AIFF vs Apple Lossless Ripping


I have a large music collection that I have ripped using Apple Lossless and error correction turned on. I have recently seen several postings saying that AIFF (with error correction turned on)is the way to go. Would anyone care to address the superiority of AIFF vs Lossless, and if possible, explain why one would potentially be better than the other? And, if AIFF results in a larger file, approximately how much larger (percentage). I'm trying to decide if it's worthwhile to re-rip a 1400 cd collection.
rabco
It's not worth the effort to re-rip. Apple Lossless is supposed to be sonically equal to AIFF, although some golden ears report very slight to slight differences. Other respected listeners report no differences that they can discern. An Apple Loseless file is somewhere around 50-60% the size of the equivalent AIFF file.

I ripped my files using AIFF because I couldn't find a compelling reason to do otherwise.
Thanks, Onhwy61.
I thought I had researched this several years ago, and the prevailing opinion seemed to be no aural difference. I probably have the storage space available.....but it took me about 3 months to re-rip the last time I did, eliminating mp3's & converting everything to Lossless.
One downside, I suppose, altho for me not completely overiding, is it would result in fewer songs on my Nano, due to file size.....
Rabco, you can simple convert the Lossless back to AIFF without loss (no need to re-rip your collection). You could try re-ripping a few and try a checksum on the file and it should be identical.

Most of the differences (if at all) between AIFF and Lossless seem to come from the on the fly conversion from Lossless into PCM on streaming a file, the additional noise introduced etc.
Restock,
Probably no theoretical advantage in converting Lossless to AIFF, as the source material done first in AIFF would be a larger file (more "information", audible or not).
If the missing data made a difference I could hear (an improvement), I'd consider re-ripping the collection. It certainly wouldn't be the first time!
Rabco, If there is no theoretical advantage in converting, why do you think AIFF files have more information?
Sidssp,
I was under the impression that ripping a cd into AIFF results in a larger data file (more information), than ripping a cd into Lossless. Smaller file, less information, despite the Lossless name.

I wasn't sure I understood why you would want to convert Lossless (smaller file) into a "larger" file format--AIFF.

Seems to me if you're going to do anything, it's get the larger file in the first place, if its really sonically superior.

Or am I confused and don't know it? ;-)
I am not a respected listener - I make no claims to golden ears at all.

I have tested redbook CD versus Apple Lossless (burned from said CD with error correction on) using a Toslink remote switcher (so without getting up from the listening chair).

I could not hear a difference - I tested about 30 tracks various types of music. I was using iTunes 9.01 - obviously a bug in a certain version of iTunes might cause errors - so my comments only apply to the version I tested and on a Mac Mini using Leopard latest operating system (but not Snow Leopard).
AIFF files do not have "more information" than lossless, there is no "missing information" in a lossless file, hence the name lossless. The data is there, it just compressed similar to a zipped data file. As stated, you can convert back and forth with no loss or errors.

Some people claim they can hear a difference and attribute this to the process of decoding the lossless file as the music is playing. I agree you should convert some and give it a listen to decide whether it is worth the effort.
Probably no theoretical advantage in converting Lossless to AIFF, as the source material done first in AIFF would be a larger file (more "information", audible or not).
If the missing data made a difference I could hear (an improvement), I'd consider re-ripping the collection. It certainly wouldn't be the first time!

As Herman stated - there is no missing information. Think of it as compacing something in a zip file and then unzipping it. You could compare the unzipped file to the original bit for bit and not find a difference.

Anyway, if you go over to Computerasylum you will find many comments from people that did find a difference and pretty much everyone is attributing it to the real time unzipping as the data send do your DAC is in PCM format. For WAV/AIFF there is no conversion at all, so no additional processes when playing, thus a possible advantage.

Nevertheless for your stored files you can simply convert the files back from Lossless to AIFF and it should be identical to an original AIFF file if you compare bit for bit.
I have always wondered about the file differences. I have used AppleLossless because it was suggested here, but, what about WAV or FLAC files? Are they any better than the AIFF or AppleLossless?

I am about to start digitizing my vinyl and I am wondering what files will have the best fidelity, or do I just do it all AppleLossless as I have my CD's?

good string, btw, excellent info.
If in doubt stick to AIFF or WAVs when ripping. Then you will be able to rest peacefully. These days hard drives are large and cheap so why bother with the compression process?

If you want to fit more on your ipod, why not open a folder and put compressed versions in there?

The advantage of AIFF over WAV on a mac is that it keeps the meta data safe. Otherwise they both sound the same as long as the sample rate is correct.
The advantage of AIFF over WAV on a mac is that it keeps the meta data safe. Otherwise they both sound the same as long as the sample rate is correct.

This is a good point and cannot be stressed enough. I would strongly encourage choosing AIFF over WAV on a Mac, based on my own experiences. You will save yourself a whole lot of hassles in the long run, especially if you ever need to restore your files, copy files, or want to add artwork to your existing files.

As far as which is superior...let your own ears be the judge. I have heard differences in file types, especially when comparing files ripped in EAC to those ripped in iTunes (the former sounded better and I could pick it out blind repeatedly). Can't explain it. Don't give a rats ass whether it's bit-for-bit identical - the two files sounded different to me, and that's what matters to me. Alas, I don't use a PC thought so I still rip to AIFF in iTunes. To determine whether you can hear any differences yourself, and if those differences mean enough to you to convert your files, I'd suggest you make your own judgments rather than relying on the ears of others. Try it on a few of your favorite files and do some listening. You might save yourself a whole lot of time converting.
Jax2 - Equivalent of EAC for Mac is "MAX". I set mine to "do not allow skipping" and it reads music disk as data disk - bit by bit. It converts any format to any format. It even allows to download album's cover.

I send music from MacMini to Benchmark DAC1 using Airport Express and cannot hear any difference between AIFF and Apple Lossless.
One reason you may not hear a difference is that the Mac sends everything to the Airport as Apple Lossless. It converts the AIFF file to lossless and then the AE converts it back to SPDIF for your Dac. There is also a fair amount of jitter coming from the AE which might mask differences if there actually are any.
Herman - Thanks, I didn't know that. As for the jitter Benchmark is practically jitter immune.
Herman said:
Some people claim they can hear a difference and attribute this to the process of decoding the lossless file as the music is playing. I agree you should convert some and give it a listen to decide whether it is worth the effort.

Thanks, Herman. I suspected there was something I wasn't understanding. I believe some A-B'ing is in order.

I have seen plenty of claims made for FLAC as being superior, but to my knowledge, there are ease of use issues when trying to use FLAC files with iTunes. Is there an easy way to do FLAC files with iTunes, and if so, would it be worth the time to re-rip the collection?
Rabco - I had the same dilemma. FLAC is more popular open standard while ALC is Apple's own. I decided to stay with Mac (I love this thing - had PC before) and don't see disadvantage of using Itunes and ALC. Compression is about the same and there is always option to batch convert whole drive to FLAC if I need it in the future (no need to re-rip).
In my system, mac mini -->benchmark usb --> ATC SCM-10 active monitors, AIFF has more slam than ALC. My wife heard it right away as well.
Jimmywho - are you sure it was lossless (extension mp4a and file size about 50% of original)? I compared again sound of ALC over Airport Express, this time to direct connection CD player to Benchmark and cannot hear the difference.
Jimmywho, Which version of iTunes are you using? Apple Lossless did sound
different in older version. I could hear that too. But Apple has fixed that
probably in version 7 or 8. I can't be sure when because I don't have the old
version anymore. If you got that impression from version 6, try it again with
the latest version.
One reason you may not hear a difference is that the Mac sends everything to the Airport as Apple Lossless. It converts the AIFF file to lossless and then the AE converts it back to SPDIF for your Dac.

Thanks for that - I did not know this. I don't use iTunes for playing files myself. I stream them via Squeeze software to a Modwright Transporter. I assume they are not converted going this route. Thanks also to Kijanki - is "MAX" by the same folks who created EAC? I'll look into it. I was really surprised by the differences i could hear in the EAC files I compared with a friend. There were certainly subtle improvements in bass, clarity and resolution overall. Have you compared using this "MAX" software? I must have missed some threads or is this brand new?
EAC is apparently one of the most accurate for ripping and critical for scratched/damaged CD's - iTunes with Error correction on is apparently identical to EAC on most normal undamaged CD's. (this has been garnered from Head.fi forums - I have no experience with EAC myself)
"is "MAX" by the same folks who created EAC?"

I don't think so. Wasn't EAC written by the student in Germany?

I use MAX (http://sbooth.org/Max/) with Snow Leopard on Intel Mac Mini in Cdparanoia "don't allow skipping" error correction mode. One bad disk I have gets stuck on MAX while iTunes lets it go. You can also set any number of tries. Cdparanoia (check in Wikipedia) can be used with drives that don't cache music. It works on my Intel Mac Mini. If it doesn't - there are two other modes. Itunes has better Metadata library and Max has subprogram to transfer it. Max allows then to obtain CD cover picture (Itunes won't get cover of CDs ripped by other programs).
Sidssp - I was using iTunes v. 8 when I did the test.

As an update, can any iTunes users comment on the latest version of iTunes and best options for audiophiles, please?

I like the convenience of the iTunes store and the selection seems to be getting even better with the Beatles, etc.

However, I do not like the fidelity of my iPod, nor do I want to pay for files that have digital rights encoding, or use any proprietary Apple formats which tie me to Apple.

For ripping one's own CDs, it seems easy to simply set preferences to WAV?

But what about buying/downloading from the iTunes store?

How do I get lossless downloads from the store that can be played on any windows machine or my new HiFiMan 601 DAP?

Thank you
iTunes downloads are mp3 (120kbps?). If buying a whole album, buy the CD. If you only want a song or two, then the iTunes may make sense.

To get around iTunes digital rights, download the song, burn it to a CD, then rip said CD.
Kbarkamian,

Thank you - so everything downloaded from the iTunes store is MP3?

Re "buy the CD" do you mean the actual, physical CD - as in buy it somewhere else?
Im new to ripping I just bought a Ayre qb-9 and alas I can hear a pronouncd difference between AIFF Apple Lossless. Time to invest in a larger hard drive
Hi British, can you provide more details on your setup? I'm 'getting into' computer audio as well and want to start off on the right foot in regards to which format to rip to. I'll be using an Acer Revo 'net top' to feed a calyx 192 dac. i'm also looking into jriver media player instead of using itunes in windows. I know this topic is beaten to death and I am utilizing the search features of this and other forums, but am always receptive to any direct recommendations.
I cannot hear any difference between ALAC and AIFF but it might be placebo effect since I know that hard disk ALAC or AIFF files have no timing and in reality it takes shorter to decompress than read larger file from hard drive. Data comes in packets anyway and has no timing until it is placed in output buffers and clocked out. I hope that Al (Almarg), being computer expert, can join us and explain it better. Is it possible that something else plays part in ALAC vs AIFF playback? (different playback program, computer settings etc.) Again, I'm just trying to understand without questioning anybody's findings.
Thanks, Kijanki. Concerning sonic differences between lossless audio formats, see my thoughts here, and in my subsequent posts in that thread. Note also the posts in that thread by Steve N. (Audioengr), who offers some alternative ideas.

Best regards,
-- Al
Thanks, Al. Your explanation makes perfect sense (as usual). Perhaps even Solid State Drives can really sound better, as Steve N. suspected, for the same reason of electrical noise being converted to jitter.

I feel lucky with my setup where computer is separated from the rest of the system while music stored in ALAC is delivered wirelessly bit perfect to Airport Express also in ALAC (no decompression in computer) to finally reach jitter suppressing Benchmark DAC1. Computer clock/timing is completely separated since data is buffered and AE creates its own output clock. AE and DAC1 are plugged into filtered outputs of power conditioner (Furman Elite) while data is supplied by short glass Toslink.

I said, I feel lucky, since my main reason for AE was to keep computer near sofa (doubling as home computer) and not the electrical noise.
Ripping my CDs under AIFF is the best then?

   I have to rerip over 3000 CDs. Not looking forward to this!!!!

in a previous post, I was trying to critical listen to my ref system using my iPod with 128k, and was laughed at :). 

So using aiff would be much better?  I will start as soon as I get the time. 

Pecan I put the CDs in and when prompted, click "replace" or just delete the old album, and rip again??  What is recommended?  Thank you and I look VERY forward to your relies in this subject. 
Why not rip your CDs to ALAC which is Apple's version of FLAC?  You get much smaller file sizes, about 5% of original, no data is lost, and all of your devices seem to work well with ALAC.  I don't see where AIFF offers anything of value to you...
Please excuse my typo in the last post, the file sizes would be about 50% of original, NOT 5%...
I only have these options when I insert cd into my cpumpuers cloud drive (external)

aac -which everything I have is ripped to

aiff
apple lossless
mp3
wav encoder

for aiff , there's options. Sample rate, sample size, and channels I can choose from.     Best options???
AAC is compressed like MP3 (but better sound quailty).  WAV doesn't have ability to store metadata (track names etc.).  AIFF shouldn't have any options, being uncompressed.  Your choice is between Apple Lossless (ALAC) and AIFF.  ALAC is about 50% smaller than AIFF.  I store everything in ALAC because I use Apple computer and Iunes, but also because my wireless streaming to Airport Express uses ALAC as format (avoiding additional conversion).  Be advised, that ALAC and AAC files have the same extension .mp4  and the only way to distinguish between the is to read file info in I tunes or compare the size (AAC will be many time smaller).  On my phone and in my car I use AAC 256kbs VBR.

So, if I wanted to I can click box to load iPod at 128k for car trips?

while the actual music stored is in Apple lossless ???  

I will ill rip everything again I at Apple lossless from now on.  Thank yo u

Once you have it in Itunes in one format, like ALAC, you can export album to another format like ACC.  It will perform conversion for you. Once you set export format in options it might be even possible to do this by dragging album icon to desired directory, but I'm not sure.  I use 256kbps for headphones. Same for car because I reuse the same files.
Eventually I will have all my music on a hard drive, and use an apple laptop with hard drive connected to my preamp for playback.  

Is is this configuration possibly hooked up by rca's ???

Or maybe buy the 1tb iPod and use that as well via the 30 pin jack to rca's to preamp
The best for you, IMHO, would be laptop with asynchronous USB D/A converter.  Do some research.  One inexpensive example might be Oppo HA-2 asynch USB headphone amp with line out, based on ESS Sabre 32-bit (wonderful sound), but you might like something less portable or better, if you're willing to spend more money (Oppo HA-2 is $300).  Connectors on the Oppo are 1/8"

https://www.oppodigital.com/headphone-amplifier-ha-2/