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Richard8655
Nov 29, 2009, 08:31 PM
Hi all, and sorry if this has been discussed already endlessly, but am new to the Nano and iTunes.

I consider myself an audiophile with some serious home audio equipment, along with a decent CD/SACD collection. With my new Mac Mini 2.26 320gb HD, decided to import about 15 CDs to iTunes. Purchased a 5G Nano (16gb) and Klipsch Image S4 earbuds to go with. After synching the Nano from iTunes, started experimenting with the sound on the Nano.

Well, the default AAC 256kb VBR just doesn't cut it. Since I listen mostly to classical music, it was painfully apparent that the AAC files lose much of the ambience, soundstage, and multi-dimensionality. The music was flat, clipped, and uninteresting due to the huge amount of information loss.

Now I know the Nano is not really meant for high-end audio listening, but after converting the same iTunes files from AAC to Apple Lossless and re-syncing, the music on the Nano was actually listenable and enjoyable for the first time. Much of the soundstage returned.

So, my question is how many out there are using Apple Lossless on their iPods for the same reason? Even with the huge amount of space Apple Lossless takes on the Nano (16gb), I think about 30-40 CDs can be managed and stored there. Then when the time comes and the Nano fills up, the plan is to delete the files from the Nano and re-sync with a new set of Apple Lossless files from iTunes, as a way to rotate-in new music while keeping high quality sound.

Anyone doing it this way?



miles01110
Nov 29, 2009, 08:36 PM
I use lossless, but am planning on staying with 5g iPods and Rockbox so I can use FLAC files.

mac2x
Nov 29, 2009, 08:49 PM
I don't have my 32 gig iTouch yet, but I will do this when I get it. All of my music comes from my copious CD collection, and mp3 just don't cut it except for recordings (some old, old classical recordings, mainly) that came from degraded masters to start with. So I've been slowly deleting and reimporting my music in Apple Lossless. Sounds fantastic. :cool:

Blue Velvet
Nov 29, 2009, 08:52 PM
I use 320AAC with Shure e4cs which sounds OK. Lossless would be nice, but my feeling is that the iPod is a portable player, and that in typical surroundings where you might use an iPod, the gains from using lossless are usually offset against background noise etc. I also like to carry around more than a few dozen albums and with almost 1000 albums, the workarounds for huge file sizes starts to become cumbersome.

If you would like to manage a lossless library at home and a compressed file on your iPod, explore Doug's Scripts:

http://dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/ss.php?sp=losslessaccworkflow

Just a suggestion.

Richard8655
Nov 29, 2009, 09:14 PM
Thanks for the input, guys. Sounds like I'm not crazy after all with this.

Those scripts from Doug are really useful, as I read through them. Gives flexibility in alternating between Lossless and AAC to the iPod, depending on iPod space availability and sound quality value of a given piece of music. Thanks for that.

Friend of mine also mentioned one would be hard pressed to hear the difference between 320AAC and Lossless. Need to A/B this on the Nano.

ricof
Nov 29, 2009, 09:35 PM
Yes I do this as well, takes up that bit more space on the ipod but its worth it.

Just need to get some Grados now!

Jolly Jimmy
Nov 29, 2009, 10:27 PM
but after converting the same iTunes files from AAC to Apple Lossless

You can't improve an AAC file by converting it to Apple Lossless, you need to re-import from the original CD's straight to Apple Lossless. Otherwise you'll just end up with larger files that sound exactly the same.

Richard8655
Nov 29, 2009, 10:35 PM
You can't improve an AAC file by converting it to Apple Lossless, you need to re-import from the original CD's straight to Apple Lossless. Otherwise you'll just end up with larger files that sound exactly the same.

Really? When I did my Lossless test, it was listening to direct CD imports to Lossless format of a few tracks. Having found the sound improvements, then just converted the remaining existing AAC files to Lossless in iTunes as a menu option having discovered the conversion option afterwards. Glad you mentioned this, as will re-import again direct to Lossloss. I wonder what the purpose of the AAC-to-Lossless conversion option in iTunes is for then?

SactoGuy18
Nov 30, 2009, 06:55 AM
If you want highest sound quality, you need to rip your CD collection in iTunes with Apple Lossless and sync it with a player that can hold a lot of music like an iPod touch 32 or 64 GB or the current iPod classic with 160 GB of storage. In most cases, ripping a CD in iTunes using 256 kbps VBR AAC encoding does not result in significant quality loss unless you listen with seriously high-end audio equipment most of us couldn't afford.

Richard8655
Nov 30, 2009, 09:27 AM
If you want highest sound quality, you need to rip your CD collection in iTunes with Apple Lossless and sync it with a player that can hold a lot of music like an iPod touch 32 or 64 GB or the current iPod classic with 160 GB of storage. In most cases, ripping a CD in iTunes using 256 kbps VBR AAC encoding does not result in significant quality loss unless you listen with seriously high-end audio equipment most of us couldn't afford.

Actually, modestly priced equipment these days reveals a lot of good definition in recorded music. And it's not Bose Wave Radio either. From what I can hear, the iPod does a reasonable job in reproducing some of that quality depending on the encoding choices. Part of the problem is that many people don't discern or even look for quality in audio these day, or don't care.

flopticalcube
Nov 30, 2009, 09:34 AM
Actually, modestly priced equipment these days reveals a lot of good definition in recorded music. And it's not Bose Wave Radio either. From what I can hear, the iPod does a reasonable job in reproducing some of that quality depending on the encoding choices. Part of the problem is that many people don't discern or even look for quality in audio these day, or don't care.
Given what's happening in the most recording studios with regards to compression, most people don't have a choice.

iPods are actually surprisingly good players or at least they were when they used the Wolfson DACs. Its usually the analog stage that lets them down and no trick of encoding can fix that. To my ears, 256KVBR sounds the same as lossless, however.

Richard8655
Nov 30, 2009, 09:52 AM
Given what's happening in the most recording studios with regards to compression, most people don't have a choice.

iPods are actually surprisingly good players or at least they were when they used the Wolfson DACs. Its usually the analog stage that lets them down and no trick of encoding can fix that. To my ears, 256KVBR sounds the same as lossless, however.

Yes, for sure the DAC on the player is a huge part of the resulting quality. And that's just one of the many obstacles in portable player reproduction, when also considering compression, loss (i.e., AAC), tiny earbuds, external noise, etc. I find that by eliminating or mitigating as many of these layers as possible is an improvement. In my case, I hear a significant difference between Lossless and 256AAC - so for me Lossless is one small step closer to getting there. The DAC and analog hardware I have to live with.

Alan64
Nov 30, 2009, 10:39 AM
I am a big fan of Ambrosia Software's WireTap Studio because of it's "LivePreview". Put in a CD and using WireTap, you can listen to how the music sounds at various compression levels. Some stuff sounds fine at 256bps, others need less compression (and some crappy stuff sounds equally bad at 128bps!). It's cool to hear the difference 'on the fly'.

covisio
Nov 30, 2009, 11:06 AM
I've done some brief experimentation with Apple Lossless versus AAC 256, certainly Lossless is noticeably better even on my setup, which is a Monitor Audio i-Deck (1st generation), so I would argue that you don't need very expensive gear to hear a difference.

What I have noticed though is that different music is affected differently. I've found that sparse, acoustic stuff such as Beth Orton, for instance, is less affected than highly mixed and overlaid music. The inherent 'acoustic signature' of the music seems to make a big difference to how well it's handled, in my experience.

mhdena
Nov 30, 2009, 11:40 AM
I have 2 ATVs 160gb and 2 120gb ipods, I ripped all my cds in Apple Lossless.

Question, I have bought songs from itunes store and when I highlight one, in the advanced drop down box there is an option to 'Create Apple Lossless Version'.

it looks like it actually makes a second copy of the song, you can see it say 'incoming', so does anyone know if this is indeed the same as lossless from a CD?

173080
Nov 30, 2009, 11:41 AM
I only use Lossless.

File size is not a problem as I usually carry about 10 albums on my iPod at a time.

Julien
Nov 30, 2009, 12:12 PM
If you are really serious about AQ you should look at custom IEM's. I have tried dozens of IEM's and now use UE 11Pro's. To me (transducer sound is subjective) they sound the most realistic and the fit/seal is perfect every and all the time.

Also all (>98%) of my music is Apple Lossless.

Jolly Jimmy
Nov 30, 2009, 12:15 PM
so does anyone know if this is indeed the same as lossless from a CD?

Absolutely not. You cannot re-create the bits that were thrown away. It's best to leave lossy files like AAC's and MP3's alone, any conversions will only worsen the quality or in the case of lossless formats, create a uselessly big file.

Jackintosh
Dec 1, 2009, 08:19 AM
I have 2 ATVs 160gb and 2 120gb ipods, I ripped all my cds in Apple Lossless.

Question, I have bought songs from itunes store and when I highlight one, in the advanced drop down box there is an option to 'Create Apple Lossless Version'.

it looks like it actually makes a second copy of the song, you can see it say 'incoming', so does anyone know if this is indeed the same as lossless from a CD?

This is my question too. Through discussions here we know that conversion from AAC to Lossloss (probably) doesn't result in a Lossless file. SO, what's the purpose of the iTunes option "Create Apple Lossless Version" in converting from an AAC file?

Jolly Jimmy
Dec 1, 2009, 08:39 AM
This is my question too. Through discussions here we know that conversion from AAC to Lossloss (probably) doesn't result in a Lossless file. SO, what's the purpose of the iTunes option "Create Apple Lossless Version" in converting from an AAC file?

AAC to Apple lossless never can and never will result in a lossless file. Information was thrown away when the AAC file was made. Gone forever. It would be nothing short of magic for a lossy file to become a lossless one.

The reason that you can convert to Apple lossless is pretty simple, it's just a matter of ease of use. There are 3 lossless (AIFF, Apple Lossless and Wav) and 2 lossy (MP3 and AAC) formats to choose from within iTunes, and you can freely import/convert files to any of them. All you need to do is learn what they mean and what they do to your files.

Jackintosh
Dec 1, 2009, 08:51 AM
AAC to Apple lossless never can and never will result in a lossless file. Information was thrown away when the AAC file was made. Gone forever. It would be nothing short of magic for a lossy file to become a lossless one.

The reason that you can convert to Apple lossless is pretty simple, it's just a matter of ease of use. There are 3 lossless (AIFF, Apple Lossless and Wav) and 2 lossy (MP3 and AAC) formats to choose from within iTunes, and you can freely import/convert files to any of them. All you need to do is learn what they mean and what they do to your files.

Thanks, but I don't think you're understanding my question. If the AAC-->Lossless conversion option in iTunes doesn't result in Lossless, what is its purpose?

Jolly Jimmy
Dec 1, 2009, 09:05 AM
I did understand your question, and the answer is in there. So in fewer words, it is utterly useless.

Jackintosh
Dec 1, 2009, 09:10 AM
I did understand your question, and the answer is in there. So in fewer words, it is utterly useless.

Ok thanks. Just seems to me that Apple wouldn't provide a utility that has no purpose. Or it doesn't do what it claims to do.

Jolly Jimmy
Dec 1, 2009, 09:14 AM
Ok thanks. Just seems to me that Apple wouldn't provide a utility that has no purpose. Or it doesn't do what it claims to do.

I get what you mean, and I suppose they could have grayed out the option for converting lossy files to a lossless format, but that would have just confused a whole new set of people, so they just went with the simplest.

benlangdon
Dec 1, 2009, 09:16 AM
Thanks, but I don't think you're understanding my question. If the AAC-->Lossless conversion option in iTunes doesn't result in Lossless, what is its purpose?

ya i never understood this.
it won't do anything pretty much.
its like taking a 50x50 pixel image and making a huge file. its still 50x50 pixels.

GermanSuplex
Dec 1, 2009, 09:33 AM
The option is there for people who want to use it.

I use it for archiving lossy material for a one-time lossy-lossy conversion. If I take a video with lossy AC3 audio or a rare format, I can convert it to WAV with Super, add it to iTunes, convert it to Apple Lossless, then convert it once to something more universal like mp3 or AAC. Then I archive the ALAC format. Yes, it's a waste of space since I'm ballooning the file and lossy to lossy is bad for audio, but my ears fail to tell the difference after only one conversion, but I know what I'm doing. If something ever happens to my lossy file, I can go back to the ALAC file and it's exactly the same as ripping the audio from the video again.

Also, anyone who says 256kbps AAC isn't cutting it for them needs to do blind tests and post test results. I just don't believe that.

Many people say they can tell a difference between lossless music and incredibly high bitrate lossy audio with good encoders, but few people ever backup their claims with tests. But, I guess its irrelevant if people are doing what makes them happy.

Richard8655
Dec 1, 2009, 09:51 AM
The option is there for people who want to use it.

I use it for archiving lossy material for a one-time lossy-lossy conversion. If I take a video with lossy AC3 audio or a rare format, I can convert it to WAV with Super, add it to iTunes, convert it to Apple Lossless, then convert it once to something more universal like mp3 or AAC. Then I archive the ALAC format. Yes, it's a waste of space since I'm ballooning the file and lossy to lossy is bad for audio, but my ears fail to tell the difference after only one conversion, but I know what I'm doing. If something ever happens to my lossy file, I can go back to the ALAC file and it's exactly the same as ripping the audio from the video again.

Also, anyone who says 256kbps AAC isn't cutting it for them needs to do blind tests and post test results. I just don't believe that.

Many people say they can tell a difference between lossless music and incredibly high bitrate lossy audio with good encoders, but few people ever backup their claims with tests. But, I guess its irrelevant if people are doing what makes them happy.

Blind listening tests are mostly subjective, and as such are unmeasurable. Some people can discern things like soundstage and depth better than others. For others, this level of detail in sound quality just doesn't matter. It also depends on what kind of music one listens to. I do hear a difference between 256AAC and Lossless, and it is subjective.

benlangdon
Dec 1, 2009, 09:56 AM
Also, anyone who says 256kbps AAC isn't cutting it for them needs to do blind tests and post test results. I just don't believe that.

i have taken a test on line.
with the speakers on my laptop i could barelly hear a difference, the highs were a bit weak.
the second time i did it with my beyer headphones and i clearly saw a huge difference.

anyone can tell if they have good headphones.
give me a pair of apple earbuds and ten bucks says i couldn't tell a difference.

GermanSuplex
Dec 1, 2009, 10:16 AM
Nobody ever posts results though. Not that they are required to prove things to me or anyone else, but really, so many people say they can hear a difference when actual tests with real results show an insanely, insanely low fraction of people can actually tell a difference, even on great equipment.

Blind listening tests are mostly subjective, and as such are unmeasurable. Some people can discern things like soundstage and depth better than others. For others, this level of detail in sound quality just doesn't matter. It also depends on what kind of music one listens to. I do hear a difference between 256AAC and Lossless, and it is subjective.

Well, yeah, it's only subjective in that you pass or fail. It IS measurable.. not sure what you mean by that. It's the same as covering the label of a coke can and a pepsi can and doing taste tests. Some people will know the difference, some won't. The difference here, is that most people can't tell a difference between a decently-encoded lossy file and it's lossless counterpart. Many read stuff online (like this thread) and question lossy files, others fall to the placebo effect... Anyone who reads this thread should be aware that they need to do blind tests and do what works for them, otherwise they're just kidding themselves and wasting drive space.

That's not to say NOBODY can tell a difference, and by all means I'm not telling you what you do or don't hear.. just that tests are important to be the most effecient in managing your library.

flopticalcube
Dec 1, 2009, 10:22 AM
i have taken a test on line.
with the speakers on my laptop i could barelly hear a difference, the highs were a bit weak.If there is a difference in frequency response, it would show up as a measurable result. AFAIK, no such result exists. Other artifacts appear the more you move away from lossless but not a decrease in frequency response.

anyone can tell if they have good headphones.
Surely that would depend on each individuals hearing acuity.

benlangdon
Dec 1, 2009, 03:24 PM
It's the same as covering the label of a coke can and a pepsi can and doing taste tests. Some people will know the difference, some won't.

well hey, not to be lame, but i actually can tell the difference, pepsi is sweeter.

If there is a difference in frequency response, it would show up as a measurable result. AFAIK, no such result exists. Other artifacts appear the more you move away from lossless but not a decrease in frequency response.
Surely that would depend on each individuals hearing acuity.
ya but for a easy test, try and play a song with heavy bass in a car with massive subs and the quality of the song is really recognizable.

GermanSuplex
Dec 1, 2009, 06:07 PM
ya but for a easy test, try and play a song with heavy bass in a car with massive subs and the quality of the song is really recognizable.

:confused:

A car is one of the places you're least likely to tell the difference between even a 128kbps lossy file and a lossless file.

I don't care if you have a $1,500 dollar car sound system, you can't tell a difference between a good lossy encode and a lossless encode in a car.

benlangdon
Dec 1, 2009, 08:21 PM
ok but here is what im talking about a good sound source.
good headphones/speakers, will defiantly show a difference.

every day i tune my classical guitar with this web site.
http://www.howtotuneaguitar.org/
but everytime i try and tune it with the laptop speakers (when i don't have my headphones) it always comes out a bit _____. it always requires me to tune it by hand after. But if i use my headphones (beyerdynamic dt 770 pro's) to tune my guitar it comes out better than i can do by hand.

Alan64
Dec 1, 2009, 08:28 PM
ok but here is what im talking about a good sound source.
good headphones/speakers, will defiantly show a difference.

every day i tune my classical guitar with this web site.
http://www.howtotuneaguitar.org/
but everytime i try and tune it with the laptop speakers (when i don't have my headphones) it always comes out a bit _____. it always requires me to tune it by hand after. But if i use my headphones (beyerdynamic dt 770 pro's) to tune my guitar it comes out better than i can do by hand.

If you have an iPhone, check out the Guitar Toolkit app. It's got a great tuner, plus metronome, chord encyclopedia, fretboard map, etc. Very cool app for guitar players.

benlangdon
Dec 1, 2009, 10:29 PM
If you have an iPhone, check out the Guitar Toolkit app. It's got a great tuner, plus metronome, chord encyclopedia, fretboard map, etc. Very cool app for guitar players.
nope no iphone.
i wish i had a metronome around me because i actually play drums.
i do have a boss db 60, which is awesome.

GermanSuplex
Dec 1, 2009, 10:44 PM
ok but here is what im talking about a good sound source.
good headphones/speakers, will defiantly show a difference.

every day i tune my classical guitar with this web site.
http://www.howtotuneaguitar.org/
but everytime i try and tune it with the laptop speakers (when i don't have my headphones) it always comes out a bit _____. it always requires me to tune it by hand after. But if i use my headphones (beyerdynamic dt 770 pro's) to tune my guitar it comes out better than i can do by hand.

That really has nothing to do with lossy/lossless. Lossless will sound like crap on crap speakers, and good lossy encodes will sound great on good systems.

benlangdon
Dec 2, 2009, 12:09 AM
That really has nothing to do with lossy/lossless. Lossless will sound like crap on crap speakers, and good lossy encodes will sound great on good systems.

well my point wasn't very clear.
well, since most people have bad speakers, there is no way in telling the difference between a good rip and a bad one. you have to have good hardware to be able to pick up on the subtleties of the music, and those subtleties are more recognizable with higher bit rate music.

GermanSuplex
Dec 2, 2009, 10:37 AM
well my point wasn't very clear.
well, since most people have bad speakers, there is no way in telling the difference between a good rip and a bad one. you have to have good hardware to be able to pick up on the subtleties of the music, and those subtleties are more recognizable with higher bit rate music.

In theory, this is correct. However, you will not tell a difference in a car. I don't care how expensive your car system is.

For other equipment, you will have to be rocking a seriously expensive set of headphones and playing your music from an extremely good soundcard or soundsystem to tell the difference. And you'll probably have to have earbuds greater than 99.99 percent of the population.

The thing about lossy encoding is that most of the information they get rid of isn't even able to be picked up by human ears. And the advances in lossy encoders over the years has resulted in very effective encoders. Many people love to tell themselves they hear the difference between a lossy file and a lossless one, or that it takes a 320kbps mp3 or AAC file to be listenable to them, but it's pretty telling that nobody ever posts their ABX results.

benlangdon
Dec 2, 2009, 12:50 PM
In theory, this is correct. However, you will not tell a difference in a car. I don't care how expensive your car system is.

For other equipment, you will have to be rocking a seriously expensive set of headphones and playing your music from an extremely good soundcard or soundsystem to tell the difference. And you'll probably have to have earbuds greater than 99.99 percent of the population.

The thing about lossy encoding is that most of the information they get rid of isn't even able to be picked up by human ears. And the advances in lossy encoders over the years has resulted in very effective encoders. Many people love to tell themselves they hear the difference between a lossy file and a lossless one, or that it takes a 320kbps mp3 or AAC file to be listenable to them, but it's pretty telling that nobody ever posts their ABX results.

to be honest i don't know anything about the formats.
all i get is 320 kbs or flac and then convert the flac to apple lossless. thats all i ever do. only reason why i don't use more flac is because i have to rip it to apple lossless which is just annoying.

GermanSuplex
Dec 2, 2009, 01:31 PM
What do you mean "All you get"? You mean that all the music you download is 320kbps mp3 or flac? For flac, by all means convert to Apple Lossless for archiving. You lose no quality and you get an iTunes compatible format. However, I'd suggest converting those Apple Lossless files to LAME mp3 or, if you want to do it in iTunes, use the AAC encoder. I would download foobar and do a blind abx test and determine which bitrate is best for you.

I'm not sure which online test you did, but a true abx test is your best bet. Get a lossless song, convert it to 128kbps mp3 or AAC, and test the lossy and lossless files against each other. foobar will tell you how many you got wrong and the probability you are guessing. Many people only do 5 trials and say "Wow, I guessed 3 out of 5, I can tell a difference". Do 25 trials or more and get a real feel for whether or not you can tell a difference. If you can, use a higher bitrate lossy file and try again. I could not tell a difference on anything I own between 128kbps lame mp3 VBR, but I went with 192kbps VBR just to be safe.

For 320kbps lossy files, go ahead and keep them in that format, no need to go from lossy to lossy.

Plus, you'd be wasting space on your Nano by using lossless. The odds are that, even in the small chance you can tell the difference between lossy and lossless, you will never have your nano in an environment where the lossless files make a difference.

Jackintosh
Dec 4, 2009, 12:12 PM
What do you mean "All you get"? You mean that all the music you download is 320kbps mp3 or flac? For flac, by all means convert to Apple Lossless for archiving. You lose no quality and you get an iTunes compatible format. However, I'd suggest converting those Apple Lossless files to LAME mp3 or, if you want to do it in iTunes, use the AAC encoder. I would download foobar and do a blind abx test and determine which bitrate is best for you.

I'm not sure which online test you did, but a true abx test is your best bet. Get a lossless song, convert it to 128kbps mp3 or AAC, and test the lossy and lossless files against each other. foobar will tell you how many you got wrong and the probability you are guessing. Many people only do 5 trials and say "Wow, I guessed 3 out of 5, I can tell a difference". Do 25 trials or more and get a real feel for whether or not you can tell a difference. If you can, use a higher bitrate lossy file and try again. I could not tell a difference on anything I own between 128kbps lame mp3 VBR, but I went with 192kbps VBR just to be safe.

For 320kbps lossy files, go ahead and keep them in that format, no need to go from lossy to lossy.

Plus, you'd be wasting space on your Nano by using lossless. The odds are that, even in the small chance you can tell the difference between lossy and lossless, you will never have your nano in an environment where the lossless files make a difference.

I disagree for 2 reasons. 1) If you have high quality headphones connected to your Nano and if you have discerning ears, you'll hear an improvement with Lossless over any AAC. 2) If you connect your Nano as an input device to high quality home gear, I guarantee you'll hear a difference.

JonHimself
Dec 4, 2009, 01:01 PM
Ok thanks. Just seems to me that Apple wouldn't provide a utility that has no purpose. Or it doesn't do what it claims to do.

I feel like I'm missing something from that part of the discussion, but isn't the convert to Apple Lossless setting there for importing CDs as lossless files?
It sounds like the question is: Converting a lossy format to lossless is useless so why does Apple include it as an option? and the answers were that the setting is useless. Sorry if I'm missing something.

Jackintosh
Dec 4, 2009, 01:33 PM
I feel like I'm missing something from that part of the discussion, but isn't the convert to Apple Lossless setting there for importing CDs as lossless files?
It sounds like the question is: Converting a lossy format to lossless is useless so why does Apple include it as an option? and the answers were that the setting is useless. Sorry if I'm missing something.

I think you have it correct. The discussion was not about importing CDs as Lossless, which has much value. It was regarding "conversion" of an existing, previously-imported Lossy AAC to Apple Lossless, which apparently is pretty worthless. Which leads to the question of why does Apple provide it as an option then.

GermanSuplex
Dec 5, 2009, 01:02 AM
I disagree for 2 reasons. 1) If you have high quality headphones connected to your Nano and if you have discerning ears, you'll hear an improvement with Lossless over any AAC. 2) If you connect your Nano as an input device to high quality home gear, I guarantee you'll hear a difference.

That's your opinion/experience with lossy/lossless files, and you may even be right, since everyone hears different things. But it is a fact that most people TELL themselves they hear a difference when in fact they don't... even with very, very expensive equipment. The truth is high-end equipment doesn't just enhance the listening experience of lossless files, it also enhances the listening experience of lossy files. So its usually a wash for most people unless, again, you are one of the small fraction of people (and I do mean small fraction) who can tell a difference.

Have you conducted a proper ABX test?

KPJLK
Dec 5, 2009, 09:00 AM
This is my question too. Through discussions here we know that conversion from AAC to Lossloss (probably) doesn't result in a Lossless file. SO, what's the purpose of the iTunes option "Create Apple Lossless Version" in converting from an AAC file?

When you change the encode format in the import settings, the menu option you refer to changes to whatever you have now selected, in case you wish to convert your existing library to match. This change is made uncritically, resulting in some pointless options. That's all.

Jackintosh
Dec 5, 2009, 11:22 AM
That's your opinion/experience with lossy/lossless files, and you may even be right, since everyone hears different things. But it is a fact that most people TELL themselves they hear a difference when in fact they don't... even with very, very expensive equipment. The truth is high-end equipment doesn't just enhance the listening experience of lossless files, it also enhances the listening experience of lossy files. So its usually a wash for most people unless, again, you are one of the small fraction of people (and I do mean small fraction) who can tell a difference.

Have you conducted a proper ABX test?

Yes I agree, it would be a relatively small number of people who could tell the difference or even care that much. Since Lossless is not missing anything, recorded detail not heard with low end equipment (cheap earbids, amps, etc). could be heard with high end electronics able to reproduce nuanced sound from a Lossless recording. As far as high end gear enhancing Lossy files, that's questionable. Low res recordings can't really be enhanced by much if at all, since much of the needed information is missing. Lossy means just that... detail has been sacrificed to gain space and due to lack of interest.

AB tests are useful but of limited value. The listening experience is your final judge. The ear doesn't read statistical test reports.

But you make a good point about the small minority interested in this.

gnasher729
Dec 5, 2009, 11:45 AM
I think you have it correct. The discussion was not about importing CDs as Lossless, which has much value. It was regarding "conversion" of an existing, previously-imported Lossy AAC to Apple Lossless, which apparently is pretty worthless. Which leads to the question of why does Apple provide it as an option then.

If you have a format that your iPod doesn't convert, like Org or FLAC, and you have the Quicktime codec for it, you can convert it to Apple Lossless without any loss of quality and then play it on your iPod.

epo
Dec 5, 2009, 02:38 PM
Erm, a 'conversion' is made from lossy to lossless, and the converted file declared superior and this thread didn't just collapse into a fit of giggles, why not?

And so-called audiophile judgments based on the headphone socket?

Maybe it's just me.

GermanSuplex
Dec 5, 2009, 03:35 PM
AB tests are useful but of limited value. The listening experience is your final judge. The ear doesn't read statistical test reports.


I guess this is a prime example of why there's disagreements. That is basically saying "Do what makes you happy" (which is perfectly a fair enough thing to do). But how are the tests of limited value? You either hear a difference or you don't, and the blind tests will prove to you whether you do or not. I mean, how can someone argue with proof?

If you fail a blind test, it is proof that you can't tell a difference on whatever equipment you used to conduct the test on. You can say "To hell with the results", but the proof is there.

Jackintosh
Dec 5, 2009, 10:14 PM
I guess this is a prime example of why there's disagreements. That is basically saying "Do what makes you happy" (which is perfectly a fair enough thing to do). But how are the tests of limited value? You either hear a difference or you don't, and the blind tests will prove to you whether you do or not. I mean, how can someone argue with proof?

If you fail a blind test, it is proof that you can't tell a difference on whatever equipment you used to conduct the test on. You can say "To hell with the results", but the proof is there.

Listening is a subjective experience, and equipment measurement tests (if that's what you mean) won't necessarily agree with one's subjective judgment and preference. Equipment used to measure and compare sound, as good as it may be, won't necessarily capture everything the ear can detect, and does not account for personal preference. Blind tests I completely agree are valid. But the real discussion here should be accuracy, not sounding better, I admit.

epo- The existence of a headphone socket doesn't imply lack of high end listening. Take a look at expert reviews of quality headphones, and most will confirm that they provide much more accurate sound than most speaker systems on the market.

GermanSuplex
Dec 6, 2009, 12:28 AM
I'm not sure what you mean by "equipment listening tests". A blind ABX test is a software-based program that hides the identity of two audio types for blind comparison. For instance, in foobar, you can take either a lossy and lossless track, or two lossy files. (For instance, you can compare a lossy and lossless file, two mp3's of different bitrates, or an AAC file and mp3 file).

You can use whatever equipment you want to conduct the listening test.. something from an audio-out port on the PC, speakers hooked up to USB... whatever you want. foobar hides the identity of the files. You have A, B, X & Y. Two of them are one file and two are the other. You go through each one and then determine if A is X or Y, and whether B is X or Y. You are either right or wrong. They're your ears, if you can tell a difference, then you should be able to pick the right one and it will tell you the probability of whether you're guessing or not. You do this multiple times to see whether you can truly tell a difference or are just guessing. The test isn't about the equipment so much as it is your ears. You can use cheap earbuds or a multi-thousand dollar speaker system, ir an expensive pair of headphones.

I think some tests just have it setup to where A is one file, B is one file, and X is a file, and you choose which file is X: A or B. (Hence the term ABX test).

There's really nothing subjective about it, regardless of which blind test you do. You listen to the files on whatever equipment you want, and then determine which track is which.

alphaod
Dec 6, 2009, 12:33 AM
Thanks, but I don't think you're understanding my question. If the AAC-->Lossless conversion option in iTunes doesn't result in Lossless, what is its purpose?

It's for converting other files that are not lossy like AIFF and WAV.

GermanSuplex
Dec 6, 2009, 12:57 AM
It's for converting other files that are not lossy like AIFF and WAV.

They mean why is the option available for lossy tracks. Like, if you choose ALAC as your importing preference, why isn't the "Convert to Apple Lossless" option grayed out when you right-click an mp3 or AAC file, since converting it to ALAC only changes the file type and increases the size, but doesn't result in a higher quality file.

The option is there for someone who wants it. What purpose they would have I don't know, perhaps some people are obsessive and want all their files to be the same format, even lossy audio, so converting it to Apple Lossless allows them to retain the quality of the lossy file while converting it to the format their lossless tracks are in.

epo
Dec 6, 2009, 07:27 AM
epo- The existence of a headphone socket doesn't imply lack of high end listening. Take a look at expert reviews of quality headphones, and most will confirm that they provide much more accurate sound than most speaker systems on the market.I was too terse, having censored an earlier draft. The iPod's (and iPhone's) headphone socket is widely known to be below par, now taking a signal via the dock adaptor into a headphone amp is a different matter and may be the basis for less ridiculous audiophile pronouncements.

wywern209
Dec 6, 2009, 04:44 PM
Hi all, and sorry if this has been discussed already endlessly, but am new to the Nano and iTunes.

I consider myself an audiophile with some serious home audio equipment, along with a decent CD/SACD collection. With my new Mac Mini 2.26 320gb HD, decided to import about 15 CDs to iTunes. Purchased a 5G Nano (16gb) and Klipsch Image S4 earbuds to go with. After synching the Nano from iTunes, started experimenting with the sound on the Nano.

Well, the default AAC 256kb VBR just doesn't cut it. Since I listen mostly to classical music, it was painfully apparent that the AAC files lose much of the ambience, soundstage, and multi-dimensionality. The music was flat, clipped, and uninteresting due to the huge amount of information loss.

Now I know the Nano is not really meant for high-end audio listening, but after converting the same iTunes files from AAC to Apple Lossless and re-syncing, the music on the Nano was actually listenable and enjoyable for the first time. Much of the soundstage returned.

So, my question is how many out there are using Apple Lossless on their iPods for the same reason? Even with the huge amount of space Apple Lossless takes on the Nano (16gb), I think about 30-40 CDs can be managed and stored there. Then when the time comes and the Nano fills up, the plan is to delete the files from the Nano and re-sync with a new set of Apple Lossless files from iTunes, as a way to rotate-in new music while keeping high quality sound.

Anyone doing it this way?

instead of using ALAC, i would suggest ripping in WAV because that keeps most if not all of the song info from the CD. if u plan on listening toa lot of lossless music, then perhaps a 64gb touch is the way to go. lost of space and big screen. the only gripe i have with this is, you can't change songs etc while it is in ur pocket. Bear in mind, to some people they find the sound quality of the ipods to be inferior to that of products from sony etc.

GermanSuplex
Dec 6, 2009, 06:04 PM
instead of using ALAC, i would suggest ripping in WAV because that keeps most if not all of the song info from the CD. if u plan on listening toa lot of lossless music, then perhaps a 64gb touch is the way to go. lost of space and big screen. the only gripe i have with this is, you can't change songs etc while it is in ur pocket. Bear in mind, to some people they find the sound quality of the ipods to be inferior to that of products from sony etc.

ALAC, in terms of sound quality, is equal to WAV.

ALAC, FLAC and other compressed lossless audio formats take the lossless audio like WAV or AIFF and compress them down in size, but not quality. When the file is played back all the original data is there.

ALAC is superior to me because it uses much less space and supports tagging right within iTunes. FLAC is great as well, but if you're using iTunes for most of your everyday pruposes, I suggest Apple Lossless.

Jolly Jimmy
Dec 7, 2009, 06:48 AM
instead of using ALAC, i would suggest ripping in WAV because that keeps most if not all of the song info from the CD

ALAC and WAV are both lossless formats, they are equal in quality. One cannot be more lossless than the other. The huge advantage for using ALAC over WAV or AIFF (for listening to music with iTunes) is the greatly reduced hard drive space files take up.

wywern209
Dec 7, 2009, 05:20 PM
ALAC, in terms of sound quality, is equal to WAV.

ALAC, FLAC and other compressed lossless audio formats take the lossless audio like WAV or AIFF and compress them down in size, but not quality. When the file is played back all the original data is there.

ALAC is superior to me because it uses much less space and supports tagging right within iTunes. FLAC is great as well, but if you're using iTunes for most of your everyday pruposes, I suggest Apple Lossless.

how is it possible for all the info to be there? because i ripped some ALAC stuff from CDs. i got like maybe 950kbps files. how is that comparable to the 1440kbps bitrate of WAV?

benlangdon
Dec 7, 2009, 06:23 PM
hey so where is there an abx test for music.
i tried finding one last night and could only find one for colors which was ridiculous.
it was like here are two colors, then i clicked to see the difference and on the rgb color scale like blue was two points higher than the other, which is impossible to tell.

i also read and agree with this statement though. if you take an abx test and the only difference between the two songs is at like 50 sec in and is like the sound of a tiny splash cymbal in the background its retarded to try and take an abx test. but if its continuous in quality loss its doable

jacjustjac
Dec 7, 2009, 09:51 PM
The answer is simple. The option to "Create xxx Version" is determined by your settings in iTunes' preferences.

If "Import Settings" in the "General" tab is set to "Import using: AAC Encoder", then when you right click a song, the option will say Create AAC Version.

If it is set to "Apple Lossless Encoder", then the right-click option will say Create Apple Lossless Version.

iTunes is not aware what encoder is Lossy or Lossless, it only provides an option to re-encode a file using the same format you have chosen for importing CDs.

Just wanted to clear this, up once and for all.

flopticalcube
Dec 7, 2009, 10:11 PM
how is it possible for all the info to be there? because i ripped some ALAC stuff from CDs. i got like maybe 950kbps files. how is that comparable to the 1440kbps bitrate of WAV?
Because its compressed. Compression, like a zip file, can be expanded to its original size on playback.