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skrehbie
2006-09-22, 08:12
This may be a question for the Beginners forum, but I will post here and see what happens. Can someone explain what the adavantages are to using the iTunes for the library instead of just using your disk library. I used iTunes at first and then stopped. For one thing, I had to remember to manually add each new directory into iTunes before Slimserver could see it.

Thanks
Stan

Craig, James (IT)
2006-09-22, 08:23
> Can someone explain what the adavantages are to using
> the iTunes for the library instead of just using your disk library. I
> used iTunes at first and then stopped. For one thing, I had to
> remember to manually add each new directory into iTunes before
> Slimserver could see it.

Using iTunes requires a different state of mind!

You must no longer interact directly with the files on disk - All music
goes into iTunes before/as it gets played, and all access to music is
via iTunes (excepting SlimServer). iTunes organises and catalogues the
music for you and you no longer need to worry about it!

If you don't want to use it like this, I would say don't bother.

A lot of people find it very frustrating...

James
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mrchrispy
2006-09-22, 08:32
The single biggest reason to use the iTunes library is because you own an iPod.

Nostromo
2006-09-22, 08:51
iTunes is an intuitive, convenient and easy to use all-in-one package allowing you to rip your music, tag it and organize it, create playlists and, most importantly, smart playlists. Smart playlists are great. Its not the absolutely perfect way to do all of these things, but it gets the job done. Its also great for people who don't know beans about computers or who don't want the hassle of finding the apps (what I call "fishing for apps"), then configuring them.

Unfortunately, iTunes doesn't support FLAC. Which means that iTunes users can't enjoy :

- Gapless playback on they're Squeezebox (the Squeezebox doesn't have a workaround yet for the limitations of MP3 and AAC)

- Replaygain (AFAIK, AAC and Apple lossless don't support it)

- Can't use RWD or FFW, unless using MP3's.

I'm not using iTunes anymore. The feature I'll miss the most is definitively smartplaylists. Fortunately, Erland wrote those great plugins. He did a great job, but he'll be the first to admit, I think, that its not as intuitive and easy to use as the Apple smart playlists. For those of us who don't speak SQL, he even added some templates. Unfortunately, for some of the dynamic playlists I have in mind, I believe I'll have no choice but learn some SQL.

geraint smith
2006-09-22, 10:26
Its an intuitive, convenient and easy to use all-in-one package allowing you rip your music, tag it and organize it, create playlists and, most importantly, smart playlists. Smart playlists are great. Its not the absolutely perfect way to do all of these things, but it gets the job done. Its also great for people who don't know beans about computers or who don't want the hassle of finding the apps, then configuring them.

Unfortunately, iTunes doesn't support FLAC. Which means that iTunes users can't enjoy :

- Gapless playback on they're Squeezebox (the Squeezebox doesn't have a workaround yet for the limitations of MP3 and AAC)

- Replaygain

- Can't use RWD or FFW, unless using MP3's.

I'm not using iTunes anymore. The feature I'll miss the most is definitively smartplaylists. Fortunately, Erland wrote SQLplaylist plugin. He did a great job, but he'll be the first to admit that its not as intuitive and easy to use as the Apple smart playlists.

All true except for the "can't enjoy" bit. What about ALAC and AIFF? They work a treat gaplessly. I've just been listening to a gapless AIFF Solti Tannhauser on SS6.5 via SB2. Bliss over wireless. And WAV, for that matter. I don't myself know whether that works, because, being an Apple pip, I don't use it much, but doesn't it? And FWD and REV work with AIFF (certainly - just been playing with it) and ALAC, (I think) too. As for this "replaygain" of which you speak, I confess I know little of it. If, however, it's the same as smart pre-set volume adjustment for individual tracks or albums then it definitely works for AIFF and ALAC because, having finally got 6.5 working - very nice congratulations to the team and all - after some wireless tribulations, it took me a while to work out why it was being so nannyish about letting me play it loud. Some pesky default setting, it seems, but it shows it works.

Come back, O, Nostromo, Come back! Harken to the siren song of iTunes!

(Fixes him with hypnotic gaze. Fails dismally. Loads super boy scout-type cardboard catapult instead, but hits passing policeman. Oh, well. One can but try.)

Nostromo
2006-09-22, 10:50
All true except for the "can't enjoy" bit. What about ALAC and AIFF? They work a treat gaplessly. I've just been listening to a gapless AIFF Solti Tannhauser on SS6.5 via SB2. Bliss over wireless. And WAV, for that matter. I don't myself know whether that works, because, being an Apple pip, I don't use it much, but doesn't it? And FWD and REV work with AIFF (certainly - just been playing with it) and ALAC, (I think) too. As for this "replaygain" of which you speak, I confess I know little of it. If, however, it's the same as smart pre-set volume adjustment for individual tracks or albums then it definitely works for AIFF and ALAC because, having finally got 6.5 working - very nice congratulations to the team and all - after some wireless tribulations, it took me a while to work out why it was being so nannyish about letting me play it loud. Some pesky default setting, it seems, but it shows it works.

Come back, O, Nostromo, Come back! Harken to the siren song of iTunes!

(Fixes him with hypnotic gaze. Fails dismally. Loads super boy scout-type cardboard catapult instead, but hits passing policeman. Oh, well. One can but try.)

:lol:

ALAC supports gapless playback? Are you sure?

EDIT: I quickly checked, and it seems that the Squeezebox supports gapless playback of AAC and AlAC files. Am I dreaming all this??? I don't hear the gaps I normally hear on my iPod. Now, I'm confused.

That said, neither AAC or ALAC support FWD and REV.

As for AIFF, I really don't see the point in using it. If its anything like WAV, there's no difference, soundwise, with ALAC or FLAC, AIFF tracks take a lot more of space and its a poor choice for tagging purposes.

On ReplayGain

http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?RGFoobar

But its not recommended for music with high dynamic range, like classical.

geraint smith
2006-09-22, 15:20
:lol:

ALAC supports gapless playback? Are you sure? EDIT: I quickly checked, and it does seem to support gapless playback. But I don't think that plain vanilla AAC supports gapless. And neither AAC or ALAC support FWD and REV.

As for AIFF, I really don't see the point in using it. If its anything like WAV, there's no difference, soundwise, with ALAC or FLAC, AIFF tracks take a lot more of space and its a poor choice for tagging purposes.

On ReplayGain

http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?RGFoobar

But its not recommended for music with high dynamic range, like classical.

No, I checked, too, and you're quite right, and I was quite wrong, about AAC and ALAC. Sorry! (That shows how much I use them!) I disagree about AIFF, though. In fact, I'd put it the other way round. I don't see the point in NOT using aiff (or .wav). They are, unarguably, the gold standard sonically, which one cannot say of any of the compressed formats, about the relative merits of which or differences between which there always seems to be some sort of barney going on somewhere. There's lots else in favour of not using compression - flexibility, rapidity of ripping, ability to upsample/edit digitised vinyl, simplicity of processing, not to mention all the things you can do with them on Squeezebox - that make make ripping to anything else seem to me like spoiling the ship for a ha'p'eth of tar. The only argument I can see in its favour is disc space, but this is now so incredibly cheap that it seems to me like false economy to stint on it and risk (perhaps) compromising the output of, for instance, a five figure (or more) audio setup.

Concerning tagging - now, you definitely lose me. I've never myself found any shortcomings in or limitations to the labelling that I need of Aiff files. This may well be because - being a benighted iTunes user! - I don't know anything at all about it, and don't really know what is possible. That wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. Lead me, therefore, to tagging Nirvana, O Nostromo, for I comprehend it not.

blackbear
2006-09-22, 15:45
..
I disagree about AIFF, though. In fact, I'd put it the other way round. I don't see the point in NOT using aiff (or .wav). They are, unarguably, the gold standard sonically, which one cannot say of any of the compressed formats,
..


Sorry, but that is just plain wrong. You seem ignorant of the difference lossy and lossless compressed formats. With lossless formats, such as FLAC, all information is retained, and when uncompressed, an exact duplicate of the original bytestream is achieved. Thus, there is no sonic difference between a .wav and a .flac of the same song. They are both "the gold standard".

Yes, disk space has become very cheap, but so has proccessing power, and the cost of compressing and decompressing is no excuse not to use (lossless) compression.

And, as Nostromo correctly ponted out, .aiff and .wav have inferior or nonexistent tagging capabilities, unlike FLAC and many others. Perhaps iTunes hides that from you (I wouldn't know as I don't use iTunes)

Nostromo
2006-09-22, 16:06
On the different file formats:

http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?BeginnersGuideToFileFormats

About tags:


You will almost certainly want your music files to contain information (e.g. Artist, Album, Title etc) in Tags. Most file formats will manage this - but not WAV.

They don't mention AIFF. Maybe its better than WAV for tagging, I don't know.

Tags can also contain other types of information, like the genre (rock, baroque, classical, romantic...), ratings and the very useful comments. These can very useful to set up playlists.

geraint smith
2006-09-22, 16:26
Sorry, but that is just plain wrong. You seem ignorant of the difference lossy and lossless compressed formats. With lossless formats, such as FLAC, all information is retained, and when uncompressed, an exact duplicate of the original bytestream is achieved. Thus, there is no sonic difference between a .wav and a .flac of the same song. They are both "the gold standard".

Yes, disk space has become very cheap, but so has proccessing power, and the cost of compressing and decompressing is no excuse not to use (lossless) compression.

And, as Nostromo correctly ponted out, .aiff and .wav have inferior or nonexistent tagging capabilities, unlike FLAC and many others. Perhaps iTunes hides that from you (I wouldn't know as I don't use iTunes)

Please don't start throwing accusations of ignorance around. It's ill-mannered, boring, unnecessary and also happens to be wrong. This was a simple mis-phrasing on my part. I meant that there is continuing argument about the merits or otherwise of lossless compressed formats. Listen to any bunch of audiophiles, and they'll probably be at it at some time. There is no such argument about the sonic qualities of the uncompressed formats.

Why does one need an "excuse" to use an uncompressed format? I happen to prefer uncompressed files because I find them more versatile and useful and I'm also not convinced that adding to the complexity of any process is necessarily a good thing. (Nobody mentioned the cost of processing as an argument, I believe.) That is a perfectly reasonable - and reasonably well-informed and rational - position to hold. It certainly doesn't strike me as terribly provocative.

What you say about tagging merely repeats, with more aggression but without imparting any additional information, a point about which I'd already agreed I knew nothing because I use iTunes, and therefore am not aware that I need to know anything - which may, or may not, be an advantage of using iTunes, depending on your point of view. But I'm really not interested in an argument. I was rather hoping for an entertaining and possibly illuminating discussion.

egd
2006-09-22, 16:45
The single biggest reason to use the iTunes library is because you own an iPod.

Anyone wanting to manage their iPod music library should have a look at a freeware program called vPod. It does everything you need to add/delete music on you iPod without all the iTunes bloatware.

Nostromo
2006-09-22, 17:32
No, I checked, too, and you're quite right, and I was quite wrong, about AAC and ALAC. Sorry! (That shows how much I use them!)

MP3 and AAC don't support gapless playback, but there are workarounds. Some MP3 players, for example, can do it. When I did some tests earlier today with AAC and ALAC tracks, I didn't hear any gaps. Its a bit confusing, since the Squeezebox isn't supposed to be able, as of yet, to remove the gaps.


I disagree about AIFF, though. In fact, I'd put it the other way round. I don't see the point in NOT using aiff (or .wav). They are, unarguably, the gold standard sonically, which one cannot say of any of the compressed formats, about the relative merits of which or differences between which there always seems to be some sort of barney going on somewhere. There's lots else in favour of not using compression - flexibility, rapidity of ripping, ability to upsample/edit digitised vinyl, simplicity of processing, not to mention all the things you can do with them on Squeezebox - that make make ripping to anything else seem to me like spoiling the ship for a ha'p'eth of tar. The only argument I can see in its favour is disc space, but this is now so incredibly cheap that it seems to me like false economy to stint on it and risk (perhaps) compromising the output of, for instance, a five figure (or more) audio setup.

I'm somewhat new at all this, but I'm a bit sceptical about the so-called "sonic superiority" of AIFF over FLAC or ALAC. I doubt anyone can tell the difference in a blind test. Maybe people with 6 figure audio setups. I certainly can't tell them apart with my sad little 3 figure audio setup. But lets leave it at that. ;-)


Concerning tagging - now, you definitely lose me. I've never myself found any shortcomings in or limitations to the labelling that I need of Aiff files. This may well be because - being a benighted iTunes user! - I don't know anything at all about it, and don't really know what is possible. That wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. Lead me, therefore, to tagging Nirvana, O Nostromo, for I comprehend it not.

Like I said, I'm new at all this. I'm sure that somebody else could explain all this to you a lot better. Mmmm... I just ripped a file in WAV using iTunes. And it seems that you can label it just like any other file. There are no apparent limitations. That said, when you look at the file itself, there's almost no information on it(only the filename, basically). In other words, iTunes doesn't seem to write down the information on the music file itself. So if your computer crashes, and you loose all your music, you'll have to relabel everything, even though you backed up all your WAV's. All that work labeling your music down the drain.

And when Slimserver scans your music folder, it reads what's on the file. In the case of my WAV file, Slimserver only knows the filename, that its a WAV... He has no idea who's the artist, the album, the type of music...

SteveEast
2006-09-22, 18:52
And when Slimserver scans your music folder, it reads what's on the file. In the case of my WAV file, Slimserver only knows the filename, that its a WAV... He has no idea who's the artist, the album, the type of music...

That's only true if you scan directly. If you scan through iTunes you get all the tags.

Steve.

smc2911
2006-09-22, 22:56
EDIT: I quickly checked, and it seems that the Squeezebox supports gapless playback of AAC and AlAC files. Am I dreaming all this??? I don't hear the gaps I normally hear on my iPod. Now, I'm confused.
In think that the limitation is with your iPod rather than the format. Most formats should be easy to play without gaps, but that doesn't mean all software and hardware players will be gapless (including older iPods). Mp3s are a little harder to deal with, but not impossible. You could always upgrade to the latest iPods and then you should get gapless playback for all the audio formats it supports.

geraint smith
2006-09-23, 01:30
That's only true if you scan directly. If you scan through iTunes you get all the tags.

Steve.

Yes, and it works in practice, too. Some months - sorry, aeons - ago, before I knew better and with a degree of intelligence which astounded even me, I managed to delete my entire iTunes music file, (don't ask) having completely failed to back up the several months of work this represented (you may congratulate me later if you wish). The newly released DataRescue 2 did a superb job in recovering the lot, including all the iTunes labels and headings (harmonising and correcting the CDDB version of which had made up most of the months of work). Unfortunately, though, not those for my digitised vinyl. This left a piled heap of musical snatches from des Pres to Dire Straits labelled "File 1" to "File 4759" or something like that, to re-excavate, the musical equivalent of the aftermath of a tornado at the archeological finds warehouse for a cemetary dig. (Ever tried sorting out a few dozen Gibbons pieces for viol consort from a few dozen Dowland pieces for viol consort and putting them in the right order, without the music? Hint: don't.) I'm not quite sure what I might have done to attach tags to these files securely and so avoid the painful bit, but certainly there was no problem with the work that iTunes had already done painlessly for me the first time on the CDs.

Ripping directly into iTunes gives me the full range of labels and headings (which is what I call them, because I never see the tags themselves) that I need. In fact, it gives a much wider and more versatile range than SlimServer will allow me to use ("composer," and seperate entries (in version 7) for "album artist" and "track artist" for instance) on the SB. It is immensely flexible, and extremely easy (allowing for the shortcomings and inconsistencies of CDDB which, as I've said, for classical music are considerable and annoying, although that said, it's still better to have to relabel the odd 1965 Decca recording of the Wiener Philharmonker from Japanese than to have to do absolutely everything all the time). And, allowing for the post-production smoothing and editing necessary for classical and early music, it's all done from ripping to playing in one seamless process.

The only real disadvantage of which I've heard that really does bother me is that I'm told that the error correction in iTunes does not match up to some Windows only programmes, like Exact Audio Copy (I still can't get this to work for me, but that is without doubt the astounding intelligence in evidence again). That may affect the sound quality of iTunes ripping generally (although I've not noticed any degradation in my collection) but does, I'm told, does make it come off second best when restoring a damaged or flawed discs so that it sounds better than the original.

chaz
2006-09-23, 04:40
For one thing, I had to remember to manually add each new directory into iTunes before Slimserver could see it.

Thanks
Stan

If your're using Itunes, you don't need to add a folder to the Itunes library for Slimserver to see it. Just make sure that Slimserver, in addition to being set to use Itunes, has the path to your music folder.

I use Itunes but also have a bunch of flac files, which obviously can not be added to the Itunes library but Slim finds them just fine.

blackbear
2006-09-24, 01:52
Please don't start throwing accusations of ignorance around. It's ill-mannered, boring, unnecessary and also happens to be wrong.


I do apologize if you find my somehat poor choice of words insulting. That was certainly not my intention. I am ignorant of a lot of things and personally do not find it insulting when others point it out to me, even if I disagree strongly. In my defence, I did use the term "seem to" and I did not call you stupid or ignorant in general. I wouldn't dream of it.
But, as my native language is not english, my ability to be subtle and polite is sometimes lacking and I will try to be more careful in the future.



...
I meant that there is continuing argument about the merits or otherwise of lossless compressed formats. Listen to any bunch of audiophiles, and they'll probably be at it at some time. There is no such argument about the sonic qualities of the uncompressed formats.


This is where you lose me. It is easy and straightforward to prove that the compression and subsequent decompression of any lossless format completely and accurately restores the original audio data, and frankly I think you are doing the beginners on this forum a disservice by implicitly claiming that lossless formats somehow are "unarguably" inherently inferior sonically to uncompressed formats. I'm sure you know better, but from reading your post, one does get the impression that you are grouping lossless compressed formats together with lossy formats.

As for the "continuing argument" you mention, I suppose you're referring to the claims made by some, that the extra computing activity caused by the decompression in, say a squeezebox, causes sound degradation. This is (at best) an implementation issue, and not really an argument against the lossless formats themselves.



Why does one need an "excuse" to use an uncompressed format?

"Excuse", "reason", motivation", whatever. Let's not argue about semantics.


I happen to prefer uncompressed files because I find them more versatile and useful and I'm also not convinced that adding to the complexity of any process is necessarily a good thing.

I share your desire to keep things simple. It could be argued, though, that as long as the output of a process (in this case, compression/decompression) can be proven to be 100% identical to the input 100% of the time, the internal complexity of the process is not relevant.


(Nobody mentioned the cost of processing as an argument, I believe.)

Well, you brought up the issue of cost by using the low cost of disk space as an argument for using uncompressed formats. Now, if cpu power was very expensive and disk very cheap, nobody in their right mind would be using compressed formats. On the other hand, if cpu power was very cheap and disk space expensive, few people would use non-compressed. As it is, both computing power and disk space has become quite cheap, and most of the time, neither disk cost or processing time is a detrmining factor.
Keep in mind, though, that there are members of this forum with 3-4000 albums and more on their slimservers. Had they used uncompressed formats instead of .FLAC their storage cost would have increased significantly.


That is a perfectly reasonable - and reasonably well-informed and rational - position to hold. It certainly doesn't strike me as terribly provocative.

I agree wholeheartedly. It was your claim of unarguably better sound quality that I thought did not deserve to be left unchallenged.



What you say about tagging merely repeats, with more aggression but without imparting any additional information, a point about which I'd already agreed I knew nothing because I use iTunes, and therefore am not aware that I need to know anything - which may, or may not, be an advantage of using iTunes, depending on your point of view.

Sorry I missed the bit about iTunes. (I fail, however, to see how anything in that part of my post can be construed as being aggressive.)

I don't question your satisfaction with iTunes, but using it to manage your .wav files does mean that you are at the mercy of Apple's ability and willingness to provide backwards compability in future versions. And without iTunes, your .wav collection is likely to be quite a lot less versatile and useful..



But I'm really not interested in an argument. I was rather hoping for an entertaining and possibly illuminating discussion.

You and me both.

mmcguff
2006-09-24, 11:56
One thing that I think a lot of people aren't really aware of is that, while aiff and wav files are functionally similar (i.e., uncompressed formats and I believe they are actually just minor variants of each other), iTunes treats them differently in one VERY important way. If you rip directly into iTunes, it will tag both formats and allow you to add/modify tags for other files not ripped into iTunes. However, for wav files, that information is stored in the iTunes database file, not in the sound file itself. For aiff files, this information is stored in the actual audio file (even under Windows).

So, if you rip to wav's and rearrange (or move) your audio library in some other program (or move the library from one computer to another), iTunes will "lose" most of those tags. If you always use iTunes to manage/move files (and keep your iTunes database backed up), then this probably won't be that big a deal. However, with aiff files all the tagging info is stored in the file, so it doesn't matter if you have to do some library maintenance outside of iTunes; when you rescan, it's all still there. Other programs (including Slimserver) can read those tags as well (though I'm not sure that other programs would be able to modify those tags). I discovered this when I first started ripping a couple of years ago, but don't see it mentioned in many of these discussions. Since I was still experimenting with different storage strategies (internal vs. external vs. network drives), this became an important issue for me. This was before ALAC came out, so I'm not sure if I were starting all over today whether I would still go aiff, but I suspect I would.

If you use an iPod, FLAC files won't work, so that would require an extra transcoding step to use those files on an iPod.

ALAC would work, but last I checked, the Squeezebox doesn't support FF or RWD within ALAC files (aiff files are fine).

WAV really has no advantages I can see over aiff and the (to me) very important disadvantage I mentioned.

I have considered moving to FLAC anyway, but iTunes doesn't support it and there really don't seem to be all that many other alternatives on a Mac (I use both Mac's and Windows, so the dual-platform nature of iTunes is a real advantage).

Gildahl
2006-09-24, 13:41
Here are my reasons for using iTunes.

1. iTunes is something of a standard.
2. Slimserver has built-in integration for iTunes.
3. I find it very simple and fast to manage tags using it. This is probably the single most important reason I use it.
4. I wanted lossless for everything, and Apple Lossless fulfills this. On Windows, playback was not gapless, but on a Linux machine using ALAC, playback is gapless (I use SUSE 10.0). If you use aiff, playback on either OS is gapless. Gapless under Windows might work better with 6.5, but I haven't tried it on Windows recently.
5. Fast forward on the squeezebox does not work with Apple Lossless. This is a possible drawback, though I consider it minor. FF will work if you use aiff.
6. Volume management has never worked for me, but it is supposed to be fixed in 6.5. I have to try this to see if it's working now.
7. On my HTPC I sometimes use iTunes itself for playback. Visualizer supports widescreen and is cool on a 50" DLP
8. Podcasts--both audio and video. Audio podcasts can be listened to on the squeezebox.
9. Ordinary and Smart playlists are supported by the squeezebox through its iTunes integration.
10. My wife has an iPod (though I'd still use iTunes even if she didn't).

Dave

jelockwood
2006-09-25, 06:45
One thing that I think a lot of people aren't really aware of is that, while aiff and wav files are functionally similar (i.e., uncompressed formats and I believe they are actually just minor variants of each other), iTunes treats them differently in one VERY important way. If you rip directly into iTunes, it will tag both formats and allow you to add/modify tags for other files not ripped into iTunes. However, for wav files, that information is stored in the iTunes database file, not in the sound file itself. For aiff files, this information is stored in the actual audio file (even under Windows).

So, if you rip to wav's and rearrange (or move) your audio library in some other program (or move the library from one computer to another), iTunes will "lose" most of those tags. If you always use iTunes to manage/move files (and keep your iTunes database backed up), then this probably won't be that big a deal. However, with aiff files all the tagging info is stored in the file, so it doesn't matter if you have to do some library maintenance outside of iTunes; when you rescan, it's all still there. Other programs (including Slimserver) can read those tags as well (though I'm not sure that other programs would be able to modify those tags). I discovered this when I first started ripping a couple of years ago, but don't see it mentioned in many of these discussions. Since I was still experimenting with different storage strategies (internal vs. external vs. network drives), this became an important issue for me. This was before ALAC came out, so I'm not sure if I were starting all over today whether I would still go aiff, but I suspect I would.

If you use an iPod, FLAC files won't work, so that would require an extra transcoding step to use those files on an iPod.

ALAC would work, but last I checked, the Squeezebox doesn't support FF or RWD within ALAC files (aiff files are fine).

WAV really has no advantages I can see over aiff and the (to me) very important disadvantage I mentioned.

I have considered moving to FLAC anyway, but iTunes doesn't support it and there really don't seem to be all that many other alternatives on a Mac (I use both Mac's and Windows, so the dual-platform nature of iTunes is a real advantage).

Apart from the FF/Rwd issue (does that affect FLAC as well?) I cannot see any disadvantage to using ALAC over AIFF. ALAC is supported by all the major hardware devices (SqueezeBox, Sonos ZonePlayer, Roku SoundBridge via FireFly, and of course iPod!). It is possible to use it in WinAmp and I even have it working in WMP 10 and Media Center 2005!

ALAC uses the MPEG4 container format and therefore the same tag format as AAC. This means it has good tag support by applications, unlike AIFF which while iTunes supports AIFF fully most other applications (e.g. WMP) do not, as you said WAV is useless in terms of tagging.

ALAC, AIFF, WAV, and FLAC should all be the same audio quality.

aubuti
2006-09-25, 07:10
Apart from the FF/Rwd issue (does that affect FLAC as well?) I cannot see any disadvantage to using ALAC over AIFF. ALAC is supported by all the major hardware devices (SqueezeBox, Sonos ZonePlayer, Roku SoundBridge via FireFly, and of course iPod!). It is possible to use it in WinAmp and I even have it working in WMP 10 and Media Center 2005!
Correct me if I'm wrong, but SqueezeBox does *not* have hardware support for ALAC. It needs to be transcoded to something else (FLAC, MP3, WAV) on the server before being streamed to the SB. And it's precisely because the SB supports FLAC (plus AIFF, WAV, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and WMA lossy) natively that you can ff/rew tracks in that format but not in ALAC. For you those disadvantages of ALAC compared to AIFF might well be outweighed by the advantages of ALAC.

For a listing of what formats SB supports natively, see: http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?HardwareComparison

relen
2006-09-25, 07:12
If you use an iPod, FLAC files won't work, so that would require an extra transcoding step to use those files on an iPod.

For those who like to live on the bleeding edge, RockBox (www.rockbox.org) offers an alternate, reversible firmware solution that allows your iPod (and several other players) to play FLAC files amongst other things. At present it is not quite as intuitive as the standard iPod functionality, but it's better than several players I've tried.

I have most of my files in FLAC on the server and getting music on to the iPod is simply a matter of mounting the iPod disk and copying the folders across. RockBox builds a tag database allowing search facilities and the playback quality, thanks to lossless coding, is excellent.

On the subject of lossless formats: they're the realtime audio equivalent of Zip and Stuffit - what you get out is exactly, bit-for-bit, what you put in (otherwise it wouldn't be "lossless"). The penalty is somewhat larger files than perceptual coding produces. I am not aware of FLAC (for example) coding putting a bigger load on a playback device than any other codec: in fact you might expect the opposite to be true as FLAC files are not as highly compressed.

--Richard E

Josh Coalson
2006-09-25, 11:19
--- aubuti <aubuti.2ep1qo1159193402 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
wrote:
>
> jelockwood;139504 Wrote:
> > Apart from the FF/Rwd issue (does that affect FLAC as well?) I
> cannot
> > see any disadvantage to using ALAC over AIFF. ALAC is supported by
> all
> > the major hardware devices (SqueezeBox, Sonos ZonePlayer, Roku
> > SoundBridge via FireFly, and of course iPod!). It is possible to
> use it
> > in WinAmp and I even have it working in WMP 10 and Media Center
> 2005!
> Correct me if I'm wrong, but SqueezeBox does *not* have hardware
> support for ALAC.

I don't think anything except apple hardware directly supports ALAC,
the rest all support via transcoding on the PC, using either
quicktime or that reverse-engineered decoder (which has to play
catch-up when the format changes).

Josh

Mark Lanctot
2006-09-28, 18:11
On the subject of lossless formats: they're the realtime audio equivalent of Zip and Stuffit - what you get out is exactly, bit-for-bit, what you put in (otherwise it wouldn't be "lossless").

Yes, that's it exactly. No one argues that a Word document obtained directly and the same one that's been extracted from a .zip archive aren't bit-for-bit identical. Yet somehow the same thing done to audio doesn't apply.

Perhaps audio files are more magical? :-)


The penalty is somewhat larger files than perceptual coding produces.

"Somewhat" is an understatement - most of my FLACs are in the 25-35 MB range (and I'm using maximum compression) while the equivalent MP3s are 3-5 MB.

But disc space is cheap.


I am not aware of FLAC (for example) coding putting a bigger load on a playback device than any other codec: in fact you might expect the opposite to be true as FLAC files are not as highly compressed.

Actually MP3 files aren't radically more compressed than FLAC files - the space reduction comes from discarding audio information entirely. I'm not sure what additional compression is done but it's possible that FLAC is actually more compressed - mathematically compressed that is, not audio compressed. Perhaps lossy formats are a little more mathematically compressed, but not radically so - you can't achieve the 80% reduction over lossless compressed through mathematical compression alone. A FLAC encoder at compression setting 8 is working quite hard to pack the bits in, it's hard to achieve 80% more. :-)

So you have lossless uncompressed like WAV and AIFF, lossless compressed like FLAC and ALAC, and lossy compressed like MP3 and AAC. Lossless compressed and lossless uncompressed are bit-for-bit identical or else they wouldn't be lossless and the format would be quickly abandoned. Lossy compressed can never be bit-for-bit identical to the original because audio data has been lost in the encoding process.