Which : flac, wav o aif?

Having to choose in a download from hd tracks which the best format or acoustically more we say useful? Flac, wav or aif?

Historically Naim’s preference sonically has been WAV.

My personal preference is FLAC because I can’t hear much difference in SQ compared to WAV and the Metadata is easier to manage.

I download and rip in FLAC because, as Camlan says, metadata management is easier and better.

(Then, using Asset, I convert to WAV on the fly.)

If you have the storage space, then WAV would be my preference, unless you also want to share the music with lots of apple devices, in which case AIFF.

We use AIFF because we have lots of apple devices which draw on the same music files. I also did several tests between FLAC level 5 (“normal” FLAC), FLAC level 0 (“uncompressed” FLAC, though it is actually about 30% compression) and AIFF. In every case we preferred FALC level 0 over level 5 and AIFF over both of them.

At the end of the day though, if you download a file in ALAC, FLAC, AIFF or WAV, a program such as dBPoweramp will enable you to convert and store it to one of the other 3 codecs.

Hope this helps rather than confuses.

Best regards, BF

Flac, easier to manage and I cant hear much difference to wav.

I use WAV, I have plenty of storage space (reserve) so no concern with that.
I don’t understand what people mean by FLAC metadata being easier, in mngt terms with software such as dBpowerap & Mp4Tag there is no difference
I opted for WAV when I first started streaming with my NDX & Synology NAS, I listened carefully to some selected tracks over a number of weeks, the difference was obvious with more warmth & fullness in the bass, its not huge be it is there.
There is no difference when transcoding FLAC to PCM, but my Synology Media Server had problem transcoding over a gapless interface at that time, hence why I went WAV.
I’ve since run the same test file on other streamers belonging to friends, we hear a difference with Cyrus & Audiolab but no difference with Linn KDSM & Naim Nova.
So for me knowing what I know now, its player dependant & the gapless transcoding problem is fixed, so my time over again I would go FLAC.

FLAC is the standard.

FLAC is a standard but I would go for WAV every time.



I have always used Flac - lossless, tagging, file size reasons.

Whichever sounds best. Some people can’t hear a difference between different formats at the same resolution. Others can.

I can. This is why I favour WAV on my system. This is also the Naim recommended format. If you don’t know which to go for, I would go WAV.

Most formats are incontrovertible. You can make a copy of the source file(s), convert to a different format (keeping everything else the same) and compare them. Then keep the format you like the most. If you can’t hear a difference, then you will know that in future you can please yourself.

Tagging any format is easy. I prefer to do my own. I used to let rippers take care of it until I noticed errors in the tags. Or I bought something like a Japanese import and the ripper didn’t know what to make of it. Or both.

I have to confess that I was skeptical that there would be an audible difference between FLAC and WAV. Out of curiosity, I downloaded WAV versions of two hi res (96/24) albums recently purchased from Qobuz. To my surprise, there was a noticeable difference favoring the WAV version of the same file. Not night and day, but audible. I have a ND5 XS2 feeding a Naim XS2 connected to Audio Physic Tempo Plus speakers. I suspect the difference may be even more pronounced on higher level Naim systems.

I also tried using dB Poweramp to convert FLAC files previously ripped from CDs. An improvement was also noticeable at this resolution. I am curious as to whether converting existing hi res files with dB Poweramp would sound identical to WAV versions directly downloaded from Qobuz. I have not yet investigated but would suspect that there is little if any difference, but would interested if anyone has made that comparison.

All of my test albums were excellent recordings. I suspect, but have not investigated, that the difference between FLAC and WAV would decrease or altogether vanish with lesser recordings.

As always, empirical testing prevails over speculation. While not a perfect test (certainly not blind, since I knew what I was playing), I would hope that my expectation of no difference mitigated the possible effects of confirmation bias.

Always FLAC because of editability and interoperability. Convert on the fly to WAV, AIFF or other format if you happen to have a DAC that sounds better on WAV, AIFF or other format.

Sceptical is always a good starting point. Your ears don’t lie and you can trust them better than anyone else’s. If you can hear a difference there is one. If you can’t hear a difference there isn’t one.

One of the good things about streaming ripped files is the ease of doing back to back comparisons. Format, resolution, type of device on which the files are stored, server, Ethernet cable, native versus interpenetrated, and on and on.

If you’ve got dBpoweramp you’ll never have any issues tagging WAVs - but you probably know that already.

I rip to AIFF for meta data and I’m an all Mac/iOS household and have no issues with storage space.

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I have a Astell & Kern SP1000 DAP with it’s own cd ripper used with Grado PS1000 headphones. I recorded some tracks in WAV and some in Flac and compared the same track and as much as tried i couldn’t hear any differences, so i opted for Flac for space etc.

As long as you are doing real blind tests, this may be true. In all other cases ears are such big liars! :thinking:


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