Rip CD to Mac - basic question


I have started to rip some of my CDs to disk using a mac. I notice a lot of people using software to do this. When I look at a CD in the finder it appears as a set of aiff files for each song, for which I have been doing a drag and drop onto my hard drive, just like copying any other file. I would rather not use iTunes.

My question is: is this a bit for bit perfect copy? If so, why use other software? If not, why not? Computer files are always bit perfect when copied. There must be some software intervention on the part of the OS anyway, as a CD doesn't contain aiff files.

Any help would be appreciated. I don't want to copy a lot of CDs like this and then find I have to do it call over again.
malcolm02
Not sure why you do not want to use Itunes?
I copy all my CD's to my MacPRO via Itunes using Apple Lossless AIFF.
It is bit perfect - no compression.
AIFF is not lossless, you need to ALAC for that. But I would not box myself in with Apple-specific stuff. You can use dbPowerAmp for file conversion and Foobar2000 (FREE!) for playback...

-RW-
I prefer to use XLD. It does ripping to AIFF as well but it provides a log/report of the rip so you know if there are errors. (similar to EAC on PC
iTunes ripping is not optimum and makes many mistakes, including no Accurate-Rip check, no C2 error correction and offset errors. These all impact SQ.

The best way to rip to AIFF or ALAC on the Mac is using XLD. Here are some other tips as well as the XLD free download link:

http://www.empiricalaudio.com/computer-audio/

do a comparison of an iTunes ripped file and the same XLD ripped file.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I may have posted incorect info., sorry. I did not know that AIFF was lossless. I *still* would not box myself in with Apple-specific solutions...

-RW-
Audioengr: "do a comparison of an iTunes ripped file and the same XLD ripped file."

Right, it should be possible to do a comparison of files. I'd be interested to see the results if someone has done it. Maybe I will do it myself if I can figure out how.
Rlwainwright: "I may have posted incorect info., sorry. I did not know that AIFF was lossless. I *still* would not box myself in with Apple-specific solutions..."

I knew aiff is lossless - I didn't realize it's Apple specific. We live and learn. Thanks.
"Right, it should be possible to do a comparison of files. I'd be interested to see the results if someone has done it. Maybe I will do it myself if I can figure out how."

I am talking about listening comparisons. That's what matters isn't it?

If you are trying to find a technical explanation, good luck. Even a score of experts have not succeeded in that.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I don't know why there's so much anti Apple sentiments around.

You use the best tools you have and in my case, that means using Audirvana Plus which is a Mac software and using the free Remote app to control my playlist on the headless Mac Mini.

If you want to change the system, just run a batch conversion to FLAC or WAV. I use AIFF because I want embedded metadata (artist names, album art) and I want uncompressed lossless so it was either AIFF or WAV.

Besides AIFF is easily playable on most PC systems (even without iTunes)
Is there a way to convert stored iTunes AIFF files to XLD files?
Or is this just at the ripping stage for using XLD?
XLD is just a ripping application, like iTunes. Rip to AIFF or ALAC format with XLD.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
If you are using a Mac then XLD or MAX would be the tools of choice for ripping CDs. In preferences you can determine the location of the files and they do not need to be used with iTunes. Some of the playback softwares used on Mac (Audivrana +, Pure Music, Amarra, Decibel, Bit Perfect etc) work in conjunction with iTunes (as the database manager) and some can also work without iTunes. I choose to use iTunes because I like the ability to manage my library that it affords.

Many people who use or prefer Windows OS will use ripping tools such as db poweramp. I think the most popular library and manager for Windows is JRMC (JRiver Media Center). Late this year JRMC will release a Mac version that should prove to be a very interesting tool especially for those who have Macs but may be averse to iTunes.
Audioengr: "I am talking about listening comparisons. That's what matters isn't it?"

Well, I was talking about file comparisons. Of course, at the end of the day the whole point is to listen to the files, not analyze them, but now we are in the same situation as listening to amps or cables: some people claim to hear differences and some don't. It's all anecdotal. See my experience below.
So, I installed XLD at the weekend (thanks to those who suggested it) and experimented with ripping a CD to different formats (aiff, wav, flac, alac). I like the way it gives a log for the rip, that in my case showed no errors. I also like the way you can do a check on an already ripped file, which showed that the files I dragged and dropped also have no errors (though with an offset that I don't quite understand).

I would wager that these are all exactly the same, bit for bit, so it comes down to which format is most convenient and future proof. The lossless compression on a couple of them (flac, alac) is a nice disk space saver, and flac is most platform neutral, though not supported by iTunes.

However, to be frank, I'll be damned if I can hear any difference between the several file formats and the 2 apps I'm using (Amarra and Decibel) in my system, which I think is fairly decent (Mac -> Halide DAC HD -> Theta Casablanca -> Sunfire amp -> Von Schweikert VR-33 speakers).
I clearly hear differences regularly with many things including power and analog ICs in my system, but with digital, the only clear noticeable difference I hear is when I change DACs. I'm sure there are measurable differences between digital sources and cables in terms of jitter, etc. but I do not hear anything different of any concern in practice. So I am convinced the magnitude of differences with modern digital gear these days is much less significant and off secondary concern versus the more traditional things that audiophiles fret about once analog comes into play in the playback chain.
Mapman - what preamp are you using?

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
"Mapman - what preamp are you using?"

ARC sp16.
Mapman - have you tried the DAC direct to amps?

What is your source? Maybe too much jitter to hear these things....

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
"Mapman - have you tried the DAC direct to amps?

What is your source? Maybe too much jitter to hear these things....

Steve N.
Empirical Audio"

My main source currently is standard issue Squeezebox Touch mainly.

Roku Soundbridge before that.

I also have a Denon CD player/recorder.

Regarding jitter, I would have to a/b listen/compare to a known reference to say.

My digital sounds very good! I have heard a lot of good/reference digital and analog to compare over 40 years or so, not to mention many live performances of all types.

DCS Puccini on a 6 digit VAC based system is perhaps the best reference I have heard I could identify.

I have no complaints and think I would be hard pressed to do much better, though I try not to obsess too much over these things once things sound good/right to me.

I have worked for 4-5 years to get to to current state replacing gear, fine tuning the sound and acoustics, etc. My digital was much inferior to my analog 5 years a go or so. No longer today.

My preferred DAC on my main rig is mhdt COnstantine, which is a giant killer SS DAC IMHO. I also have an mhdt Paradisea that is very nice sounding with the right tube, but it cannot replace the COnstantine in my main rig. I use it in my second family room a/v system for more casual listening.

I would like to try SB touch to DAC to amp direct someday, but have not in that I also play vinyl so need the pre-amp for that.

I think my digital sound today would be pretty hard for most to fault if heard. It is done on a budget though, so I have no misconceptions regarding world class sound or anything like that. I think what I have assembled is pretty solid and competitive though! If you are ever in Baltimore/DC area let me know. I would gladly offer a listen to receive your feedback.
Mapman wrote: "I have no complaints and think I would be hard pressed to do much better"

Actually, you can do a LOT better even with that Touch and its not very expensive:

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/empirical4/1.html

"I would like to try SB touch to DAC to amp direct someday, but have not in that I also play vinyl so need the pre-amp for that."

Actually, you can have your cake and eat it too:

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=108715.0

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
The synchro mesh device is interesting.

What are the measured jitter numbers with and without it for SB Touch?

Thanks.
Mapman - SM has money-back guarantee.

I could give you a jitter number, but it would be meaningless. I have had clock oscillators with higher jitter specs that sounded better than those with lower jitter specs. Its because the specs are broken. These need to be specified over frequency and correlated with system activity. Its the jitter spectrum correlated to the music itself that is important.

The only professional jitter studies that I have read over the years involved random jitter, not correlated. These are of no use IMO.

I would resist buying equipment based on measurements anyway. Even amplifier and preamp measurements have little bearing on the musicality of the device. The proof is in the reviews with measurements by by John Atkinson over the years. If specs were that important, no tube equipment would ever be sold because of the high THD compared to SS. However, speaker measurements are useful as are some amp measurements. Most manufacturers have gotten tricky about how they spec, using the most advantageous system and measurment conditions etc., to get the best looking numbers. They do this with jitter too. Dont fool yourself. Its all marketing. They like to say that they "eliminate" jitter too. Impossible.

Jitter is the most useless spec. At least with the analog measurements, there are some correlations to sound quality. With jitter, there are none, zero. I measure jitter, but I dont use it as a selling tool. It's SQ that I am after, not specs that look good.

Jitter is what my products do well, but you will have to hear them to get it.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Are there any specs/measurements that indicate the superiority of the clock compared to standard Squeezebox Touch?

Or perhaps more simply, why did you choose to use the clock you did rather than the one SB Touch uses? What makes it "better"?

The price is certainly reasonable as best I can tell (sure beats DCS) and it appears to be a well thought out device to help optimize performance based on your website description. I would expect only positive results with most sources.
The clock I use was chosen for its jitter spectrum and pricing. I also offer better clocks in my other products, but not at this pricepoint.

All of my clocks are custom builds, not off-the-shelf.

The clock in most high-volume low cost products is usually off-the-shelf and nothing special. These monolithic oscillators usually cost in the $2-3 range if that much.

It is possible to get slightly better clocks, using oven-controlled technology
to stabilize the oscilltor even more, but these have costs in the $200+ and that is my cost, and I have to purchase the in hundreds, so the risk is $20-40K for me.

The other thing to understand is that no matter how good the oscillator spectrum of jitter looks, the designer will never actually achieve this, only come close. In order to come close, the design must have extremely good power subsystem and voltage regulation. These are all custom discrete designs in my products. Again, off-the-shelf chips are simply not good enough to achieve really low jitter, even from the best oscillators.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
So much advice in error...

To correct AIFF IS LOSSLESS. Apple uses the lossless version a unique to Apple OS. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_Interchange_File_Format

Really guys, please think before you speak, it sends folk asking for advice down a blind ally....
AIFF is unencoded, not lossless. it differs from .wav in that it has different header and instead of the words coming left-right word, they come right-left word.

ALAC and FLAC are lossless encoded.

They all suck for sound quality IME, even AIFF. I only use .wav

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I think the word you are looking for is lossless compression.

I do find a slight difference between AIFF and WAV but both IMHO are better than FLAC/ALAC.

ps AIFF has the option of having big or little endian so it can be in the same order as WAV. Both WAV and AIFF are derived from the Amiga IFF standard.
I've been using XLD to do my rips for the past year and rip to either aiff or wav. I do have a question about best sound. For XLD's ripper mode are people using cdparanoia III or XLD Secure ripper?

Thanks,
Ernie