I have downloaded my first Hi Res FLAC digital album (24/192) & simply copied & pasted the download into my Core’s download folder via my desktop PC.
All works exactly as it should & the album sounds splendid through my Nova.
However, I noted that the file size is about 2.5gb, compared with about 700mb for an album ripped in WAV from CD by the Core. Is this huge difference in file size normal for Hi Res FLAC?
I later download 3 sampler albums in 16/44 FLAC format from the same website & all these, admittedly about 45 minutes long compared to the 70 minutes of the 24/192 download, & all 3 file sizes were about 200mb.
I also burnt the 24/192 file to disc to create a normal CD (about 600/700mb) & then ripped this to the Core. When played back I have to admit that I could not really hear any difference in the sound quality.
Therefore, is it really worth paying extra for 24/192 files?
The downloads were all from Hyperion &, from the very little I know about it, I believe Hyperion have a good reputation for sound quality.
Views on the file sizes question & sound quality would be appreciated.
It might be because FLAC has different compression levels. Most people I think just accept the default of 5, but that can be changed. If you add more compression (lossless of course), then your player has more work to do to uncompress it, and that extra impact may (depending on your player) impact SQ. Better Players should have minimal impact
It’s that size because it’s a 24/192. A 24/96 will be about half the size and that’s the resolution I usually get if the 192 costs more. It’s worth the extra cost if you think the difference justifies it. If it doesn’t, it isn’t.
24/192 files are huge so 2.5gb does not surprise me. On a ND5 XS2 with Nait XS2 I can’t really tell the difference between 24/44.1 and 24/192. Maybe that’s down to the mastering of the source material and might explain why the CD rip doesn’t sound much different to the 24/192 files
@GadgetMan @hungryhalibut @elverdiblanco
Thanks for the fast & informative replies.
For the few FLAC rips I have previously done I have simply set the ripping program to 8, highest quality & left the remaining settings at Auto, without looking at them & what they do.
Having just had a look at them in more detail I see I can set the quality to different sample rates etc. & have therefore set 24/192 & ripped the CD I made of the FLAC download I got from Hyperion.
The resulting FLAC file size is 1.2gb, from the CD file size of about 700mb. I can now see where my 2.5gb original file comes from & that there is obviously nothing unusual about it.
On the basis of just a single 24/192 download (on a very recent piano recording) I am tending to agree with HH that paying for the highest res files is probably not worth it, the lower res ones sounding just as good to me.
However I will probably get a couple more, of different music types, to do the same comparisons again to satisfy myself that I am not hearing better quality from the more expensive files.
Incidentally the Ripper, File Converter, Media Burner I use is called EZ CD Audio Converter. I started using it in the early 2000’s to convert radio files I recorded as MP4’s into MP3 files. Whilst not free, it was cheap for a life time licence (currently 30 euros), unlimited upgrades, & I have been delighted with it. I haven’t ever seen it referred to on this forum but it seems very easy to use & is very reliable.
I actually use Nero to burn my discs as I had this long before EZ CD & have found no need to try another burner.
I have no idea how it compares to other programs frequently mention on the forum.
The FLAC compression levels 1 to 8 don’t affect sound quality. The files are still lossless, they are just compressed into a smaller file at the higher level. In fact, the amount of space you save at a higher level is very little.
Why set FLAC rips to 8, FLAC is designed to have compressed files & save storage space… FLAC compression does not affect fidelity, compression as used with FLAC is a sometimes misunderstood as a negative, its not, its 100% lossless from end to end… Quoting from Xiph Org, the designer/developers of FLAC, its similar to how Zip works, when unpacked its exactly the same as the original file.
I rip all my CDs at flac level 5, which is dBPoweramp’s default. If you use Asset as your upnp server it makes sense to use dBPoweramp to rip and convert as the two work seamlessly together.
Once downloaded there is no point burning a CD. Just store the flac and ensure you have a backup.
Especially if you’re downloading 24 bit files as they will be converted to 16 bit as soon as you burn them to a CD
As I said in my original post, I only burnt a CD to load onto the Core to make a quick A/B comparison between the CD & Hi Res FLAC. I could not hear a difference.
I will try a couple more times with different types of music when I find downloads I want. I am not expecting to hear any differences &, if this proves to be the case, will download cheaper files in future for music I want.
I will of course save & backup my FLAC downloads.
I don’t think that 1 to 8 determine a level of compression but rather a level correction…with 8 the soft has the lowest level of error…
No, this refers to the level of compression, not level correction.
From the dBPoweramp help page
Per channel in raw, uncompressed samples:
- 24 bit samples at 192 kHz, i.e. 192,000 times per second = 4,608,000 bits per second
- One byte is 8 bits, so 576,000 bytes
- divided by 1,024 = 562,5 kilobytes, divided by 1,024 = 0.5493 megabytes per second.
- One track of 5 minutes playtime = 5*60 seconds = 300 seconds
- 300 seconds * 0.5493 megabytes per second = 164.8 megabytes
- FLAC compression by ca. 50% (it is usually a bit less) = approx 82 MB for 5 minutes
You have 2 stereo channels, so 164 MB for 5 minutes
Your download had 70 minutes, so 14 * 5 minutes
→ 14 * 164 MB = 2,296 MB = 2.24 GB.
Calculator here (does not do FLAC but use WAV and assume that FLAC is approx 55% or so)
Whether you choose 0 or 8 as your compression level, there won’t be any errors.
FLAC, appart from being a data container, also includes a rather efficient and reliable non lossy compression algorithm. Just like the ZIP compression algorithm commonly used, it does not generate errors.
FLAC files are always compressed, even when choosing the -0 compression level (it compresses with a ratio of roughly 70%).
Two questions occur to me from your reply Mike -
1 My Nikon cameras RAW file (NEF format) is a lossless file. It can be used uncompressed or compressed to approx. 50% of the uncompressed file. Nikon say in their camera manuals that compressed file quality is virtually the same as the uncompressed which suggests to me that the compressed files are possibly not quite lossless. I have to say that I cannot see a difference between the two.
2 If quality is unchanged regardless of compression levels, why bother with different levels? Why not make all files as small as possible?
Am I missing/unaware of something here?
Simply because it takes more time to compress. That’s really all.
It interesting to note that, when it come to decompression, it takes the same amount of computing time/power to decompress whatever your FLAC compression level is.
This, plus for the usual music it does not get much smaller at higher compression levels, anyway.
Lossless is lossless. You can compress and uncompress a text file or a computer program with e.g. a zip/unzip program a billion times and in the end it is still the same text and the computer program still works. (You can also compare each bit of the millions/billions of bits in the original file and the one that was compressed/uncompressed a billion times, and they are all the same. You cannot distinguish the two files in any way).
Dunno what the Nikon manual says, but Wikipedia says for RAW (NEF): “Several Nikon cameras let photographers choose between no compression, lossless compression or lossy compression for their raw images”. Whether their compression is truly or virtually lossless, I don’t know. There might be some loss according to https://blog.majid.info/is-the-nikon-d70-nef-raw-format-truly-lossless/
But this is a result of Nikon’s algorithm and has no bearing on truly lossless algorithms like zip or flac.
Compressed file methods vary, best not compare zip, nef & others I guess.
I said (quote from Xiph Org), its ‘similar’ to how Zip works.
Why different levels … customer choice, it would be simpler to have just 2 settings, no compression & full compression, the levels give customer choice.
Level 5 is the optimal balance between file size reduction and playback performance, I suspect the playback performance is a variable depending on equipment, or maybe a lab measurement as I’ve not heard any difference playing at various levels & transcoded.