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Pros/Cons: FLAC, ALAC, WMA lossless

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Steve

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OK, inspired by the recent thread about digitizing the music collection, I started to investigate this. Much to my surprise, I was able to acquire a 250GB NAS drive for incredibly cheap at Frys ($160, including enclosure and drive). I downloaded iTunes and started ripping my CD's, as I sit and watch TV at night. I'm using Apple's lossless format, but now I'm wondering...is this the right format? Can someone more knowledgable than myself help me understand the pros and cons of the various lossless codecs?

I'm assuming that they are all pretty much equal, as far as retaining the quality of the original file. Should I be worrying about error checking when I rip CD's?

...and yes, I'll look at some form of back-up as well. I may just buy another of these NAS drives and mirror it.
 

sleepysurf

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FLAC, Apple Lossless, and WMA Lossless should be EQUAL in fidelity. I chose FLAC because it is non-commercial and open source, but using Exact Audio Copy for ripping is a bear to set up.

If you are already using iTunes to rip, like the easy interface, and don't mind being locked into Apple's propietary software, just stick with that.

As for error checking, depends on how meticulous you want to be. In my ~1000 CD collection, which I'm halfway thru ripping, I've noted EAC doing re-reads <5% of the time. Since I'm only planning to rip my collection ONCE, I don't mind the slow-down that error-checking adds to the process. I'm not particularly familiar with iTunes, so don't know what, if any, safeguards are built-in. With clean and well preserved CD's, one would expect few errors.

Out of curiousity, are you streaming your playback thru your computer, or via a network device such as Squeezebox, Roku, or Sonos?
 

Steve

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In the current house, I'm just experimenting, so I'm using my laptop connected to a NAS, and use the original CD if I want to do serious listening. I am currently building a house and will have a dedicated media room. At that point, I plan to pack the CD's away in a box, and use a centrally distributed NAS for all of my media, audio, video, and pics.

For the client in the media room, I am thinking about SageTV or Mediacenter running on a PC with a high quality audio card or external processor. I haven't really figured that part out yet. I've also considered Squeezebox, but that would require me setting up another host somewhere, or converting the NAS into a full blown system. I've considered making the NAS a full blown system for the sake of centrally locating TV tuners as well. I've still got lots of experimentation to do in that area. In that scenario, I would build a media extender instead of a full blown PC in the media room. Still lots of research and experimentation to do in that area. Either way, the wiring is simple and will be installed during construction.

It's interesting, I work in the industry, and there is lots, and lots of buzz about this right now. The existing technology is more than sufficient to do pretty much whatever anyone can image. It's just a matter of packaging into a form that the mass market can understand. This is another reason why I've left the client undefined for now. No telling what kind of hardware is just around the corner.
 

SugarMedia

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Steve, could that 'client' be Dell?

Error correction on iTunes from what I have read supposedly reduces jitter when importing. So I think it's a worthwhile box to tick. I've been doing it from the start and am quite pleased with the quality.
 

Steve

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Actually, when I say client, I'm refering to network topology (i.e. client vs server) as opposed to a client of mine! :eek:
 

Audiophiliac

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I plan on using a Sonos ZP80 to stream all my FLAC tunes. I will use an outboard DAC and maybe some other pieces, but I think FLAC is the most flexible format for me.

But as said, regardless of what lossless format you choose, they should theoretically all decode to a bit for bit copy of the original .wav file. :)
 

Steve

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Wow, that Sonos system is pretty cool! I like the wireless controller being independent of the processor, although the price adds up quickly!
 

socialxray

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The Sonos is pretty slick. The remote really pushed the system over the edge. I would love to have one if it where a bit cheaper.

I use FLAC because it is not proprietary.

As for the Squeezebox, why don't you install the SlimServer on your laptop and map a drive to your NAS? No extra host required. You can then control your Squeezebox from the supplied remote or via the SlimServer web interface from your laptop (I am assuming that your laptop is wireless). The web interface is much more flexible than any remote could ever be.

I've been thinking about getting a PSP so I can use the wireless capabilities to access the SlimServer web interface and use that as a remote. Boy that would just blow away my friends!

Right now I am at work listening to my music from home over the Internet using SlimServer's web interface.

For $299 the Squeezebox is the best and slickest solution. It sounds good too!
 

jmschnur

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For critical listening error correction is very imortant. If you take the time, you will be able to play back those CD's as if you had a very expensive CD player. Good luck on your system.

Joel
 
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