WAV or Apple Lossless Encoder?


We plan on purchasing a Wadia 170i Transport to use with our Museatex Bidat. As we have several hundred CD's that we want to transfer, we want to begin the process of downloading them into our itunes library. I was surprised when I read the Wadia owners manual that it appears to recommend using the WAV encoder and does also mention mention Apple Lossless as an alternative. We use a PC rather than a MAC (sorry) and I know that WAV was originally developed for the PC, but from every thing that I've read, Lossless is the superior solution. Anyone compare these two and notice a difference? I only want to do this once.
conedison8
Hi Conedison.
...but from every thing that I've read, Lossless is the superior solution.
Apple Lossless is a good solution if file size is the priority - Lossless files are quite a bit smaller. If having the best possible sounding files is priority then WAV is the best way to go but the files are larger.

For what it's worth I use a Mac Mini and I compared Apple's version of WAV - AIFF - to Apple Lossless. To my ears the sound quality difference wasn't subtle. Apple Lossless sounded less immediate, less open and a bit truncated.

Definitely appreciate you wanting to do this only once. I might suggest trying this for yourself: One CD (or even one song off of one of your CDs) ripped to Apple Lossless and then the same CD or song ripped to WAV. Compare for yourself. That's really the only way you'll know for sure in context of your listening values and system.

Hope that helps.

Cheers!

Robert
RSAD
You should just rip a couple of your favorite CD's in both formats and compare them yourself. It's going to be you who's making the call as to which you prefer, not someone else. Personally, in the few comparisons I've made, I could not hear much difference. One important issue you should be aware of in making the choice between the two: WAV files are much more problematic in terms of the way iTunes is able to handle them. They do not allow conventional tagging as do virtually all of the other formats. Therefore all of the peripheral information that goes with the CD (title, songs, album art, etc.) are dealt with in a different way. If you have to rescue some WAV files from a backup, or if you want to add your own album art, or migrate your library from one HD to another, you may run into some very frustrating obstacles. I'm not enough of an iTunes geek to explain this in detail, but there's discussions about it here and elsewhere if you search. A good friend is bringing over a couple of files tonight that he was surprised at hearing the difference between...I have no clue what the upshot of that is, but I'll post something after I hear the two files if it is relevant. I think he ripped one as a WAV using EAC and then converted it to lossless in itunes. Regardless, I'd do it yourself and see if you hear a difference. Apple lossless will take up significantly less HD space. Whichever format you choose, purchase at least one additional hard drive and back up your library and keep it backed up as it grows. This will be money well invested.
Hello,

Before you decide on a lossless format, I would decide on whether or not you can tell the difference between it and a LAME encoded MP3 v0 file. Foobar2000 is a music playing client that has a built in utility for an ABX (A B Blind) test. It also has a nifty encoder for an MP3 v0. Despite what the masses on this wonderful forum will tell you, there is about a 99.99% chance that you will not be able to tell the difference between the formats unless you're an acoustic engineer or can hear a dog whistle. I'm not saying that you won't be able to hear the difference, but I would test it first using a science rather than hearsay. You could save yourself a lot of disk space.

For most people the level of transparency (the level at which they believe a format is lossless) lies between a 128kps MP3 and a LAME encoded v2 MP3. If you do the blind test and can tell the difference, I would use FLAC encoding. There are 0 auditory differences between any lossless format, but FLAC supports a large amount of metadata which makes it fairly easy to organize. FLAC also takes up considerably less disk space than WAV files. I would also use EAC (Exact Audio Copy) to rip your CDs.

Hope this helps!
Oh and one more point: there are ZERO differences between any lossless formats in terms of sound quality. By no differences, I mean none whatsoever. You do not need to waste your time testing various lossless formats against each other. They are called lossless because NO INFORMATION IS MISSING meaning telling the difference is an impossibility.

To anyone who thinks they can tell the difference between lossless formats and wants to make a wager out of it, please let me know - I will even offer odds. You can even pick the recording and the equipment.
If there are no differences between compressed lossless like Apple lossless, and noncompressed formats like WAV or AIFF, then why do the different formats exist(other than the PC/Mac dichotomy)? Is it strictly a file size issue to save space, or is the compression also affecting sound quality somehow? Most posts I read say that the uncompressed files sound better, although there is debate as to the degree. Given that disc space is quite inexpensive now, I do not know why you would bother using any compression if there is even a possibility that compression affects sound quality. If you are only compressing and not removing data, I would think that they should all sound the same. However, so many people report differences, you have to wonder what is going on. I am interested to see the comments of people on this.
I use the Wadia 170i and was personally told by the head sales engineer at Wadia to use AIFF. My experience has been completely positive. The only time I hear a difference is when I change out the digital cables. In fact, when I use my "better" digital cable on the 170i, it sounds better than a lesser cable coming from my regular CD transport (Stealth Varig vs Audioquest). In addition, on some recordings, I prefer the 170i over the transport regardless of cables (not sure why it sounds better as it should not). This product is the real deal and not a hoax. The best $379 I have spent in years. How can you beat convenience without sonic compromise! My DAC is a Camelot Uther V2 Mk 4. Transport is a Sony DVP-S7700.
Hi Mark,

To answer your questions about why different yet equal file types exist: the world of IT is notoriously poor at deciding on a standard format and everyone wants it to be their own. Compression that occurs to a file such as WAV -> Flac could only have noticeable playback differences if you're streaming from a early 1990's computer with about 16 megs of RAM. People report differences for one psychosomatic reason or another, but those who do are rarely, if ever, conducting an actual scientific (ABX) test. This is the reason why most audiophiles don't use v2 or v0 even though they would not be able to differentiate it from lossless. Storage is cheap, and if you have money to burn, then by all means use FLAC, but the economy for those trained in engineering is not exactly doing well right now so I am spending those few hundred dollars on parts upgrades instead ;-)

For those who don't believe me and think they can tell the difference between two lossless formats, test it for yourself to see that they're identical if that is what will give you peace of mind. Then test a v0 MP3 and then a v2 while you're at it to realize how good audio engineering has gotten in the past few years. If you test it, however, make sure the volume is equalized and that you're not using replay gain.
If those of you who think that Apple lossless and wav files sound different I would suggest the following - rip the wav file with one ripper and the Apple lossless with iTunes. Then convert the Apple lossless to wav and compare the files bit for bit - EAC and foobar both have facilities for doing this. If you use EAC for the wav file you need to account for the disk offset that EAC uses. When I have tried this I find that the files are bit for bit identical. Note - EAC wav files may be different if they are ripped from a damaged disk, but from a clean disk the 2 processes will produce the same bits.

I believe it is possible to still hear differences from different formats but it will be because of some other issue in the playback chain, not the bits in the file. For example, a wav file played with foobar and an Apple lossless file played with iTunes may differ based on how the 2 players deal with the audio subsystem - for example using ASIO to bypass KMixer with foobar but going through KMixer with iTunes. With the Wadia those differences should not be as important.

It is pretty easy to convert from one lossless format to another, so once you have ripped your library you should be able to change to other formats as you wish. Tagging is the main issue then, but that can be handled for a few hundred CDs. Many think EAC is the best ripper, although it can be slower than others. I found that EAC and iTunes produced the same files for the CDs I compared, but they were in pretty good shape.

I would suggest doing lots of experiments with a few CDs you know really well. Figure out what works best for you then do the rest of the CDs. Once you have a good rip in any lossless format you should never have to rip again.
I think everyone should try this at home and report the results... I was alerted to this by a leading manufacturer of PC audio related gear (who can identify himself), and found it to be true. Here is the test:

1) Burn a song from a clean CD to a wav file using EAC (this is now very easy to do, the software is free, downloadable, and very user friendly).

2) Import that wav file into Itunes and convert it to an apple lossless file (you need your default import setting set to lossless to do this).

3) Using the same CD, rip the same song directly into Itunes in lossless format using error correction.

4) Compare the two lossless files.

I've done this, and I was astonishly saddened to hear the results (because I ripped all my music in lossless). The lossless file generated through Itunes had less seperation b/t instruments (poorer imaging), sounded slightly less "alive", and (I believe) more "smearing" of the sound. I haven't done this yet, but I wonder if the same observation would be made through an Itunes generated WAV file vs. an Itunes generated lossless file.

I'm convinced this is real. I asked a non-audiophile friend to do the same listening comparison, told her nothing about what she was hearing, and she made the same observations. Marco (Jax2) will do the test tonight.

WE DO NEED DATA, AND I THINK THE MOST CREDIBLE SOURCE IS MULTIPLE PEOPLE DOING THIS COMPARISON. PLEASE DO YOURS TODAY :) - AND REPORT BACK WHAT YOU FIND.
Peter, You have good ears. I have been ripping to Apple Lossless for a few years and I always thought they sounded the same as WAV or AIFF. But a few months ago I experimented something similar to what you did. I ripped some CDs to AIFF using iTunes, converted them to Apple Lossless, burned two sets of CDs: one directly from AIFF, another one directly from Apple Lossless. I than played them back from CD player. Some tracks from the Apple Lossless ones sounded thin and some with narrower soundstage and not as dynamic. It didn't happen on all the tracks but the ones did sound different were very obvious, even my non-audiophile friends can point that out immediately.

The Apple Lossless format didn't loss any information because when I converted them back to AIFF and compare them to the original AIFF files, they were identical. That lead me to believe that the one-step conversion process during CD burning may have introduced artifacts.
Interesting observations.

Sidssp - Did you try ripping the tracks that sounded different on the burned CDs and comparing them to each other and to the original ripped tracks? It would be interesting to see if the bits are different. If so, then the burning process may be the issue - which I think is what I think you concluded.

Peter_S What do you think caused the differences you hear? Do you agree if the bits are the same, the files should sound the same? If so, you might want to compare the actual files bit by bit. It is certainly possible that there is some error in the conversion process. You could compare the Apple lossless files with a file compare utility like fc/b, although it is pretty crude. You can also convert the Apple lossless to wav and compare those files using EAC or foobar. As I said above, when I ripped tracks to Apple lossless with iTunes and converted them to wav and compared to EAC ripped tracks, they were identical. Have not tried a bit compare after doing a wav to Apple lossless conversion but could try it. Also you could convert the Apple lossless lossless file that was converted from the EAC wav file back to wav and compare it to the original EAC wav file to see if the round trip introduced differences. EAC has a good comparison routine, although you have to set the disk offsets to 0 when ripping with EAC to do the comparison. Another interesting thing to do is to take the EAC wav and a iTunes ripped Apple lossless file converted to wav and use the ABX facility in foobar to do a blind test of the two files. Much harder to do comparisons with iTunes. (I don't want to get into a discussion of blinding testing - just wanted to point out the utility in foobar.)
Peter is not the only one that has heard this anomaly by a long shot. I have received a number of reports of the same thing. The problem happens even when the data is streamed with WiFi to AirPort Express or AppleTV.

If the file is ripped directly to Apple Lossless with iTunes, the quality is inferior to the same file ripped with EAC and then converted to Apple Lossless with iTunes.

If the ALAC data is converted back to .wav, the files compare, but this does not tell the whole story. For instance, one file might be 24-bit and the other 16-bit, which makes a big difference in quality. They will still compare.

Steve N.
Peter dropped off several files for me to listen to this evening. He didn't tell me much about them. I didn't have my server running at the time and our dogs were playing so we could not listen to them together, so I don't know if my observations are the same as his. I spent about thirty minutes going back and forth between various versions of a rip of Rickie Lee Jones, Bye Bye Blackbird off of "PopPop". I had one of my own which was a WAV ripped in iTunes using Error Correction. Peter provided three files. I could only locate two of the three as the third evidently did not have some critical tags and got sent into oblivion by SlimServer. So of the three files I had, one that he provided sounded significantly different. It seemed to have an improved soundstage with better imaging, more natural vocal presence, and deeper bass. The WAV I'd ripped via iTunes, and the other file he provided sounded quite similar. They did not provide as well defined a soundstage as the one file. I don't know if he was trying to trick me, but I phoned him with the file that stood out to my ears and in my system - he can confirm whether or not my observations paralleled his, or were different. There is no doubt at all that the files he provided sounded different from each other, and that one sounded better than my iTunes WAV rip of the same file. His version of PopPop is the same as mine, but obviously it is a different physical disc, ripped on a different computer.

OK, Peter, was the file that sounded better to me the same as the one that you preferred?
Peter is not the only one that has heard this anomaly by a long shot. I have received a number of reports of the same thing. The problem happens even when the data is streamed with WiFi to AirPort Express or AppleTV.

Steve - I may be embarrassing myself here as I still don't know if I'm calling out the same file as Peter, but I did hear a clear difference and I am not using either Airport Express or Apple TV. I am, however using Wifi, but with a Modwright Transporter. As far as I know, Peter was probably using your products (a PaceCar and an Empirical modded Northstar DAC via USB), but he also could have used his Havana DAC...not sure. Neither of us is using an Apple device for conversion. Both of us hear a difference, though I don't know yet whether we agree on what that difference is. There is no doubt at all that the files he provided me sound different and that one sounds superior to the WAV rip I did in iTunes using error correction (which I'd always assumed would be the best means of ripping a file).
Great, I ripped all my cds into itunes with apple's lossless thinking I was getting everything I needed and saving space. Now I have to delete and reload!!
Steve - I do not believe a 24-bit file and a 16-bit file would compare exactly. The extra 8 bits per sample have to be stored somewhere. So I am not sure what you mean by this.

Can someone do a bit compare on the Apple lossless files and see how different they are? As a first pass, do they contain the same number of bytes? (Although you have to be aware of the how the offset is set in EAC and how silence between tracks is handled.)

If there is a difference, then it could be either in the iTunes ripping process or in the wav to Apple lossless conversion. In fact, if a Apple lossless file ripped by iTunes is converted to wav and becomes identical to an EAC wav file, I would conjecture that the iTunes rip was as good as the EAC rip. If you take the iTunes ripped file, oonvert it to wav with iTunes and then convert it back to Apple lossless does it sound different than the original file? Does it bit compare?

Not trying to be difficult. I just want to figure out if the data in these files are different and if so where the difference comes from.
First answer - Marco, the file that you preferred was indeed the one prepared in EAC by ripping to wave, and then transported over to itunes and converted to Apple Lossless (ALAC). I detect a "significant" difference as well - maybe 10-20% improvement in sound quality, and I consider that to be a lot. What about your findings surprised me even more was that you found the itunes ripped WAV file of the same song similar to the (inferior) itunes ripped ALAC file, compared to the EAC ripped (and itunes converted) ALAC file. This suggests that itunes rips with both the WAV and the ALAC format are inferior. The third file I gave you would have lost its Tag information, but I believe was still imported to itunes. It is an EAC ripped WAV file. If you can find it (using "modification date" field) and rename it, you can directly compare your itunes ripped WAV file to the EAC ripped WAV file, and confirm that itunes seems to be producing an inferior rip on the WAV format, as your initial results already suggest.

Marco - I think Steve was saying that this problem is noted EVEN with these apple devices, not ONLY with them.

DTC - I spoke with Steve about this, and he mentioned that an ALAC file contains more than just the music bits, it also contains information on how the music bits should be played. Steve had suggested to me that the problem may reside there.

ANY ONE ELSE UP TO MAKE THE COMPARISON? IT REALLY IS EASY TO DO - THOUGH MOST OF US WOULD LIKELY RATHER NOT KNOW SUCH BAD NEWS!
Peter - You'll have to come by and listen on my system. I confess that once I detected a significant difference in the single file I spent more time and attention comparing that file to the other two. Though I felt the other two sounded much more similar to each other I don't think I spent nearly as much time comparing those two to each other. The difference was far more obvious in that one file.

Dtc - how do you compare bits in the files? What software (Mac) would one use to do that?
I am going to experiment with Peter's suggestion but I have a question. I downloaded EAC today and copied a couple music files. When I insert a CD, EAC lists all the tracks but no information, no album name, artist name, track names, etc. Do I have something set wrong? This would be VERY tedious if I had to type this all in myself.
Brian - when you set up EAC you specify a database for it to check (online) to identify well song names. When you insert your CD, atleast for me, the songlist did not have the information, and I had to push a button to "get information" to fill in the list. That said, if you rip a WAV file in EAC, it does not have tag information that carries with it to itunes. When you import it into itunes, the song name will be retained (it will be the same as the file name), but all other tag information will be lost.

Clearly, this is not a conveniant way to import music to itunes. You've identified the next question - and the very important question - how do you get the best quality while still working within an itunes environment. If Marco's observation that the itunes ripped WAV file didn't sound as good as the EAC sourced ALAC file, then itunes is not a preferred ripping program!

Anyhow - please do the experiment anyway. The goal is to confirm that itunes ripping is not as good as other methods. Once that is confirmed, we can look for work arounds. Even though those who have listened so far all hear this, the number is few, and it would help to have more confirmation. Thanks, Peter

Peter_s and Steve - I would like to understand just what extra information is in an ALAC file that degrades its sound. Any explanation or references to this? I know that this is a proprietary format, but if the claim is that there is some extra data in it, it would be great to have some idea or what that is and how it is used. References?

Jax2 - I am not a MAC user, sorry. But EAC and foobar both have comparison routines in them for wave files. Do I read your post correctly that you are using a MAC to stream to a Transporter? The Transporter is yet another wrinkle in the comparison - not sure exactly what it uses for ALAC decoding.

I really think that concluding that iTunes is inferior for ripping files (at least from relatively clean disk) based on these observations is premature. I, and others, have ripped files with iTunes, converted them to wave and they are EXACTLY identical to wave files produced from EAC - every bit is the same. And a 50 MB wave file has a lot of bits! Two wave files with exactly the same bits cannot sound different when played by the same player. If somehow they do sound different, then something else has happened in the process. I just do not see how iTunes ripping can be inferior when it produces exactly the the WAVE file as EAC? Incidently, I do believe that EAC can do a better job on a damaged disk - but of course none of us has those :)

If a given player playing an ALAC file and playing a WAVE file produce different sounds, it is a big leap to believe that the only cause of this could be the ripping process. It may well be how the player somehow handles the different formats.

My background is scientific research and in computer science. So, when I hear that there are differences in 2 approaches I want to know why. And I tend to get picky about experimental design. In looking at the results that people are reporting I see lots of unaccounted for variables. The experiments need to be designed to eliminate those variables. My suggestions, although it will take time, is to

1) Compare the sound of ALAC files ripped with iTunes (using the error correction mode) and ALAC files that were ripped to WAVE by EAC and converted to ALAC by iTunes - both played with iTunes (or your favorate player). If you are using something other than iTunes, you should probably use the same conversion software as your player uses. It is hard to do bit compares on these ALAC files, unfortunately. Waves are much easier.

2) Compare the sound of WAVE files ripped with iTunes (directly to WAVE) and WAVE files ripped with EAC. This should probably be done with iTunes as well as with some other player like foobar or J River. Foobar is a good choice since it has a ABX comparison function to allow for blind testing. When I have done the ABX comparisons with foobar with EAC and iTunes produced wave files, I cannot reliably tell the differences - although I admit I have not done it a lot of times and blinding test is an art unto itself. If you have not done it, give it a try. It is a interesting experiment.

3) Repeat 2) with files ripped with iTunes into ALAC and then converted to WAVE by iTunes (rather than ripped to WAVE directly).

Its important to compare apples and oranges and to be sure to eliminate outside influences on what is being tested - in this case ripping accuracy.

Now off to listen to some music.
I experimented with two tracks, one from Diana Krall and one from Keb' Mo'.

I already had these on my iPod in Apple Lossless, I use a Wadia iTransport.

I copied these two tracks using EAC as .wav files and copied them into iTunes. I then used the iTunes tool to convert them to Apple Lossless, but keeping the .wav version also, giving me 3 copies to of each; I also copied the Diana Krall in for a 4th version, this using iTunes creating a .wav version.

In playing these I was thinking there was a slight difference, with the original iTunes Apple Lossless version being very slightly of lesser quality, although I played the cuts many times questioning this. This surprised and disappointed me. Then I realized the "original" version I created was done back before I started using error correction and wondered if that could be the cause of any difference. So I replaced the original with a newer Apple Lossless version with error correction on. My conclusion is that I can not hear any difference.

Maybe my song choices weren't the best, maybe you ears are better or maybe _____________, you fill in the blank. If I get a chance this weekend maybe I'll give yet another listen. When doing these comparisons it becomes quite annoying.

Brian
Here's the info that SqueezeCenter provides on the three files Peter provided to me last night:

EAC to AL conversion: Bitrate 634kbps VBR / Volume Adjust -6.97db / File Length 11,640,516

My WAV File: Bitrate 11411kbps CBR / File Length 25,279,340

Peter's AL file: Bitrate 634kbps VBR / Volume Adjust -6.97db / File Length 11,639,656

I don't think I have any software that compares file size, but Peter has PC's as well as Macs and may be able to compare bit-for-bit info.

I listened again this evening and there's no doubt of the differences I heard last night. I also threw in the cut played via digital input from a CD transport to the same Modwright Transporter DAC. The EAC copy sounded most like the transport and I'd have a very difficult time telling the two apart. I could certainly tell the difference between the WAV and AL files, from the file playing off the disc.

Just for an experiment I went downstairs to my office system, where my music library is stored. I played the same cuts on a much less revealing system, via iTunes. There I could not tell the difference between the three files, and like Brian, I found the whole thing frustrating after a short while.

I don't think the difference is worth ripping your entire library over again. It most certainly is not worth it if you have to go in and label all the cuts on every CD manually, as it seems would be the case ripping to EAC and converting to AL as Peter described.

Dtc - yes, streaming files via Wifi to Modwright Transporter. No idea how it handles ALAC conversion. It sounds damn good though.

Interesting subject. I too thought bits are bits and that lossless meant just that.
Dtc - a few responses to your most recent post:

"I would like to understand just what extra information is in an ALAC file that degrades its sound. Any explanation or references to this?"

Steve will have to answer this. I was merely repeating what he told me.

If a given player playing an ALAC file and playing a WAVE file produce different sounds, it is a big leap to believe that the only cause of this could be the ripping process. It may well be how the player somehow handles the different formats.

Note that both Marco and I are independently hearing a difference in sound between two files of the same format (ALAC) that were generated differently. This cannot be how the player (itunes) handles the format. BTW - I am understanding that itunes does the conversion from ALAC to uncompressed, and sends the 16/44.1 stream to my Pacecar.

My background is scientific research and in computer science. So, when I hear that there are differences in 2 approaches I want to know why. And I tend to get picky about experimental design. In looking at the results that people are reporting I see lots of unaccounted for variables. The experiments need to be designed to eliminate those variables.

I am so with you on that. I too am in a science/engineering field.

My suggestions, although it will take time, is to
1) Compare the sound of ALAC files ripped with iTunes (using the error correction mode) and ALAC files that were ripped to WAVE by EAC and converted to ALAC by iTunes - both played with iTunes (or your favorate player).

This is exactly what I did that started my entry into this thread after hearing the difference. Now - I'd like to ask you to do the same thing! I know you've made bit/bit comparisons of the WAV's - but try doing this and listening and tell us what you think. To eliminate another variable - try the song Marco referenced above. Or, if you have an FTP site, I can send you both versions. Would you be willing?

Unfortunately, to do your second method I'd need my CD, which I accidentally left at Marco's the other night. It will take me a while to get it back. But please, let us know what you find out if you make comparison #1 above (as Marco noted, you must have a sufficiently resolving system).

Finally - personally, I would try to re-rip music as I listen to it, not as a big project. BUT - I don't yet know what will be the right ripping procedure to accomplish this. Part 2 of this exploration!!!
Look, I am a EE with over 30 yeard design experience. We can debate the theory and the science until the cows come home. The fact is there are differences here, and comparing .wav to .wav files does not explain it.

One person that did this experiment repeated it with a Transport rather than the Pace-Car reclocker and concluded that if the jitter is very high, you really can't tell the difference. It's when the jitter gets really low that the difference is obvious. The Pace-Car is only a FIFO, it does not change the data in any way.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Way to go guys, you scared the sh#t out of Conedison8. That'll teach him.
Way to go guys, you scared the sh#t out of Conedison8. That'll teach him.

LOL. I'd be curious to compare a lossless file ripped on EAC that was ripped that way (retains all of the tags / song info - I assume that is possible), to the same song ripped to lossless in iTunes. I'm sure that it's probably already been done ad nauseum - anyone?

As far as Conedison8's pissin' his pants, I'd reiterate that upstairs, on a far more resolving system with a Modwright Transporter on the front end I could clearly hear the difference. Downstairs, in my office system, which is very basic, with a MHDT Paradisea via USB, I would be very hard pressed to identify differences in the three files I was comparing. As I suggested from the very beginning of the thread, if you want to figure out which format to rip to then do these tests yourself, with some of your favorite cuts of music and sit down and compare them and see what difference, if any, you hear. The only drawback to doing this is that if your system changes dramatically towards the more resolving, your observations may change and you may end up wanting to re-rip your library. I'd agree with Peter's opinion that the difference isn't something that screams at you, though I found it immediately apparent albeit subtle.
For everyone who is concerned about my nerves and well-being, if this was the biggest concern that I had in life, it could be a problem.
I want to try the experiment outlined by Peter_S, Dtc, et al, which Steve had urged me to do weeks ago. In my case, I can rip on a PC using EAC, but would then want to move the file to a Mac for iTunes playback since that is my music server platform. Seems to me this hardware/OS platform change introduces a significant additional variable. Have others of you crossed platforms in your tests, or kept it all on PCs?

Marco: am I correct that Slimcenter converts all files to FLAC for transmission and the Transporter then de-compresses? How might that factor into the results?

I'm a total adherent to Dtc's call for good experimental design, which is woefully lacking in so much of what we do in audiophile land. I don't mean abx, just good isolation of variables.
Marco: am I correct that Slimcenter converts all files to FLAC for transmission and the Transporter then de-compresses? How might that factor into the results?

I'll have to check into that and get back to you. I don't know the answer, but had wondered myself what SlimServer does for transmission of the files via Wifi. Perhaps someone else knows. I'll check in with a Tranpsorter forum I'm posting to and see if anyone there knows. Good question.
Drubin - I've checked my settings in SlimServer. I didn't realize you could change them. Currently they are set for the default, which I believe does convert Apple Lossless to FLAC...but I think leaves WAV in its native state. Here's what my settings are currently:

Apple Lossless:
FLAC > alac/flac
WAV > alac

WAV:
FLAC > flac
WAV > Native

I'm involved in a thread on AudioCircle which is specifically around the Modwright Transporter. I've referenced this thread and am trying to get some further info and input from those who are using the MW TP, and will post anything relevant to this discussion here. Thanks for pointing that out - I too wonder what impact it has. There is also a beta version of SqueezeCenter (Slim Server's software) that I'm told is delivering better Wifi performance. I have not tried it.
You guys are leagues ahead of me in this, but please take time out to answer a woman's question regarding this, new to me, technology.

We have ripped our cd's to itunes at 256...now we want to go to Apple Lossless...I think this necessitates re - ripping everything right? but, my partner noticed that you can convert itunes to Apple Lossless, click on an "album", hit convert, it does something and then says that it is now 33 mb rather than the original 9 mb for example. Does this mean that the files are now Apple Lossless, or is this wishful thinking and we need to get busy re ripping ???
Thanks for any and all responses folks. I am learning tons on this site!
Wishful thinking. You can never recover information that you lost when compressing the files into MP3 or other lossy formats.
Peter is correct Audiowoman. The option you speak of is designed to convert a full size file, like a .wav, to Apple Lossless.

Brian
thanks guys, I'll start ripping!
Well on paper you would think wav would sound better. Wav is a total cd transfer with out any compression. Apple lossles does compress audio not much but it does. I have tried both and it's hard to tell the difference between them. However i have found that wav sounds better on some transfers. When you do go with wav its harder to get the art work.
Apple lossles does compress audio not much but it does.
You talk not of what you know.
However i have found that wav sounds better on some transfers. When you do go with wav its harder to get the art work.

Have you tried doing a blind test on those files you think sound better. I wonder how much our brains play tricks on us when we think we know what to expect.

WAV is a format devised for PC's. I don't believe it allows for tagging the files with such information as artwork and song titles. All of that is done within the indexing provided by the software in the case of WAV. So, yes, it is a royal PITA to deal with WAV files if you want to attach artwork, or move them or restore from backup. I don't believe iTunes allows you to attach artwork yourself to a WAV file, though it can 'fetch' artwork for WAV files. I'm not sure how that works, but again, as I do understand it, it is strictly part of the software's indexing and those files are not tagged as are all the other formats (in which case the peripheral information can easily be added and moved around with the files). Peter suggested I try AIFF, which is an uncompressed format devised for MAC. I'm pretty sure it does allow for tagging (anyone?). Has anyone done any comparing between those two formats (probably in the archives but thought I'd check here)?

Apple lossles does compress audio not much but it does.

An Apple Lossless file is practically half the size of the same information in WAV format. That means you can fit almost twice as many CD's onto a hard drive that are compressed into AL as you would be able to if those CD's were ripped in WAV.
Brianmgrarcom Let me simplify for you. When you import or transfer your cd collection via apple lossless it takes up less space than acc of the same transfers. What's the reason for this? Because apple lossess compresses the music. It does this to save space. Do it for your self and check to see if i am right. I do know what i am talking about, perhaps "you talk not of what you know"
Usarmyvet91 - I think what Brian may have been pointing out was that it saves a significant amount of space (correct me if I'm wrong Brian). You had stated that it "does not compress audio much" which also puzzled me since saving almost half the space is significant.
Jax2 (apple lossess does compress audio) I was trying to explain that to Brianmgrarcom who thinks that i don't know what i am talking about. Apple lossless file is half the size of the same information in wav format. That mean wav is copying 99.99% of the information on the cd disk and apple lossless doesn't because the file size is less than half of wav. So apple lossless is not really lossless because it is cmpressed. Thanks, Jax2
My mistake instead of using the word much for my adjective i should have used significantly more.
The process that Apple lossless uses to "compress" the file reduces the file size but not not delete any data. Think of it like a ZIP file, which reduces the size of a file but when upzipped the data is exactly the same as you started. Apples lossless and flac do a similar process. There are well known algorithms for doing this type of "compression". They look for patterns that they can store in less space. So the "compression" uses less space but maintains all the original data. When the file is played back, the file is "de-compressed" to its orignal form. The earlier discussion in this thread is about possible subtle differences in Apple lossless encoding, but that is a different issue that the 50% difference in file size.

My copy of Pop Pop arrives today and I will doing some listening this weekend.
WAV and AIFF are uncompressed. Yes wav is pc based and aiff is mac based both are perfect pitch. I would go with aiff because its mac based, their for the art work is easy to get.
I don't think it was the use of the adjective, "much," but the use of the word "not". Your post implied the compression was not significant. I'd suggest cutting the file size by almost half IS significant compression, especially given that you lose nothing in the process. Overall, I think we're on the same page though :-)

Dtc - PopPop is a favorite album of mine, but certainly not a necessary component of the test. You could try it with any well recorded cut (preferably one with good soundstaging and detail). PopPop is certainly a great choice though.
This debate about which encoder is better wav or apple lossless could go on forever. The best thing to do is to import your cd in both wav and apple lossess and listen for yourself. I just prefer wav encoder for my cd transfers, to me i can sometimes here an audible difference. Wav and apple lossless are both hi quality encoders.
That means wav is copying 99.99% of the information on the cd disk and apple lossless doesn't because the file size is less than half of wav. So apple lossless is not really lossless because it is cmpressed.
Armyvet, Dtc explained what I was getting at very well, much better than I. Your comments above are the "issue" I was getting at as incorrect.

First, why is .wav only copying 99.99% and not a full 100% (To me this is analog thinking.)

Second, as Dtc stated so well, the Apple Lossless file size may be smaller but it has no less information.

Brian
Brianmgrarcom, I will say this both wav and apple lossless are the two best way to import your cd collection. By the way 99.99% equals 100%
Jax2 - I have been wanting to get Pop Pop for a while so this seemed like a good time. A lot of the music I listen to (50s/60s jazz and female jazz vocalist) often does not have great sound stage, so I thought I would eliminate that variable and go with what you were using. I recently did a comparison of my PC with a McIntosh 301 CD with top end McIntosh equipment - MDA 1000 DAC, pre, tube power and speakers. Used 301 as a transport so both player and PC went through the DAC. On a lot of my music there was little difference between my PC and the McIntosh 301. However my dealer pulled out some of his favorite test tracks and then we cound definitely hear a soundstage difference. My PC was more forward and a little more detailed that the McIntosh CD player. I liked the PC, he liked the McIntosh. The differences were comparable to listening to CD players from different vendors.

I did try comparing the bits of some EAC rips converted to Apple lossless and then back to wave. Using EAC to compare the original and the twice converted file EAC reported no differences in the files. Also tried several tracks ripped with iTunes to Apple lossless and then converted to wave by iTunes. Again, EAC compare showed they were the same as the EAC ripped track. Next step is some detailed listening which I hope to do this weekend.

Does anyone know of a free ftp server site that allows people to exchange large files? There used to be ones that you could just access through a browser without having to set up server software, but I have not used one in a while. That would make trying different files easier.
Jax2 - I have been wanting to get Pop Pop for a while so this seemed like a good time. A lot of the music I listen to (50s/60s jazz and female jazz vocalist) often does not have great sound stage, so I thought I would eliminate that variable and go with what you were using.

Cool - I think you'll like her. Hey, if those are your tastes, here's another outstanding female jazz vocalist who made her name in the late 60's. The CD is from 2008 though: Norma Winstone, Distances on ECM. Recording is outstanding, as is soundstage. Highly recommended if you like that genre.