Use DBPoweramp and read the manual - as they say, experience is what you get if you don't read the manual...
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If the OP is using XLD to rip his CDs, I gather he's on the Mac platform.
XLD also does conversion from FLAC to WAV/AIFF/ALAC among others.
You use Preferences in XLD to set the output settings (same as when ripping CDs). This includes where the converted files are and whether you automatically add them to iTunes etc. This should be easy enough to understand if you are already using XLD to rip CDs.
Next you can choose to convert a single file or Open Folder (usually an album of FLAC files). You can amend the metadata info if you want to.. and when you are done
You can also open up multiple folders but you still have to convert each folder in turn.
I also used Max in the past to do batch conversions like when I got the Linn collection a while back. But some of these converted files don't play all the way through. They'd pause halfway. I am not sure if it is a problem with the original FLAC files or if it is a bug with Max so I am avoiding Max for now.
"there was no reason to go with WAV and in fact there were reasons not to. Curious why you would do this?"
Sound Quality. If your system cannot resolve the difference between FLAC or ALAC and .wav, this is not so unusual. There are very few highly resolving systems out there. If you are using a typical inexpensive active preamp, this alone will make it almost impossible to hear the difference.
If your goal is a truly transparent and highly resolving system, I can help you get there. Its not cheap, but not a fortune either. Here is one example:
"Any logic to why a particular interface would make a WAV sound better?"
Yes. Networked interfaces dont typically use much if any of the audio stack in the computer OS. USB and Firewire interfaces do.
This difference probably accounts for the difference in SQ using networked versus USB with FLAC and other compressed formats.
This is a very long ongoing debate. There are the mathematicians out there that will insist there can be no difference, I am of the camp that I understand there can always be a difference, so I spent a long time ripping many files, all in DB Poweramp, using a very highly resolving system including an Esoteric D-70 (PCM 1704 DACs), RME 9632 Sound card, ASIO, custom made $800 digital output from RME soundcard into my DAC via XLR. All running direct into my Pass Labs amp using the DAC as a volume.
Now maybe there are differences with USB? I have found USB to be vastly inferior to SPDIF or XLR or even Toslinnk for that matter.
With that being said I found HUGE differences between playback software and settled on JRiver.
Back to WAV vs. FLAC, I would have willingly ripped all to WAV but again found zero difference, I wish I could have but couldn't.
Question about "interfaces": My digital front end is an iMac >>>Logitech Squeezebox Touch>>>Metrum Octave DAC. The iMac is connected to the SBT via a wireless network. Is this a USB interface ? The SBT is connected to the DAC with a digital cable, nothing special, just one leg of a composite video cable with RCA connectors. Would this set-up benefit from WAV vs FLAC ? Are FLAC files converted to WAV files "as good as" WAV files ripped directly from CD ?
"Now maybe there are differences with USB? I have found USB to be vastly inferior to SPDIF or XLR or even Toslinnk for that matter."
You have not tried the right USB interface yet. It crushes all other interfaces if designed right.
This is like listening to one phono cartridge/turntable and concluding that CDs are better...
"connected to the SBT via a wireless network. Is this a USB interface ?"
No, this is a network interface.
"The SBT is connected to the DAC with a digital cable, nothing special, just one leg of a composite video cable with RCA connectors. Would this set-up benefit from WAV vs FLAC ? "
Yes, depending on the quality of your system. If you are using a typical inexpensive preamp, the noise, distortion and compression may mask any benefits.
"Are FLAC files converted to WAV files "as good as" WAV files ripped directly from CD ?"
On my system the wav file sounds more 'organic'; there's just more 'there there'.
I've since converted some 16/44 files, and to my ears at least, the difference doesn't seem to be as large as with 24/96 stuff.
(My system: Jadis Orchestra integrated (in the last six months it was re-capped & re-tubed); Merlin TSM (one of the M iterations) speakers; MacBook Pro (running Audirvana Plus), feeding an Audioquest Dragonfly (shopping for a USB dac, but it's taking forever; leaning toward Wavelength (which is why I got the Dragonfly)); Jenalabs IC's; DIY speaker cables; DIY power cords: DIY power conditioner (only used for TV & DVD player); DIY speaker stands (solid maple).
I have been doing more comparisons and have concluded that Steve is absolutely correct.
The wav files are better, and in many cases WAY better. And I was wrong: on 16/44 recordings they are better as well.
The only downside is the files are HUGE.
Never in a million years did I ever think I'd (almost) fill a 500gb hard drive with music . . .
"I am intrigued by the USB topic. Steve, are you saying that USB will beat my current setup I described above? I would love to put it to the test, thoughts?"
Very likely. Having the master clock in the DAC is of course the best scenerio, with one caveat: The clock in the DAC MUST have very low jitter, be powered from an ultra-low noise regulator with good input rejection as well as good design of the clocking circuitry. This is a tall order for most DAC designers.
Therefore, I believe an external Off-Ramp 5 with S/PDIF Hynes upgrade would be better. Its something you can try for the price of shipping. Money-back guarantee.
Using USB effectively however depends on having the right playback sofware and ripper as well as the optimum platform: