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Author Topic: Ripping CDs: is there something to do in relation with SQ ?  (Read 23999 times)
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AlainGr
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« on: August 01, 2016, 03:46:39 pm »

Hi all,

You may have read that some people report differences when listening to rips of their CDs (and DVDs). While it is "not supposed" to happen, even with the same checksum, two files can sound different at playback time, depending on the attention (care) that was taken to do so.

I have used EAC in almost all of my rips. If I recall correctly, some have already reported that EAC and Dbpoweramp where not yielding the same sound signature...

At the time I ripped my CDs I was longing for quickness. I had 4 CD readers of different brands, 2 internal (sata connected) + 2 external USB drives. It was practical, since under certain conditions, it was sometimes required that I attempt again the ripping of a CD (because it was not correctly extracted with one of the "rippers").

They were all powered with SMPS.

At the time I also had a RAID hardware controller card, with 5 hard drives working all together in RAID 0 (SSDs were expensive ). My PC was an "electrical inferno" but at the time I did not know that this was not really good at playback (I was using Winamp...). All I wanted was to have my music on  a hard drive and listen to it through a pair of PC speakers. 

In the recent years I heard about tests that were driven by few peoples. They were attempting to find if there would be SQ differences at the ripping stage, in using better regulated power for the CD/DVD reader-writer or Blu-Ray player. While the checksum of these files has been reported to be identical (no matter if the ripping was done with a carefully implemented environment or not), they reported differences (not all, but some). To be honest, I have always been unsure of the results for many reasons, but I never discarded anything as I have trust in some of these people, may it be their persistence, hearing abilities and their efforts to have those results validated by others.

I intend to try ripping a few CDs with the Intona between the external USB CD/DVD reader-writer and the Audio PC. I also intend to have the hard drive and the CD/DVD reader-writer powered with a linear power supply, through LAN between the server PC and the Audio PC, each of them in minimized OS mode, one of them having the OS being in RAM (Audio PC), to check if there could be differences between what I already have ripped in less than ideal circumstances and some of them under more careful conditions.

Has someone done something that resembles this kind of test ? If so, did you notice any difference ?

I know that this triggers a lot of controversies, and that copying these files to a backup drive may degrade the results, but... ?

We know that at playback time, there are differences but could ripping also be additive to the SQ ?

Thanks for sharing Happy

Alain

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Robert
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2016, 10:59:22 pm »

Certainly is differences in ripping scenarios.

In the early days I ripped using dbpoweramp as it was fast on an i3 laptop with a DVD drive.

Since comparing re ripped CD's using EAC on my new i5 desktop with a Blueray drive. These new rips do sound much better more detailed.

I can only guess that it all makes a difference. How far one wants to go is the question. As we know the better the music file the better the sound.

So one should be using a Professional grade DVD/BR drive, a dedicated linear powered i7 or Xeon processor with optimised ripping software(including OS) and no other processes onboard or working during the ripping stage.
In fact disconnected from the internet.

Its the old story in the days of CD's I compared US, German, Australian and New Zealand pressed CD's and what do you know they did all sound different with the same music. My pick was always the German pressed, this also applied to DVD's. This was supposed to be the technology where there was no audible difference as they were digital!!! Australian were the worst.

We are always going to get differences but worth pursuing better sound.

Robert
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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2016, 11:13:18 pm »

Hi Robert,

Thanks for sharing your experience.

You nailed it. What is still missing for me to give it a GO is having a linear power supply for the whole PC... It may be the next big buy for me. It does not prevent me from doing some tests in the meantime but I certainly hope to prepare the best conditions to go through the ripping stage again.

When you mention the differences you encountered when ripping your music again, do you mean more microdetails, less granularity, more vivid "colors" - those kind of details ? Did you feel that the music was also less edgy ? 

Regards,

Alain

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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2016, 11:28:53 pm »

Yes more of everything and a background quietness less hash, less edgy.

Robert
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« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2016, 05:00:44 pm »

Thinking about it... There is a question that I have yet to find an answer to...

Ok, let's say that I rip my CDs again, under better conditions than what I did before. Then, once it is done, I transfer my rips to 2 backup drives (one that I keep in a drawer, one that I store somewhere out of my home, in a safe place).

Do these backups retain the improved SQ that I am aiming for ?

Yes I know, this is a strange question. We are talking about digital. We know that in analog, each generation will suffer some loss, but digital is not supposed to.

My reasoning is simplistic. One day, it will be necessary to transfer to a new drive, since they have a limited lifespan. I presume that I will somehow need to use a new copy (either from one of my backups or with a new hard drive).

Since I assume that taking good habits to rip music is important, I wonder about the added value of ripping them once more, in hope that I will not need to go through this process after...

Alain
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2016, 09:05:08 pm »

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/viewpoint/0716/Why_Do_WAV_And_FLAC_Files_Sound_Different.htm
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« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2016, 03:15:39 am »

Hi Joachim,

I read the article in totality. Very interesting ! Thanks. I will read it at least a second time to be sure that I did not let something pass me by and will come back with some comments.

Regards,

Alain
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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2016, 05:14:06 am »

It is an interesting read. I have always thought Wave files were better than Flac not huge though the difference. I always download Wave where I can.
They say metadata has a negative influence also. I have not played with that. But when ripping CD's I don't bother adding covers.

I don't use album covers in Xxhighend music playback. I'm only interested in the music. 

Robert
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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2016, 12:18:52 pm »

Hi Robert,

Like you I never attached importance to the metadata and FLAC files were new to me when I tried downloading some high resolution albums many years ago.

The only aspect I found interesting when I tried FLAC was after reading about Replay Gain, that was helping to have a steadier level in gain, as opposed to WAV. At the time, I did not know about XXHigEnd.

There was a difference but it was subtle and I could not hear it easily, except under certain circumstances.

I wonder now: when someone buys a download and there is a choice between getting it in FLAC or in WAV, is the original file they sell in FLAC and they convert it to WAV or is it the contrary ? I could ask of course...

Some websites sell their music either on CD or through FLAC downloads...

Alain
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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2016, 02:37:44 pm »

If the metadata in (WAV) music files adversely influences SQ, would it be valid to assume that removing the metadata should enhance SQ?  scratching

I found “tag stripper”, but its a Mac program.

Regards,
Stanley
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« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2016, 02:45:37 pm »

I think that Dbpoweramp allows to remove (in batch) all metadata, but it has been a long time since I have used it...

Alain
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« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2016, 10:53:40 am »

Hi Alain,

When I ripped my cds I used both EAC and dbpoweramp. EAC seemed a bit sweeter but I ended up using dbpoweramp because for me it looked easier to use and the sound seemed closer to what I thought was the real thing. I was using for ripping a Plextor PX-230A and a Plextor PX-L890SA. The first one is very fast and very good ripping cds with some problems (scratches) and the second one has FUA capability: Clear Read Cache with FUA (dBpoweramp Reference required) quickly remove the cached audio using a command called FUA. Important to avoid ripping errors.

About WAV or FLAC, I ripped originally all my cds in WAV and I have some hard drives stored as a backup that way. Later as I´m using SSDs in my Music Server Pc and the SSDs have limited capacity I made a selection of what I want to listen and converted it to FLAC. It is hard to tell the difference for me in between both formats but I find interesting the Paul McGowan observation about it:

"There is a lot of talk amongst Audiophiles that despite the fact lossless files are unquestionably bit perfect, they don’t sound the same. How could that be? Well, for one thing, the amount of processing resources required to unpack a lossless file are far greater than those playing the original WAV file. If for no other reason, the extra number crunching impacts noise, jitter and increases power supply demands. So while the bits are identical, the payback demands are not.

If you download a compressed lossless file, uncompress it, and place it on your hard drive, that file will now sound identical to the same file on the same hard drive that had never been compressed. In other words, compressed or uncompressed the bits are the same.

Playback of compressed bits has different demands than playback of uncompressed bits. Hence, sound quality varies depending on the hardware reproducing it."

That means that the way the XXHE software manage it and the hardware involved in it are crucial for the SQ. As I said, for me with my with my actual hardware/software configuration it´s hard to tell any difference but probably using a linear power supply, etc. could improve the SQ.

Juan
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« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2016, 08:18:32 pm »

I think that Dbpoweramp allows to remove (in batch) all metadata, but it has been a long time since I have used it...

Thanks Alain.

In DBPoweramp, Batch converter, under "DSP effects/Actions" - "Add DSP" - "ID-Tag processing" - tab "deletions" - "Remove all tags" all ID-tags in WAV files can be removed.

I wasn't aware that WAV files also contains (so many) tags, only in FLAC files I thought.

If removing tags results in a perceivable difference in SQ, I will test soon with some tracks with and without tags.

Stanley
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« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2016, 01:29:10 am »

Stanley,

I too was surprised to see that downloaded WAV files were containing tags... And when I was converting downloaded FLAC files to WAV format (I only play WAV files), they were kept in the WAV files (at least most of them, since I am not sure if Replay Gain is really useful with WAV).... 

I will be most interesting to read what your conclusions are. Even if it does not yield a stunning result, there is something to learn.

Thanks.

Alain
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« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2016, 03:21:17 pm »

I compared some WAV-files with and without tags and embedded cover art.

Differences in SQ are hardly noticeable, if any. With some tracks I sometimes have the impression that the files without tags sound a little smoother, but it might well be suggestion. 

I wonder if this metadata thing is an issue with XXHighEnd, because the files (in my case non compressed WAV-files) are converted to larger WAV-files and put in (RAM-disk) memory. What happens to the metadata here?

On the other hand, the metadata can be removed from all the WAV-albums with just a few clicks in DBPoweramp. Doesn't do any harm either.

Mmmm  dntknw

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AudioPC: Passive (no fans)/ Intel i7-2600S / Hyperthreading On / Motherboard: Asus P8H67-V/ RAM: Kingston DDR3 32GB/ Motherboard USB3.0 to NOS1a / PSU: Silentmaxx Fanless II/ no computer cabinet and no fans, NoFan 80 EH passive CPU cooler/ Music via LAN on HDD on MusicServerPC (desktop computer-W10)/ All music in WAV /Control on Ipad <-> Wifi <-> router <-> LAN <-> MusicServerPC <-> LAN <-> AudioPC.

Februari 2019: Windows 10 Pro 64 bit build 14393.0 from RAM/ XXHE 2.10 / Engine#4 Adaptive Mode / Q1/-/3/4/5 = 5/-/1/1/1 / Q1Factor = 30/ Dev.Buffer = 4096 / ClockRes = 15ms / Memory = Straight Contiguous / Include Garbage Collect / SFS = 14.19 (max 14.19)/ No Filter/ not Invert / Phase Alignment Off / Peak Extend Off /Playerprio = Low / ThreadPrio = Realtime / Scheme = Core3-5 / Not Switch Processors during Playback/ UnAttended / All Services Off / Minimize OS / XTweaks : 32, 10, -, 0, 1/ Time Performance Index = Optimal / Time Stability = On / Arc Prediction 16x / -> Lush^2 USB-cable 70cm (A:B-W-Y-R; B:B-W-R) > Phasure NOS1a 75B G3 DAC, Driver v1.0.4) (16ms)/ Output via Balanced Blaxius BNC Interlinks > Audio Analogue Maestro Balanced Monoblocks> speakers: Apogee Acoustics Scintilla (rebuild).
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