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  1. #1

    FLAC vs. Apple Lossles Audio Quality through Squeeze Box

    I am considering reworking my music library, for my squeeze box, to be lossless i-tunes. but before I do this work, I would like to know if there is any audio quality differences that I might be able to hear between the two file formats.

    I currently run my squeeze box through a rotel reciever with b&w m1 speakers.

    thanks,

    steve

  2. #2
    Senior Member aubuti's Avatar
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    I'll start with the obvious and observe that lossless is lossless, so there should not be any difference in audio quality. You don't mention which SB model(s) you have, and I don't follow Apple lossless developments closely, but if I remember correctly it is recommended that Touch users do the decoding on the server, because the Touch's implementation is "flaky".

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by aubuti View Post
    I'll start with the obvious and observe that lossless is lossless, so there should not be any difference in audio quality. You don't mention which SB model(s) you have, and I don't follow Apple lossless developments closely, but if I remember correctly it is recommended that Touch users do the decoding on the server, because the Touch's implementation is "flaky".



    I use a squeeze box three. I have had it for about six years now.

  4. #4
    Senior Member aubuti's Avatar
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    The SB3 doesn't decode Apple lossless, so you'll definitely be doing the transcoding on the server, because it needs to send the SB3 something it can understand (eg, FLAC, WAV, AIFF). As long as your server is up to the task you should be fine. And I expect that anything except an underpowered NAS, plug computer, or ancient pc would be able to transcode comfortably.

  5. #5
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    I converted my flac files to Apple Lossless (m4a) for what appears to be the same reason as you (one set of files rather than two). I also have two SB3s (and a Boom). Here's what I've noticed. To my ears on my speakers (Audio Engine 5s) I do not hear a difference. Technically, what I see happening is that a ~1000 kbps m4a file is transcoded on the server (Mac Mini) to a ~750 kbps flac file and sent to the SB3. So, unless you have extremely discriminating ears, I think you'll be fine. Make sure to back up your files before starting just in case, but it's lossless to lossless so it shouldn't be a problem.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mnyb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prabbit View Post
    I converted my flac files to Apple Lossless (m4a) for what appears to be the same reason as you (one set of files rather than two). I also have two SB3s (and a Boom). Here's what I've noticed. To my ears on my speakers (Audio Engine 5s) I do not hear a difference. Technically, what I see happening is that a ~1000 kbps m4a file is transcoded on the server (Mac Mini) to a ~750 kbps flac file and sent to the SB3. So, unless you have extremely discriminating ears, I think you'll be fine. Make sure to back up your files before starting just in case, but it's lossless to lossless so it shouldn't be a problem.
    Note that those rates presented by LMS is bogus server does not know the real rate (old issue, it says the same about24bit files for example ) , the conversion is truly lossles and rate can be different between different lossles formats wihtout any difference in the finally decoded stream , they would both be bitperfect and identical at the squeezebox .

    I do prefer to use player native formats , on the type of medium sized small server i prefer it is normally not an issue but it does use more server resources to transcode .
    If one has multiple players and a large familly I begin to see a problem if the server should provide lot of transcoded streams in parallel .
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Main hifi: Touch + CIA PS +MeridianG68J MeridianHD621 MeridianG98DH 2 x MeridianDSP5200 MeridianDSP5200HC 2 xMeridianDSP3100 +Rel Stadium 3 sub.
    Bedroom/Office: Boom
    Kitchen: Touch + powered Fostex PM0.4
    Misc use: Radio (with battery)
    iPad1 with iPengHD & SqueezePad
    (in storage SB3, reciever ,controller )
    server HP proliant micro server N36L with ClearOS Linux

    http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

  7. #7
    This is interesting. I'm upgrading my home server and was planning to re-rip everything into Apple Lossless as iTunes is bearable for me. However I stream to multiple players (boom, SBR, Radio) and at least two are synced at any one time. Without knowing anything about native formats etc would FLAC files on the server be a better solution? I need to try and find out what the players can handle I guess 'natively'??? I hate it when the music stops because the server / network is choking.

    Thanks

    Adam

  8. #8
    Senior Member aubuti's Avatar
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    The sound quality of Apple Lossless and FLAC will be the same, so the choice depends a lot on which "ecosystem" is more important for your purposes. If you are heavily invested in SBs, then FLAC is the way to go because Squeezeboxes play FLAC natively. If support for Apple products is important to you (AirPlay, iPods, etc) then you're better off with Apple Lossless. Personally, my library is mostly FLAC, but I keep a parallel lossy copy in MP3 format for use on iPod, laptop, and other mobile devices because on those I can easily live with the lower fidelity of MP3.

    If you have several SBs and your comment on iTunes is that it is "bearable", then my reaction is why bother with Apple Lossless at all? There are ripping and management tools that support FLAC that you are likely to find much better than "bearable" (eg, dBpoweramp, Winamp, foobar2000, Media Monkey, and many others). So why go with Apple Lossless.

    If your server is capable, there is nothing wrong with transcoding to Apple Lossless and sending to multiple players. But if the server doesn't have enough processing power then you can run into problems with dropouts as the server cannot transcode fast enough to send a steady stream.

    As for what SBs play natively, this chart from the wiki has a good listing: http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.ph...are_comparison It may not answer all your questions, but it's a good start.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Mnyb's Avatar
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    If they are synced it is only one transcoding process as the server sends the same stream to both players
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Main hifi: Touch + CIA PS +MeridianG68J MeridianHD621 MeridianG98DH 2 x MeridianDSP5200 MeridianDSP5200HC 2 xMeridianDSP3100 +Rel Stadium 3 sub.
    Bedroom/Office: Boom
    Kitchen: Touch + powered Fostex PM0.4
    Misc use: Radio (with battery)
    iPad1 with iPengHD & SqueezePad
    (in storage SB3, reciever ,controller )
    server HP proliant micro server N36L with ClearOS Linux

    http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

  10. #10
    Senior Member aubuti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mnyb View Post
    If they are synced it is only one transcoding process as the server sends the same stream to both players
    Correct, yet still some low-end server hardware is not up to performing that task reliably.

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