Skip to main content

Topic: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality? (Read 4735 times) previous topic - next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Pardon me if I ask this question in a wrong sub-forum.

I'm curious about this topic. I heard claims about transferring digital files is likely to reduce the sonic quality of the file itself due to the transcoding process so it's best to store a rip in flac/wav on a dedicated harddisk. I find this to be non-sense. I thought the only way to affect sonic quality in such a way is by converting it to analog and do some processing which is why analog equipments are inferior since the signal is so fragile and there are so many things going on in a hi-fi system that may interfere the sound. However, it does happen that way with cassette tapes and vinyl but they are analog while CD, flac, mp3, etc are digital. I thought that digital audio is also invented as a solution to this problem.  Interestingly, my young brother(far younger than me, he's in his 20s)swear by this which got me thinking about it. He said that it is very possible to affect the analog signal with digital process such as converting flac to mp3 128kps. I told him that isn't the same with transferring because it's a digital way of processing the analog signal and not simply sending the digital data to another medium. I also told him that his way of thinking is like saying CD transport does matter in achieving a good sound quality(we previously agreed that it was not). However, we haven't reach an agreement so I'm still curious about it.


  • saratoga
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #1
Transcoding files can affect quality if you change formats.

Making copies of them should not.  Or if it does, your hard drive is probably dying and you're about to lose your files one way or the other.

  • Palladium
  • [*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #2
Yep, it is 100% pure nonsense. If your PC hardware is so broken to produce errant bits the chances are so high that it will not even survive past the Windows booting process, let alone copy music files.

  • LithosZA
  • [*][*][*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #3
Quote
Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
No.
Quote
I heard claims about transferring digital files is likely to reduce the sonic quality of the file itself due to the transcoding process...
Transferring != Transcoding.
You can transfer files from one place to another without touching the contents. If the contents were altered then the file is corrupted. Same with any file you transfer...Word documents, PDF files, etc.

If you do transcode to a lossy format then yes. It is possible to reduce the sound quality.
For example transcoding to a 128Kbps MP3. IMO 128Kbps is a bit too low bitrate for MP3, but lots of people here will disagree.
  • Last Edit: 28 March, 2017, 01:41:56 AM by LithosZA

  • Porcus
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #4
The OP is right, of course - as long as you do not have file corruption (which I've had enough of), then you can witness one of the wonders of digital computing: copying without generation loss. I wonder whether the person who says otherwise, has ever used https (what would happen to encryption if bits change upon transfer?)

Although, CD transports could "matter" if the CD does not play too well - the best "transport" would in most cases be a secure software ripper and then only afterwards playback the files on drive. (Then you can verify your rip and re-rip if things go wrong - an audio CD player must deliver the audio at a rate of one second per second.)

  • DVDdoug
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #5
Quote
  Interestingly, my young brother(far younger than me, he's in his 20s)
He's still at that age where he knows everything! :D

Quote
He said that it is very possible to affect the analog signal with digital process such as converting flac to mp3 128kps.
Yes, MP3 is lossy.  But, that's a purely digital process (no analog).   Once the signal is digitized, there is no analog until digital-to-analog conversion during playback.

Aside from intentionally using lossy compression to get smaller files...  Once you are in the digital domain, everything is generally super-reliable, and when something goes wrong it usually goes terribly wrong...   One altered bit in the file that holds your bank account balance can make a million dollar error just as easily as a one cent error.    

One example I use is this - If there's a spelling error or typo in this message, it's probably me...   It's not the data getting corrupted over the Internet.

  • Porcus
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #6
One example I use is this - If there's a spelling error or typo in this message, it's probably me...  It's not the data getting corrupted over the Internet.
Luckily, my digital audio chain was not designed by the iPhone Autocorrect team.

Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #7
I’d like to apologize for this very delayed reply. My PC had problems several weeks ago in which the PSU failed, and then the HDD failed. It took sometimes for me to do a research and find the correct replacement(I was worried those hardware stores might fool me in some way or another due to my lack of experience with PC machines).

Anyway, thank you very much for the responses. Really appreciate it!

Transcoding files can affect quality if you change formats.

Making copies of them should not.  Or if it does, your hard drive is probably dying and you're about to lose your files one way or the other.

Yep, it is 100% pure nonsense. If your PC hardware is so broken to produce errant bits the chances are so high that it will not even survive past the Windows booting process, let alone copy music files.

Quote
Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
No.
Quote
I heard claims about transferring digital files is likely to reduce the sonic quality of the file itself due to the transcoding process...
Transferring != Transcoding.
You can transfer files from one place to another without touching the contents. If the contents were altered then the file is corrupted. Same with any file you transfer...Word documents, PDF files, etc.

If you do transcode to a lossy format then yes. It is possible to reduce the sound quality.
For example transcoding to a 128Kbps MP3. IMO 128Kbps is a bit too low bitrate for MP3, but lots of people here will disagree.

The OP is right, of course - as long as you do not have file corruption (which I've had enough of), then you can witness one of the wonders of digital computing: copying without generation loss. I wonder whether the person who says otherwise, has ever used https (what would happen to encryption if bits change upon transfer?)

Although, CD transports could "matter" if the CD does not play too well - the best "transport" would in most cases be a secure software ripper and then only afterwards playback the files on drive. (Then you can verify your rip and re-rip if things go wrong - an audio CD player must deliver the audio at a rate of one second per second.)

Just about all the informations that I need, thanks, gentlemen!

Quote
  Interestingly, my young brother(far younger than me, he's in his 20s)
He's still at that age where he knows everything! :D

Quote
He said that it is very possible to affect the analog signal with digital process such as converting flac to mp3 128kps.
Yes, MP3 is lossy.  But, that's a purely digital process (no analog).   Once the signal is digitized, there is no analog until digital-to-analog conversion during playback.

Aside from intentionally using lossy compression to get smaller files...  Once you are in the digital domain, everything is generally super-reliable, and when something goes wrong it usually goes terribly wrong...   One altered bit in the file that holds your bank account balance can make a million dollar error just as easily as a one cent error.    

One example I use is this - If there's a spelling error or typo in this message, it's probably me...   It's not the data getting corrupted over the Internet.

Well, yes right. He'd often question my knowledge in this field simply because I grew up during analog era. He forgot that I was already using CDs before he was even born. Hahaha. That youthful spirit!


Anyway, as I'm writing this post, I'm listening to the freshly ripped mp3 320 kbps from my copy of Herbie Hancock's Crossings album. I rip and convert them using Foobar2000 software and LAME encoder(which I discovered here in this forum). All goes well so far!

  • 2Bdecided
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Developer
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #8
This is just depressing...
http://dsd-guide.com/believe-what-you-hear-not-what-you-read-dsd-wav-flac-conversions-what-does-it-mean
...it's like some people just can't cope with digital being digital, democratically delivering the same file to everyone. It has to be as problematic and elusive as analogue, with a single perfect uncopyable master, and only special copies getting close. You're going to have to pay more for those of course.

Cheers,
David.

  • Wombat
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #9
Cookie Marenco the writer of the linked article is often quoted in outer space for her extraordinary findings how digital behaves. Once flac'ed and fidelity is lost forever.
It reaches out to the people that claim to hear RFI pollutes the sound of digital files in the very moment you open it in an audio editor.
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

  • Palladium
  • [*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #10
This is just depressing...
http://dsd-guide.com/believe-what-you-hear-not-what-you-read-dsd-wav-flac-conversions-what-does-it-mean
...it's like some people just can't cope with digital being digital, democratically delivering the same file to everyone. It has to be as problematic and elusive as analogue, with a single perfect uncopyable master, and only special copies getting close. You're going to have to pay more for those of course.

Cheers,
David.

Maybe the next time she calls the emergency ambulance hotline with a cell phone, the operator should tick her off as a digital plebian and use a real fully analog landline before dropping the call.

  • Woodinville
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #11
Well, given that I saw somebody advertising a 'memcpy" that was optimized for audio data, people can CLAIM lots of things.

But if a copy of a digital file sounds different, something is broken. End of discussion.
-----
J. D. (jj) Johnston

  • ajinfla
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #12
transferring digital files is likely to reduce the sonic quality of the file itself due to the transcoding process

in an experiment I had done the newly burned CD sounded better than the stamped original.
So if you lose SQ with a transfer, just burn to a new disc and the increase in SQ net sums to zero, bam, you have an identical SQ digital copy like everyone else.
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • greynol
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Global Moderator
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #13
I still have my appendix so you can't tell me he didn't hear what he said he heard.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • radorn
  • [*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #14
If copying an audio file is causing it to sound in any way different than the original, something on you computer has gone wrong, and should probably be experiencing many other problems due to data corruption. While there could be many different potential causes for that kind of symptom, the most probable cause would be a failing storage medium or corrupted RAM.
Copying digital data (audio, or ANY other kind of file), assuming regular integrity checks and whatnot, is 1:1 perfect, LOSSLESS, so the original and the copy are the same at the binary level and should, therefore, work exactly the same.a
In any reasonably constructed computer , copying data either works right or it doesn't, and, if it doesn't, the damage is probably going to be severe (skipping, screeching, undecodable files...) and not just some problem with <put audiophile non-word here> or whatever other nonsense.

Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #15
There is a phenomenon known as bit-rot.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_degradation

But that happens to your existing data just sitting on a hard drive.  It is not caused by copying data to another media of some kind.

That's why backups are important.  A good rule to live by is, if you don't have 2 copies of a file, it doesn't exist.

  • ajinfla
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #16
And of course SQ transfer issues via USB
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #17
Data corruption can be tricky to guard against even with back ups.  The best guard against that is robust integrity checking that can correct minor errors if they occur.  The more data you have the harder it can become to check for it.

Part of my backup routine involves checking for signs of corruption on every kind of file I have.  Old but important files, such as documents are sometimes put into archive formats (i.e. .rar or .7z) that can be checked with a few mouse clicks and replaced with a good copy if any corruption is found.

Copying of data shouldn't result in any change in sound quality.  If anything you might notice problems right away should an audio file being copied ends up corrupted from copying it.  Such as your media player throwing out error messages that it cannot be played or the file abruptly ending way sooner than the reported length of it or a bunch of noise (some formats).

A simple trick I've learned over the years is that if you copy something double check to make sure the copy actually works.  It can be as simple as opening the document or photo or running a verification utility on large media files such as music or videos that can report any problems it finds.  I've had instances where a copy to or from a flash drive wasn't successful when trying to copy files from one computer to another and the operating system didn't tell me anything when I went to do something else because it was taking a while and I came back thinking it was done (I saw this problem sometimes with Windows 7 but haven't with any other OS I used).  It's much easier to check than to be an idiot and say digital formats are bad.

  • board
  • [*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #18
Cookie Marenco the writer of the linked article is often quoted in outer space for her extraordinary findings how digital behaves. Once flac'ed and fidelity is lost forever.
It reaches out to the people that claim to hear RFI pollutes the sound of digital files in the very moment you open it in an audio editor.
Wasn't Cookie Morenco also the one who only wanted to work with DSD files, so if they received something in PCM, they transferred it to analogue tape and then from tape to DSD?
Although she might be a good producer, etc., it says something about how she views accuracy and transparency.
"What is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence"
- Christopher Hitchens
"It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge"
- Sam Harris

Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #19
Cookie Marenco the writer of the linked article is often quoted in outer space for her extraordinary findings how digital behaves. Once flac'ed and fidelity is lost forever.
It reaches out to the people that claim to hear RFI pollutes the sound of digital files in the very moment you open it in an audio editor.
Wasn't Cookie Morenco also the one who only wanted to work with DSD files, so if they received something in PCM, they transferred it to analogue tape and then from tape to DSD?
Although she might be a good producer, etc., it says something about how she views accuracy and transparency.

Given the very limited production options for DSD, one wonders what sort of creative  work she actually did? 

Remember, DSD can't even be recorded well - for the best quality it is usually  first digitized  into a sort of PCM and then the format is  converted. AFAIK DSD was only ever intended to be a distribution format...  That means that she is only just another audiophile, right?

For example, I went searching for DSD Equalizer, and DSD dynamics range compression, and seem to be coming up empty.

  • julf
  • [*][*][*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #20
Well, given that I saw somebody advertising a 'memcpy" that was optimized for audio data, people can CLAIM lots of things.

You tell me - I got a lifetime ban on a popular computer audiophile forum for questioning those claims (and pointing out that the author of the optimized copy routines was in violation of his own licensing terms).

  • board
  • [*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #21
Well, given that I saw somebody advertising a 'memcpy" that was optimized for audio data, people can CLAIM lots of things.

You tell me - I got a lifetime ban on a popular computer audiophile forum for questioning those claims (and pointing out that the author of the optimized copy routines was in violation of his own licensing terms).
Was that Digital Audio Review that you were banned from? I'm cust curious, as I don't frequent other forums than Hydrogen Audio, so I don't know what policies and attitudes most other forums have :-).
"What is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence"
- Christopher Hitchens
"It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge"
- Sam Harris

Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #22
Well, given that I saw somebody advertising a 'memcpy" that was optimized for audio data, people can CLAIM lots of things.

You tell me - I got a lifetime ban on a popular computer audiophile forum for questioning those claims (and pointing out that the author of the optimized copy routines was in violation of his own licensing terms).

Sounds like someone throwing their own administrative weight around and trying to silence those that are critical of them for their own hypocrisy and delusions.

The best advice I can give anyone is to stay off forums like that.  You only hurt yourself in the end.  I've been on forums where I pointed something out to an administrator only to be banned from the forum completely and the entire community itself because some miserable person decided to go on a power trip and belittle me.
  • Last Edit: 19 May, 2017, 03:10:06 PM by Chibisteven

Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #23
Well, given that I saw somebody advertising a 'memcpy" that was optimized for audio data, people can CLAIM lots of things.

You tell me - I got a lifetime ban on a popular computer audiophile forum for questioning those claims (and pointing out that the author of the optimized copy routines was in violation of his own licensing terms).

Well, you probably posted there more than once. I was lifetime banned from The Womb after making exactly one technical post. Using a recognizable nickname was apparently enough.

IMO this sort of thing  is just more  evidence that the high end audio industry is largely based on placeboism, and that it is widely perceived that  backing away from the numerous and popular audio myths  would have severe economic consequences. These is no need for a conspiracy because this is plainly obvious to the thousands of perpetrators who have staked their economic future on these false claims and lies.  They often act aggressively like this to protect their turf.

I could get myself banned from dozens of sites in one evening, if I really wanted to. Just tell the truth.

  • julf
  • [*][*][*][*]
Re: Is it true that transferring digital files affect the sound quality?
Reply #24
Was that Digital Audio Review that you were banned from? I'm cust curious, as I don't frequent other forums than Hydrogen Audio, so I don't know what policies and attitudes most other forums have :-).

No, Computer Audiophile.