PC wav lossless vs MAC apple lossless

Hi there. I am still trying to figure out all of the permutations of this PC Server thing. I am experimenting with many alternatives and variables before I settle on what I will do with my 500 CD collection. I dont want to rip (import) these CD's more than once!

I have not been that happy experimenting with my new MAC and apple lossless. Frankly, even with all the changes I have made and tweaked - I can clearly hear that the music is superior through my inexpensive Panasonic CD player. (I run both the CD player and the computer through a Musical Fidelity X-DAX v8)

I have been using Apple lossless because that seems to be the consensus as the best route, from those on this site. However, perhaps it is just because I am used to Windows Media Player - but I find WMP to be a better interface for managing the music - so now I am thinking to keep the files on a PC instead and try using WAV lossless on my PC.

Question 1 -- I have heard that there are sound problems with Windows XP that were resolved in Windows Vista. Is this true ? Something about a kernel? I have XP now but would upgrade to Vista if it made a difference. I play the music out via the USB connection.

Question 2 -- Is there any known difference between saving these files in WAV format vs. Apple lossless ?

Question 3 -- Given that the consensus has always seemed to be MAC and apple lossless -- for my understanding, why is this superior to PC and WAV?

Thanks guys !
You might find this chart interesting. It compares various codecs on the basis of encoding speed and compression. This comes from the FLAC website. Hope this helps.

For my money, by the way, whatever slight advantage WAV may have over Apple Lossless is made up for by the user-friendliness of Applie Lossless in Itunes.
You can playback WAV files through iTunes on the Mac also. I still feel you're hearing something the DAC is doing rather than the file type. I would be really interested to hear how the USB input on the X-DAC is implemented.
1. The K-mixer that Windows uses can cause distortions (it tries to "modify" the signal like an equalizer and/or volume control) and has to be deactivated. Check into this:


2. The sourceforge chart is good to study. But in the end, a lossless file is a lossless file. Assuming it's been ripped without error, then you have a bitperfect file. So long as your playback software/device can decode it, you will get the same output with any lossless format.

3. Many people prefer iTunes and the Mac interface over PC, hence people heaping praise on the Mac approach. But I'm like you, I much prefer the PC platform and the variety of playback softwares I can use (Windows Media, WinAmp, MonkeyMedia, etc) as well as having access to services like Rhapsody. Take it a step further and use a Sonos or Squeezebox and you can eliminate a computer altogether.

If you are hearing a difference and you are sure that all your connections are equivalent, then you may not be getting a good rip when generating your files. Make sure the software you use has some form of "read until right" mode and use it. Yes, it slows things down considerably, but its important to get the data off the disk right. The best software historically has been Exact Audio Copy (EAC), which is free. It is, however, difficult to configure and temperamental if configured incorrectly. I use version 11.1 of Easy CD-DA extractor myself because it's ripping engine is on par with EAC and it supports FLAC 1.3 (includes album art in the file tag). Cost is about $20 U.S.

Yes, there are a lot of places where mistakes can be made in this process, but once you figure it out, you will love the convenience of file based audio. And with the right set-up, it can be equal or better than any disk based transport (DAC notwithstanding). Other than my SACD and DVD-A disks, I almost never use my universal player for listening to Redbook CDs anymore. And once someone figures how to rip and play those digitally, I won't use it there either.

Come back if you have more questions.
WAV and Apple Lossless basically play identially, but Apple Lossless (and any modern lossless format, such as FLAC) has 2 major advantages over WAV:

1) Standardized tags (the comments embedded in the file that tell what the name of the song is, the artist, composer, etc). Don't underestimate their value, especially when you're using a Squeezebox or something and want to have it select a certain type of music by some criteria.

2) Smaller files. (Most lossless formats use about half of the space of a WAV file.)

I personally use FLAC since it's an open source format that's supported outside of iTunes, but iTunes/iPod have such a market share that I doubt this is really a major downside to Apple lossless.

Why can he hear a difference with Mac and loseless vs. cheap cdp? I would think the bitstream without moving parts would be superior to the cdp??
Thanks so far for this information. I plan to play with this a bit during the weekend ! I will try to compare my PC WAV files with the same music on MAC with Apple Lossless. Will provide an update.
I was asked above how the USB is implemented.. Itis simple actually - I use the USB output on the MAC into a USB input on the DAC. This is a new DAC and I believe most new DAC's now have a USB input in addition to the typical coax inputs etc. Thanks.
Markny, the USB input may well be where you are hearing a difference. You can't just use the same $2 radio shack usb cable that you would use for data because there is no verification or talkback for USB audio (unless it is an asynchronus USB connection like the Wavelength described here: http://tinyurl.com/4t2fht ). The data coming down the cable is little different than what goes down a coax or optical connection and is still subject to jitter and transport problems.

Kimber makes a great bang for the buck usb audio cable around $40 - http://tinyurl.com/4ttr7w
MarkNY What I meant by how the USB input is implemented, is how it was engineered by Musical Fidelity, not how you are using it. Sorry for the confusion. Many manufacturers are adding USB inputs to their devices now, because it helps to sell them. Unfortunately, they are not always designed optimally and are sometimes just an after thought. Shazam hit upon what I am getting at in his referral to asynchronus connection.