Best FLAC player for hi-rez files?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Russell L, May 7, 2010.

  1. Russell L macrumors regular

    Russell L

    Aug 10, 2006
    San Francisco
    I'm looking for consensus (to the extent that's possible :D) on the best player on the Mac of FLAC files natively. I would be playing mostly hi-rez FLAC files at 96/24 or 192/24 and (for now) just listening via my MacBook Pro's headphone jack using high-quality headphones. Outputting to an external DAC connected to my audio system could be a possibility in the future.

    So far I've come across Songbird, Cog, Play, and VLC as possible candidates. What do you guys prefer?

    Or would I be better off converting the FLAC files to Apple Lossless and using iTunes? (But can it handle 96/24 or 192/24?)

    Thanks in advance.
  2. iclube macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    i would use sonos

    I have over 20k songs in iTunes and i love the easiness of itunes to work with especially when I play music in my bar. Recently I bought a new stereo set with a sonos wireless amplifier. I started to notice that the mp3 quality is not the best after comparing it with flac files played in VLC (works good). I also downloaded songbird but I feel this is confusing. Now I set up a flac directory and linked it directly to my sonos. Amazing sound, appears better that playing it via my Macbook on VLC. If you are not in to buy a new set I would just go for VLC as this is also a nice free player of almost all video types.

  3. FroColin macrumors regular

    Jun 4, 2008
    I use VLC. The player doesn't really matter. Most players are bit perfect it's really just preference. I use VLC cause I normally use iTunes and I only listen to flac when I really want to enjoy the music. So I don't mind the extra effort to find the songs and open them in VLC.
  4. neko girl macrumors 6502a

    neko girl

    Jan 20, 2011
    Why not convert to ALAC (use Max) and populate your iTunes library? The conversion process keeps your tags and filenames intact..
  5. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    ALAC only supports up to 16bit 44.1kHz audio (CD quality) which isn't exactly the greatest.

    CD is 'okay', but it's not exactly superb. I'm listening to Neil Young's 'Harvest' off DVD-A as we speak (24bit 96kHz) and it sounds simply so much more organic than the CD overall - just less wearing on the ears and more effortless. The top end (for example the harmonica on 'Out On The Weekend') is much more musical too...

    For hi-res audio, Cog works well, as does VLC. Cog is a little more 'library-friendly' in that it allows you to have a library folder browser in a sidebar (I keep my collection on an external HD).

    Just don't mess with the volume control (the default volume is bit-perfect, as soon as you adjust it it starts to scale the audio). Also, make sure you set your sample rate correctly when playing music. Simply having it higher than the music isn't ideal, the system sample rate should be the same as the music you're listening to.

    Of course, completely wasted if you're not listening back on a good DAC/analog volume control (not the built in Mac one!), good speakers positioned properly in a good space or on good headphones...
  6. Jolly Jimmy macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Dec 13, 2007
    This isn't true. I regularly use 24bit 48kHz ALAC files and have used up to 96kHz in the past.
  7. Reddall macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2011
    Missing cog

    After months of struggling to understand why itunes sounds so rubbish through my set up (imac, Arcam rdac, Arcam a28, MA RX2) I've just stumbled across COG! It's brilliant! The level of detail, and tonal range has improved dramatically. For the simple task of dragging playlists from itunes, this is a great program! What is it that makes the output so much clearer than itunes? And why don't Apple have this sound quality issue nailed yet? The net's littered with people looking for an alternative player to support HiFi. Anyway, anybody struggling with itunes piss poor sound quality should give Cog a whirl!..... Cheers
  8. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    There is no sound quality problem with iTunes. Set the volume to max and it's a bit-perfect replication of your music. You can't get better than that.
  9. dj-anon macrumors member


    Mar 23, 2011
    Yes it can. Use xACT to convert the files.
  10. sebogdan macrumors newbie


    Feb 2, 2016
  11. Uofmtiger macrumors 68000


    Dec 11, 2010
    I have used Fidelia for FLAC and their headphone controls. However, I agree with others that say just to convert them to ALAC and use iTunes. I think, if I remember correctly, the I used an app called XLD for that. Another option is JRiver. Of course, JRiver and Fidelia cost money.
  12. bigpoppamac31 macrumors 68020

    Aug 16, 2007
    Do you mean the volume level in iTunes or the OSX system volume?
  13. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2013
    If system sounds are in the mix of the music, it's not bitperfect.
  14. MrAverigeUser, Feb 6, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016

    MrAverigeUser macrumors 6502a


    May 20, 2015
    quality of music reproduction is also a question of D/A converting chipset (DAC) used….

    BUT: the best way to better sound quality will be to use best loudspeakers/ room acoustics at home and a decent pair of in-ears when you´re out of home.
    For example good sennheiser ones, IE800 being one of the best you can get at the moment.
    But there are also decent ones that are less expensive...
  15. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007

    Or if you're watching YouTube cookery lessons at the same time...
  16. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2013
    To me, bitperfect is overrated. As long as you send the same bit depth and sample rate, it would be extremely hard or it's just confirmation bias to tell the difference between bitperfect and that one that goes to a "mixer".
  17. Stella Martin Suspended

    Nov 5, 2014
    Irvine, CA
  18. Ursadorable macrumors 6502


    Jul 9, 2013
    The Frozen North
    I've been having fantastic experiences with Audirvana Plus thus far. It can be used as a iTunes output, or standalone (for FLAC albums)
  19. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    According to my quick google search, the MacBook Pro's from 2013+ have 24bit/192kHz capability. So as long as the software (player) can interpret the file itself, then the data gets passed on to the DAC which is what you would actually be concerned about.

    Apple Lossless *can* support higher then 48/16, but I do not think you can use iTunes to rip better then that. You would need an external ripper/encoder program to create the files and then you can import them back into iTunes to play back.
  20. Fancuku macrumors 6502a


    Oct 8, 2015
    PA, USA
    But iTunes can't handle all the necessary bits that we audiophiles need! Duh!
    We can't have that. We need moar bits! 32/256 or gtfo!

  21. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2013
    It's a known fact that mastering audio is the actual factor that determines sound quality and the difference between 16/44.1 and 24/88.2 or higher is non-existent unless you have bat ears.

    When it comes to buying hi-fi sound cards, I don't look at how many formats and bits and sample rates that equipment can support. I look at the DAC implementation since that tells you roughly if the sound will suck or sound great.
  22. Fancuku macrumors 6502a


    Oct 8, 2015
    PA, USA

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