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Audio Formats - What Does What and What It All Means

Gordon2147

Standard Member
Hi Ed
Thanks for the run through, appears I am familiar with this motley crew. I prefer to use WAV for CD rips, just so I have everything, not that there is a significantly discernible difference to FLAC. Not particularly fussed about metadata, I generally browse the web when listening to music.

A question for you, I didn't think Apt-X is a format, I thought it was a transmission method, could you enlighten me on that.
 

RichardG

Active Member
DVD-A could carry 192/24 over stereo I recall.

Shame that format bombed. I've got quite a few that I still play via an early Pioneer universal player which hasn't failed me in 15 years of use!
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
Hi Ed
Thanks for the run through, appears I am familiar with this motley crew. I prefer to use WAV for CD rips, just so I have everything, not that there is a significantly discernible difference to FLAC. Not particularly fussed about metadata, I generally browse the web when listening to music.

A question for you, I didn't think Apt-X is a format, I thought it was a transmission method, could you enlighten me on that.
Minor correction. It is high data rate MP3 etc that has " not a significantly discernible difference " to WAV. In the case of FLAC there is no difference to WAV ... It is the difference between the weight of a first edition hardback novel and the paperback version. .. MP3 on the other hand,is the abridged Readers Digest version..all the main plots are there, but the subtle interplay between minor characters omitted.
There is one improvement that WAV has over FLAC... It is more universal
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
A question for you, I didn't think Apt-X is a format
Ed is correct, from my reading LDAC and Apt-X do modify the content of the higher frequency components by reducing the resolution ,in addition to doing some FLAC like compression,so they would be distinct formats. Apparently with a Redbook CD the highest speed LDAC can just get bye without reducing resolution,but beyond 16 bit 44k or if the transmission rates are compromised, it progressively removes hf resolution
 

SonOfSJ

Well-known Member
@Ed Selley I don't really use the various audio formats (at home I either listen to the radio or television or play Blu-rays) and I have no mobile devices, but I'm sure that there are many people who will find the article very useful as a reference. Thank you.
 

addyeddy

Active Member
Big fan of Blu Ray audio, SACD and DVD-A here. I can really tell a difference with any of them over an ordinary CD, and some of the surround mixes created for these formats are wonderful. Lucky to have an Oppo that will play them all.
 

Jokerr

Well-known Member

Sufc1989

Active Member
MP3 320k is what I download for my music. Sounds good on all devices, and not much difference between CD for my ears. I do use this format when I’m playing out if there aren’t any 1s and 2s available for my vinyl!
 

Gordon2147

Standard Member
Ed is correct, from my reading LDAC and Apt-X do modify the content of the higher frequency components by reducing the resolution ,in addition to doing some FLAC like compression,so they would be distinct formats. Apparently with a Redbook CD the highest speed LDAC can just get bye without reducing resolution,but beyond 16 bit 44k or if the transmission rates are compromised, it progressively removes hf resolution
Thanks for the reply dannnielll
It seems I have confused the meaning of Format and transmission method. I was expecting to read that I could store a file in an "Apt-X" format with a suffix such as MP3 and FLAC have (.mp3/.flac for example), and as such Apt-X is an on the fly format as it compresses as it receives data that is then transmitted using bluetooth?
If I have got that wrong would appreciate a source I could go to read up on it.

As I understood it LDAC tops out at around 990 Kb/s, so it has to remove something from the data it receives however it is still going to sound good in comparison to other algorithms over bluetooth.

All the best
 

Toon Army

Well-known Member
SACD remains my favourite format and always sound great on a good system. The one time I will always stop doing anything else and listen attentively. Just a shame the discs cost so much.
 

addyeddy

Active Member
SACD remains my favourite format and always sound great on a good system. The one time I will always stop doing anything else and listen attentively. Just a shame the discs cost so much.
Cannot understand why record companies haven't reissued discs now more people have the equipment to play them The outlay for them must be minimal
 
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NicolasB

Well-known Member
DSD
An acronym of Direct Stream Digital
It may be an abbreviation for "Direct Stream Digital", but I doubt that it's an acronym.

To be an acronym, it has to be pronounced as a word, not as initials. For example, "laser" is an acronym, so are "radar", "NATO", "UNESCO", etc. but (for example) "UN" is not an acronym, because it's pronounced "You Enn" rather than "Un".
 

Chester

Well-known Member
@NicolasB My god, you learn something new everyday! DSD (like BBC) is an initialism.

It does mean however that TLA is a paradox!

Thanks for rewiring my brain. I'm going to have a headache now! :confused:

And back to the topic...
 

setthecontrols

Standard Member
It may be an abbreviation for "Direct Stream Digital", but I doubt that it's an acronym.

To be an acronym, it has to be pronounced as a word, not as initials. For example, "laser" is an acronym, so are "radar", "NATO", "UNESCO", etc. but (for example) "UN" is not an acronym, because it's pronounced "You Enn" rather than "Un".
@NicolasB My god, you learn something new everyday! DSD (like BBC) is an initialism.

It does mean however that TLA is a paradox!

Thanks for rewiring my brain. I'm going to have a headache now! :confused:

And back to the topic...
I would have made the same mistake about acronyms! I like the TLA reference... reminds me of the dictionary definition of recursion: see recursion

As you say, back to topic... thanks for the article Ed - a very informative read.
 

Ensor

Active Member
...not that there is a significantly discernible difference to FLAC.
In fact there is NO difference between FLAC and WAV. Think of it like RAR or ZIP, optimised for audio files. What comes out is bit for bit identical to what went in.

Big advantages over WAV are the compression and metadata...how can you organise your music library without metadata?
 

Ensor

Active Member
I'm at a loss as to why there's not more use of WMA Lossless...
As the article says, it's not open source.

FLAC is and has been around since 2001 so is firmly entrenched. Like ALAC it offers no advantages over FLAC, so why would anyone choose to use a proprietary format over a well supported open standard?

WMA is arguably better than MP3, but has also effectively failed as it's a closed, proprietary format.
 

t-force

Well-known Member
Since I started storing my CDs however long ago it was, I've always used FLAC. Has anyone done any comparisons with FLAC vs ALAC? I'm not thinking of converting one to the other, but wondering whether any future CDs would be better off ripped to ALAC instead...
 

Ensor

Active Member
...wondering whether any future CDs would be better off ripped to ALAC instead...
Considering ALAC offers no advantages over FLAC (sonically or otherwise), is pretty much only supported by Apple devices and development stopped when it was open sourced in 2011 - whereas FLAC is under constant development and is almost universally supported - I'd ask why would you want to switch to an effectively dead format?
 

t-force

Well-known Member
Considering ALAC offers no advantages over FLAC (sonically or otherwise), is pretty much only supported by Apple devices and development stopped when it was open sourced in 2011 - whereas FLAC is under constant development and is almost universally supported - I'd ask why would you want to switch to an effectively dead format?
I wasn't saying I was going to switch, was just curious as to whether there would be any benefit in doing so...
 

Ensor

Active Member
I wasn't saying I was going to switch...
Yes, I get that. I was just pointing out that apart from there being no real advantage, it's effectively a dead format outside of Apple circles.

I don't know if it's still the case, but iTunes used to be a no-go area for FLAC. If this still holds true then, if you use iTunes, ALAC would be the preferred format...
 

Pecker

Distinguished Member
As the article says, it's not open source.

FLAC is and has been around since 2001 so is firmly entrenched. Like ALAC it offers no advantages over FLAC, so why would anyone choose to use a proprietary format over a well supported open standard?

WMA is arguably better than MP3, but has also effectively failed as it's a closed, proprietary format.
Okay, I'm not talking about WMA vs mp3, so much as WMA LOSSLESS over FLAC, etc.

Saying it's a 'closed, proprietary' format, in this context, what does that even mean?
 

Ensor

Active Member
Okay, I'm not talking about WMA vs mp3...
I know, I was just using the example to reinforce the point.

Saying it's a 'closed, proprietary' format, in this context, what does that even mean?
I'd have thought that was pretty clear. Using the example of WMA (all types), the standard was originated by and is maintained by Microsodt. You can't get the details of the inner workings of WMA without paying MS for the privilege and being NDA'd up the wazoo. You also have to pay them a royalty on anything you sell that uses the format.

Contrast that with FLAC, which is royalty free and the full details of its inner workings are freely available from their website to anyone who's interested.

MP3 is similar in that respect, though they do charge a royalty free on encoders I believe.
 

Pecker

Distinguished Member
Using the example of WMA (all types), the standard was originated by and is maintained by Microsoft. You can't get the details of the inner workings of WMA without paying MS for the privilege and being NDA'd up the wazoo. You also have to pay them a royalty on anything you sell that uses the format.
Okay.

So?

Most people will initially rip music for themselves. In Ye Earlie Dayes people would only have thought of lossless as a home-bound format, with portable being mp3 only.

Even today, I have a Fiio 3, and it'll play WMA Lossless. This suggest to me that the licensing rights to the format are far from prohibitive.

So why hasn't it taken hold?
 

Ensor

Active Member
Most people will initially rip music for themselves. In Ye Earlie Dayes people would only have thought of lossless as a home-bound format...
In "Ye Earlie Dayes" we had no lossless formats other than WAV. Then FLAC and APE arrived. And it was good.

WMA Lossless came along two years after FLAC, it was never going to get much traction outside of Windows. Anyone interested in lossless audio was already using APE or FLAC. You're going to switch to a new, unsupported outside of Windows codec why?

Plus it was from the "evil" Microsoft and had the spectre of DRM associated with it.

Even today, I have a Fiio 3, and it'll play WMA Lossless.
So?

FiiO make high end players, of course they'll support every format going. My Karma supports OGG, another format I've never used.
 

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