Apple Lossless vs. WAV Formats

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by voxnj, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. voxnj macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2008
    Dark Side of the Moon
    I have a high end audio set up that I am feeding with my I Tunes library. Most of my library is currently WAV format. I've read several comments (including those on this forum) that suggest Apple Lossless is every bit as good as wav (no pun intended, I guess).

    Does anyone have a a technical comparison of the two formats (either comments or hyperlinks)?

    As background: I feed digital output from my Mac Pro to my Mark Levinson 390S (CD and DAC), which in turn feeds my Balanced Audio Technology VK200 Amp and Aerial Speakers. Much of my CD library is Mofi or other audiophile remastered recordings (and, yes I can tell the difference).

    I'd appreciate your comments and advise.
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    They're both lossless formats. There really isn't any difference in terms of quality, assuming you rip the WAV at the native CD quality. The only real difference between WAV and Apple Lossless is that lossless uses non-lossy compression (as opposed to lossy compression... as a basic example, a ZIP file is a non-lossy compression -- the file comes out exactly like it went in; an MP3 is a lossy compression), so the file is smaller. Otherwise, as long as your hardware can play the file, it doesn't really matter. And you can convert between lossless formats without loss of quality.

    I'd use Apple Lossless merely because the files are somewhat smaller, personally, unless I had apps or hardware that didn't support the format, in which case WAV is just fine. Probably no huge point in converting your WAV files though.
  3. voxnj thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2008
    Dark Side of the Moon
    Mohan, Thanks!

    Other comments are also welcome.
  4. SigmundFraud macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2007
    phase inversion test

    About 6 months ago a poster here phase inverted the output of Apple Lossless and mixed it with the wav output of the same source material, achieving perfect cancellation. I guess this just proved that Apple are telling the truth, but it was reassuring.
  5. DJJONES macrumors 6502

    Mar 9, 2008
    Newengland usa!
    if u want the best quality and have space just go all wav.

    im not saying wav is better but it surely is the standard.
    i usually rip all my stuff as wav

    if i were u i wouldnt trust the digital out of a macpro or any computer.
    i would trust the digital out of a interface without a doubt.
  6. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    They are both exactly the same quality. There is absolutely no difference between them at all. The only difference is that Apple Lossless files are generally smaller and thus better in the long run.
  7. Sesshi macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    I feed FLAC (thru an external sound module + clock) to a dCS DAC - I have no problems with it. In my experience ALAC as a file format is no different in terms of achieving proper Lossless performance.
  8. voxnj thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2008
    Dark Side of the Moon
  9. AviationFan macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    For me, the only reason I can see to favor the larger WAV files is portability. Uncompressed WAV and AIFF can be read by pretty much anything that you can feed audio into. If that's not a concern, then go with Apple Lossless and enjoy the extra free space on your hard drive! :) Like others have said, there is no difference between the sound quality.

    - Martin
  10. Galley macrumors 65816


    Mar 24, 2008
  11. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    ... or self-contained album art, although AIFF does.

    Still, Apple Lossless is by far the way to go for listening to music...

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