Cd vs flac

Discussion in 'Digital Integration' started by wanders, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

    REALLY? Sounds great to my ears. Hmm. And to think, I really like that player. :dunno:

    I know you're trying to help, in your own "no sugar in your coffee" way, Bott-ster.

    The Meridian is the Director model (I think). When I first hooked it up, I was surprised how much better it sounded than my Dragonfly. If I had to guess, I'd say it is the laptop I'm using, or perhaps that I'm still using Winamp.

    Regardless, I've also used a modded PS1, and my Yamaha CDX-1100U, and all sound superior to my digital setup (all ripped FLAC). It is a very small difference, but with those McIntosh XRT20's, you certainly can make it out with minimal effort.


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  2. Raynald

    Raynald Addicted Member

    Here is my experience:

    I have ripped hundereds of CDs to FLAC on my computer. When I send the files vie wifi to my Squeezebox Touch using the digital out into a DAC, the result is better than playing the same CD in CD player and using the digital out into the same DAC. I have used several CD players including heavyweights such as the Denon DCD-3520 and Yamaha CDX-1120. always the same result, a slight preference for the FLAC/Touch vs the CD when using the same type of digital output/input.

    The only explanation I have heard that makes sense is that the CD reading is much older technology with error correction working in real time and doing some interpolating that may or may not be 100% correct. The readers in computers are more recent, more accurate and when ripping will go over sections multiple times as necessary to read the disc perfectly.

    If audiophiles claim different digital transports can sound different and more advanced ones sound better, it makes sense that a more advanced (even if cheaper and less glamorous) way of reading those discs would yield a better result.
    cpt_paranoia likes this.
  3. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

    Hillsboro, Oregon
    This is a good discussion that touches upon many key elements of system performance most of which deal with quality of transports, quality of media, etc...

    One thing to remember is the quality of your source file, which translates across all media we all have used, and we all know a bad source sounds bad no matter how good your equipment is.

    Standard CD encoding is PCM with a bit resolution of 16 bits per sample and a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz. When ripping a CD to flac you are not upconverting the resolution or sampling rate so any flac file ripped from a CD will carry through the same values. I do have a few CD's marked HDCD (not SACD) which surprisingly ripped to a 24 bit / 96 kHz flac file.

    Where I hear a difference in flac is when comparing a 16 bit/44 kHz track ripped from a CD and a 24/96 or 24/192 track downloaded from the internet. When comparing the CD media and the ripped flac track from the same CD I don't hear much, if any, difference. I attribute that difference in how the file is processed on my system, the flac file by my McIntosh D100 DAC and the DAC chipset in my Oppo. As it is, they are all digital files that have to become analog somewhere in the stream so you can hear them.

    Ripped CD files can benefit from quality gear, cables and terminations - not to mention the digital to analog processor you use - as with any other source.

    This is my birthday contribution to this fine thread and not meant to fire up any hot discussions on the merit of CD's vs. flac or any other media format.

    Enjoy your day and the discussion!
    onwardjames likes this.
  4. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    PODUNC USA......
    It is an old player that was designed based on the current knowledge of Digital audio (which wasn't much) and based on DAC chips that have nee superseded by many new generations and also better designs.

    As I said, unless you use the EXACT SAME DAC for playback and ripping (of the CD's) variations can occur - PS's are known for rolled off response in both bass and treble regions. You are basically comparing apples and oranges.
  5. reisod

    reisod AK Subscriber Subscriber

    If we assume both files (that on the CD, and that of the FLAC) are PCM encoded at 16/44.1, played through the same system (same DAC through to same speakers in same environment), then theoretically there should be no difference. Unless of course you look at the differences between data streams.

    It does seem like there could be possible differences based on the transport. My understanding is that interpolation (new data created from surrounding data, to replace data lost at time of read) is the primary justification for high quality (expensive) transports. As multiple factors can influence failed reads, a bad transport not only leads to greater interpolation, but the variation of interpolation over time. It is entirely possible that a track played on a single CD player could (in inredibly subtle ways) sound different each time it is played. On the broader spectrum, we clearly would not expect the affects of interpolation to be as exacting as other components in the signal chain. But, given that we're splitting hairs here, the opto-mechanical nature of transports presents a real factor in sound variation, and even more so when compared against other digital media types and their own inconsistencies and failure modes (memory chips, mechanical drives, etc).

    True, the same data should sound identical regardless of medium. But because of inconsistencies in the tools we use to extract that data in realtime, that data is not guaranteed to be exactly the same. If the data is not the same, then it makes sense that it also will not sound the same. The perception and value of those differences come down to the listener.

    You're not wrong if you say you can't hear a difference. You're not wrong if you think one sounds better than another. And you're not wrong if you spend $75k on a CD transport, you just happen to have significantly more disposable income than I do :)
    70'sMusic likes this.

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