Serato DJ Lite / Intro General Discussion

Talk about Serato DJ Lite / Intro software and controllers.

Sound Quality of Flac vs Wav Shocked!!

Johnny H 1:58 AM - 11 December, 2015
Hi guys

after purchasing a very high end studio RME sound Card I have been doing some A/B tests of Flacs Vs Wavs.

My DJ collection is all stored in Flac lossless format with Tags and Cover Art 500x500 Pixels.

I have never been over happy with the sound quality at times of my collection, I always felt it sounded a little dull and not great stereo reproduction.

So this lead me to do the following A/B tests on my PC with my high end studio quality sound card. I converted several of my FLAC files to WAV and compared the sound quality of the Wavs against the Flacs.

To my amazement the WAVs sounded noticeably better! the stereo separation was better, the dynamics was better and the music just sounded better all round and not so dull sounding.

I understand the bit for bit data of a flac file is identical to the original Wav audio file when it has been decompressed and is being playing. But for some very strange reason when playing FLAC files they just don't sound as Crisp and Clean as the Wav version

Now I'm not wishing to get in to an argument with any one who is going to state Wavs sound exactly the same and Flacs, because they don't sound the same there is a noticeable difference.

This could be due to several reasons,

1) The tagging info added to the flac file
2) The cover art added to the flac file
3) The fact the flac file has to be decoded before it can be played

The end result for me is.... I really think to achieve the best sound quality, I need my DJ collection in WAV format. The only reason I chose Flac over Wav is the ability of tagging and cover art for each file when moving my DJ music files between different DJ software packages.

So here lies a major problem when using Wavs,

1) No Cover Art
2) No Meta Tag Info

Is there no standard whereby for each Wav file, I could have a separate Tag file storing all the tag info and a separate image file associated with each wav file for the cover art. Thus the audio is in a pure native wav format and the different DJ programs can still read the Tag and cover art for each wav file.

I don't use Itunes and I don't plan to start now either, so i'm looking for some solution for tagging wavs, almost some central database for DJ collections that all DJ software can read the associated TAG and COVER ART

any help as always very much appreciated.
Johnny H 3:06 AM - 11 December, 2015
After further investigation I can confirm you can now tag WAVs and add cover art too !

Problem solved... for the highest sound quality don't use FLACS

WAV files definitely have the edge, period.....
Even Mode 2:59 PM - 2 April, 2017
*facepalm*
JamesBassdrop 5:54 PM - 11 June, 2017
Quote:
Now I'm not wishing to get in to an argument with any one who is going to state Wavs sound exactly the same and Flacs, because they don't sound the same there is a noticeable difference.

Quote:
So this lead me to do the following A/B tests on my PC with my high end studio quality sound card. I converted several of my FLAC files to WAV and compared the sound quality of the Wavs against the Flacs.

Just want to point out that you should've done double-blind ABX tests instead of just comparing A/B, to eliminate the possibility of unconscious (unintentional) bias.

Try Foobar2000 (foobar2000.org) w/ the 'ABX Comparator' add-on component (foobar2000.org) and see if you're still able to tell the difference... it's freeware.

Oh, and check if your FLAC files have any ReplayGain values set... you can use Foobar2000 to check for (and remove) ReplayGain metadata in your files too. (For more info about ReplayGain: wiki.hydrogenaud.io)

Cheers,
James
Peterpics 2:26 PM - 20 September, 2017
Hi Guys,
I am in the process of Digitalizing some of my vinyls and did a few experiments as I was recommended FLAC by a friend and as far as storing I think MP3 at 192 kbps is the best and if one plans to write on compact discs wave is better mainly as far as sound quality is concerned.
I use AIMP as my default Audio player and without any equalizing just flat. TO test the sound quality, 1. I used my Dell 2.1. system first and 2. I took a line out from the PC which I connected to Yamaha transistor analog amplifier connected to a 3 way Aiwa pair of speakers and next to set of 2 way Advent pair of speakers. plus next to a Pioneer transistor analog amplifier connected to a pair of Diatone 3 way spaekers and next to the 2 way Advent pair.

There was a slight notable difference in the wave file (Lows + Highs) compared to the FLAC.
StoryStratos 11:55 PM - 29 November, 2017
As it stands, based on blind AB tests, the best lossy codec is Opus, which currently matches 192kbps (VBR V2 --aka really quite lossy) or 270kbps (VBR V0 --aka getting better) MP3 & 256kbps AAC ("Very High" --aka really quite good) at only 128kbps VBR (so is much smaller), with no perceptible loss, and is effectively transparent (though you can go higher if you don't like having space in your hard drive). If your player supports it then it's currently the best format to store lossy audio. It's relatively new and so doesn't have universal support yet, but it's more well supported than you might think (AIMP, Amarok, cmus, Music Player Daemon, foobar2000, Mpxplay, MusicBee, SMplayer, VLC, Winamp, Xmplay...).

But, if you have anything archival, then FLAC is a no brainer. WAV and other uncompressed formats are excellent for working on, so are used in editing tools, but FLAC uses LOSSLESS compression, meaning, by definition, there is no difference in the sound when it is played back, and is simply stored in a more efficient manner. This means you can store more music on a hard drive. That is the only difference between FLAC and WAV. This isn't a question of blind AB tests, it's purely mathematical. The FLAC specification states that the sound you play back from a FLAC file MUST BE EXACTLY THE SAME as the sound you put into a FLAC file.

If you CONVERT your FLAC to WAV, you've just DECOMPRESSED the FLAC into a WAV file. Any differences in the output (and there shouldn't be any) should then be reported as a bug and passed on to Xiph, who maintain FLAC, or whoever's specific implementation of the FLAC codec you use (usually either Xiph or ffmpeg) or is something your audio player is doing to make your music "sound better" (aka less like the original file).

Basically, they shouldn't sound different unless either the conversion software is messing with the sound, or your music player is trying to make your music "sound better" without your knowledge. That, or, without blind AB testing, the good old placebo effect and the fact that most humans can't retain precise memory of sound for very long (the longer the sound bite you play, the more likely you are to forget the details that are the basis for comparison).

Foobar, as suggested, is a good one for blind testing, and by default it doesn't mess with the sound. You can also use Winamp or MusicBee, whatever you prefer. I personally use AIMP as my primary player, but it's not very good for blind AB testing unless I cover the popup with my hand. If you want a quick test to see if you can tell the difference between even lossless and lossy, try something like abx.digitalfeed.net or www.audiocheck.net. Then question if you can tell much of a difference between two lossless files that sound absolutely identical. You're brain will tell you that you can, and will focus on different tiny details between the two, and so will try and convince you there's a difference. This is natural, the brain is very good at trying to justify itself, even when it couldn't tell them apart. And that's okay, because we can then rule out humans for the comparison of lossless and uncompressed sound files, and note that they should be (as far as the codec's performance is concerned) absolutely identical.

TLDR; stick with FLAC unless you've found a bug, then stick with FLAC and tell the developers of the codec (Xiph or ffmpeg usually), only use WAV when editing sound, FLAC is the archival codec of choice for all major services and archives, Opus is the best for lossy and when you want to really save some space when distributing etc. (but still give a legacy option for mp3 in that case)