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is the end of mp3s near???
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Curtis ➡️
I couldn't disagree more. I was stuck with a Merc. CLS500 for a week (on a vacation with in-laws), and had to listen to satellite radio, which is at best MP3 96kbs. On that really great automotive system (Mark Levinson, I believe) all I could hear were lossy, crunchy-hissy noises.
GC
Possible, but in my BMW with indeed very good car system I have some 1000 CDs saved in 320 quality MP3 format on hard disk that I usually listen in random search mode. Can be that audio system is particularly good for MP3 or I used right algo, but I don't find it as sonic compromise and convenience-wise it's heaven.
I dare to say that good or great mix sounds equally pleasing on high bit rate MP3.
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➡️
They may not "know" the difference, but it is a different matter entirely to say they don't "notice." I would bet you every penny I have that anyone could reliably differentiate between 96kbps CBR and 320kbps CBR, without any special training. The difference in the low pass filter alone is extremely noticeable. 96kbps sounds like cymbals under water, 320kbps, hey-o you hear the highs all of a sudden. And that has nothing to do with compression artifacts.

So you can either try to educate people so they can "know" instead of just "notice" the difference, or you can buy into the status quo and keep current models rolling along.
third option. shift the status quo so there are no different degrees of quality inside a format. Sure they can hear the difference, but do not automatically link this to some compression format. most people couldn't be bothered. they just upload the songs to the ipod, and that's it.
they're not geeks or professionals with a habit of "fixing it" tiil it sounds good... assuming there is the slightest of interest for technical information is a folly IMHO.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #63
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There is a certain irony that a forum focusing primarily on the intricacies of preparing audio for consumption believes their final market to be composed entirely of deaf idiots.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➡️
I don't mean to sound rude, but you have admitted a lack of understanding of what you're talking about. FLAC isn't "magic voodoo," it's a compression algorithm specifically tuned for compressing audio.

Here's a bit of basic info on compression. Let's say you have a sentence:

"If you need to rest, the best way to go forward is west."

To compress that sentence in the simplest way, you simply analyze it and assign a smaller value to combination of bigger values. For example, there are a number of "est" in that sentence. For maximum compression, we're going to call "est" 1. That makes the sentence:

"If you need to r1, the b1 way to go forward is w1."

There are also two instances of "to," so let's let "2" stand for "to."

"If you need 2 r1, the b1 way 2 go forward is w1."

As you can see, the sentence is getting smaller but with a known cypher (that is, a known algorithm for decoding the information) we can expand it losslessly back into the full sentence.
This site is so fortuitous!!
A colleague and I were discussing FLAC today.
I was scorning the alleged lossless encode process.

So does FLAC or ALAC decode that data? Is it an encode/decode process?
The files sit on the drive saying they are 928kbps. So when you play them back are they truly decompressed to 1400-1500kbps?
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #65
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I have explained as much as I am really comfortable explaining. There are much better resources than my poor addled brain for getting the details of FLAC heh Suffice it now to say that when it says "lossless" it means "lossless." Just like what you compress is exactly what you get when you decompress in a ZIP file or another archive compression format, what you compress is exactly what you get when you decompress FLAC. It is, as another poster discovered earlier upon testing it, sample identical. Now, if you're using a less-than-ideal decode method (say, using WaveOut to make the WAV file rather than an ideal FLAC decompression) then you might end up with some extra empty space on either side of the audio (very little, but the way files are stored on a disc means it might expand the file size by a few kilobytes), but the actual audio information is 100% identical to the source WAV.

Here are two places you can learn more:

Wikipedia's article on FLAC, very informative

The official FLAC FAQ, where you can go to learn much, much more than you'd ever want to know.


Edit: And finally here is a comparison of all lossless formats
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➡️
There is a certain irony that a forum focusing primarily on the intricacies of preparing audio for consumption believes their final market to be composed entirely of deaf idiots.
That's a bit hyperbolic. They're not idiots.

In all seriousness, while I don't think the general populous is deaf, I also don't delude myself into thinking that I can apply my listening skills to people who don't have the same innate ability or training, and I also don't fault them for it. I've been listening to music critically for my whole life, they haven't. People can hear what they can hear, and if the general public at large can't hear it, there is no market force driving a change of any kind.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➡️
I have explained as much as I am really comfortable explaining. There are much better resources than my poor addled brain for getting the details of FLAC heh Suffice it now to say that when it says "lossless" it means "lossless." Just like what you compress is exactly what you get when you decompress in a ZIP file
But you can't just press "go" on a zip file. You need to decompress it, and replace the keys with the repeating data for it to work.

If it (FLAC) doesn't do that then it isn't "lossless". The data it loses may not be important, but they said exactly the same thing about mp3.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkRB ➡️
But you can't just press "go" on a zip file. You need to decompress it, and replace the keys with the repeating data for it to work.

If it (FLAC) doesn't do that then it isn't "lossless". The data it loses may not be important, but they said exactly the same thing about mp3.
Wrong, it's a compressed format that happens to allow live playback and manipulation. It achieves this neat feat because it's really, really fast compared to traditional compression. The catch is that it really only works for audio, so you can't just FLAC up your program or whatever; but the DEFLATE algorithm that powers RAR and ZIP, and the other similar algorithms that are behind other traditional compression schemes just don't do a very good job with audio for reasons which I have explained earlier but which the links I provided go into MUCH greater detail about.

Nothing is lost. Hence "lossless." Another smart use of FLAC apart from compressing your audio library to preserve the data... Use it to back up your project WAVs. Treat it like any other compression algorithm, as though it were an inert storage format, and you'll achieve usually about 20-25% more compression than through traditional means. You can then decompress from FLAC back to WAV without losing any data at all, if you need to restore backups, etc.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➡️
Wrong, it's a compressed format that happens to allow live playback and manipulation. It achieves this neat feat because it's really, really fast compared to traditional compression. The catch is that it really only works for audio, so you can't just FLAC up your program or whatever; but the DEFLATE algorithm that powers RAR and ZIP, and the other similar algorithms that are behind other traditional compression schemes just don't do a very good job with audio for reasons which I have explained earlier but which the links I provided go into MUCH greater detail about.

Nothing is lost. Hence "lossless."
Apart from about 20% of the data. But we don't need that right?

ZIPS work great with audio, but you need to decode them first. I was hoping FLAC was a realtime codec that dealt with this, but alas not.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #70
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I imagine it works the same way that inserting a plug on an audio track works.
Can you hear a delay in the processing when playing back a single track with a plug?
Same with decompressing the audio, it's processing it as it goes along, pretty simple task.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #71
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You are very basically misunderstanding how FLAC works. Did you read the links I posted? That 20% is additional savings in the size of the compressed file, not data lost from the input and output file. It's just like with ZIP you can choose to use multiple compression ratios ("Fast," "Good," "Best," "Ultra," etc.); it's not like "Ultra" is throwing away data that "Fast" is keeping, it's just a better but more time-consuming compression. The input file (what you're zipping) and the output file (what you unzip) are still identical regardless of which you pick.

Quote:
ZIPS work great with audio, but you need to decode them first. I was hoping FLAC was a realtime codec that dealt with this, but alas not.
FLAC achieves ~50% compression, while ZIP barely manages 20-25% if you're lucky. I posted a demonstration of this, for crying out loud. Where is the miscommunication here?
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkRB ➡️
Apart from about 20% of the data. But we don't need that right?

ZIPS work great with audio, but you need to decode them first. I was hoping FLAC was a realtime codec that dealt with this, but alas not.
It is 'realtime', I think youøre under-estimating the power of computers! There is no 20% lost, just as there is nothing lost when you rar up another kind of file then decompress it.

The only difference here is that the algorithm is designed so that it can be done in 'realtime'.

If the decompressed version is sample accueate to the version befroe it was encoded, then youøre not losing anything at all.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FeatheredSerpent ➡️
I imagine it works the same way that inserting a plug on an audio track works.
Can you hear a delay in the processing when playing back a single track with a plug?
Same with decompressing the audio, it's processing it as it goes along, pretty simple task.
Does it actually decode though? I can't find anything anywhere that says it does?

I'm not fighting an agenda. I'd just love to know the facts.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #74
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It's decoding on playback, it just doesn't create an output file like you're expecting with zip or rar.

That's why you need a player with the flac codec, you can't 'unzip' it then play it on a normal player.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #75
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I wish you would go slightly as much out of your way to learn about this stuff as I am going out of mine to try to teach it to you. I posted two links less than ten posts above this which give you literally all the information you could ever want on the stuff. Here, I'll just quote one liberally in the hopes that if I put it right in front of you, it will be read:

Quote:
Comparisons

FLAC is specifically designed for efficient packing of audio data, unlike general lossless algorithms such as DEFLATE which is used in ZIP and gzip. While ZIP may compress a CD-quality audio file by 10–20%, FLAC achieves compression rates of 30–50% for most music, with significantly greater compression for voice recordings.
Lossy codecs can achieve ratios of 80% or more by discarding data from the original stream. FLAC uses linear prediction to convert the audio samples to a series of small, uncorrelated numbers (known as the residual), which are stored efficiently using Golomb-Rice coding. It also uses run-length encoding for blocks of identical samples, such as silent passages. The technical strengths of FLAC compared to other lossless codecs lie in its ability to be streamed and in a fast decode time, which is independent of compression level.
As a lossless scheme, FLAC is also a popular archive format for owners of CDs and other media who wish to preserve their audio collections. If the original media is lost, damaged, or worn out, a FLAC copy of the audio tracks ensures that an exact duplicate of the original data can be recovered at any time. An exact restoration from a lossy archive (e.g., MP3) of the same data is impossible. A CUE file can optionally be created when ripping a CD. If a CD is read and ripped perfectly to FLAC files, the CUE file allows later burning of an audio CD that is identical in audio data to the original CD, including track order, pregaps, and CD-Text. However, additional data present on some audio CDs such as lyrics and CD+G graphics are beyond the scope of a CUE file and most ripping software, so that data will not be archived.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has adopted the FLAC format over its Euroradio network for the distribution of high quality audio.
The Hydrogenaudio Wiki features a comparison of lossless codecs, including FLAC.

Technical details

FLAC supports only fixed-point samples, not floating-point. It can handle any PCM bit resolution from 4 to 32 bits per sample, any sampling rate from 1 Hz to 655,350Hz in 1 Hz increments[4] , and any number of channels from 1 to 8. Channels can be grouped in cases like stereo and 5.1 channel surround to take advantage of interchannel correlations to increase compression. FLAC uses CRC checksums for identifying corrupted frames when used in a streaming protocol, and also has a complete MD5 hash of the raw PCM audio stored in its STREAMINFO metadata header.
FLAC allows for Rice parameter between 0–16, and up to 8 channels of audio and a wide range of sampling rates up to 192 kHz, in various bits-per-sample width. FLAC also supports Replay Gain.
FLAC is implemented as the libFLAC core encoder & decoder library with the main distributable program flac being the reference program utilizing the libFLAC API. This codec API is also available in C++ as libFLAC++.
The reference implementation of FLAC compiles on many platforms, including most Unix (such as Solaris and Mac OS X) and Unix-like (including Linux and BSD), Windows, BeOS, and OS/2 operating systems. There are build systems for autoconf/automake, MSVC, Watcom C, and Xcode.
For tagging, FLAC uses the same system as Vorbis comments.[5]
Edit:
Quote:
Originally Posted by FeatheredSerpent ➡️
It's decoding on playback, it just doesn't create an output file like you're expecting with zip or rar.

That's why you need a player with the flac codec, you can't 'unzip' it then play it on a normal player.
Actually, you can, if you wanted to for some reason. There is a bit-perfect FLAC decoder that they provide which will output the original WAV file used to make the FLAC file. But to playback the FLAC files natively you will need the codec (included in most media players and even some DAWs, now, because it is fully open source and license-free).
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #76
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by FeatheredSerpent ➡️
It's decoding on playback, it just doesn't create an output file like you're expecting with zip or rar.
Well no, it would be streaming via codec. I understand this.

Could you point me to a page that explains this? I've looked but can't find it.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #77
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkRB ➡️
Well no, it would be streaming via codec. I understand this.

Could you point me to a page that explains this? I've looked but can't find it.
Sure thing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➡️
I have explained as much as I am really comfortable explaining. There are much better resources than my poor addled brain for getting the details of FLAC heh Suffice it now to say that when it says "lossless" it means "lossless." Just like what you compress is exactly what you get when you decompress in a ZIP file or another archive compression format, what you compress is exactly what you get when you decompress FLAC. It is, as another poster discovered earlier upon testing it, sample identical. Now, if you're using a less-than-ideal decode method (say, using WaveOut to make the WAV file rather than an ideal FLAC decompression) then you might end up with some extra empty space on either side of the audio (very little, but the way files are stored on a disc means it might expand the file size by a few kilobytes), but the actual audio information is 100% identical to the source WAV.

Here are two places you can learn more:

Wikipedia's article on FLAC, very informative

The official FLAC FAQ, where you can go to learn much, much more than you'd ever want to know.


Edit: And finally here is a comparison of all lossless formats
Hope that helps, I really recommend the second one since it's the official source of any FLAC info you'd care to learn. They go into extreme detail (as an open source project, everything is laid utterly bare for public scrutiny - if there was any sham involved, it would have been well and truly discovered by now).
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #78
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➡️
Sure thing



Hope that helps, I really recommend the second one since it's the official source of any FLAC info you'd care to learn. They go into extreme detail (as an open source project, everything is laid utterly bare for public scrutiny - if there was any sham involved, it would have been well and truly discovered by now).
Allot of info there. I have looked through it.

I know you are uncomfortable getting any deeper into this but could you recommend a particular page? A quote would be awesome.

Found it, thanks for your help:

Lossless: The encoding of audio (PCM) data incurs no loss of information, and the decoded audio is bit-for-bit identical to what went into the encoder. Each frame contains a 16-bit CRC of the frame data for detecting transmission errors. The integrity of the audio data is further insured by storing an MD5 signature of the original unencoded audio data in the file header, which can be compared against later during decoding or testing.

Last edited by MarkRB; 27th January 2009 at 01:35 AM.. Reason: Wow that was hard
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #79
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Curtis ➡️
MP3s will eventually die as bandwidth increases. But there will have to be some sort of universally distinct improvement for it to take hold.

Or, it could take hold during a format upgrade, like the uncompressed audio that is realized on BluRay disks, for example.

Greg

.
As a person that sells consumer electronics (high end) and watches the retail and marketing trends, I can say with money on the table that physical media is darn near over. People, especially now, like free music. Since they like free, shared music, what makes anyone think that these people will repurchase their existing music collection to work in another format? That is stupidity.

Streaming CD-quality audio from RAM drives will be the next BIG step. MP3s will always be around IMO. There are too many children, teens, young adults and elderly mall walkers.

The people that care about audio will continue to buy music servers (Linn, Sonos, Ayre, Cambridge, Sim Audio, etc, etc....or make their computer the center piece of their systems. I don't see subscription services in the equation either.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #80
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I may seem a bit exasperated when trying to explain that FLAC really is lossless, I know it sounds silly at first since we're so used to traditional archive formats and hearing that you can get an additional 20-25% compression and still be able to play it back without losing any data sounds nuts. But I really do care about trying to get the word out about an excellent, open-source, license free format. More studios would benefit from its use just for archival purposes, effectively doubling your storage capacity for projects not in use or backups. I'm glad to have been able to help.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #81
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🎧 10 years
Another point that should be considered is that all of these compression schemes (be it lossy or lossless) only provide a way of delivering individual songs, not complete albums. While the convenience of purchasing individual songs is surely attractive, the consumer is missing out on the artists' (and engineers') representation of a single idea conveyed through a collection of songs (crossfaded, timed intervals, etc). I hope someone has given thought to creating a digital album format that allows single song playback as well as that of the album in its entirety, without the non-changing intervals or crossfading between songs one gets when playing a collection of sound files.

I gave some thought to offering CD images for download but decided against it there are no programs or portable players I know of that play these images natively.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #82
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That already exists, too, in multiple formats. Even mp3 offers that. The simplest way is to simply offer them in a package. I have digitized my entire music collection, around 70GB of material. I have never encoded any "loose" songs, it's all full albums. I arrange them in folders, and the metadata tags (that is ID3 tags) that are built into a number of formats hold all of the information necessary for a player to format them into an understandable media library and play them back as an album. So, the easiest way is to just encode the files losslessly individually and tag them so that they will be grouped for playback. In players which allow for true gapless playback, the experience is no different from listening to a CD. Some players (outdated ones) do not allow for true gapless playback, but there's an option for that if you really want to adhere to the "CD-like" idea.

That method, supported by formats from Mp3 to FLAC, is as so: you can encode them to a single large file (like an image, but compressed, either lossy or losslessly - it takes the form of a particularly large Mp3, FLAC, etc. file) and have the encoder create an "M3U" file which acts as a virtual cue sheet and tells the player where each track begins and ends. Players load the M3U information at the same time as the image, and it appears as ordered tracks.

However, that is in my opinion an inferior method and doesn't offer the flexibility of the single-track with sufficient metadata option I first mentioned.

BACKMASK Official Website, and the band Estrum mentioned earlier in this thread (in Rufus' signature) both use content delivery which allows for full album delivery in individual file format. Backmask's comes fully tagged, which of course isn't an option with Estrum's because they are using WAV files (though perhaps after this thread they might switch to FLAC, both for the high space savings but also for the ability to tag the files for easy ordered playback and concise organization).
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #83
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🎧 15 years
(forgive the minor hijack please )

So, Agreed or anyone else that deals with taggable files, maybe you can help me further?

Are you aware of any tools to encode large numbers of files with user defined id3 tags from a data set, like a database or excel document?

i.e. each file has an ID, as does each database entry. So the info from the database is automatically encoded to the files as a batch process.

I've been looking for something that does this for years.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #84
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➡️
That already exists, too, in multiple formats. Even mp3 offers that. The simplest way is to simply offer them in a package. I have digitized my entire music collection, around 70GB of material. I have never encoded any "loose" songs, it's all full albums. I arrange them in folders, and the metadata tags (that is ID3 tags) that are built into a number of formats hold all of the information necessary for a player to format them into an understandable media library and play them back as an album. So, the easiest way is to just encode the files losslessly individually and tag them so that they will be grouped for playback. In players which allow for true gapless playback, the experience is no different from listening to a CD. Some players (outdated ones) do not allow for true gapless playback, but there's an option for that if you really want to adhere to the "CD-like" idea.

That method, supported by formats from Mp3 to FLAC, is as so: you can encode them to a single large file (like an image, but compressed, either lossy or losslessly - it takes the form of a particularly large Mp3, FLAC, etc. file) and have the encoder create an "M3U" file which acts as a virtual cue sheet and tells the player where each track begins and ends. Players load the M3U information at the same time as the image, and it appears as ordered tracks.

However, that is in my opinion an inferior method and doesn't offer the flexibility of the single-track with sufficient metadata option I first mentioned.
That's a major part of my point. There is no single downloadable file that offers the album-like listening experience while offering the flexibility of single tracks (each with their own metadata) without having to use a separate MP3 file.

There are some of use (pros, audiophiles, and others extremely serious about their music) who will not mind having to use "workarounds" to enhance their listening experience. But the majority of folks would prefer something they can just download and play.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mege ➡️
That's a major part of my point. There is no single downloadable file that offers the album-like listening experience while offering the flexibility of single tracks (each with their own metadata) without having to use a separate MP3 file.

There are some of use (pros, audiophiles, and others extremely serious about their music) who will not mind having to use "workarounds" to enhance their listening experience. But the majority of folks would prefer something they can just download and play.
You misunderstood me. I was saying that the single large file with individuated track information is a bad method. I prefer single tracks in a folder, connected by metadata tags and hosted in a good player with gapless playback. But what you're asking for can already be done, and I tried it once to see how it would work with a Spock's Beard album. It works fine, but I miss being able to burn a mix CD of individual tracks, and there are no sacrifices associated with having individual files if you're using a media player worth a damn.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #86
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So...

If I imported a FLAC file into Pro Tools (Is that possible?) would the resulting converted file have lost any quality?

I don't see how it couldn't unless it was expanded again like an opened .zip file.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➡️
stike

What if they supplied FLAC or Apple Lossless Audio Codec files for download?

Then quality would still matter to you, but you'd save nearly 50% space and bandwidth.


id probably consider it but Wav is still higher quality
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaellus ➡️
id probably consider it but Wav is still higher quality
No it isn't, please read the thread. They are identical in quality. Or do you think that a ZIP'd wave file is somehow lower quality than the same file before being zipped?
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #89
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I've been reading this thread for the last hour.
I'm currently studying CS, but I am also into music (trying to get the best of both worlds), so I kinda know the whole thing about compression and encoding of data.

FLAC is lossless (as it's name implies) free lossless audio codec.
In anytype of data compression (i.e. compressing space to store data), lossless compression means that the data is compressed in such a way that when decompressed it will be identical to the original. Just like zip, rar, ace and other popular methods of compressing general data.

In audio and video there is the possibility to use lossy compression (i.e. lose some part of information). Obviously, this isn't possibile with... documents for example, because it would change the meaning, but our eyes and ears are able to compensate for what there isn't there (well, the brain compensates, but this is beside the point).

How do they work (lossy)?
Basically, they use some sort of lowpass and highpass filters based on ear response and also aproximate.

Lossless codecs on the other hand do not use anytype of human response, they work just like data compression, only optimized for specific data.

In order to conclude: you can't say that wav is better than flac since the audio information is the same, the only thing different is the way it's represented.
BTW, FLAC is the de facto standard for audiophile listening in portable players, since it keeps the audio information intact.

PS: another lossless (lossless as in "it keeps the audio information identical to the source, nothing is lost" ) format is MLP - Meridian Lossless Packaging, which is standard for DVD-A. I'm curious why no one mentioned it.

I can't stress enough the fact that compressing data is one thing, and the information compressed is another thing (so yeah, flac differs from wav - or to be more precise, RIFF linear bitstream - in terms of data representation, but flac = wav in terms of information contained, i.e. content)
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #90
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
"Compression" is a term used too loosely; MP3 and other lossy codecs are best described as performing data reduction, whereas FLAC and other lossless codecs compress - and expand.

This is not something you have to confirm through listening tests or by comparing the decoded output with the original in an audio editor. Well, no more than you would run a spell check on previously a zipped word document to make sure the process didn't mess up your novel. If you're feeling paranoid, by all means use a hex editor and make sure.

I admire your patience, Agreed.
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