Optimum ripping solutions

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rowlandhills
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Post by rowlandhills » 2014-08-21 21:09

Thanks Thomas.
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Post by Spannko » 2014-12-09 23:18

Thomas, I found your ripper test really interesting. But, to be honest, I found it hard to believe. EAC has been the undisputed King of rippers for a long time now and how could iTunes even come close - it doesn't even check for accuracy!

However, out of curiosity, I thought I'd give it a try. I used to use dBPoweramp on a PC, but for the last 5 years I've been using XLD on a Macbook Pro. My comparison was between XLD and iTunes with fresh rips onto a Qnap 210 with intel 320 SSD's.

Sound-wise, I didn't feel there was a great difference between the two and I could fully understand the average listener thinking they sound the same. However, when using tune-dem it was a different matter entirely. After a while, the difference in tune playing became so obvious, that I could detect which was which without needing to compare with the other.

The clear winner, contrary to my expectations was iTunes. In comparison, XLD appeared to really struggle with reproducing the pitch of notes, producing "bum notes" which iTunes reproduced well.

So, thank you for sharing the results of your curiosity and bringing this to our attention. iTunes is now my ripper of choice, and the only downside is how it handles (or doesn't!) album art. But this is a small price to pay for the quality of rips it produces.
Last edited by Spannko on 2014-12-10 00:12, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by tokenbrit » 2014-12-09 23:44

This has been playing on my mind since reading Tom's write-up, but I deferred trying to compare EAC, dbPoweramp, and iTunes myself until I have built the new desktop with Win7, and Samsung drive, to replace our old WinXP PC...

Out of interest, Spannko, what version of iTunes did you use for the comparison? Looking back on Tom's write-up of his comparison of ripping solutions, I don't see versions mentioned, but recall that the preferred OS for the LS-NAS is Win7, If so, it's gratifying that you got consistent results despite different OSs and, possibly, different versions of iTunes.

I can see that my holiday season might be spent finishing the PC build, and re-ripping CDs to ALAC using iTunes.

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Post by Spannko » 2014-12-10 00:25

I must admit, I didn't give the version a second thought. Currently, I'm using iTunes 12.0.1.26. My mac is set for auto updates and I don't remember getting an update notice since doing the test.

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Post by tokenbrit » 2014-12-10 22:52

Thanks Spannko. I decide to have a quick play with iTunes on my WinXP PC, just to see... It's v9.0.2.25, but I'm not worried about that as it's only for test purposes.

Regarding the album art, does anyone know how to embed in the m4a files so that Kinsky will display the appropriate album cover? (using Twonky v6.0.38)
Answer(s)
Edit-1: right-click on a track in iTunes and select Get Info; go to Artwork tab; click on displayed album artwork; click Delete; click Add; browse to saved image, select, and click Open; click OK.
Edit-all: select a number of tracks in iTunes, then right click and select Get Info; click Yes to edit information for multiple items; double-click in the Artwork field (lower right); browse to saved image, select, and click Open; click OK.

Follow-up question: if there is a way to embed album art in ALAC encoded m4a files, does it affect the music? (will try for myself this evening...)

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Post by tokenbrit » 2014-12-11 18:53

I did not get to compare ALAC with and without embedded album artwork, but I did compare ALAC against FLAC, and against WAV. All were ripped from the same PC. I normally rip locally then copy to the NAS - I followed this same process with 1 CD; the other was ripped straight to the NAS. (fwiw, the PC is connected wirelessly)

I'll try to test ALAC with & without embedded album artwork this weekend; time & wife's patience permitting.

Summary of results:
ALAC vs FLAC. Consistent, easy win for ALAC - almost sounded louder in ALAC, but ALAC was also more clearly 'in tune'
ALAC vs WAV. A little harder to judge, but the elements of the tune just seemed to be more in time, easier to appreciate, more engaging on ALAC than WAV.

These results are a real pain, as I will need to re-rip a whole bunch of CDs to ALAC

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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by David Neel » 2019-07-19 22:22

Nearly five years on, I'm finally undertaking a major ripping project. I recently got a couple of Intel 320 600GB disks from Spannko, so it's time my LSNAS got an update. After all the Hakai experimentation, I'm still happy with LSNAS but only part of CD collection has ever been ripped.

I've now rebuilt the LSNAS as a pure ripper, with the Samsung 224 drive internal, Win 10 Home and iTunes on one disk, and a 600GB disk as the storage. The intention is to rip 5-600 CDs from scratch into ALAC format. When complete, I'll rebuild as a music server, removing the optical drive and probably running on Snakeoil.

Questions before I start: in the time since the last post, has anybody discovered a better solution than iTunes/ALAC, and are previous users still happy? And do I need to use the error correction which seems to slow things down rather badly?
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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by David Neel » 2019-07-20 22:11

Trusting the earlier reports, I have now ripped 35 CDs using Win10 and iTunes. At this stage I couldn't resist checking to see what differences there were. So I installed Asset under Win10 and my previous music storage SSD in addition to the one I was ripping to (both Intel 320).

I first tried the dbPoweramp/FLAC files - and they sounded better than I remembered. Surely iTunes/ALAC can't top this? Yes, it did, easily more musical.

So then I tried some EAC/FLAC rips. These were clearly more musical than dbPoweramp (although I used different tracks), and more immediately impressive than iTunes/ALAC, but I soon realised that musical interplay and nuance was better with ALAC.

So thank you ThomasOK for discovering this, and Spannko and tokenbrit for confirming it. While I try to avoid Apple products, this one is outstanding and free! Only another c.550 CDs to go...
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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by tokenbrit » 2019-07-21 20:34

David Neel wrote:
2019-07-20 22:11
.. musical interplay and nuance was better with ALAC.

So thank you ThomasOK for discovering this, and Spannko and tokenbrit for confirming it. While I try to avoid Apple products, this one is outstanding and free! Only another c.550 CDs to go...
Good description... Yes, I'm an iSceptic too but found the same unexpected preference for iTunes/ALAC. Glad you checked, confirmed, and shared. Cheers.

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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by David Neel » 2019-07-22 18:21

I don't want to go over the top about this, but....

First, a caveat: the dbPoweramp files I have compared were ripped over the last two years, the EAC files last year, and all using Win7. The iTunes rips were done with Win10. The positioning and support of the LSNAS has changed (as has my home) - some of the EAC rips were done with this support. But the hardware and internal cables remained constant, and the SSDs are all Intel 320s. So there is the possibility for some variance other than the ripping software and file format.

While I'm ripping (over 100 so far) I can't resist little breaks to listen. What I'm consistently hearing is more of the musical communication between players, combined with an increased ability to follow all the instruments at once (two sides of the same coin, really), probably because of a lower noise floor. As a musicality upgrade, this is possibly the biggest single change I've heard since switching to Lejonklou amplifiers. I can't quite believe I'm saying this about a free piece of software where the ripping function is not its main purpose.
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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by teatime » 2019-07-22 20:21

I've never tried ALAC (or iTunes). Could you share some examples?

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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by matthias » 2019-07-22 20:28

BTW, did someone compare the ripping engine of the new macOS Catalina to the "old" iTunes ripping engine?
Maybe the new one is even better in tune dem?

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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by David Neel » 2019-07-22 20:46

teatime wrote:
2019-07-22 20:21
I've never tried ALAC (or iTunes). Could you share some examples?
Sorry, but all spare time will be going into the ripping for a while. In any case, you're far better off trying it for yourself. It's free, and then you'll know if it works for you.
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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by teatime » 2019-07-22 22:48

Unfortunately, I currently don't have a single machine with an optical reader, and apart from my gaming rig, all of them run Linux. Trying out re-ripping with iTunes is something I will probably not do unless I happen to buy an external DVD-drive that I can connect to the Windows box. Which seems highly unlikely! :D

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The Optimum Ripping Solution

Post by Ron The Mon » 2019-07-23 20:26

matthias wrote:
2019-07-22 20:28
BTW, did someone compare the ripping engine of the new macOS Catalina to the "old" iTunes ripping engine?
Maybe the new one is even better in tune dem?
Matt,
First of all, I agree with all that has been written on this thread about iTunes being superior to other rippers mentioned. However, my previous experience listening showed JRiver Media Center ALAC ripper bettered iTunes using the same drive and computer. I have done this on XP, Vista, Windows7 & 10, and several Macs.

https://www.jriver.com/index.html allows free trials with every new upgrade release, so the cost is not a factor. Simply rip CDs periodically along with new releases. I also find JRiver to be the easiest ripping software to use. It used to drive me crazy ripping from iTunes on Windows and meta data not being saved.

I have recently compared iTunes/Mojave rips to Apple Music/Catalina on the same 2019 Mac mini/drive on same shelf with same cable. I have recently been experimenting with different shelves, cables, and JRiver Media Center 25.0.71 ALAC. I have also compared these to my previous best rips.

The results are quite surprising! I have been playing files back over my cars' Mark Levinson system, iPhone headphone output, streaming via bluetooth over PA system, as well as several other storage and streaming options; the results are consistent over all playback options. I don't have time to properly respond now because of time, but will in the next month or so. One fact undeniable is on any Microsoft platform I have tried, JRiver MC ALAC sounds the best.

I advise any of you on here with a recent Mac to try Catalina as it is now public beta https://www.macrumors.com/how-to/instal ... blic-beta/.

Once I am fully happy with drives, supports, cables, and JRiver Media Center 25, I will comment further. I recommend others compare themselves as well. To be clear, my context here is with this thread and simply about "ripping solutions".

I have around 3500 CDs to rip and need to be 100% satisfied with the best sound result before proceeding. Right now I'm about 97.8% sure.

Ron The Mon
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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by matthias » 2019-07-23 20:54

Ron,
thanks, looking forward to your findings.
Please comment further on CD playback with a very good cd player or transport vs. playback of ripped ALAC files from the same CD.
BTW, did you compare JRiver to Audirvana on Catalina?

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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by David Neel » 2019-07-24 15:45

I'm 158 albums into my ripping project, and now JRiver is recommended instead of iTunes! JRiver is interesting because it's available for Linux (Debian), which I've previously found to be slightly better than Win7 as a server OS. So it could suit me well, apart from the metadata, to use JRiver. (Maybe a good suggestion for teatime, too.)

I have installed JRiver under Win10, and ripped a few albums to allow a direct comparison with iTunes, no other variables whatever. I'll post in the playground when I have a chance.
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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by David Neel » 2019-07-24 23:39

Clips posted in the playground.
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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by teatime » 2019-07-26 12:33

David Neel wrote:
2019-07-24 23:39
Clips posted in the playground.
Thanks! Interesting!

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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by David Neel » 2019-08-02 20:14

This summary is copied from the playground thread. If you go to that thread, the relevant pages are 67-69. I think it needs to be here as well:

Yes, I prefer iTunes/ALAC: to dbPoweramp/FLAC by a long way; to EAC/FLAC by a lesser margin; and also to JRiver/ALAC by a smaller margin still. I used error correction/secure mode/slow mode (as recommended for highest quality) with dbPoweramp and EAC, but not with JRiver (oversight - I didn't see the option). So there there may be gains by switching it off in other software, but my comparison was with the equivalent corrected setting in iTunes. And it could be that JRiver benefits from it, which I didn't try. These are currently unknowns, but I am rapidly losing the motivation/time to experiment further! If anybody else wants to pick up the baton....
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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by matthias » 2019-08-02 21:35

David Neel wrote:
2019-08-02 20:14
These are currently unknowns, but I am rapidly losing the motivation/time to experiment further! If anybody else wants to pick up the baton....
David,
thank you very much for your investigation.

After ripping a complete cd collection it is most frustrating to find another superior ripping engine.
I exspect that the ripper of new Apple Music under macOS Catalina will provide even better quality than iTunes.......
So maybe a revival for a very good CD player?

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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by Spannko » 2019-08-04 11:37

I’ve just come across this on the Naim forum which may be related to David’s findings.

Simon-in-Suffolk discovered that inter frame timing consistency had an effect on sound quality and his ideas were used to develop Naim’s new streaming pooling method in their latest streamers.

I’m wondering if ‘error correction’ creates inter frame timing inconsistencies, due to ‘re-reading’ leading to poorer sound quality?

Edit: Oops, here’s the link. https://community.naimaudio.com/t/upnp- ... ty/3271/13
Last edited by Spannko on 2019-08-04 19:18, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by matthias » 2019-08-04 14:20

Spannko wrote:
2019-08-04 11:37
I’ve just come across this on the Naim forum which may be related to David’s findings.
Simon-in-Suffolk discovered that inter frame timing consistency had an effect on sound quality and his ideas were used to develop Naim’s new streaming pooling method in their latest streamers.
I’m wondering if ‘error correction’ creates inter frame timing inconsistencies, due to ‘re-reading’ leading to poorer sound quality?
Can you provide a link?
Thanks

Matt
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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by lejonklou » 2019-08-04 15:00

Spannko wrote:
2019-08-04 11:37
Simon-in-Suffolk discovered that inter frame timing consistency had an effect on sound quality
I can confirm this indeed appears to be the case. If there is a way to correct for this that actually improves sound quality, it's very interesting.

Every process one adds to the transfer of the data stream (at every point, as soon as the data starts moving) seems to add its own character to the final result, so there's certainly no easy fix. Lots of trial and error required (and a 100% accurate and consistent metod of evaluation)!

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Re: Optimum ripping solutions

Post by sunbeamgls » 2019-08-05 19:03

Those who have tried EAC and preferred a different tool, what FLAC compression levels did you use when comparing EAC to the other tools please?
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