it. I have heard most of the contenders at the same price point in my own system, except for the Meridian, and much prefer the Playback. I've also not heard the full stack dCS, but that's another budget at over double the price.

JohnFrlnd (not verified) -- Thu, 08/06/2009 - 12:54

I have a dCS stack with Audio Research Monoblocks and a Martin Logan Statement e2. So I ripped a CD using ExactCopy onto my server (FLAC codec) and streamed it into the dCS DAC. I was optimistic but unfortunately there is no comparison. It was miles apart. I support the theory of streaming data from a server but dCS does something in the transport that makes the music sound terrific. Dunno what it is. They say it is upsampling but there is something else going on in there.Comparing my McCormack Universal Disc Player to the streaming into the dCS DAC the sound was similar.
So my take on the matter is : If you are going high end with dCS then just use the whole dCS system. You are losing out by not using the transport. If you have less than go with streaming into a DAC

finkelstein Frank (not verified) -- Fri, 08/07/2009 - 05:10

 can we get back on topic please?

bherlihy -- Fri, 08/07/2009 - 10:49

did you use the dCS Upsampler or was it straight to the DAC.  my understanding is that the Upsampler will take the redbook cd 16/44.1 to the DAC in a similar way as the Transport does.  in otherwords, if you went straight from the computer to DAC you miss one level of upsampling.  this is only achieved in the Upsampler (from computer to Upsampler to DAC) or in the Transport (Transport to DAC).  I spoke to dCS about using Amarra as mentioned by Steven Stone above (the software portion).  they said they prefer to do all of their upsampling outside the computer so to create a jitter free environment (similar to the Playback by pushing the computer to be a dumb terminal and all clocking in external equipment).  But they said the Amarra is interesting as it can automatically sort the native files which could sovle a problem that the dCS Upsampler currently has; namely, you have sort your music by resolution or risk having the wrong settings on the dCS (e.g. all high rez need to be in their own play list and the Upsampler then needs to be put on appropriate settings).  they are testing Amarra now to see if this is a nice way to automate the whole process on both sides (obviously only the software portion). 

AdamAli821 (not verified) -- Tue, 01/05/2010 - 14:19

 I have a question: if this whole Apple Lossless thing is supposed to save space, so says Apple, why is the bit size so large? This one song is 9 MB mp3, but like 18 MB for Apple Lossless. 

CalypsoJimmy -- Tue, 01/24/2012 - 00:48

 I just want to thank everyone who posted here.  I am most interested in this particular set of issues, and you gals and guys are all knowledgeable and forthcoming with useful comment.  

Zach -- Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:47

 The only way to truely have "lossless" music in iTunes is to rip the original CD in wav format onto your library. In addition, you must make sure that your computer is not upsampling the outgoing data to a higher sampling freguency and bit depth than the original file. For this, right click on the speaker icon in your taskbar, select "playback devices", select your USB dac, click properties, select the "Advanced" tab, and select "16-bit 44.1hz", then tap "ok". Reminder, if you do have higher-res files, you need to change the output to the correct correlating value. 

Steven Stone -- Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:55

Zach, WAV is NOT the only way. AIFF is also lossless and happens to be CD format...

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Steven Stone -- Wed, 01/25/2012 - 18:47

Going back through this message string, it's interesting to see how computer audio has changed. Nowadays with storage so cheap, why do ANY compression - AIFF and WAV are the only way to go.
If you need MP3 for your iPod you can build a separate library just for MP3 or let itunes compress your full rez files for your iPod as it loads them onto your iPod as a default. 
Amarra and Pure Music both support DSD and FLAC now.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

blackfly -- Sat, 02/04/2012 - 21:33

 So the real question.
Just having ripped all of my CDs to ALAC, can I convert all them to AIFF with no loss, or do I have to re-rip.  I would hate to have to do this again......

PhilCC -- Tue, 02/07/2012 - 21:53

Hi blackfly,
On Saturday, 02/04/2012 - 20:33 you wrote:

So the real question. Just having ripped all of my CDs to ALAC, can I convert all them to AIFF with no loss, or do I have to re-rip. I would hate to have to do this again......

Good news, there is a way to copy a tune in Apple Lossless (ALAC) format to AIFF format in iTunes without having to re-rip from CD . Here are the steps ( iTunes version on a PC running Windows 7 was used for this process).

1. In iTunes, click Edit in the main menu at top
2. In the pulldown menu, select Preferences
3. Click the Import Settings button
4. In the Import Using pulldown menu, select AIFF Encoder
5. In the Setting pulldown menu, select Automatic
6. Click Ok (this was prep. work for step 10)
7. In iTunes, go to the Music Library display screen
8. Select an Apple Lossless tune (format is easy to identify if you have the Kind column displayed)
9. Right click the tune to display a pop up window
10. In this window, select Create AIFF Version

Within a few seconds, an AIFF version will be created and listed below the Apple Lossless tune. This AIFF version is a true lossless uncompressed file because it was created from an Apple Lossless file which has all the bits to work with, just in a compressed storage format. Before you go to all the work of converting every tune, try listening to both versions of a few of your favorite tunes and determine if you can hear a difference.

By the way, you can revisit steps 1-6 and make a different Import Using selection if you want to change the Create menu selection in step 10.

Steven Stone -- Sat, 02/04/2012 - 22:33

 Unless its a music file that I used for critical equipment comparisons I would leave well enough alone. ALAC files sound pretty fine. Life is too short to re-rip CDs....

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

blackfly -- Wed, 02/08/2012 - 21:54

PhilCC:  are you ABSOLUTELY sure that the conversion from ALAC to AIFF is "perfect" compared to the CD burn in AIFF format?  I ask in that I have concluded on my iMac that AIFF sounds better than ALAC, and if this is so, upconverting seems "dubious?".  I am being sure.... I have no issue reripping all my CDs (not that much, might take a week of dedicated ripping) but the bottom line is sound.   And I understand that going from ALAC to AIFF might be doable on the computer, the sound is what I am after.  AND I would not like to rip all from ALAC to AIFF and then find out that I would of been better to rip from CD to AIFF in the first place.  So the scientist in me states the best way is the most direct:  CD to AIFF.  
It it turns out redundant, I wouldn't know anyway.  But from now on ALL my songs will be AIFF, regardless of resolution.

Bicknej -- Fri, 02/10/2012 - 12:39

If you selected the error correction option when you originally ripped the CDs there will be no gain in converting ALAC to AIFF or in re-ripping. If you did not I suggest you re-rip because if you subsequently convert to a lossless format the errors may be more noticeable than when playing directly from a pcm format.

PhilCC -- Fri, 02/17/2012 - 11:16

blackfly: I can’t be sure that copying ALAC to AIFF format in iTunes compared to re-ripping will sound better, worse, or the same because I haven’t compared the results of these two methods in A/B listening tests; and I can’t quote any experts on the subject. And even if I couldn’t hear a difference, that doesn’t mean you can’t. Some would say that theoretically there shouldn’t be a difference, but I won’t. I’ve learned to keep an open mind, especially for the fast-evolving computer based music. The good news is you happen to have a situation that lends itself to an easy listening test so you can give it a whirl.

BTW, I’m not the sort who will argue that you shouldn’t be able to hear a difference between ALAC and AIFF - if you say you can, then you can and good for you. You are fortunate indeed as you have found a cheap way to improve the sound of your system, and it won’t cost you any money, just some time to convert.

As for me, I‘m always looking to make improvements too. But if I were to re-rip my CDs, it would take more time than just swapping in CDs to the optical drive. I have added metadata over time in iTunes, for instance, in the Comments section I have typed in record label, album release date, and highest Billboard chart position for many songs. Also, I have added lyrics for some favorite tunes. That would all have to be re-input, ouch. Did you make similar additions to your metadata?

As the most experienced folks in our hobby often say, everything matters. So, even with CD ripping there may be things to consider. The provocative four-part article “Computer Music Audio Quality” in Absolute Sound compares ten ripping programs and dBpoweramp came out the winner ahead of iTunes. The results are for ripping CDs to WAV format and this is just one article, so we can’t necessarily draw any conclusions about ripping to AIFF, or can we?

AustinJerry -- Fri, 02/17/2012 - 11:40

The Absolute Sound article has generated a firestorm of controversy. A number of posters have run tests (generally FLAC to WAV, but in general compressed lossless to uncompressed lossless), and then run bit-for-bit before and after comparisons, and the files were identical. The authors of the article admit to this, but claim there is "something else" that causes the two files to sound different. Tests have been conducted on the resulting files using two different ripping software packages, and once again, the files were identical, yet the authors claim to be able to hear sonic differences. Whether this is in fact true, or expectation bias, has yet to be proven.

PhilCC -- Fri, 02/17/2012 - 15:56

AustinJerry, I know of this controversy and I'm trying to keep up with what readers are posting and what the authors are posting back. Do you know of some good sites where these discussions are being posted?

I have to give the authors credit for trying to explain their findings with metrics and a sound quality scale as a means to demonstrate the relative significance of differences they heard. For instance, they say that ripping with dBpoweramp gets a sound score of 140, with Foobar 2000 a 135, and with iTunes only 95. So, right or wrong, at least that puts their listening results into perspective.

I think their most surprising finding was how much sound quality they gained using specialized software programs to upsample music files.

AustinJerry -- Fri, 02/17/2012 - 16:11

The best thread I have seen is right here in avguide:

AustinJerry -- Fri, 02/10/2012 - 11:22

I don't see any mention in this thread of the support for metadata in the various formats.  My understanding is that WAV does not support ID3 tags, which causes some issues with organizing and accessing large libraries.  What about metadata support in the AIFF format?

Steven Stone -- Fri, 02/10/2012 - 11:26

Metadata support is available for AIFF through iTunes. The "get info" command will show metadata and allow you to make changes.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

AustinJerry -- Fri, 02/10/2012 - 11:34

I guess what I am asking is whether AIFF embeds the metadata in the music files themselves. For example, a playback system like Sonos accesses the iTunes library on disk, and uses the embedded metadata to organize its library access interface by Album, Title, Artist, etc. (for folders with Apple Lossless files). When Sonos encounters a folder encoded as WAV, it cannot organize the folder in the same way as it does with the Apple Lossless file folder.

Steven Stone -- Fri, 02/10/2012 - 15:04

My Sonos recognizes metadata from my AIFF, ALS, and MP3 files iTunes library. It also gets art IF you have embedded it.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

AustinJerry -- Fri, 02/10/2012 - 16:19

 Thanks for the reply, Steve.  Since my last post, I ripped a CD to AIFF, and then re-indexed the Music Library in Sonos.  As you say, Sonos recognizes metadata from the AIFF folder, while it doesn't recognize metadata from a WAV folder.  If I were to want to use an uncompressed lossless file type, AIFF would be my choice.  However, as has already said earlier in this thread, the difference between AIFF and Apple Lossless is not audible to me, so I am not likely to expend the effort to rip my entire CD collection over.

Steven Stone -- Fri, 02/10/2012 - 16:24

Austin Jerry, If I were you I wouldn't re-rip my Apple lossless. Actually as me I have about 1/2 my music library in Apple Lossless. It ain't gettin' re-ripped...

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

rossop -- Fri, 02/17/2012 - 15:57

For anyone who wants to use flac you can rip to flac with dbPoweramp without ANY compression. I dont; I use aiff and JRiver as my media center. Both these programs cost money but are very good. With DBP (& EAC) you can rip in secure mode and JRMC does everything. With all the lossless formats I have to tell myself I am hearing a difference. They sound pretty close to me. What I would steer clear of is mp3. Its probably ok for an iPod but no good if you want ALL the music. Check this out:  Be sure to watch the video.

praiano -- Fri, 04/27/2012 - 11:36

Great info here, that put my mind to rest on the whole AIFF / lossless thing—a little bit. I trust my ears, but I do have a fairly modest system, and the main concern is 'would a difference be clarified between the two if I was to upgrade in the future?' 
So I am re-ripping to AIFF, but not touching my Apple Lossless rips. 
One question is this—what are the chances that Apple Lossless would actually sound better through my iPod Classic 160 + Wadia 171i + Wadia PowerDAC? I heard some thoughts that Apple may have engineered ALAC to play off a chip vs. in memory, for efficiency...

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