FLAC to ALAC and Backing up my Music

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by photogpab, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. photogpab macrumors 6502


    Jun 21, 2010
    About a year ago I decided I wanted to create a "digital backup" of all my CDs so I could put the physical CD's in storage. At the time I backed up over 1,000 CDs in FLAC format, stored those on an external hard drive. Since they don't work with iTunes I also transcoded everything to AAC 256kbps so that I could have THOSE copies on iTunes and keep the FLACs as just a backup.

    Now I find myself wanting to have everything Lossless, all in one place (iTunes). Not FLAC + AAC... Just have everything ALAC, in one place, on my iTunes, etc...

    so I've been converting all my FLAC files to ALAC, but, and maybe this is me being crazy, despite the fact that everyone says the audio quality will be the same (remain lossless), I feel like the Apple Lossless files dont sound as good as the FLAC files.

    I know that doesn't make any sense, and maybe my ears are playing tricks on me. FLAC to ALAC should be the same right? No loss in audio quality...

    I took one of my FLAC albums and converted it to ALAC. I then pulled the actual physical CD out of storage and ripped it with iTunes directly as ALAC...

    when I play the "FLAC to ALAC" version, it sounds a little distorted to my ears... but when I play the version I ripped directly off the CD in ALAC thru iTunes, it sounds great! perfect.

    Also, the bitrates are different from one copy to the other... should they be the same? whether i grabbed it from the FLAC or ripped it from the CD as ALAC?

    I'm no audiophile so maybe I'm just crazy... anyone offer some help? I want to convert everything from FLAC to ALAC, but I want to make sure I will be retaining perfect "CD Quality".
  2. Jolly Jimmy macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Dec 13, 2007
    There shouldn't be any difference between the 2. If you think you're ears may be playing tricks on you, this can easily be verified with some ABX testing. Or you could import both versions into a DAW like Audacity or Logic so they play perfectly side by side, then invert the polarity on one of the tracks. If they are indeed exactly the same, they will cancel each other out, resulting in complete silence.
  3. photogpab thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 21, 2010
    yikes, you just said a whole lotta' confusing stuff... haha. i guess i'l trust that my ears are playing tricks on me. and the FLAC to ALAC files are fine. haha.
  4. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    There is zero difference in quality between FLAC and ALAC, as both are lossless codecs.
  5. ChrisA, Nov 14, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    What software are you using? The statment that CDs and FLAC and ALAC are the same is true ONLY if the sofware does the conversion correctly.

    What you need to do is test your setup. Make a round trip conversion from CD to FLAC and then back to CD and then compare bit-by-bit the two CDs. Don't listen look at the data.

    You can also go FLAC to ALAC to FLAC to verify the conversons. Again, look at the data.

    At some place in your chain the conversion was done wrong and it was not lossless. What happens is some software guy does not get it right and does something studpid, or exspedient like plays the song through the system and re-digitizes (like running a cable fro line-out to line-in, but only internally) it so you might even have an analog segment in the loop. Who knows but the round-trip test will find it if it is there

    Also listening tests when you know what's in the signal chain are very unreliable. Audiophiles (audiophools?) can trick them selves into thinking exotic speaker wire has some effect because they forget (1) what they learned in their statistics class about a sample size of one and (2) how unreliable non-blind tests are. But looks at bits is 100% reliable

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