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  • Sabeque
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Hi,

I've done a lot of searching on this topic and links keep pointing to this forum, so I believe the people here know their stuff.

I apologize if this has been already addressed. I see similar questions and threads but not one for my specific situation. A lot of the data out there also seems to be very subjective, overwhelming and/or confusing. I also apologize for all of the info but I want to be thorough.

Objective:
Rip CD collection in highest quality possible to lossless format (as yet undefined).

Factors:
~ I'm on a Mac and from what I've read XLD is the best option for accurate rips.
~ I want to be able to tag my files with Artist, Track name, etc. and want compatibility with iTunes without plugins or workarounds, so FLAC is not an option for me.
~ My music is mostly electronic and hip hop (not sure if this makes a difference when choosing the lossless format or conversion settings).
~ Larger file size is not a concern for me. Quality is. HD space is cheap.
~ Many of my CDs are mixed, i.e. gapless.

Purpose:
~ To have the highest quality digital backup possible. Many of my CDs are rare or irreplaceable promos. A few are also older and have begun to degrade. I want to convert everything now in the best quality I can so that I can save my music indefinitely.
~ After the CDs degrade more I need another source as close as possible to the original. Therefore I want to have lossless files that I can listen to or use whenever I need to create a lossy (MP3) version for my iPhone.

Questions:
~ When trying to convert some CDs in iTunes, some tracks were not converted at all because the CDs were degraded (no scratches, just old). I am hoping XLD can use error correction to "fix" these issues. Does XLD do this kind of correction?
~ I have heard ALAC may not be a good choice because of a theoretical "jitter" issue which compromises quality. Is this true?
~ Assuming AIFF is the best choice based on the factors above, what would be the best settings? I see a lot of tutorials for FLAC conversion but not for AIFF. When I checked the Wiki page comparing lossless formats I also did not see any AIFF reference there.
~ XLD has an option that says somethign about C2 error pointers (if your dirve supports this). How do I know if my drive supports this?
~ If you rip a gapless CD to multiple lossless tracks and then later convert those lossless files to mp3, can you join the tracks as one file when converting to mp3 so that you can remove the gaps? I've had problems playing gapless albums as multiple tracks in mp3 format on my iphone.

Thanks!

  • db1989
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #1
I have heard ALAC may not be a good choice because of a theoretical "jitter" issue which compromises quality. Is this true?

No.

Lossless is lossless, etc. ad infinitum.

Anything else you read is evidence-free nonsense based solely upon fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

I mean, why do you think it has that name? Without intending to be patronising, why else would it be called that; what other inference can you draw?

Quote
I want to be able to tag my files with Artist, Track name, etc. and want compatibility with iTunes without plugins or workarounds, so FLAC is not an option for me.

I don’t know whether iTunes allows tags in AIFF files, but in any case you should use ALAC instead.

Quote
If you rip a gapless CD to multiple lossless tracks and then later convert those lossless files to mp3, can you join the tracks as one file when converting to mp3 so that you can remove the gaps? I've had problems playing gapless albums as multiple tracks in mp3 format on my iphone.

You could, but that would be avoiding the combined issue that (1) anything as popular and (they would like you to think) well-developed as iTunes should support gapless playback and (2) you might have used an encoder that didn’t properly store information on how to reconstruct audio gaplessly.
  • Last Edit: 01 May, 2012, 04:52:29 PM by db1989

  • Ron Jones
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #2
I'm on a Mac and from what I've read XLD is the best option for accurate rips.

Probably, yes. It may or may not be better than iTunes for CDs in fair to good condition, however.

My music is mostly electronic and hip hop (not sure if this makes a difference when choosing the lossless format or conversion settings).

Not really.

Larger file size is not a concern for me. Quality is. HD space is cheap.

All lossless codecs maintain source quality.

Does XLD do this kind of correction?

Yes.

I have heard ALAC may not be a good choice because of a theoretical "jitter" issue which compromises quality. Is this true?

No. Did you by chance hear this at Computer Audiophile?

  • db1989
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #3
I'm on a Mac and from what I've read XLD is the best option for accurate rips.
Probably, yes. It may or may not be better than iTunes for CDs in fair to good condition, however.
It might be the same; it won’t be worse.

My music is mostly electronic and hip hop (not sure if this makes a difference when choosing the lossless format or conversion settings).
Some music might compress to a higher degree than others, but I don’t foresee it making a huge difference. Again, quality will be completely unaffected; the input stream will be preserved bit-for-bit.

Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #4
I have heard ALAC may not be a good choice because of a theoretical "jitter" issue which compromises quality. Is this true?

No. Did you by chance hear this at Computer Audiophile?


Of course, where else. See this link:
http://www.computeraudiophile.com/threads/...help-please-%29

Computer audiophile is fun for those who can see through the 95% of bullshit, but it is dangerous territory for newbies

Cheers,
Peter

  • Sabeque
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #5
Wow you guys are fast! Thank you for responding. I appreciate your time.

~ So from what I am understanding here, all lossless formats are the same in quality, which means I could convert back and forth between all of them indefinitely without compromising quality assuming there are no software errors? If this is the case why is there so much back and forth about which is "better" and why should I use ALAC as opposed to AIFF?
~ If ALAC is the way to go, should the rip be done in iTunes or still XLD? As i mentioned I had some issues ripping from iTunes, the biggest that it did not report any errors and just ripped, either missing chunks of songs or whole tracks.
~ If XLD is the way to go, can you please recommend settings for my situation?
~ I believe iTunes now plays gapless mp3 files without issue but when I move them to the iphone I hear gaps..therefore i think it's not the file but the player that's causing the issue; however I could be wrong.
~ Ron Jones: I can't remember where I heard about that jitter issue because I've been searching for answers for so long and been to so many sites now; however it may well have been Computer Audiophile; in fact I just posted my questions there too a little earlier
~ What about this C2 pointer issue?

Thanks again!

  • Sabeque
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #6
I have heard ALAC may not be a good choice because of a theoretical "jitter" issue which compromises quality. Is this true?

No. Did you by chance hear this at Computer Audiophile?


Of course, where else. See this link:
http://www.computeraudiophile.com/threads/...help-please-%29

Computer audiophile is fun for those who can see through the 95% of bullshit, but it is dangerous territory for newbies

Cheers,
Peter


Haha yep that's me

  • db1989
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #7
So from what I am understanding here, all lossless formats are the same in quality, which means I could convert back and forth between all of them indefinitely without compromising quality assuming there are no software errors?
Yes. Lossless: loss-less: no loss.

Quote
If this is the case why is there so much back and forth about which is "better"
Compression ratio, hardware/software player compatibility, etc. Everything significant you can imagine except quality, basically.

Quote
and why should I use ALAC as opposed to AIFF?
Unnecessary consumption of storage space, limited/nonexistent(?) tagging abilities… I guess that’s about it, but these are two large drawbacks.

  • Nessuno
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #8
~ When trying to convert some CDs in iTunes, some tracks were not converted at all because the CDs were degraded (no scratches, just old). I am hoping XLD can use error correction to "fix" these issues. Does XLD do this kind of correction?

XLD has a better ripping engine than iTunes so there are more chances to extract the correct data, but of course if the CD is seriously damaged can't do miracles. Use the "XLD Secure" or "CD Paranoia" options. 

Quote
~ I have heard ALAC may not be a good choice because of a theoretical "jitter" issue which compromises quality. Is this true?

NO!

Quote
~ Assuming AIFF is the best choice based on the factors above, what would be the best settings? I see a lot of tutorials for FLAC conversion but not for AIFF. When I checked the Wiki page comparing lossless formats I also did not see any AIFF reference there.

AIFF is PCM not compressed, so only a waste of space compared to ALAC.

Quote
~ XLD has an option that says somethign about C2 error pointers (if your dirve supports this). How do I know if my drive supports this?

I may be wrong, but from my experience the best way is to actually try to enable the option and see what it happens: I have an external USB drive which is supposed to support C2 but that hangs XLD if I enable it!

Quote
~ If you rip a gapless CD to multiple lossless tracks and then later convert those lossless files to mp3, can you join the tracks as one file when converting to mp3 so that you can remove the gaps? I've had problems playing gapless albums as multiple tracks in mp3 format on my iphone.


As you are in an all Apple ecosystem, the best choice for lossy is AAC. It is equivalent to mp3 for any practical purpose and iWhatever supports it better. Supposing you have your ALAC music library managed by iTunes, it could automatically convert to AAC at a chosen bitrate upon syncing with iPhone.
... I live by long distance.

  • Nessuno
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #9
Some music might compress to a higher degree than others, but I don’t foresee it making a huge difference.

Oh, well: let's wait for breaking news from next lossless comparison!
... I live by long distance.

  • db1989
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #10
I should have been clearer that I meant between encoders, not necessarily genres; but yes, let’s see how that goes!

  • Porcus
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #11
~ So from what I am understanding here, all lossless formats are the same in quality, which means I could convert back and forth between all of them indefinitely without compromising quality assuming there are no software errors?

Yeah.  Well there are cases where the 'to' format cannot contain the signal in the 'from' format (for example, not all lossless formats can handle multichannel audio), but apart from that reservation (which does not apply to the CD format), transcoding is without any quality loss.

Quote
If this is the case why is there so much back and forth about which is "better"


Some compress better. For the same reason as a .zip file and a .rar file which unpack precisely the same content, might differ in size.
Compression speed and (more important IMO) decompression speed also vary.

Some lack e.g. multichannel or are limited to certain bitrates or sample rates. AIFF even has loops. Some are more streaming-friendly. Some have checksums to detect errors (although I have rarely seen any case it has been helpful). Some have better tagging capabilities (what is 'better' is probably a matter of taste, although there are some that are definitely 'worse').

Furthermore, some are supported by more software and hardware. Try to get Shorten or LA to work on your appleware. (I took a hunch on two formats -- I might be wrong and they might be well supported, but my guess is that it is hardly worth the hassle.)


Quote
and why should I use ALAC as opposed to AIFF?


Smaller files, same quality. (Well AIFF can contain compression too, although I know not much about it.)
And tagging in AIFF -- though possible -- isn't that well supported in players? Or ...?

  • greynol
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #12
Does XLD do this kind of correction?

Yes

Please explain how as I am pretty certain the answer is actually no. Having the drive read data over and over again in the hopes that it delivers error-free data and then actually being able to identify that it is error-free does not mean the software is correcting errors.

Aside from possibly identifying and correcting synchronization errors (a problem pretty well solved in hardware a dozen years ago) and using some external repository like CTDB, ripping software is completely at the mercy of the drive.

This is not to say that iTunes has the same capabilities as XLD.

Moving along, who here has tried sbooth's Rip?
  • Last Edit: 02 May, 2012, 01:13:31 AM by greynol
13 February 2016: The world was blessed with the passing of a truly vile and wretched person.

Your eyes cannot hear.

  • Nessuno
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #13
Moving along, who here has tried sbooth's Rip?


Me, but a couple of years ago and I found it in a... well: more alpha than beta stage!
Surely back then XLD was more stable and complete and with better integration with other Mac tools.
From the site I see it is still in beta.
... I live by long distance.

  • Sabeque
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #14


Quote
If this is the case why is there so much back and forth about which is "better"



Quote
Some lack e.g. multichannel or are limited to certain bitrates or sample rates. AIFF even has loops. Some are more streaming-friendly. Some have checksums to detect errors (although I have rarely seen any case it has been helpful). Some have better tagging capabilities (what is 'better' is probably a matter of taste, although there are some that are definitely 'worse').





Can you please clarify this?
~ What do you mean by multichannel? Mono vs. stereo or something bigger like 5.1?  For CDs converting to AIFF or ALAC this is not an issue right?
~ What do you mean by "AIFF even has loops"?
~ What do you mean by "Some are more streaming friendly"?
~ As far as I knew you could add tags to AIFF files but I'm not aware of any issues with this. ALAC is new territory for me so I don't know if it supports tagging.

Thanks!

  • Porcus
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #15
~ What do you mean by multichannel? Mono vs. stereo or something bigger like 5.1?  For CDs converting to AIFF or ALAC this is not an issue right?

Correct (multichannel <--> more than stereo), and correct.

~ What do you mean by "AIFF even has loops"?

Nothing you need to worry about for the purpose of CD ripping. But AIFF has a provision for supporting music in loops (so that a tune can conclude out in an endless repetition).

~ What do you mean by "Some are more streaming friendly"?

Again, nothing you need to worry about for the purpose of CD ripping. But: For playback over network, you want a sufficiently big piece of the signal (or metadata) instantly, and decoded in realtime (not merely on average!).

~ As far as I knew you could add tags to AIFF files but I'm not aware of any issues with this. ALAC is new territory for me so I don't know if it supports tagging.


Put the ALAC stream in an mpeg4 container (.mp4 file or .m4a to distinguish it from multimedia) -- then you have all mp4 tagging capabilities.

  • Sabeque
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #16
Thank you all very much for your insights and quick responses. I really learned a lot here and I appreciate everyone's input. This is good stuff to know!

  • Sabeque
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #17
One more question:

Let's say I rip a gapless cd to ALAC (either one file with a cue or separate tracks as individual files), then later the original CD no longer exists because it's degraded, so I want to make another.

If I convert the ALAC to AIFF (PCM) and then burn to a blank CD, will I end up with a bit perfect copy of the original CD I ripped from? I assume that if I follow this procedure (because all conversions were lossless) this would be the case, however are there factors such as drive issues, software errors etc. that can cause the burned CD to NOT be a perfect facsimile of the original? If so, how common are these issues and can I avoid them by choice of conversion and/or burning software, or other precautions?

Thanks again

  • Sabeque
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #18
I've also just noticed on the wiki page about lossless comparisons that ALAC does not have anything listed under "error handling" (neither "yes nor "no". Does this mean there is no way to detect if the file is corrupt? I've heard FLAC has some kind of checksum to verify this. I don't want to rip to lossless, have my CDs degrade and then find out later the rip is corrupt and no way to get my music back. Maybe FLAC is the way to go after all, although no iTunes support. sigh... 

  • Nessuno
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #19
I've also just noticed on the wiki page about lossless comparisons that ALAC does not have anything listed under "error handling" (neither "yes nor "no". Does this mean there is no way to detect if the file is corrupt? I've heard FLAC has some kind of checksum to verify this. I don't want to rip to lossless, have my CDs degrade and then find out later the rip is corrupt and no way to get my music back. Maybe FLAC is the way to go after all, although no iTunes support. sigh... 


Being a lossless encoder ALAC co/decoding is a deterministic process. If the rip is free of error you'll always get back the exact bitperfect copy of the track musical data anytime you decode it.
An ALAC file is just a file in your HD, like a txt or doc or a FLAC itself, reading operations doesn't corrupt it until, of course, the physical media gets corrupt. In this case only a backup can assure you a reliable and full recovery.

AFAIK FLAC error handling is meant to help in case of streaming, not decoding in place.
... I live by long distance.

  • Nessuno
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #20
By the way: speaking about backup, you can just rip to FLAC, convert to ALAC for iTunes convenience and save the FLAC files offline for backup purposes. XLD can handle the conversion as a batch job and automatically add the results to iTunes library.

Being a more widely compatible and better documented format, FLAC is better than ALAC for long term archiving.
  • Last Edit: 02 May, 2012, 05:07:08 PM by Nessuno
... I live by long distance.

  • db1989
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Reply #21
Is it really necessary to maintain two lossless archives?

Quote
Being a more widely compatible and better documented format, FLAC is better than ALAC for long term archiving.
ALAC has been open-sourced, and so I doubt it can ever disappear; thus, I’m not sure how much anyone should worry about this.

Plus, hypothetical concerns about future compatibility should not be confused with some (also hypothetical) large disadvantage of ALAC in terms of the chance that files will spontaneously be corrupted; I doubt this is much of a risk—in fact, I’d prefer that we see some concrete facts about the relative resilience of the two formats—, and it’s sensible to keep a backup (RAID, PAR2, etc.) anyway.

Hey, cut me some slack: a backup is different from a separate lossless archive
  • Last Edit: 02 May, 2012, 05:28:07 PM by db1989

  • Nessuno
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #22
Is it really necessary to maintain two lossless archives?


I see and understand your point: only one suffice, what is really necessary is a backup policy.
All the more, maintaining two separate archives could also cause issues with tag syncing, should you edit the online copy, so I admit is not such a good advice, not for newbies at least.

Just to clarify, for the OP: he can safely rely on ALAC only, it's perfectly suited for his needs.

His easiest workflow could be Rip with XLD to ALAC and import to iTunes. That's all.
Then he can let iTunes take care of transcoding to AAC on iPhone sync, use it to burn CD copies and, if he has a working Time Machine system with an external HD as target, even forget about backups!

About ALAC being open source, well, is a change happened a few months ago and with all good wishes, time will tell. As of today, I still  consider FLAC a safer bet, but yes: that's just me!
... I live by long distance.

Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #23
XLD will import into iTunes automatically and iTunes can transcode on the fly to AAC to 128, 192 or 256 CBR for portables.

  • Porcus
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Best lossless ripping for Mac
Reply #24
Let's say I rip a gapless cd to ALAC (either one file with a cue or separate tracks as individual files), then later the original CD no longer exists because it's degraded, so I want to make another.

If I convert the ALAC to AIFF (PCM) and then burn to a blank CD, will I end up with a bit perfect copy of the original CD I ripped from? I assume that if I follow this procedure (because all conversions were lossless) this would be the case, however are there factors such as drive issues, software errors etc. that can cause the burned CD to NOT be a perfect facsimile of the original?


Of course you could get a failure in the writing process (fifteen years ago, CD burning would involve holding your breath and staring at the progress meter with fingers crossed and mentally reciting a magic formula or a prayer or a contract with the Devil on your immortal soul). It is tempting to say «choose a 'verify' option in the burning application and do not worry».

But if you want the nitpicker story, there are issues where your burned CD would be 'distinguishable from the original' (as if it weren't already by visual inspection):

- Some rippers and drives might not catch 'hidden track one' a.k.a. 'hidden track 0', that is, in track 1 index 0 -- bonus tracks which you have to rewind to catch. If they are not captured upon ripping, they are lost. I am not sure whether all burning suites support them adequately, and I am not sure if all hardware do.
- 'EnhancedCD' with data? If you copy the data session to hard drive, you would usually not get it written back the same place on the burned CD.
- Unless you generate cues sheet upon ripping, you will not store index points. That's 'subchannel', not audio. If that information is lost, then you cannot write it back to the CD.
- Same goes for pre-emphasis, if you have one of those pesky CDs. (Like, first releases of the old Black Sabbath albums or The Wall or the wrong pressing of Kind of Blue or ...) Notice that those will sound wrong on file too, with too much treble. If you generate cue sheets, the 'FLAGS PRE' line should tell you that it is that kind of disc.
- Ripping will capture all bits inside the CD's table of contents. Technically there could be bits outside, which you should normally not worry about. The reason is the so-called 'offset': different drives start the CD at different places, just like what happens when you bump down the stylus on the lead-in on an LP. But this is normally nothing to worry about, as the bits lost are usually all zeroes.
- If offset is not paid attention to upon ripping AND burning, the entire CD might be 'moved a few samples to the left or to the right' compared to the original. That is, you get the same bits, but they might be, say, some milliseconds early or late. You will never notice the difference except there is a loud transient starting precisely at a track boundary, and this happens to end up at the last split second of the previous track.