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View Full Version : If ALE/ALAC just as good as AIFF, why use AIFF??




Luba
Feb 27, 2010, 04:12 PM
Currently, I have all my music in Apple Lossless Encoder (ALE/ALAC), and now that I have a much bigger hard drive, I was thinking of encoding new CDs using AIFF. What advantages, if any, to encode new music with AIFF?

I do use Final Cut Pro which likes the music in AIFF or WAV, but then I read ALE/ALAC supports using tags while AIFF doesn't?? What are tags, another word for metadata? I do like adding notes, album cover art, lyrics to my music. Are those things considered "tags?" I thought they were called metadata.



Penguissimo
Feb 28, 2010, 07:05 PM
Currently, I have all my music in Apple Lossless Encoder (ALE/ALAC), and now that I have a much bigger hard drive, I was thinking of encoding new CDs using AIFF. What advantages, if any, to encode new music with AIFF?

I do use Final Cut Pro which likes the music in AIFF or WAV, but then I read ALE/ALAC supports using tags while AIFF doesn't?? What are tags, another word for metadata? I do like adding notes, album cover art, lyrics to my music. Are those things considered "tags?" I thought they were called metadata.

For listening purposes, AIFF and WAV have no advantage over ALAC. Apple Lossless is exactly that: lossless. It is physically impossible for an Apple Lossless file to sound any different than an AIFF of the same track unless something went wrong during the encoding. And you can usually cut the file size by roughly half by encoding it into Apple Lossless!

One reason video and editing programs prefer formats such as WAV or AIFF is that these formats require less processing power to decode, and in programs like Final Cut Pro or Pro Tools, you want all the processing power available that you can get. I believe there are other potential issues (such as timing), but I don't have the expertise to say for sure. And none of this is a problem in iTunes on any even remotely modern computer, since you're only dealing with one track at a time.

Also, "metadata" is a collective term for information about a file. It includes the "tags" such as album and artist names, cover art, lyrics, and whatnot, but it also includes things such as file creation/modification date. In other words, all tags are metadata, but not all metadata are tags :)

And AIFF supports a few tags (artist, album, and track number, and I believe a few others), but I'm pretty sure you can't embed artwork into AIFF files. Not sure about lyrics.

scottlinux
Feb 28, 2010, 09:49 PM
No advantages and I'm not sure what you are trying to do.

aiff is just raw audio. you don't 'encode' in aiff. :)

People editing video/audio keep the audio in aif or wav to work with. It is the original source material.

If all of these things are foreign to you you are probably better off just ripping your music with iTunes and AAC.

ChrisA
Mar 1, 2010, 09:49 AM
Currently, I have all my music in Apple Lossless Encoder (ALE/ALAC), and now that I have a much bigger hard drive, I was thinking of encoding new CDs using AIFF. What advantages, if any, to encode new music with AIFF?

No reason at all to use AIFF. The sound is no different. If in the future you need a file in AIFF format you can convert it. There is no loss in quality when you convert between lossless formats. So just create the AIFF if ever you need it.

Not only does Apple Lossess save space on the disk but it save disk I/O on playback

PrinceAvalon
Mar 1, 2010, 10:29 AM
Well... as others have said there is no inherent benefit to AIFF over ALE/ALAC if you rip a CD.

AIFF or WAV are the professional uncompressed or "RAW" audio standards most studios use for music or movie production.

uncompressed overall IS in fact superior to lossless depending on what the quality of the source is......

I don't know anyone that does this but if you take an mp3 or AAC file @ 320kbps you can use a lossless codec so if you re-encode it it won't lose anymore data than that source.... but they typically aren't used that way. In this case, lossless isn't superior or "just as good" as uncompressed audio. If you were to rip a CD which uses WAV-ADPCM; a cousin of LPCM, audio and rip using FLAC, ALAC etc then it will be AS good cause those algorithms purportedly lose no data at all and they're mathematically lossless or 1:1 bit for bit identical to the source but for mastering purposes uncompressed is used as it's the best fidelity to clean or tweak anything out that shouldn't be in the track.

The lossless formats are still compression but use such a precise and strong algorithm that as I said it is said to be bit for bit identical and not drop data randomly as the compressed lossy formats tend to do.....

KeithPratt
Mar 1, 2010, 10:52 AM
If all of these things are foreign to you you are probably better off just ripping your music with iTunes and AAC.

Nice bit of condescension there.

aiff is just raw audio. you don't 'encode' in aiff.

Not sure what your point was meant to be, but if I record some vocals in Logic, am I not encoding to an AIFF?

uncompressed overall IS in fact superior to lossless depending on what the quality of the source is......

I don't know anyone that does this but if you take an mp3 or AAC file @ 320kbps you can use a lossless codec so if you re-encode it it won't lose anymore data than that source.... but they typically aren't used that way. In this case, lossless isn't superior or "just as good" as uncompressed audio.

Yes it is. A lossless transcode of a 320kbps MP3 would be just as good as an uncompressed transcode. The ALAC, AIFF and MP3 would all be identical sonically.

sth
Mar 1, 2010, 01:16 PM
AIFF is a lossless format
-> A very old and very simple one - it's more or less just the RAW audio dumped to a file

ALAC is a lossless format
-> A newer, more sophisticated one, so the audio data doesn't need as much space, but it also needs CPU-power to en- an decode and it isn't as widely supported

But nevertheless, both formats are lossless, which means you can transcode between them without losing a single bit of data. There is no "acoustic" advantage of one over the other.


Clarification: Compared to AIFF/ALAC, codecs like MP3/OGG/WMA/AAC etc. are NOT lossless, no matter how high the bitrate. You'll probably not hear a difference at a high bitrate but the audio data is altered nevertheless. It's not possible to get back your original audio data byte-for-byte afterwards, whereas with AIFF/ALAC you can.

PrinceAvalon
Mar 1, 2010, 01:21 PM
Uh NO... what I was saying was if you professionally made an uncompressed RAW PCM audio track w/ professional equipment then use "lossless" codecs to convert an mp3 @ 320 then it will only be as good as the 320kbps mp3 was so it will retain the flaws and loss in data the mp3 has.

I was using that to say there are differences between professionally recorded RAW audio with AIFF or WAV PCM versus "lossless"

AIFF OR WAV if recorded right are leaps and bounds superior to lossless codecs, lossless CAN be as good as uncompressed if the source you are ripping or encoding from is uncompressed or real RAW audio but lossless is only as good as the source you feed it....

And an mp3 even @ 320kbps will have holes and loss of data from the algorithm of compression that standard uses.... so even if you take ALAC and re-encode it it won't suddenly be as pristine and sonically pleasing as a real TRUE raw audio track from professional equipment....

Penguissimo
Mar 1, 2010, 02:53 PM
Uh NO... what I was saying was if you professionally made an uncompressed RAW PCM audio track w/ professional equipment then use "lossless" codecs to convert an mp3 @ 320 then it will only be as good as the 320kbps mp3 was so it will retain the flaws and loss in data the mp3 has.

I was using that to say there are differences between professionally recorded RAW audio with AIFF or WAV PCM versus "lossless"

AIFF OR WAV if recorded right are leaps and bounds superior to lossless codecs, lossless CAN be as good as uncompressed if the source you are ripping or encoding from is uncompressed or real RAW audio but lossless is only as good as the source you feed it....

And an mp3 even @ 320kbps will have holes and loss of data from the algorithm of compression that standard uses.... so even if you take ALAC and re-encode it it won't suddenly be as pristine and sonically pleasing as a real TRUE raw audio track from professional equipment....

This is true, but it is largely irrelevant to this thread since the OP was talking about ripping from the original CDs.

And what you say is completely true of AIFF/WAV, as well—transcoding an MP3 into AIFF will result in a file that only sounds as good as the original MP3. I'm not sure why you put "lossless" in quotes here, unless you believe that the main source of lossless files is transcoding MP3s. While this is certainly something that people have asked about and even tried, it has no bearing on this thread, and it only adds confusion, since you imply that there's some kind of difference between AIFF/WAV and ALAC in this regard.

Encoding AIFF/WAV files into Apple Lossless will result in no loss of quality. If you're ripping from the original CD, you can go back and forth between AIFF/WAV and ALAC as much as you want and never lose a bit. It's only once you introduce lossy compression such as MP3—which, again, nobody in this thread is suggesting—that you lose quality.

PrinceAvalon
Mar 1, 2010, 03:16 PM
^^

Yeah those quotes were my bad lol.

But yeah I agree and even said from the OP point of view that if you rip a CD there is no difference in AIFF, WAV, ALAC, FLAC etc.... between them since you're ripping a CD which uses very high quality AD-PCM WAV audio to begin with.

And then I was just I guess slightly educating people that there is a difference between uncompressed; AIFF and WAV, and lossless; ALAC and FLAC etc. The difference would be apparent if you re-encoded an mp3; even a 320kbps one, into ALAC as lossless is only as good as its source so it'll therefore be the same as the mp3 and have all the same flaws and lost data.... but if you encode a CD from a higher quality or uncompressed file with lossless codecs then it WILL be the same as uncompressed files... hence the term lossless lol.

But unless people are recording professional tracks; making music CDs or making Hollywood productions AIFF and WAV are not necessary as that's what they prefer and use; either AIFF or WAV LPCM based standards... the lossless are fine for archiving CDs since they are still compression but there is no data loss whatsoever so it's identical completely to the original as we don't need a 300MB file for song or whatever RAW audio would render, 30-50MB is enough space lol... then again I suppose it wouldn't matter in my case.... Although for whatever purposes using audio converters AIFF and WAV seem to be slightly higher in size than ALAC but if you use them the way they're designed and w specific equipment RAW uncompressed audio is WAY larger a file size than 30-50MB a song.

I have 2 1TB internal drives a 2TB external eSATA and 6TB NAS OOPS lol.

Penguissimo
Mar 1, 2010, 03:25 PM
^^

Yeah those quotes were my bad lol.

But yeah I agree and even said from the OP point of view that if you rip a CD there is no difference in AIFF, WAV, ALAC, FLAC etc.... between them since you're ripping a CD which uses very high quality AD-PCM WAV audio to begin with.

This is true, and I'm glad we agree :)

And then I was just I guess slightly educating people that there is a difference between uncompressed; AIFF and WAV, and lossless; ALAC and FLAC etc. The difference would be apparent if you re-encoded an mp3; even a 320kbps one, into ALAC as lossless is only as good as its source so it'll therefore be the same as the mp3 and have all the same flaws and lost data....

But there isn't an inherent quality difference between AIFF/WAV and ALAC/FLAC! I'm not sure why you think this "re-encoding an MP3 using Apple Lossless won't add quality" thing has any relevance to this situation. The quality loss in this scenario you keep outlining isn't a product of ALAC; it's a product of the fact that your original source is an MP3. AIFF is also "only as good as its source"; if you re-encoded the same MP3 file as AIFF, it would still have the same flaws! There is absolutely no functional difference among lossless formats in this regard.

but if you encode a CD from a higher quality or uncompressed file with lossless codecs then it WILL be the same as uncompressed files... hence the term lossless lol.

Again, spot on! You seem to understand this well enough that I'm not sure why you feel there's any sort of quality-related distinction between losslessly compressed and raw PCM audio files.

PrinceAvalon
Mar 1, 2010, 03:32 PM
Man, I wasn't trying to start a war...

Sometimes I rant about stuff.. blame it on being a tech geek lol.

That's what the whole... "I felt like I was educating people" thing was about explaining why I brought it up and it was just a rant. I'm sure a few can tell there is no real point as per the OP's post lol....

Like I said just a rant lol.

Studios themselves use AIFF/WAV cause it's the "standard" but yes nothing would be lost if they decided to use ALAC or FLAC as their mastering standard but I don't think that's happened yet or will; not anytime soon mind you.

Penguissimo
Mar 1, 2010, 03:39 PM
Man, I wasn't trying to start a war...

Sometimes I rant about stuff.. blame it on being a tech geek lol.

That's what the whole... "I felt like I was educating people" thing was about explaining why I brought it up and it was just a rant. I'm sure a few can tell there is no real point as per the OP's post lol....

Like I said just a rant lol.

Studios themselves use AIFF/WAV cause it's the "standard" but yes nothing would be lost if they decided to use ALAC or FLAC as their mastering standard but I don't think that's happened yet or will; not anytime soon mind you.

No war, just a friendly discussion :) I'm genuinely curious as to where the "transcoding from an MP3" thing comes from, though. As far as I can tell, what you say is completely true of AIFF as well. Is there something I'm missing?

And I have a feeling that studios will be sticking with uncompressed formats for the foreseeable future....storage is a lot cheaper than processing time, after all ;)

PrinceAvalon
Mar 1, 2010, 03:51 PM
Okay.. just wanted to make sure this wasn't gonna turn into a war, sometimes it's hard to tell.

As for the mp3 thing... believe it or not I know people who use lossless that way to re-encode an mp3 320 or aac 320 to ALAC cause they're under the belief it'll sound better like an upsampling trick for video but.... sad to say... lol

I go first, that's not how those codecs work lol all it'll do is retain the exact quality the mp3 320 was in but be a larger file so there is no point to the process of re-encoding.

But yes if one uses lossless formats as they were intended and you rip a CD or album then it'll be just as the original or source was/is in quality. They were popular among audiophiles for wanting superior audio and to archive their collection instead of inserting a crap ton of CDs or LPs you have them all backed up for ease of access. When CDs came out and wowed the world with the audio quality people wanted that beautiful sound but wanted it in a digital easier to use format like mp3s and lossless codecs were the god send to audiophiles lol.

AS for AIFF v WAV... I can't tell any difference even under all the tests me and a friend did and it's more or less like ALAC v FLAC but on the studio's or professionals end lol. It's more or less preference and Windows/MS adopted the WAV standard and Apple AIFF but they support WAV too.

WAV is based off LPCM analog/digital standards of recording/mastering audio I'm not fully sure what AIFF is based from.. it may be LPCM too but the difference is negligible and most studios; movie and music recording, seem to record via some PCM derivative whether WAV, AD-PCM, LPCM or what have you.

PrinceAvalon
Mar 1, 2010, 06:19 PM
Good thing I sometimes re-read my posts. I noticed a "contradiction"

It's in quotes cause as my posts are written it contradicts between the two but that was a typo lol.

One of my earlier posts said I don't know anyone that uses.... ALAC to re-encode from an Mp3 but later said I did... that earlier post should have said... I don't know WHY anyone does this..

It was basically supposed to read...

I don't know why anyone does this, but you can take an mp3 or aac file at 320kbps and re-encode it with a lossless codec and it won't lose any data in the process of re-encoding.

Brain fart lol.

The second statement is true... I do know people that do that but why who knows lol....

Luba
Mar 1, 2010, 06:47 PM
Thanks everybody, I read through the entire thread and I am glad even though I have the HD space I don't need to rip it to AIFF, and save space and still maintain the same exact quality with ALAC. And with ALAC I can have more types of metadata attached to the file which is a plus if I ever wanted to attach more metadata. :)

When I transferred my library from a PC to Mac, I noticed some of the album cover art changed, before it would fill the entire icon or fill the entire "album window" when iTunes is playing the album. Any idea why that happened? I haven't checked, but I hope nothing changed with the custom track names I put in.

I read somewhere, although it's costly, like $40, for an app that's better than iTunes in finding cover album art. A good part of my music collection is not mainstream top 40 stuff.

For listening purposes, AIFF and WAV have no advantage over ALAC. Apple Lossless is exactly that: lossless. It is physically impossible for an Apple Lossless file to sound any different than an AIFF of the same track unless something went wrong during the encoding. And you can usually cut the file size by roughly half by encoding it into Apple Lossless!

One reason video and editing programs prefer formats such as WAV or AIFF is that these formats require less processing power to decode, and in programs like Final Cut Pro or Pro Tools, you want all the processing power available that you can get. I believe there are other potential issues (such as timing), but I don't have the expertise to say for sure. And none of this is a problem in iTunes on any even remotely modern computer, since you're only dealing with one track at a time.

Also, "metadata" is a collective term for information about a file. It includes the "tags" such as album and artist names, cover art, lyrics, and whatnot, but it also includes things such as file creation/modification date. In other words, all tags are metadata, but not all metadata are tags :)

And AIFF supports a few tags (artist, album, and track number, and I believe a few others), but I'm pretty sure you can't embed artwork into AIFF files. Not sure about lyrics.

Carmageddon
Mar 1, 2010, 08:27 PM
Get Audacity and you can save in pretty much whichever file type you want.

scottlinux
Mar 1, 2010, 11:22 PM
Nice bit of condescension there.


Sorry that came out wrong, perhaps. It was an honest thought and suggestion! :)


Not sure what your point was meant to be, but if I record some vocals in Logic, am I not encoding to an AIFF?


You can set it to record to aiff or wav in the preferences. Logic and other similar programs write directly to that file format onto the hard drive. So that is the raw source - nothing is being encoded.

Encoding is taking something and transcoding it to another format, I guess you could say. ?

I guess it depends on how you define encode.

Comma
Mar 2, 2010, 12:07 AM
For Pro Apps, they still need to "Decode" ALE/ALAC/FLAC. Whilst it may be still Lossless, we all know that as someone said above that processing power is more expensive than hard drive space.

Furthermore, a typical track of mine has:
8-12 Drum Tracks
2-4 Vocal Tracks
4-6 Guitar Tracks
2-4 Bass Tracks
8-12 Sample/Synth/Keyboard Tracks
Do I really want to be decoding 24-38 tracks whilst trying to apply process heavy effects such as reverb and delay to them in real time? (The answer is no).

KeithPratt
Mar 2, 2010, 10:25 AM
Encoding is taking something and transcoding it to another format, I guess you could say. ?

I guess it depends on how you define encode.

I use "transcoding" to describe going from one coded format to another.

I've always thought of encoding as coding something to a digital language. So whilst in this example the encoding would be done in the AD converter, I think it'd be perfectly acceptable to say "encoding to AIFF" because the digital audio has to be put and saved in something to make it useable.

Penguissimo
Mar 8, 2010, 11:54 AM
Sorry for digging this up again, but I thought of a good analogy for ALAC vs AIFF (and why studios don't use ALAC/FLAC) and had to share it right away :)

It helps to think of ALAC/FLAC as being like a ZIP file. You don't lose any information by compressing using the format, but it does take processor power to decode (or unzip). Lossless codecs are efficient enough and modern computers fast enough that iTunes/Winamp/whatever can do this decoding on the fly while playing a file (likely without you noticing), but you ARE using ever so slightly more processor power than you would to play a WAV or AIFF.

Now, scale this up to Comma's session file with a few dozen tracks, including tons of effects, plugins, virtual instruments, etc. When you have to decode (unzip) 24 files at the same time, that tiny extra bit of processing power starts to add up. You're starting to devote a good chunk of your available CPU cycles just to decoding the audio in your session. In a serious studio situation like this, you need every cycle you can get your hands on for processing effects and virtual instruments. At this point it's FAR more worth your while to just buy an extra few hard drives to store the slightly larger uncompressed WAV/AIFF files. ;)

So, barring an exponential increase in either processing power or hard drive cost, we won't be seeing lossless compression in use by studios any time soon :)