Digital music ripping format: mp3, aac, flac, alac, ogg...?

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Lawrence
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Digital music ripping format: mp3, aac, flac, alac, ogg...?

#1 Post by Lawrence » Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:47 am

This deserves its own thread. Snipped from the laptop DJing thread:
By all means redirect me if you've already covered this- but I just bought myself a new mac laptop so that I could DJ more easily (compared to ipod or lugging my big old bubble mac around) and I'm a bit confused as to which file type and sampling rate I should go with in itunes. Naturally, I don't want to fill my computer up right away with just tons of music, but I want good sound quality too, and to be able to burn nice cd's for people.

In the past I imported things in WAV but should I switch to AAC or MP3? Is there any file format that I would absolutely regret using? Am I overthinking this? Very Happy
Rayned Wiles wrote:If you want no loss through compression and your dj software handles that format you could use flac. Apple also has a lossless format but it is proprietary and so less attractive to some. If you don't mind some loss through compression you could go with 320 mp3 or aac. I tend to use mp3 over aac but i have ripped to both formats. I would be curious about the preferences of list members on that choice. I know some people use lower bit rates with aac because of the claim that they employ better compression technology than mp3. But I figure that I might as well rip to the best current standard.
alex. protopopescu wrote:i use itunes and rip to alac (apple losless). it's smaller than wav and handles meta data more gracefully.

i would pick mp3 over aac, because of universal support.

i did not pick flac, because i want to be able to play the files on my ipod without hassle (and i already had a lot of meta data in itunes from earlier rips to mp3).

i think losless is the way to go. you don't lock yourself into a format (losless you can convert later without, well, loss -- losse you'll lose data each time you convert). disk space is cheap. 500 gb drives hold idiotically large amounts of music (2,000 cd's losless is a fair estimate) and are less than $200.

i feel like we've had this discussion before, but i'm too lazy to find it. try lookng for "losless" or some such.
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#2 Post by Lawrence » Sun Aug 27, 2006 11:07 am

Very briefly for those who don't know, "Lossless" [compression] refers to compression that (theoretically) does not lose any sound quality in compressing the size of the sound file. "Losse" formats like MP3 and AAC compress files into 10%-50% of their original size, but do so by diminishing sound quality depending on the rate. They typically keep only the loudest sounds at any given instant and discard the rest. The better the [compression], the deeper the compression algorhythm goes into keeping less-loud but still subtly-audible sounds.

I am more of a sound-snob audiophile compared to others and I strongly resisted any [compression] because even CD-quality sound loses too much sound quality compared to analog recording. (The whole "cold, lifeless digital sound" vs. "warm, rich analog sound " thing). The music that I initially heard DJed from laptops also sounded hollow, tinny, and far less rich than the exact same songs played from CDs.

However, I slowly gave in when I realized that much of my disdain for MP3 DJs stemmed from poor playback equipment, not so much from poor recordings. Using an external sound card instead of the internal sound card often made up the difference I had perceived. Also, many of the early MP3/computer DJs were college kids who swiped their MP3s off the internet, which tend to be of poorer quality (96 or 128 rates) than the 192, 256, or 320 rates I used when I ripped MP3s. They also were using crappy MP3s that had been [compressed] and re-[compressed] several times (losing sound quality each time) instead of good MP3s that had only been ripped once and thus lost sound quality only once.

Being an audio snob, I would prefer using a lossless format. However, they just are not widely playable off a computer. Thus, my answer so far has been to stick with MP3 because it is universally useable, not just on my computer, but on my car stereo, many portable discmen, my IPod, my DVD player, and lots of other places. MP3 is not at all the best of the [compression] methods, but it is so engrained that it seems like it would take a new digital revolution to unseat it.
Last edited by Lawrence on Sun Aug 27, 2006 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#3 Post by Jake » Sun Aug 27, 2006 12:35 pm

Encryption?

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#4 Post by Lawrence » Sun Aug 27, 2006 2:35 pm

Jake wrote:Encryption?
Uhmmm.... yeah, right concept, wrong word. :oops: (I changed it.)
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#5 Post by lipi » Sun Aug 27, 2006 2:51 pm


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#6 Post by GemZombie » Sun Aug 27, 2006 7:40 pm

Lawrence wrote:Being an audio snob, I would prefer using a lossless format. However, they just are not widely playable off a computer. Thus, my answer so far has been to stick with MP3 because it is universally useable, not just on my computer, but on my car stereo, many portable discmen, my IPod, my DVD player, and lots of other places. MP3 is not at all the best of the [compression] methods, but it is so engrained that it seems like it would take a new digital revolution to unseat it.
Ditto to all that.

Only addition I have is that I use VBR high to encode my stuff because it gives you the best file sizes with the best sound. It amazes me that everyone doesn't use VBR. There's no good reason not to really.

Oh, and I'd be hard pressed to change from MP3, that'd be a lot of work to re-encode over 12000 songs.

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#7 Post by Haydn » Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:45 am

Oops - I've been using AAC on my Mac! :cry:

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#8 Post by julius » Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:55 pm

Given that there are 500 gig external drives now, I think it's reasonable to assume that in the near future a DJ will be able to keep their entire collection on hard drives. 500 gigs is enough to rip .wav (lossless) from about 700 CDs already. You could probably DJ an entire career from a 700 CD-equivalent collection of music.

(I just did a search and it looks like LaCie came out with a 1.6Tb external drive in 2004 for about $2200 ... no idea if it's actually portable or not, but that's BIG.)

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#9 Post by Mr Awesomer » Mon Aug 28, 2006 3:06 pm

Lawrence wrote:Also, many of the early MP3/computer DJs were college kids who swiped their MP3s off the internet, which tend to be of poorer quality (96 or 128 rates) than the 192, 256, or 320 rates I used when I ripped MP3s. They also were using crappy MP3s that had been [compressed] and re-[compressed] several times (losing sound quality each time) instead of good MP3s that had only been ripped once and thus lost sound quality only once.
Why did you put the best part of your post in small text!?!?
GOD I HATE WHAT I'VE TERMED "NAPSTER DJS"
Even non-discriminating listeners can hear all the compression artifacts, and what's worse is they have to crank these crappy files louder... and they don't know a thing the music they are playing.
Reuben Brown
Southern California

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#10 Post by GemZombie » Mon Aug 28, 2006 9:42 pm

I rarely accepted MP3's people gave me because of that. If someone gave something to me I would have only accepted it if:

1. It was something I would consider buying, and by using/listening to it, it would help me determine whether or not I wanted to buy an album with it or not.

2. It was high enough quality to not make me annoyed to listen to it. At a minimum that's 192k...

Napster DJ's do suck. I like the term.

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#11 Post by sonofvu » Tue Aug 29, 2006 4:44 am

Lawrence wrote:
However, I slowly gave in when I realized that much of my disdain for MP3 DJs stemmed from poor playback equipment, not so much from poor recordings. Using an external sound card instead of the internal sound card often made up the difference I had perceived.
An external sound card is a must. By the way Lawrence, I heard that you're using some kind of USB thinga-ma-bob. Care to elaborate?
Yard work sucks. I would much rather dj.

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#12 Post by la musette » Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:12 am

Haydn wrote:Oops - I've been using AAC on my Mac! :cry:
I was wondering how to convert files in case I need mp3 in the future, and found this site:

Convert Audio File Formats in iTunes

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#13 Post by CafeSavoy » Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:25 am

Haydn wrote:Oops - I've been using AAC on my Mac! :cry:
There isn't anything wrong with AAC, especially if you're only using them on a mac.

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#14 Post by lipi » Tue Aug 29, 2006 11:51 am

la musette wrote: I was wondering how to convert files in case I need mp3 in the future, and found this site:

Convert Audio File Formats in iTunes
note that you lose quality when doing this (i.e., it won't be as good as re-ripping the file from an audio cd) unless your original format was lossless (e.g., wav, alac -- not aac or mp3).
Last edited by lipi on Tue Aug 29, 2006 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#15 Post by julius » Tue Aug 29, 2006 11:57 am

alex, for the love of god, it's "lossless"! you're driving me nuts!

hehe.

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