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FLAC is our current best hope for the future of fidelity
Old 25th August 2010 | Show parent
  #151
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 807Recordings ➡️
^^ I can't back it up with stats of course but I would only believe this to be true over on that side of the pond.
I think there is indeed more electronic music in Europe but I don't think it is the majority compared to good old band music.

If I look at the big festivals in the Benelux, bands certainly win. (Lowlands, Pinkpop, Pukkelpop, Werchter, Dynamo... not to mention the dozens of smaller festivals)

Although there are a lot of electronic music festivals in Germany, with the exception of the Love Parade, Rock festivals are much bigger than electronic music festivals. Nature One being the largest of the bunch has 1/3 the attendance of Rock am Ring/Rock im Park. Even Wacken which is a metal festival beats Nature One.

Alistair
Old 28th November 2010 | Show parent
  #152
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Resurrecting a somewhat old thread here. Apologies if this has been covered already, but if you uncompress a FLAC file, will it null against the original uncompressed .wav? I'm a little skeptical of "lossless" compression schemes, but I'm willing to admit that it may be because I just don't fully understand the technology.
Old 28th November 2010 | Show parent
  #153
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matyas ➡️
Resurrecting a somewhat old thread here. Apologies if this has been covered already, but if you uncompress a FLAC file, will it null against the original uncompressed .wav? I'm a little skeptical of "lossless" compression schemes, but I'm willing to admit that it may be because I just don't fully understand the technology.
Yes it will null, otherwise it wouldn't be lossless. Why don't you try it out for yourself (FLAC is available freely)?
After all, I am just a stranger on the internet and you would have every reason to be skeptical about what I tell you ;-)
Old 28th November 2010 | Show parent
  #154
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matyas ➡️
Resurrecting a somewhat old thread here. Apologies if this has been covered already, but if you uncompress a FLAC file, will it null against the original uncompressed .wav? I'm a little skeptical of "lossless" compression schemes, but I'm willing to admit that it may be because I just don't fully understand the technology.
Yes FLAC, WMA Lossless, & ALAC all null.
Old 28th November 2010 | Show parent
  #155
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Agree, unless something is wrong with the lossless codec then the results are mathematically perfect.
The technology used, in a very basic explanation - it's like a specially optimised ZIP file that you can play without extracting.
Old 28th November 2010 | Show parent
  #156
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Open a document with poems, close & zip it and then unzip it. Has the poetry been altered?

Old 28th November 2010 | Show parent
  #157
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonesH ➡️
Open a document with poems, close & zip it and then unzip it. Has the poetry been altered?

Well, no, although there are those who will try to tell you that compressing to MP3 doesn't alter the music either. Anyway, it was always my understanding that ZIP and other, similar compression systems were not optimized for audio. I dislike lossy audio codecs, and had not really tried lossless codecs before, so I wasn't sure if "lossless" was a marketing buzzword, or something real and verifiable.
Thanks for the info.
Old 28th November 2010 | Show parent
  #158
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matyas ➡️
Well, no, although there are those who will try to tell you that compressing to MP3 doesn't alter the music either.
However, reading about what MP3 does will prove you that the algorithm does alter the music. If one can perceive or not is a different story.
Quote:
Originally Posted by matyas ➡️
Anyway, it was always my understanding that ZIP and other, similar compression systems were not optimized for audio.
Yes, you understand correctly, they are not optimized.
Quote:
Originally Posted by matyas ➡️
I dislike lossy audio codecs,
Can you hear the differnce between 256 kbps or 320 kbps compared to the original file? I personally cannot. I did the difference between an original file and a 320 kbps OGG Vorbis and all I heard was some sort of white noise. Just a thought.
Quote:
Originally Posted by matyas ➡️
and had not really tried lossless codecs before, so I wasn't sure if "lossless" was a marketing buzzword, or something real and verifiable.
No, it's definitely not a buzzword, but a "technical" term to describe that the data compression does not alter the content compressed.
Old 29th November 2010 | Show parent
  #159
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Susceptor ➡️
Can you hear the differnce between 256 kbps or 320 kbps compared to the original file? I personally cannot. I did the difference between an original file and a 320 kbps OGG Vorbis and all I heard was some sort of white noise. Just a thought.
Obviously, it depends on the program material. In the case of well-recorded, full-frequency music with a wide dynamic range, played back on a good system, yes, I often can. I especially notice it with orchestral music - I really dislike what MP3 compression does to the top end on strings. On the other hand, I can very easily see how it could be impossible to distinguish even a 128 kpbs MP3 of loudness war-plagued, bandwidth limited, auto-tuned radio pop from the uncompressed source. The playback system also matters immensely.
Old 29th November 2010
  #160
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron ➡️
This past year's music sales figures showed the continuing trend of marked digital download sales growth (although a little slower than the previous year's growth) but with marked declines in CD sales (down in the USA from around the 500million units in 2007 to somewhere in the 350million units in 2008), a continued small resurgence in vinyl LP sales (heading up from 1million units in 2006 to just below 2million in 2008 - still well below CD sales by a ratio of around 175:1) - and with SACD and DVD-A sales staying at around a paltry 500,000 units each.

SO -> the unquestionable trend is that the fidelity of most of what end listeners are purchasing (the bulk of which is at the best 256kbps AAC, and on the average 128 or 192kbps mp3) is actually on the most part getting worst than it was in the past!!

If trends continue it's also very easy to imagine a future where purchasing music on audio only optical disc formats will occur only for a small niche.

Bringing me to the point of the post:

FLAC to me is the best current format choice for the ability to continue high fidelity delivery to the end listener in the future in that as a lossLESS codec it allows the absolute same sound quality on playback as uncompressed PCM for half the download time and half the size it takes up on a Personal Music Player's drive (definite considerations to the end user even if broadband access gets much faster than it currently is - i.e. who wouldn't want to have these things 2x better if all other things are equal?).

There are indeed a number of other lossless audio codecs (i.e. Apple's proprietary format ALAC, Monkeys Audio, WavPack, etc.) - but the facts that FLAC is completely open source, non-proprietary, license free, and already has well developed software support, plus a decent bit of existing hardware support as well - to me makes it the best choice of the current alternatives.

This - along with FLAC's ability to be sent at better than CD quality (24bit with support to 192kHz and beyond), that it can be sent as a surround file (up to 7.1), and that it is fully taggable (FLAC supports all id3 tags, including ISRC and various bitmap formats of cover art - while it should be noted that there is no standard way to tag uncompressed PCM files currently) makes it the best candidate for continuing to have a high fideliity delivery format in a future time when very likely nearly no one will be buying audio only optical discs.

Honestly - with some folks still complaining that the 16bit/44.1kHz CD format doesn't sound as best as music possibly could - then a 320kbps mp3's made from the same really does not cut it!

As far as when ultra-broadband transmission will be common - this is hard to say and well beyond the scope of my area of knowledge to do any more than guess the same as anyone else on this board. I've read some things indicating that existing infrastructure (such as telephone lines, satellites and transmission stations) and the cost/time of updating it is what's holding up really massive bandwidth - so in a time of economic downturn I don't know whether the investments to make instant transmission of uncompressed PCM a reality will happen soon, later, or not at all.

In the meantime - FLAC can give you all the sound quality of a CD but at half the download time and takes up half the hard drive space. It's already supported by lots of software and a good number of hardware players (both for home and portable) and the Rockbox - Rockbox - Open Source Jukebox Firmware - firmware allows you to update many models of iPods to support it as well.

SO - it's up to us as engineers and artists to start to make our clients aware of the possibilities of the format and to make our tunes available in this format in order to create broader consumer knowledge and demand for it.

There's a few sites that sell FLAC's online already and are open to independent artists for online distribution:
HDtracks high resolution audiophile music downloads
indietorrent.org Digital Music Marketplace - Welcome to indietorrent.org.
Welcome to Mindawn - Home

Which brings me next to the issue of pricing: I see a trend that whenever a higher quality mp3 is sold online it's usually for a greater asking price. I think we as content providers need to start making higher fidelity versions available for the same or even lesser price! - because to a lot of end users the larger download time and larger file size is an inconvenience that they want to avoid - so by making the playing field more equal we have more of a chance of having a high fidelity format continue into the future. i.e. I strongly believe that if when DVD-A and SACD were introduce the discs were priced a few dollars below CD's instead of a few dollars more the formats might be a lot stronger than they are now. But I think once people hear things in a higher fidelity a lot of them will be hooked - instead of accepting the degraded sound of mp3 as "good enough".

To conclude: if you're an audio engineer of artist concerned with having a way in the future to easily deliver your mixes at full resolution to the end listener then
PLEASE SUPPORT FLAC!!!

FLAC - Free Lossless Audio Codec

Best regards,
Steve Berson

Steve,

I couldn't agree more with every word you are saying. Nice one it needs to be said.

I am constantly mentioning this to my clients. They respond well, I don't think anyone really wants MP3. This really needs the likes of Apple to get behind some marketing and convince the consumer as a whole to buy into this. We live in a sad age where speed and convenience take priority over quality. This could be in no small way a good solution. The taggable nature of this file will also be of huge benefit in terms of ISRC and other issues and problems MP3 is difficult for.
I think its really important that all of us mastering engineers talk as loudly as possible about this to all of our clients.

On another note: The vinyl side is very busy here. People are starting to care again about a real product that sounds great, looks great and they can actually OWN. Digits on a disk belong to no man!

Keep spreading the word!
Old 29th November 2010 | Show parent
  #161
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matyas ➡️
I especially notice it with orchestral music - I really dislike what MP3 compression does to the top end on strings. On the other hand, I can very easily see how it could be impossible to distinguish even a 128 kpbs MP3 of loudness war-plagued, bandwidth limited, auto-tuned radio pop from the uncompressed source. The playback system also matters immensely.
My bad, I should've specified I was referring to "modern" music. I always get my classical music in FLAC format or just buy CDs, although nothing beats the real thing (i.e. orchestral music in a concert hall).

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for FLAC, but with the way modern music is produced and processed, I can't really tell the difference between FLAC/WAV and 320 kbps.
Old 30th November 2010 | Show parent
  #162
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Rockbox firmware suuports flac playback as well as numerous players... from Apple to Sansa etc. It's all a matter of looking.

I use a Sansa e260 with Rockbox withe a 16GB microSD card. Easy yo.
Old 30th November 2010 | Show parent
  #163
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Indeed...he's right

Quote:
Originally Posted by TroM ➡️
Rockbox firmware suuports flac playback as well as numerous players... from Apple to Sansa etc. It's all a matter of looking.

I use a Sansa e260 with Rockbox withe a 16GB microSD card. Easy yo.
I actually have two iRiver mp3 players - one that I purchased long ago and the other recently on eBay (which was sold 'as is' - it would not turn on).

Of the two, one is now a 60 GB version (I bought a bigger drive (replacing the 40 GB drive with a 60 GB drive after the player went tumbling out of a car - I used swissknife to properly format the drive)).

The other (the eBay purchase) is a 40 GB variant. I had to replace the battery, but that's all that was wrong (not bad for a 'junk' player that I bought for $25).

After becoming a fan of FLAC and lamenting that the players did not support FLAC, I stumbled upon Rockbox and loaded the system onto both. The result?

Pure bliss.

Not only is FLAC now supported in the players, but there are several UI's available to select from, and as if that weren't enough, the Rockbox build added such better functionality to the recording aspect (these iRiver mp3 players can accept optical digital signals (for recording) as well as analog...no kidding...and I have used these in a pinch for recording when all other gear was pressed into service...and they yielded stellar recordings (of course, I was using killer mics with it)).

The Rockbox build also fixed some things that I wasn't crazy about in the native build (i.e they did bug-fixes) such as eliminating any and all transients in recordings (periodic transients, where file blocks were being concatenated) and now there are no transients in the wav files one records, true gap-free playback etc. Of course, I almost never use the iRivers to record (having moved onward and upward in terms of gear), but still, that someone actually thought how to solve the issue(s), did so, and then made it available to all is pretty freaking cool.

What did it cost me to do these updates?

Absolutely nothing - a wholly free download.

I love what Rockbox has done for the players. Sure, I get grief for the size of the mp3 'player' (they are about the size of a pack of cigarettes, and so come across as 'dated'), but they were so much more than 'just' an mp3 player to begin with - and now they're even better. Plus, for me it's not the sizzle that counts...it's truly the steak, and if I get better ease of use and more solid functionality, then I'll take the wise-cracks for that. Seems like a fair trade to me.

Moreover, as others have pointed out, FLAC is open-source (unlike ALAC, which is Apple-proprietary (and Apple has now elected to negate FLAC support in their new players in order to force you to use the Apple lossless codec) and like mp3 supports tag / metadata.

I'll agree with what another posted - that often times, it's difficult to tell a 320 kbps mp3 from the original. However, bear in mind that the file size between a 320 kbps and a FLAC file are not all that different, and considering that FLAC allows you to faithfully reconstruct the FLAC to wav (from which you, as a user, have the ability to then write whatever format you choose) really tips the scales in favor of FLAC...at least, it does for me.

Remember, even if it sounds quite good at 320 kbps (mp3), you can never fully restore the original file due to the fact that mp3 is a lossy format, and FLAC is not.

Hail FLAC.

Hail Rockbox.

Hail Open-source.

Last edited by Mark A. Jay; 30th November 2010 at 04:23 PM.. Reason: typos and additional musings
Old 30th November 2010 | Show parent
  #164
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Hear Hear!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stardelta ➡️
Steve,

I couldn't agree more with every word you are saying. Nice one it needs to be said.

I am constantly mentioning this to my clients. They respond well, I don't think anyone really wants MP3. This really needs the likes of Apple to get behind some marketing and convince the consumer as a whole to buy into this. We live in a sad age where speed and convenience take priority over quality. This could be in no small way a good solution. The taggable nature of this file will also be of huge benefit in terms of ISRC and other issues and problems MP3 is difficult for.
I think its really important that all of us mastering engineers talk as loudly as possible about this to all of our clients.

On another note: The vinyl side is very busy here. People are starting to care again about a real product that sounds great, looks great and they can actually OWN. Digits on a disk belong to no man!

Keep spreading the word!
I just posted a note about FLAC and Rockbox...and then I scrolled up and saw this.

Nice work, Steve. Indeed, please keep spreading the Gospel according to FLAC.
Old 30th November 2010 | Show parent
  #165
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark A. Jay ➡️
the file size between a 320 kbps and a FLAC file are not all that different,
I disagree. A CBR320 mp3 is 25% the file size of a CD Quality wav file and this is the case no matter what the audio content is. A FLAC file from the same wav is usually 50-75% with most modern music types. (admittedly this may be lower with very minimal, quiet music). I'd say on average most of my flac encodes are about 60-70% smaller than the original wavs. I would call that size difference "substantial".
Old 30th November 2010 | Show parent
  #166
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Well...

Quote:
Originally Posted by huejahfink ➡️
I disagree. A CBR320 mp3 is 25% the file size of a CD Quality wav file and this is the case no matter what the audio content is. A FLAC file from the same wav is usually 50-75% with most modern music types. (admittedly this may be lower with very minimal, quiet music). I'd say on average most of my flac encodes are about 60-70% smaller than the original wavs. I would call that size difference "substantial".
Well, I will concede your point to some extent. However, some files that I convert to 320 kbps are approximately 50% of the size of the parent .wav file, but others are indeed smaller. I just did a quick test with 20-some odd wav files and indeed, they clocked in at roughly 50% the size of the wav file. Others done at 320 kbps compress more - down to about 35% (in the tirals that I just ran anyway).

On the other hand, the FLAC versions seem to hover around 50% the size of the original wav files for pretty much all of the files that I just converted as a sanity check...and as a rule...most of what I have been converting.

Don't forget though that the whoe reason to compress is simply to have more data in less space. Storage was at a premium when Creative Labs first blazed the trail with mp3 players, so some pretty aggressive compression became commonplace. However, these days memory / storage is getting insanely cheap, so the need to compress seems a bit inconsequential (to me anyway).

Plus, never forget...FLAC is lossless...mp3 is lossy. Thus, I'll gladly take the memory 'hit' that some FLAC file sizes may have as compared to some mp3 files for having the ability to faithfully reconstruct the wav file from the compressed file.

In my opinion, the best compression is no compression...but if you must compress, use a variant that supports metadata, is truly lossless (i.e. allows full resotoration back to wav), and is open source.
Old 30th November 2010 | Show parent
  #167
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A 16bit, 44.1k mono file will provide a 50% (roughly) file size with a 320 constant bit rate. (so for dialogue etc, if it doesn't have to be stereo you will get a better sound quality with a mono encode) A stereo one ( ie. a CD quality WAV) goes to 25% (roughly) file size with a 320 constant bit rate. Only variable bit rates (including average bit rate) will provide different percentages to that. I haven't forgotten anything about FLAC - it is by far my favourite storage format for music and I have promoted it as a very worthy format to almost anyone I know that uses a computer to store and access their music.
Old 30th November 2010 | Show parent
  #168
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This entire thread is ignoring the fact that a song artificially squeezed into a 10 db dynamic range has no fidelity for FLAC to preserve in the first place.

Our best hope for the future of fidelity is to grow some balls and release music with fidelity.
Old 30th November 2010 | Show parent
  #169
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheebs Goat ➡️
This entire thread is ignoring the fact that a song artificially squeezed into a 10 db dynamic range has no fidelity for FLAC to preserve in the first place.

Our best hope for the future of fidelity is to grow some balls and release music with fidelity.
To find this all you have to do is look past the main stream of releases as there is in fact a ton out there that fits this description.
I've been extremely fortunate to have a good number of clients whose interest and priority is in creating releases with dynamics and great sonics retained in the masters.

Anyway - in the almost 2 years since I first posted this thread I've been heartened to see that FLAC has definitely increased momentum in terms of sites offering downloads in the format, artists and label making releases in the format, end users aware of the format, and hardware and software which supports it.

For example, I've been happy to see based on my direct recommendations that Daptone Records started offering direct downloads in FLAC for all their releases on their own site - and has made the 24bit/88.2kHz original masters for Sharon Jones' latest release available on https://www.hdtracks.com/index.php?f...HD823134001923

On the player end - got to say the Sansa Fuze & View are both fantastic substitutes for the iPod, as they come stock with FLAC support as well as a MicroSD card slot so you can expand memory easily. http://www.sandisk.com/microsites/sa...lus/index.html

The continuing main barrier to all of this of course is Apple - who still refuse to directly support FLAC in their players, and who refuse to sell downloads at the iTunes store in their own ALAC lossless format either. To me the reasonings for this is an arrogant and destructive anti-open source policy as they hope to force the market towards only Apple created products - as well as them not wanting to take the expense of having to place and run many more servers in order to have an additional larger file sized format also made available on it. Their disinformation campaign of trying to state that 256kbps aac is the equivalent to "CD quality" is disheartening to see as well. Luckily regardless of their lack of support for FLAC (or even their own lossless codec) I think the momentum in its direction will eventually put pressure on them to change their stance in this.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 1st December 2010 | Show parent
  #170
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron ➡️
will eventually put pressure on them to change their stance in this
I have a dream... of a world where Apple is bankrupt...
Old 1st December 2010 | Show parent
  #171
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FLAC is just great!

But I still need WavPack for 32-bit float...



all the best,
ave.
Old 1st December 2010 | Show parent
  #172
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Susceptor ➡️
I have a dream... of a world where Apple is bankrupt...
Don't get me wrong! I think Apple makes some amazingly innovative and very well designed products!! It's just in certain of their ultra-competitive corporate policies (in which should be noted folks like Microsoft are no better or in fact are often worse) they often completely disregard the best interests of both the audio engineer and the music listener.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 1st December 2010 | Show parent
  #173
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avebr ➡️
FLAC is just great!

But I still need WavPack for 32-bit float...



all the best,
ave.
32bit float is completely understandable as a storage format prior to release - but makes no sense whatsoever as a consumer end distribution format as the vast majority of DAC's operate at 24bit fixed point - and even the very few that nominally are 32bit really do not have more than 22bits worth of real and usable dynamic range.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 1st December 2010 | Show parent
  #174
soulstudios
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Flac is fine for delivery format.
But for everything else we need wavpack.
Flac doesn't support the less common samplerates (88, 176, 192) or 32-bit.
Personally I just go for wavpack all the way. Rockbox also supports it (and it's slightly more cpu efficient for rockbox than flac).
Old 1st December 2010 | Show parent
  #175
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soulstudios ➡️
Flac doesn't support the less common samplerates (88, 176, 192)
This is NOT correct!
FLAC supports linear sample rates from 1Hz - 655350Hz in 1Hz increments. So it in fact already supports all those sample rates you listed.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 1st December 2010 | Show parent
  #176
soulstudios
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron ➡️
This is NOT correct!
FLAC supports linear sample rates from 1Hz - 655350Hz in 1Hz increments. So it in fact already supports all those sample rates you listed.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
My bad - hadn't checked it for a few years - it hasn't supported it officially until mid-2007, when 1.2 came out. Before then samplerates like 88/192 were only supported by using an additional command line argument.
It still doesn't support any floating point though, making it fair-useless for project archiving.
Old 1st December 2010 | Show parent
  #177
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soulstudios ➡️
My bad - hadn't checked it for a few years - it hasn't supported it officially until mid-2007, when 1.2 came out. Before then samplerates like 88/192 were only supported by using an additional command line argument.
It still doesn't support any floating point though, making it fair-useless for project archiving.
I'd say with hard drive space so inexpensive these days (plus the availability of large capacity optical disc formats like BD-R) that it actually compromises the forward robustness of an archive by compressing the files into a format that requires further decoding. For archives I think it's absolutely best to leave things in an uncompressed PCM file format. AES recommendations in fact strictly proscribe bwf wav format for forward archiving.

This is not to say that I don't think that wavpack is a good format - it's just that I feel it's best if the "open sourcers" unite behind a single format to push as a high fidelity consumer delivery format in order to focus the market towards a viable solution. I think flac has an edge in terms of already existing software and hardware support, as well as current usage.

Of course if wavpack becomes widely accepted and used then I'd be happy with that situation as well!!

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 1st December 2010 | Show parent
  #178
soulstudios
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron ➡️
I'd say with hard drive space so inexpensive these days (plus the availability of large capacity optical disc formats like BD-R) that it actually compromises the forward robustness of an archive by compressing the files into a format that requires further decoding. For archives I think it's absolutely best to leave things in an uncompressed PCM file format. AES recommendations in fact strictly proscribe bwf wav format for forward archiving.
Absolute rubbish.
WAV has no error-checking or CRC involved, both wavpack and flac have plenty.
Archiving as straight wavs is the worst archive format possible for data protection.
With a wavpack backup you can have the same file twice on the same medium (compared to wav) and have a reliable, efficient way of detecting data integrity. The same goes for individual files zipped (though the compression ratio is typically worse).
Old 1st December 2010 | Show parent
  #179
Deleted 691ca21
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I also have to chime in as a huge supporter of FLAC, and I pretty much agree with Steve on everything he says in this thread.

I have a compilation album and an EP both available freely in FLAC format from my mastering website here:

http://hermetechmastering.com/example

All feedback welcome!
Old 1st December 2010 | Show parent
  #180
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flak?

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