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Windows 7: Sound samples before I start ripping - wouldn't want to waste my time


17 Oct 2011   #1

Windows 7 x64 SP1
 
 
Sound samples before I start ripping - wouldn't want to waste my time

Hi

Does anyone know where I can get or compare samples of music online that range from the best quality to the average so that I can perhaps decide what is best for me. Some background - I have the remnants of a half decent Hi-Fi system with a decent amp and speakers and have a quality sound card for the computer (Creative SB X-Fi Titanium HD) and after having listened to vinyl for decades I hope I can still appreciate the difference between good and average quality even at my age. I gather that EAC is thought of as perhaps the best option for ripping CDs and would like to know if it is worth the effort over simpler methods. From what I have gleaned from various forums it is essentially down to your own hearing ability. The storage aspect doesn't bother me as I don't tend to play my music on mobile devices that much.

Thanks for any help.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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17 Oct 2011   #2

Windows 7, 64 bit Home SP1, Win 8.1.1 Pro 64 bit
 
 

A "wav" file is a full fidelity file. Any compressed type file, e.g. MP3, FLAC or whatever is "something less than full fidelity". How much less depends on the compression. I don't know of anyplace that has a comparision between different file formats. The best option would be to make them yourself and then compare to see if you want to use one of the compressed formats or stay with the full fidelity wav file.

Another thing to consider, if you convert a wav file to some compressed format, you cannot recover the full fidelity if you convert it back to a wav file; it will be at the fidelity of the compressed file.

The "best" option obviously is the wav format.

I have a computer based recording studio.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Oct 2011   #3

Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1 (desktop)
 
 

FLAC stands for "free lossless audio codec", which means all the information is there.....so there's no reason why it shouldn't sound every bit as good as the .wav file, and it should convert back to wav with no loss of quality also. For most people the default options when setting up EAC will work just fine....rip your CD's to FLAC for your computer storage and playback, and if you're going to load it on a portable device, then save a ton of space and just use a high-bitrate MP3. Out in the real world, walking down the street, with outside sounds distracting you, you won't notice the difference.
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17 Oct 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x86
 
 

I agree with the point that it all circles around subjective impressions. Find what sounds best to you on your actual equipment. The quality and fidelity of a WAV only depends only on the quality of your equipment and the original recording.
Then again many people aren't able to tell the difference between a good MP3 and an original. It is a lossy compression so not first choice when it's about audiophilism
But FLAC is a format to consider: Free Lossless Audio Codec - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Like fireberd said if space isn't an issue stick with WAV
As for the ripping program: what mostly matters here is the codec in use and not so much the program which is merely a graphical surface. So if EAC is too powerful/overloaded, try CDEX:CDex | Open Source Digital Audio CD Extractor with more than 40,000,000 downloads

-DG
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Oct 2011   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

EAC is useful particularly if your original CDs are scratched up. If not, you might find it unnecessarily complex and go with something like CDex to rip.

If you are ripping vinyl, I'd probably rip to WAV, using 1 WAV for each side of the LP. Then use Audacity to chop and edit the ripped WAV as necessary. Then re-save as another WAV or mp3--whichever you decide on.

If you intend to do any editing of your rips, you should rip to a lossless format and then edit those lossless rips---rather than editing an mp3. You can edit mp3s, but each time you resave you lose a little quality--although you probably would not notice it if you only did it once on a given file.

Do some blindfold comparisons on your own personal playback gear using WAV, FLAC, and high quality mp3s (192k VBR). Use some songs that you are highly familiar with that have some quieter passages and some dynamic range.

Most people can't tell a high quality mp3 from an original. Use LAME encoder if you go with mp3s.

You can store about 25,000 high quality mp3s on a 100 gig drive (roughly 4 MB each). Waves are somewhere near 10 times as large.

Drill into Hydrogenaudio.org for all you need to know.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Oct 2011   #6

Windows 7 x64 SP1
 
 

Thanks all for the comments, I've done a few tests with 320 kbps and Wav and I'll agree it is difficult to find much difference. I'm using a temporary amplifier at the moment which is OK but not up to my main amp. I know that listening can be fatiguing so I might try a selection using Wavs, at the moment I have many ripped to 320 kbps and I seem to be able to listen for long periods without fatigue.

As a side note I know there is much debate about how vinyl supposedly (and might) sound better but I never liked it and mostly recorded my favorites onto cassettes for frequent play. I've played with Audacity and hope to convert those LPs and cassettes for which I can't find CDs - I'm buying CDs rather than mp3s as I can't really see the point of saving some money when you can have a physical backup of your music.

Although I've been to some pretty loud concerts in the past I tended to listen at home using speakers rather than headphones so I think my hearing has survived quite well.

Overall, computer music is much better for listening pleasure and convenience of playing, for me at least - wish it had arrived three decades ago!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Oct 2011   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pincushion View Post

Overall, computer music is much better for listening pleasure and convenience of playing, for me at least - wish it had arrived three decades ago!

Exactly so.

My turntable has not spun in 5 or 6 years. I've got tens of thousands of recordings on vinyl that I don't use anymore at all.

I have not used my standalone CD player in 4 or 5 years.

Rather than rip, I just re-acquired most of the material I have on vinyl/CD in mp3 format. All my listening is done from my hard drive mp3s linked to my home stereo system.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Oct 2011   #8

Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1 (desktop)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pincushion View Post

Overall, computer music is much better for listening pleasure and convenience of playing, for me at least - wish it had arrived three decades ago!

Same here. I run a line-out signal from my computer to my stereo receiver....the old CD player and cassette deck went to the recycler. I do have a boombox with a cassette and CD player, but neither of them has ever been used.....instead I use the aux-in and plug my MP3 players into it.
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18 Oct 2011   #9

Windows 7 x64 SP1
 
 

I think we are at last getting to a state where the music is becoming the most enjoyable aspect at last and the technology can disappear into the background where it should be. I suppose with wireless streaming becoming the norm too it can only get better.

I'm a bit of a novice in this area and have yet to organise all my hardware so that I can link them for multi-media playing. With a bit more effort I can get my PC to be virtually silent too so that will help matters, it's hardly intrusive at the moment though.

My comments about vinyl were of course not about the sound quality which was excellent but about the fussiness of the whole system. If audio recording development had taken a different turn in its infancy I would have been well pleased. The things I hated was the care required of the discs themselves, the playing equipment (expensive for good quality) and the playing environment. Such things as - slitting the inner sleeves so no scratches from sliding the disc in and out; using dustbugs to hopefully control what is deposited in the grooves; hoping that a passing truck wouldn't cause the stylus to jump; having to play some discs that were so wobbly even the damped lowering had little chance of staying in contact on the first touch, etc. Apart from the album covers I miss little from the past but it is a pity that so much material never seems to have made it even to CD let alone mp3s, perhaps in time this will happen though. My collection is rather modest running into the hundreds for albums, cassettes and CDs but I do have many original LPs from the late 60's in relatively good condition.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Oct 2011   #10

Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1 (desktop)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pincushion View Post
I think we are at last getting to a state where the music is becoming the most enjoyable aspect at last and the technology can disappear into the background where it should be.
Agreed!
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pincushion View Post
I suppose with wireless streaming becoming the norm too it can only get better.
From what I have read, wireless still sacrifices some fidelity, but it is getting better all the time.
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pincushion View Post
I'm a bit of a novice in this area and have yet to organise all my hardware so that I can link them for multi-media playing. With a bit more effort I can get my PC to be virtually silent too so that will help matters, it's hardly intrusive at the moment though.
My audio hook-up is simple as can be.....a cable with a 3.5mm jack on the one end, plugged into a USB Sound Card | Audio Advantage Micro II | Turtle Beach (which seems to isolate most of the internal noise from the computer), and the other end of the cable is RCA jacks, which are plugged into the "CD In" port on my stereo. Newer receivers connect with something higher-tech, like HDMI or SPDIF.....but my receiver dates back to the early 1990's so that's not an option for me.
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 Sound samples before I start ripping - wouldn't want to waste my time




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