Direct conversion of audio files on CD

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Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby vuitreviejo » 2020-07-29 18:32

This may be an obvious question, but haven't been able to find a direct answer. I'm running Debian 10 with LXDE desktop. I have a large audio collection and have been using Asunder to rip CDs to FLAC, put the files on a server and use MPD to play them. I use Sound Converter to convert FLAC to MP3 for portable play. When I look at the files on most of the newer CDs using Thunar, a few have .flac extensions, but most are displayed with .wav extensions. Sound Converter appears to have no issues converting them to other formats, and they play in those formats. A ripper does all manner of things to assure high-quality playback from the tracks encoded on the CD, but it's quite slow. My question is, would converting directly from CD source with Sound Converter compromise the quality of the converted file?
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2020-07-29 18:40

vuitreviejo wrote:would converting directly from CD source with Sound Converter compromise the quality of the converted file?

Yes. MP3 is garbage, don't use it.

The bitrate of a Red Book CD (16 bit, 44.1KHz) is 1,411 kbit/s, accept nothing less. I suppose lossless codecs are alright but I prefer .wav files.
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby eriefisher » 2020-07-29 21:12

CD's? WoW! I don't think I own anything that will take a CD any more. Might be something in the garage :lol: .

I think .wav is the default with most rippers if you don't interfere in any way. IDK it's been so long since I've even looked at a CD.
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby CwF » 2020-07-29 22:00

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:1,411 kbit/s, accept nothing less

Ha! says the storage salesman!

Yes, I remember contemplating having wav or even iso's all on hard drives. That was when I still used pioneer 6 packs and nakamichi slot changers. A kick but hard drive of the time was 18.2GB. Yep. So when I decided on mp3 @ 320 using an original fraunhofer codec under NT4 while testing on some decent electrostatics, then turned it down, I decided 13 scsi drives whirring away is actually pretty loud. Ridiculous.

Now with silent storage so cheap, why not.

So since it is a totally deprecated function, I still use the original formula to rip opticals. I do think accuracy fell with modern iterations of the tech. My Debian doesn't have an optical anymore. I have ripped a few in a XP vm, under debian with an optical. Now just fire up that one, pure xp, and there are a few other choices for fun. The used CD shops have dried up a bit, to bad, otherwise I'd be happy to continue buying cd's.

As far as the codec quality in debian I don't know. MP3 is fine, most compatible, and now public domain.
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby sunrat » 2020-07-29 22:45

CwF wrote:MP3 is fine, most compatible, and now public domain.


Sorry, I agree with HOAS, mp3 is garbage. It's a legacy codec released 27 years ago. There have been huge advances in audio compression technology since then. The only reason you should use mp3 is if you have a device which won't play anything else.
Personally I store everything as FLAC and play that at home, and use Ogg Vorbis for portable which is compatible with many devices including Android phones.
The newer Ogg Opus is even better and I may change to that for future portable use; it's also compatible on Android. And it's the primary codec on YouTube these days. Notice how YT audio sounds much better than it did a few years ago? That's Opus, and at amazingly low bitrates. 8)

PS. It's pointless storing anything as .wav. A FLAC file can be converted back to an identical wav any time you need and it takes only 50-60% of the storage space.

To answer your question, a ripper like Asunder should rip directly to .wav and then internally convert to FLAC. Manually doing it as a 2-step process is just avoidable extra work. Quality will be the same either way.
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby pylkko » 2020-07-30 08:36

Not only is mp3 garbage, it was replaced by aac 23 years ago. Citing wikipedia: "Designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, AAC generally achieves higher sound quality than MP3 at the same bit rate."

Also, nowadays all mobile devices play flac straight out of the box. Makes no sense to have multiple versions of the files, in my opinion. Just convert them all to flac and forget about it (i.e throw away the physical disks).
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby sunrat » 2020-07-30 09:15

pylkko wrote:Makes no sense to have multiple versions of the files, in my opinion. Just convert them all to flac and forget about it (i.e throw away the physical disks).


Makes sense to me. I store and play FLAC at home. The difference between lossy and lossless is quite evident and quite easy to pick in ABX test. Disclosure - I listen on $3,000 studio monitor speakers (ADAM Audio A5X + Sub 8).
For portable playing it's mainly Ogg Vorbis Q7 as I can fit about 7,000 songs on a 64GB MicroSD card which is maybe 3 times as many as if they were FLAC. When out and about, the environment is noisier so it's harder to pick the small reduction in quality.
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby pylkko » 2020-07-30 20:45

yes, but they do not need to be on the phone physically...so why bother making multiple versions? just stream them from your home or use a cloud. how much more time and space are you wasting makeing 2 versions of them 7000 songs???? Well, to each their own, i guess. I don't even have that much music...
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby eriefisher » 2020-07-30 21:36

Streaming is an excellent solution if you can afford the cost of bandwidth/cell data. Data plans here in Canada are a lot more expensive then they are in the U.S. Even if you were to use a lossy codec the costs add up quickly.
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby sunrat » 2020-07-30 22:41

pylkko wrote:yes, but they do not need to be on the phone physically...so why bother making multiple versions? just stream them from your home or use a cloud. how much more time and space are you wasting makeing 2 versions of them 7000 songs???? Well, to each their own, i guess. I don't even have that much music...

When I say "phone", I mean my old G3 I use as a music player. It doesn't have a sim card so no streaming.
I'm no fan of the cloud and have little trust in storing data on other people's computers. My collection takes up a very small percentage of the currently 12TB of storage I have.
There's also the consideration that so many people streaming takes a considerable amount of internet capacity which forces more expansion, less bandwidth for everyone, and contributes more to power usage and therefore climate change. Taylor Swift has 33 million views in 6 days on Youtube for "cardigan" off her new album! That would take a few megawatt-hours by itself.
You can thank me for my little bit towards saving the planet. :mrgreen:
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby pylkko » 2020-08-01 19:26

Sorry, I live in a location where all the available data plans are unlimited, so it may still be a valid strategy in some parts of the world. Yes, obviously if you have to pay for moving data, then it may be worth your free time to double convert 12 TB of stuff. But it's not going to save the world.
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby vuitreviejo » 2020-08-01 23:07

So, only one response even came close to actually answering the question. Just FYI, started recording music from vinyl to tape in the 70s and switched to CDs when they came out. I have a couple of thousand at this point, in a number of genres, and keep them for redundant back-up to digital back-ups on servers and cloud storage. Keep buying them because it works for me, will continue to do so until they cease to be sold. Changing formats at this juncture would be time-consuming and wouldn't improve the perceptible quality of FLAC playback on my home system. A CD-quality VBR MP3 is fine for portable use - it's certainly better than Bluetooth streams played on portable speakers, and headphones are a nuisance. Generally listen while while driving. My car audio system indexes and displays files tagged in a structure I prefer, and a 64GB flash drive holds a lot of MP3s, so I can play whatever I'm in the mood for rather than fiddle around with streaming services. Playback of a CD is indeed a mechanical process and a ripper is supposed to assure max fidelity from tracking and conversion of the data. Yes, all the ones I know about render to .wav, then convert to another format. There are a few FLAC and AIFF discs. Asked what I did because directly converting the .wav files in the discs would save time, and wanted to know if it would affect quality. Guess I'll do A/B listening tests to determine if I can tell the difference.
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby sunrat » 2020-08-02 08:05

vuitreviejo wrote:...Yes, all the ones I know about render to .wav, then convert to another format. There are a few FLAC and AIFF discs. Asked what I did because directly converting the .wav files in the discs would save time, and wanted to know if it would affect quality. Guess I'll do A/B listening tests to determine if I can tell the difference.

Audio CDs do not actually contain files in the conventional sense, rather two-channel signed 16-bit Linear PCM sampled at 44,100 Hz. A WAV file is the same PCM data with an added header. I haven't heard of any ripper which doesn't copy that PCM data to a temp file before converting.
A/B listening should yield absolutely no difference as FLAC is the same data as in it's source WAV or AIFF file, just compressed. I actually did a test one day just for fun and encoded a FLAC file from a WAV file then uncompressed the FLAC file back to WAV. Comparing the MD5sum of the original and compressed/decompressed WAV files showed they were identical. Note that may not work depending on the software used as some will change the header and thus the MD5sum but the audio data will still be the same.
I've been using Asunder CD ripper lately, very simple but effective. It can rip to WAV file and/or any number of compressed files, lossy or lossless, simultaneously.
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby Mr. Lumbergh » 2020-08-02 20:03

vuitreviejo wrote:Generally listen while while driving. My car audio system indexes and displays files tagged in a structure I prefer, and a 64GB flash drive holds a lot of MP3s, so I can play whatever I'm in the mood for rather than fiddle around with streaming services.

I'm right there with you. I have almost my whole collection ripped to some combination of MP3 and AAC, depending on when I did the conversion, just for putting on an old iPod Classic. It's still able to interface with the head unit in my truck so almost everything I own I can listen to when I'm on the road. If you're at home listening to a setup in a quiet room with a discrete amp, DAC, and carefully-EQ'd Martin Logan speakers, yes, those formats will be found pretty lacking. But in the car with engine noise, tire noise, wind noise, traffic noise, gear noise, not to mention the challenges of getting audio to sound good in a car in the first place and the limitations of the equipment... They're fine. Formats are just a tool, use the one most appropriate for the job. If you need to put a bunch of songs on limited storage media for portability and that's your main concern, the compressed formats are good for that. If you want to listen at home on a high-end rig, put on the original media or a lossless conversion of it if you don't want to mess with the media.
I'll curious to hear about your results, but as others have said I doubt you'll be able to notice in an instance like this since a copy will need to be made in memory for the software to act on in the first place, so no matter what you ultimately wind up converting to it's coming from a copy.
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Re: Direct conversion of audio files on CD

Postby pylkko » 2020-08-02 20:17

Yes, the answer to why all rippers rip to a temp file in wav is essentially explained in Surat's response. Reading the disk to RAM or a temporary file on disk is fast and simple and as the files are large, the software usually reads to disk. Then this is converted to whatever format into a new file, using the processor. If you have a really slow possessor this can take much longer than the reading of the file for the disk, at least in theory. I have an old laptop with a 24X DVD reader that can read the raw data at 24X but if you convert it to some formats it can be as slow as 1X (one hour film takes one hour to rip) because the conversion is so slow.
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