What's your favorite audio codec?

I recently installed Rockbox on my iPod. For those of you who are not familiar with Rockbox, it is a replacement OS for portable media players. I recommend going to www.rockbox.org for more information. One of the biggest strengths of Rockbox is that it allows a media player to play almost any commonly used audio codec (including FLAC, Vorbis, AAC, etc).

Anyway, what is your favorite codec?
FLAC but not for portable use... MP3 Lame converter for portable..

What do you like better about the Rockbox versus the Ipod interface?
Monkey's Audio (APE), mainly because it compresses very well (beats all mainstream codecs, only the exotic and VERY slow algorithms beat it), but also due to it being simple and effortless in use. No portable support as far as I know though, but I don't use that anyway. :)

It's kind of like RAR vs Zip, where FLAC et al is Zip. No contest except for portability.
Osgorth, I believe that Rockbox supports Monkey's.

I should note that I switched back to the iPod OS for three reasons:

1. Significantly worse battery life with Rockbox
2. Significantly slower performance with Rockbox (this could have had to do with my settings though)
3. No good Ogg Vorbis players for Mac. I got Rockbox to be able to play Ogg, but iTunes really is the best media player I could find for Mac, and it doesn't support Ogg.

All in all, I'd check out Rockbox if you run a PC and don't like using only AAC or MP3, like iPods limit you.
Apple Lossless...A 1:1 file.
Apple Lossless is cool because it's lossless, but it SUCKS compared with any other lossless format I know of, especially FLAC and Monkey's Audio. Both of these formats compress the file much more than Apple Lossless can. Check them out.
I have, and I have used them extensively and listened. I want as little compression as possible, and Monkey Audio sucks.
Jc51373, what do you mean with your comments, "a 1:1 file" and "I want as little compression as possible" ?

Oh, and why does Monkey suck, if you don't mind me asking?
wav. Storage is cheap, getting cheaper, compression is usually only 50% at best, and may (I say may) have a deleterious sonic effect during decompression. That being said, I use FLAC for my SB3, but find that if I'd want to move to a USB pc (or MAC) based solution I have work to do. Wav!
WAV is the biggest, no compression, but you lose the metadata in iTunes.

Osgorth-what I mean when I say a little compression as possible is would prefer none at all.
"Both of these formats compress the file much more than Apple Lossless can. Check them out."

the question is really...Why would anyone want to compress files more?
Why would anyone want to compress files more? Well, to save hard drive space obviously, and to be able to use tagging, integrity checksums and so on. I've written extensively about this in another thread so I won't go into it again. :)

Short version: lossless compression does not in any way alter the sonics of a file. It can easily be proven as well, and I've done so in the other thread on compression just a few weeks ago.
I personally will buy more storage if it meant improving sonics since it is so cheap, so moot point. Unless your worried about space on an iPod itself or other portable player. This is the very reason I like ALAC. Although in my trials I could not hear any difference between FLAC AND ALAC, if you can you're a better ear than me. Although I feel I heard better with WAV, could be in my head.

Anyway, I have no interest in worrying about compressing my audio files more on my home system, particularly where I have a TB of space.I worry about space-saving for music that travels, which is only worthy of headphones anyway.

Apple Lossless is as good if not better than all you swear are the better here in this thread, sorry to say. I am well versed on the subject as well, and I work very closely with this technology. Also in case you weren't aware, I have a USB DAC with a tubed output, so all my music is HDD based, all ALAC, with error correction, and it sounds better than the actual CD on a Meridian G08 CD player. Go figure...
AAC 128 is darn good...AAC 256 is almost undetectable from uncompressed CD quality, IMHO
07-19-07: Shadorne
AAC 128 is darn good...AAC 256 is almost undetectable from uncompressed CD quality, IMHO

On a portable player, yes (I use 224 AAC on my iPod when not using Apple Lossless for well-recorded stuff), but on a music server played through a hi-end home system, discernable 100 out of 100 times easily. That's the problem; a resolving dedicated home system can spot lossy compression a mile away.

S-VHS looked great on a 19" monitor, but on my 110" Stewart screen it was basically unwatchable.
I have to agree with Osgorth here. I'm not sure I understand what you're saying Jc51373, and I think you may have been mislead.

ALAC is not 1:1, it is lossless compression, just like FLAC or Monkey's. (That's why it's called Apple Lossless Audio Codec, like FLAC is called Free Lossless Audio Codec). WAV and AIFF are uncompressed. However, all lossless compression is MATHEMATICALLY IDENTICAL to uncompressed audio. That means that WAV sounds EXACTLY like ALAC which sounds EXACTLY like FLAC which sounds EXACTLY like Monkey's. So the only difference between these is encoding speed (how quickly your computer can convert the file into ALAC or FLAC or whatever) and size.

This being said, why wouldn't you go for the smallest lossless compression? It's smaller, and still sounds IDENTICAL to the original WAV. ALAC already compresses, but just not as well as FLAC. Sure storage space may be cheap, but it's not free. Lossless compression will save you a lot of money and will still sound exactly like the CD.

There is absolutely no difference in how WAV sounds compared with lossless compression.
Ledhed2222- I am not sure you have read all of what I have said if your misunderstanding, or this entire thread for that matter-I use LOSSLESS..How am I misinformed? I am not the one who said ALAC sucks compared to a format that has little mainstream support and sounds the same. And if the three (ALAC,FLAC,Monkey) are the same as you say, how can you think that ALAC sucks (sonically speaking)? Like I said, I can't hear the difference between the three lossless formats. And here on an Audio forum, we care more about sonics than having storage discussions. Which is my point. ALAC provides support, is well written, and sounds the same as the others. As far as sound difference between WAV and lossless, I said it could be in my head. Operative word COULD.

Next question- if WAV and ALAC are mathematically identical to uncompressed (WAV) like you say then how come you say in the same breath, lossless is not 1:1?? Your logic seems flawed.

Anyway, I use ALAC because I use iTunes exclusively, on a MAC and it is just easier, and sonically I can't hear the difference between the lossless formats-although its been a few months since I listened to the ones you swear are better. But I have had issues using other codecs with iTunes from a support perspective. Sounds like you may using awindows-based PC? Which are sonically inferior in the first place, without a shadow of a doubt. I heard significant differences when I used a XP-based machine with a properly configured ASIO, regardless of the codec I chose. So I switched to MAC since Apple drivers have much better control over the hardware than Windows will EVER be capable of. For my application this was critical. Ultimately this what I based my decision on when choosing a codec as well, all Apple software is written very well; ALAC is no different.

In the end, this debate is a waste of time. All the Lossless codecs sound the same to my ear. If it is a storage debate you want to create, like I said I have oooodles of it, so I am not worried about sacrificing a few MBs per file-unless sonics were to improve along with. Just make sure and point out why something "sucks", like I have here.

In the end, the benefits of savings physical storage space by move my music to HDD vastly outweighs any additional investment I might need to make in it.
Jc51373, I am also a Mac user, so I understand why you would use ALAC. If I went lossless, I would probably go for it too because it's a bitch to deal with the other formats on OSX.

The only reason why ALAC is inferior to some other lossless codecs is that it doesn't compress as much and takes longer to encode. So yes, if you don't care about hard drive space, it doesn't matter.

As far as your 1:1 comment goes, while they are sonically identical, space-wise the ratio is more like 1:2. Lossless cuts storage in half (roughly).

I think though, that storage is a factor. For a PC you can always get more space, but what about a portable player? As far as I know, the biggest hard drive on a portable player is 80GB, not that much for some people. I'm interested to know how you get around this problem.
Ledhed2222-Now I understand where you are coming from.

To answer your question-I have two completely different libraries. One is all AAC on one PC, and the other ALAC on my MAC, which is dedicated to audio for the most part. For our iPod (80gb) we just sync off home PC and the library is AAC, and we use about 60GB of space for the portable library.

You can also have iTunes boot to two diffent libraries, where it will prompt you to choose when you click on it to open. This might prove useful for you.
I like this idea a lot but it poses two problems in my mind: you need A LOT of storage on your computer (I just have a mac laptop, I'd have to buy a huge external drive) and you have to spend time putting all of your music into two formats. Do you have a way to speed this up? How do you boot two libraries with iTunes?
When you say huge, how huge? How many gigs of music in total do you have?

To boot to a different library, hold shift then click iTunes while holding shift, you will be prompted to either choose or create a new library. iTunes (2) is the default I believe.

And yes, you would have to spend time putting music into two formats and then manage two libraries as well. I personally find it to be totally worth the (small) effort for my needs of both portable and hi-end home audio. I personally wouldn't dare put an MP3 (AAC) near my home system, and feel it is wasteful to put lossless on my wifes' IPod (she is the primary user of the portable audio). So this method allows me more control over my entire collection. All you have to is burn everything in Lossless and then have iTunes downgrade the other library to AAC. You can always take away data, just can't ad-which I am sure you are aware of.

But in the end, you have to have the space for it.
If I hadn't already ripped 15 GB of music into lossy, I'd take your advice Jc51373! I like your solution.