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Question on encoding formats and problem with oversaturated flac files


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I am a brand new user of the personal edition of the software. I'm finally uploading my CD collection for use at home. I would like the resulting files to be usable in my Apple-centered world, as well as by my Volumio environment I've just set up on Rasberry Pi. (This may change to a different system, Roon, Moode, etc., but for the moment I am enjoying Volumio.)

I am not sure what the best format is to use for this purpose; I would like to retain as much data as possible (i.e. prefer lossless or at least super high quality if it's a lossy format). I was able to do some tests with Apple Lossless, AAC, and FLAC. The Apple Lossless files won't play on the Windows PC, but they are fine when I bring them over to the Mac (as M4a files);  the AAC files surprisingly are not playable by iTunes but they open in Quicktime Player; and the FLAC files come in to both Windows and Mac players with wildly oversaturated amplitude. I can make out that it is the tune, but it is blasting and distorted in the extreme.

So... suggestions? I was planning on using FLAC for everything, is there some control that I'm not seeing to limit the volume on these? Or is there another format that you feel will satisfy my objectives? I don't want to use AIFF or WAV just because of file size, but could do it. And as I said, I'm open to a lossy format if that fact isn't immediately apparent on first listening. Help is appreciated! Thanks.

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When you are converting to FLAC, which compression level, sample rate, and Bit depth are you selecting?   Also, you may want to confirm that the discs you are copying are not copyright protected as this would also affect the output result you get from the program.

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I have this exact problem. I just ripped several CDs to flac using Express Rip CD Ripper Software Plus (licensed version) and every track is oversaturated and distorted to such an extent as to make it inaudible. The CD plays fine in a computer and on a CD player. Also, at least one of the CDs is older, manufactured before ripping was prevalent, so I am skeptical that copy-protection is to blame. The CD copy protection schemes I am aware of altered the table-of-contents information and affected a CD-ROM drives' ability to read the disc at all and could not carry the Compact Disc logo. 

 

To answer Chris75's question, I used both maximum compression (4) and "Balanced" (2), the default. Sample rate of 44100 Hz, 16-bit resolution (standard CD).

 

Please advise.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My settings seem to have been compression (2) Balanced, 44100 Hz, 16-bit. Not trying to do anything fancy. I tried it with a couple of random CDs and it happened in both cases. 

Remember too though that I'm asking an additional question. Is FLAC the way to go? Is that what everybody is doing? Or can an argument be made for something else? 

Thanks. 

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Same question, no answers.  I've tried ripping to wav, mp3, and various other settings of the output format.  Everything seems to work fine except for the flac setting.  The flac files play extremely loud and extremely distorted.   For example, if it's soft chamber music I can at least hear the tune, but if it's a big band at full blast, nothing but noise.  I'm presently using flac for most of my audio files.  Isn't somebody at NCH reading these things. 

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@marvincollins, there was another post stating that this was a Q/A channel for users and that support questions needed to be go to the support channel. I opened an issue there on tis topic and get a reply within a few hours and we have been working the issue but I have no remedy at this time.

@k9gardner, I think I understand your question: Is flac a worthwhile format or is there a better one out there that imparts even less distortion? I will stay out of that discussion except to say you might want to look at WAV files, which is contains the straight-up PCM data with no compression whatsoever. Flac is supposedly a lossless compression algorithm, so converting a WAV file to flac and back to WAV should result in an identical file on the backend as the front-end (at least within 1-bit to account for round-off errors). I am not sure about that but can tell you it sounds much (!) better than mp3 (no surprise) and is widely used to distribute commercial digital audio files as it is roughly 1/2 the size of WAV.

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@cbuck1, Well, you almost understood my question, except for one thing: I wasn't asking whether flac is best or if there's one even better... I was asking whether there's one that's slightly worse! But only slightly.

Look, I know that WAV can be used to save them, but that just seems extreme and unnecessary. Extreme, in terms of file storage, which I guess is cheap nowadays, but still... I do not have a high-resolution system through my entire chain, and don't want to play that level of the tech game. I want to listen to music, generally while I'm doing other things, and sometimes, for critical listening. I'm a musician, I have a good ear for sound and balance and color, so I want it to be as good as possible. MP3s sound dead and flat to me, but native CDs, AACs, AIFFs, seem to sound fine, based on non-rigorous comparisons. 

I'm wondering if a format like Ogg Vorbis (which I guess is now deprecated) or Opus (which kind of replaced it) would be the way to go? I'm not sure if it's supported everywhere. I'm looking for the files I end up with to be playable on Mac, on my iPhone, on my Volumio streaming system (running on Raspberry Pi) and Windows. So, something north of MP3 and south of WAV, that's pretty universal. Seems like FLAC would be it, but... we've come full circle.

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On 5/9/2021 at 9:07 PM, marvincollins said:

Isn't somebody at NCH reading these things. 

By the way, as @cbuck1 pointed out, this may not be the place to post something if you want a response from NCH. That thought had occurred to me last week – that they may not be reading these things – so I sent them directly to NCH tech support, but have not had a response. I will check out the thread you referred to in the support channel. 

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Now it just got worse... I'm using the "free for personal use" version, and today, for the first time, as I was attempting to try ripping another CD to .flac format, I got a popup that said with the free version I can only rip to mp3 or wav format. This product may just not be worth it. Too much bother. Next! (I'm not quite finished with it yet and will see if they can address this flac problem, but if not, I ain't payin'.)

 

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