In Reply to: Re: Apple Lossless vs. AIFF posted by Gordon Rankin on May 17, 2004 at 13:02:28:
Response to Gordon Rankin - hope this helps clarify:
AIFFs are ripped from CD with iTunes. The error correction feature of iTunes is amazing, but does pose the question: HOW does it correct errors? One way is by creating new data to replace unreadable data. I love having tracks resurrected by iTunes' error correction, but I am also trying to make exact copies, which by definition cannot include new data.
My blind A/B listening tests -- lots of them, lots of ears -- have demonstrated a difference between AL and AIFF files in iTunes playback. Very subtle, and usually for the best. All that says is that the players alter the data in some way. The players are no doubt trying to optimize playback by tweaking EQ and levels. Not a crime, but with AL you don't even have a choice of players.
This is all rather academic, and perhaps most files are not affected at all by either error correction or a player's "optimization." But since a file can be affected by both, my DAC cannot be said to be receiving a copy of the source file, let alone an exact copy of the track on the original CD. A player that simply passes the data along to my DAC without weighing in on how it should sound would be ideal.
When error correcting is on then when the computer reads a track that is bad then it goes back and re-reads that until it is read correctly. Otherwise it is imported with an error.
Had a customer do an entire library with this off. Had to go back and start over.
As far as output, you might want to go into the Preferences-> effects and turn off the Sound Enhancer and see if you notice a difference.
If you set the options right it does pass the data as is.
Otherwise it enhances it like it wants too.
there should not be the need for error correction on a proper rip unless the CD is seriously scratched. I have used EAC to duplicate most of my CD collection to black media, and withing about 500 CDs, I have had only 2 CDs that needed any additional "investigation" of suspect areas. One of these CDs was a crappy pressing (Russian made) with a visible hole in the reflective layer, the other had been completely scratched up by children so that no regular player would even load it anymore. All other CDs were extraced with 100% confidence in overlapping reads.
Perhaps Itunes calls the overlapping reads error correction, while in EAC the error correction is a very time consuming process. I think each suspect sector will be read up to 80 times before it fills in some data it extracts, or fails.
Another thing I noticed is that you really need a CD reader that is well suited for the extraction. Among the 12 odd PCs I have access to, only those with very recent MSI or LiteOn CD-ROMs were really good, while some slightly older drives lacked some features EAC likes to see for good extraction. The good drives will rip a CD at about 8-11X (these are generally 52x drives) while the bad ones will spend 1+ hour on the same CD and report tons of errors.
Read up on what EAC does - Itunes is cute for MP3 ripping, because it does have a great CD database that knows pretty much every CD I ever fed into it. However, it's rather fuzzy about what it really does in terms of quality extraction. I may do a test one day and do a binary comparison of an EAC-ripped file with a file Itunes pulled. One thing I didn't see in Itunes was the ability to rip into an image file with cue sheet to then write the CD as a perfect dupe, not having to spend any time on gap times between songs, etc. Since I don't create samplers from my CDs, rather dupe them to better media, Itunes remains a computer-only type tool for me, creating compressed files for playback on crappy computer speakers or headphones. Don't really care about lossless or rip quality when I listen there.
First off EAC does error correction in that it will re-read a track that was read with error. This happens not because of the quality of the disk but the speed at which it can be read.
In iTunes you can see the actual speed at which it rips. On some cd I can get 15x (24x drive) and some only 5.2x (average). If error checking is off then they read all out. Faster but with significant errors.
As far as quality I give iTunes a major edge. First off the Apple Lossless is so cool it saves space but retains 100% of the quality. It's free and it's completely integrated. Don't give Apple and MP3 face if you have not even looked into it.
I have a HUSH PC (fanless heat pipe technology) setup with everything MusicMatch, EAC, XP PRO etc...
My little iBook kicks the shit out the PC any day of the week.
I can see the actual speed EAC rips at. Same master CD will error correct and re-read at les than 1X on one drive, while it flies through many times without a single retry on another drive, averaging 12X at the end of the read.
Where do you give ITunes the edge? Like I said, the only reason I use it is for crappy computer audio. I don't CARE what that sounds like as long as it's tolerable. I use EAC for the critical duping of crappy master CD pressings to much better sounding 1X written black CD-Rs for my audio setup where I actually listen to the music. I'd never dare to hook up a computer to that system to play back AIFF or whatever files.as for your Ibook - good for you. I just turned a $4600 G3 laptop into a toy for my kids, as it has been teh biggest waste of money in my life, spending the first year more in the shop than in my hands, and after the warranty ran out it pretty much died gradually. I haven't used a Mac since, and I don't miss it.
Anyway - for critical listening, ANY of these things are crap. That's not what I use EAC for. My battery powered DAC on my modded CD transport will kick the shit out of any iBook any day.
So much for today's section in "My Mac is better than your PC" pissing contests.
How'd you spend $4600 on a G3 laptop? And that was in 1990's dollars, too! I don't know about your system, but replacing a transport with a computer is what most of us seem to be concerned with. The Cosecant USB DAC that Gordon uses is a gem and I wish I had one myself. Plus it's powered by the bus, so he can do critical listening even when he runs out of batteries. I use S/PDIF from my Mac to my DAC via a USB interface. Check out wavelength's site and the joys of eliminating crappy transports and their attendant problems with one good rip.
Your battery powered DAC on your modded CD transport will not kick anything out of a silent iBook serving data to one of the most thoughtfully crafted DACs I've ever seen/heard. Heck, the iBook's battery powered, which seems to count for something with you -- and you can even use it to look stuff up on the Internet, maybe learn a thing or two.
First off why do you say they sound bad? I have had the best results with my Cosecant and no longer even use a CD transport.
Sure the Analog outputs are crap look who they are servicing. That's why I designed the Cosecant because the computer is a great vehicle but needs better output.
Peter I designed PC for years have some 300K plus in the field plus about 32 ISA/PCI boards. I know PC's and MAC's better than most.
For Audio, MAC's are just better. Look at any recording studio, they are almost all MAC's. FOR A REASON.
I think I have one of the best PC setups you can get:
Loaded to the hilt with MusicMatch PRO, EAC, XP PRO, 1G mem, 240G drive.
This is definately the quitest PC I can find and it works great.
But why should I have to use more than one program to do the same thing I can do with iTunes.
And for that matter why whould I have to put up with non-intutitve OS like Windows when all I want to do is play good music.
The problem with PRO PC people is that they have not even taken a look at anything else.
Apple makes it soo easy to do all this stuff. It's fast, it's fanless and all the software you need is free and already installed. They prompt you when new software is available for anything you have on your system.
I prefer it because I have seen the best of both.
As far as your transport and your dac, glad to hear it. But USB is error free and there is no need for jitter problems as it is all async to the data rate. My TentLabs modified 47 Labs and my SPDIF dac sounds great too. But both are in the closet collecting dust.
Why... the computer just has so much more too offer without any of the problem areas.
"The problem with PRO PC people is that they have not even taken a look at anything else."
I currently have 3 Macs here, have owned (and used) many before since 1990, with shifting perferences depending on where I got more done. I work with media all day long, and currently I get more done on the PC. Doesn't mean it can't be done on the other platform.
however, I LISTEN to music on a non-PC setup because the gizmo stuff it simply isn't needed to enjoy music. When at work, most of the apps I need to use don't even exisit on the mac, or are rather expensive. Usually I work more with video, and working in the streaming area, I don't use the computer for high-end stuff - just compressed internet delivery. At that level, I care more about multi-format compatibility and a tool that delivers to the 95% market share that's out there using PCs. Try encoding a multi-bitrate WindowsMedia stream on a Mac for example.
Anyway - we probably misunderstand each other here as to what we use the computers for in the audio arena. I use PCs to edit/produce, and if I listen to music, it's in a noisy office environment where 12 computers and disk arrays are making a total racket to begin with. that's where MP3 is fine with me. At home, when listening to MUSIC, it's a quiet tweaked transport, a battery powered DAC, a tube preamp, and some Magnepan speakers in a room that except for lights has no other electronics in it. It works, sounds fabulous, and doesn't need a security patch every 2 weeks ;-)
This post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors: