You'll probably get a better response on the Digital forum.
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Daedalus_audio - Apple lossless is indeed lossless. You can convert a WAV file to Apple lossless and then back to WAV and the original and converted WAV files are bit for bit identical. You can rip a file to Apple lossless and convert it to WAV and it is bit for bit identical to a WAV file ripped directly to WAV. Are you sure you have checked the box to do error correction when ripping with iTunes? If you are hearing major differences between Apple lossless and WAV then it is probably a playback issue or some other software issue, not a issue of Apple lossless being "lossy". There are lots of very detailed discussions on this topic and some people think there are subtle differences between various formats. There may be some minor errors is some of the software, but the actual data bits are the same. Since Apple does not provide details on its file format, it is very hard to analyze the various meta data in the file.
Mmike84 - I would suggest you look at dbPoweramp. It has a batch converter and I believe it can convert AIFF (or FLAC) to WMA, although I have not tried it. Note that WAV and FLAC files do not have embedded tags.
I also understand that lossless compression should produce files identical to the originals, but somehow, when I play music from my MacBook that I ripped with ALC, it's sort of irritating, where the music I've ripped as AIFF or WAV affects me in a more comfortable way.
Also, when I've transferred ALC files to my iPod Touch, the music sounds fine coming from the iPod Touch. Go figure.
Maybe a higher amount of jitter results from expanding a compressed file from a moving disk? The iPod Touch has no moving parts, and as I said, it sounds/feels just fine.
I'd sure like to figure this out, because if I go to WAV, I'll be using up at least twice the space for the same music. OTOH, what's the point of storing the music efficiently if playing it gets on my nerves? I guess I could always just sync up an 18-album playlist to the iPod Touch and play the music from there.
Also, maybe one of these would improve things.
Check your signal chain. If there are major differences between the 'lossless' formats, maybe there is another player here. ??
My brief experiments with FLAC, before going to Apple Lossless showed no differences. The reason I ended up with the Apple system is that I went with a MAC, junking out the Windows machine. My player before was WinAmp, which features native FLAC support. With the IMac, the intent is to use the wireless feature with an Airport Express, using the optical out to an external DA, in the form of my CA 840c. An eventual goal would be the IpodTouch as remote.
All else was equal in my evaluation of Lossless vs WAV & AIFF, error box was checked, I used I-tunes & Squeeze Center. With the audio playback gear I use the difference was clear. It was a disappointment as I had ripped hundreds of cds in Lossless based on what I'd read in the forums. Then when I received a highly modified Duet from Gill Audio run through the Gill 'Ellise' DAC, I was totally underwhelmed, I thought there was something wrong with the Duet, but was told to try a WAV file... and there it was, all the subtle cues that make music. So I don't know if Apple Lossless is losing info or what, I do know that on a revealing enough system it sounds flat and lifeless. I would hate for someone to rip their collection to Lossless and sell the cds only to find later that it isn't as good a format as had been said.
Lou - My point is that I think the Apple lossless files are a correct lossless representation of the original CD. Any differences you hear between ALAC and WAV is probably due to the software involved (iTunes, QuickTime, etc.) and not to the music bits in the ALAC file. The ALAC files that I have converted to WAV are identical to WAV files ripped by EAC - once you take account of the drive offset differences that you can get between EAC and iTunes. I would suggest taking one of your Apple lossless files and converting it to WAV and comparing that WAV to a file ripped directly to WAV. My guess is that the WAV files will be bit for bit identical and that they will sound the same. If you compare 2 identical WAV files and hear a difference, then that is an entirely different problem. Give it a try. You can use iTunes to convert ALAC to WAV. EAC has a option to compare WAV files and it will take into account the drive offset differences you may get using different rippers.
I moved from iTunes to J River to get away from the possible issues with iTunes/Quicktime and to get flexibility to use higher resolution files, to use ASIO and because I could customize the interface more to my liking. But I converted my ALAC files to FLAC rather than re-ripping the files. My tests in converting ALAC to WAV made me believe that I did not need to re-rip. The dbPoweramp batch converted is a great tool for doing mass conversions. It is fast and uses mutiple processors if you have them.
06-25-09: MagfanGood point. I plug my iPod Touch (playing ALC files) directly into my integrated amp with a Monster stereo mini-to-dual-RCA adapter. To plug my computer into the amp, I have to add a 15' stereo mini headphone extension cord. It's a Sony w/OFC copper, but still, it's a 15' longer signal chain with a lower quality wire than I use anywhere else in my systems. I'll move my computer to where I can directly plug in with the Monster adapter and see what I get.
Playing apple lossless requires more effort from the processer than with AIFF as the files have to be uncompressed during playback. The faster the processor and higher amount of ram the less of a difference you will likely hear. With memory so cheap not sure why anyone would go with apple lossless. Better to have uncompressed files that require little effort from the computer for playback for best sound.