Is FLAC my best bet?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by summitRun, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. summitRun macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    #1
    Hey all - first post in this forum (I've read and searched a lot)

    I would like to rip my collection of about 100 CD's to a USB flash drive in some type of loseless format that would give me the best chance to use it across multiple device platforms...i.e. car audio w/USB support, PC, tablet etc. While I have a current gen MBA I dont like the idea of tying myself into iTunes long term

    Basically what I am asking...if you take Apple products out of the equation is FLAC the most universally accepted format among all the loseless formats out there? If not which would you suggest? I would like to do this once and be done with it and then deal with conversion as necessary for use with iTunes.

    Oh, and for ripping... XLD vs Max vs. RIP? No need to elaborate...just vote if you like one. Thanks much!
     
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #2
    How big is your USB flash memory thumb drive?
    64 GB? If so, even that can't hold 100s of CDs in a lossless format or even compressed format like MP3 using a low bit rate of 192 Kbps.

    Anyway, I ripped my CDs (300 or so) using iTunes and the MP3 codec with a bit rate of 256 to 320 Kbps.
    As I am not an audiophile, I can live what that.
     
  3. summitRun thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    #3
    Yeah, I have a 64 GB Drive. So far I have burned 3 discs for reference (Killers, Franz Ferdinand, 10k Maniacs) they were all between 275 and 400MB on ALAC. So I conservatively figured 400x100=40GB with 24 GB for new music. I'm assuming FLAC and ALAC would be similar in file size.

    I just thought it would be nice to have one little flash drive in a loseless format that I could take anywhere and box up my CD's for good
     
  4. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #4
    Okay, then my math was off, as I had FLACs using a bit rate of more around 900 Kbps in my head.
    And as you wrote "100s of CDs", I thought you really meant hundreds as in four, six, seven hundred or so.

    Anyway, I still don't know, if FLAC is the best format. You have to research, if your devices like the car radio and so on, actually read FLAC.
     
  5. Jolly Jimmy macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    #5
    FLAC is probably your best bet if you're looking for a wide range of compatibility. But then again ALAC is now open source so maybe more devices will be compatible in the future.

    simsaladimbamba, he did say "about 100 CD's" not "100s of CDs" ;).
     
  6. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #6
    Nooooooooooo, he did say 100s of ..., ahhh, yeah. My bad, as I was consumed with Yosemite. :eek:

    In that case, FLAC will work of course, storage space wise.
     
  7. summitRun thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    #7
    Thanks guys...my bold above. I want to *futureproof* this exercise so that it gives me the best chance now and 10 years from now. JJ I hope you are right and ALAC will become as universal as FLAC. What I'm trying to wrap my head around is if it would make more sense to have one master copy of FLAC or ALAC. Perhaps its six of one half dozen of another sort of thing as there will be work involved either way.
     
  8. buklau macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    #8
    You realize if you end up not liking it in FLAC or ALAC, you could just convert between the two? Ripping is the hardest part, after that, converting all of them between formats shouldn't take too long (it takes about 2-3 hours to convert 160GB of my FLAC to ALAC, and the size difference is negligible, we're talking less than 1GB of difference per every 100GB, but FLAC is ever so slightly smaller in general at level 8 compression). You can convert from FLAC to ALAC and vice versa a million times without losing data because they're both lossless. The only thing you have to watch out for is metadata support. Converting from FLAC to ALAC shouldn't change metadata (track information, order, album art) but if you convert to WAVE (also lossless) you will lose this metadata (but the music itself is still lossless!).

    Also, for greatest compatibility: neither. ALAC works great if you have all Apple devices (iPods play it, Quicktime and iTunes recognize it), but nothing (besides Linux distros and maybe some Android devices) plays FLAC out of the box. Usually it's really easy to install the codec to play it, but if we're talking flat out compatibility, the only thing almost universally accepted it WAVE (which is lossless, but isn't compressed and doesn't have support for metadata like album art).
     
  9. androiphone macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    #9
    I agree with buklau, it doesn't matter which format you choose as you can always convert to another format,
    I rip all my CDs to lossless and then create a copy in MP3 from the ALAC files, for my mp3 player and then another copy of my Mobile phone playlist in AAC for my phone.

    doing this means I have only ripped the CDs once, I can convert them to any format and it's the same as ripping straight from CD, and because I chose to use ALAC the metadata is preserved at any conversion and it is also much easier to backup with metadata in the file.
     
  10. rocknblogger macrumors 68020

    rocknblogger

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #10
    What do you use to batch convert FLAC to mp3?
     
  11. Jolly Jimmy macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    #11
    XLD is my go-to app for ripping and converting. By far the best IMO.
     
  12. rocknblogger macrumors 68020

    rocknblogger

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #12
    Thanks, I've been using Adobe's Soundstudio or whatever it's called but it's too cumbersome and is too clunky for quick conversions.
     
  13. summitRun thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    #13
    Thanks buklau...very informative. Did not realize (my bold above) that FLAC is not that broadly accepted. Installing a codec on a car audio system does not sound like it would be easy, for instance.

    Thanks for pointing this out esp. the last paragraph as I wondered if converting from FLAC/ALAC to say 256kb mp3/aac would lose quality. Good to know that I can do everything I want from the loseless file same as if it were the actual CD:cool:

    JJ - do you reccoment XLD over iTunes for ripping the master copy to my flash drive? Perhaps its better to familiarize myself with that program right from the get go as I may need it down the line for conversion to other file sizes. I think iTunes does this as well but I would like the program that gives me the best quality rip for the master. Maybe thats splitting hairs to a point I will never know the diff?

    Appreciate everyone's excellent advice ;) I am now thinking I will reverse course and rip everything to ALAC and convert as necessary. Even though I may not use Itunes long term it would be nice to have that compatibility out of the way and then deal with the other devices/formats as needed instead of the other way around.
     
  14. Jolly Jimmy macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    #14
    I mainly use iTunes for ripping actually. Some people swear by XLD for producing the most accurate rips. I'm not really that bothered - sometimes I use XLD, sometimes iTunes. But now you mention it, it may be worth doing some testing. I'll get back to you :D
     
  15. LostSoul80 macrumors 68020

    LostSoul80

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2009
    #15
    I'd go for FLAC, but that's because of personal taste.
    Just don't rip in mp3 unless you're ok with severe quality loss within years from now. Lossless is always the best bet to preserve your music.
     
  16. Jolly Jimmy macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    #16
    OK I did a small amount of testing. Using the default rip settings of both apps, both iTunes and XLD produced files of the exact same length. There was a difference of a few milliseconds between the first samples within each file (and subsequently the same amount between the last). When sample aligned they nulled 100% in a null test. Foobar2000's (on windows) bit compare tool returned a 100% result as well.

    So apart from the negligible difference in milliseconds between the first samples, the audio content was 100% identical.

    It may be worth repeating the tests with a few whole CDs and also comparing multiple rips by the same app, but until now it looks like iTunes is just as reliable as XLD for ripping. Maybe if I'm really bored :D.
     
  17. summitRun thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    #17
    Thanks JJ. I played around with XLD today and found similar results. The whole checking for pregaps thing threw me at first but I just unchecked that and got it rolling. The one major difference I noticed was XLD is slooooow...nearly twice as long as iTunes for ripping...and it ripped everything as individual tracks instead of to an album folder (with default settings). I checked the box to copy to the ITL but that didnt work for me. I'm on a current gen MBA 11/4/128 with a samsung ext. DVD drive. I didnt really notice any difference in sound quality from one method to the other nor from FLAC to ALAC to WAV...but I get thats a YMMV. Maybe as others have said XLD's strength is in conversion.

    Anyways its been a good learning experience. iTunes isnt as bad as I thought :)...so I'll prolly stay with it for this project...maybe then do a batch convert to FLAC for backup. Now if they would just start selling ALAC on the ITS...;)
     
  18. tablo13 macrumors 65816

    tablo13

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2010
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    #18
    I use EAC to rip CDs to FLAC. A lossless format with the most compatibility would most certainly be WAV. But as others said, just rip the CD lossless, then you can convert into any lossless/lossy format.
     
  19. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #19
    Make sure you're ripping with error checking (and secure, no use in lossless with errors in the rip) and this will slow your rips down to a crawl if your CDs aren't perfect.
     

Share This Page