Ripping CD's - Is iTunes good enough?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by colby2415, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. eric777

    eric777 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tennessee
    In my own experience, iTunes does a great job except for ALAC. Numerous times I have had to rerip a track because I can hear defects in it. I don’t know why ALAC would give problems that neither mp3 or wav do, but that’s been my experience.
     
  2. Randoms

    Randoms Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    5% is pretty much the figure the guys who run AccurateRip, give for CDs with errors. The sad fact, is that some of these CDs are brand new, without any visible flaws, BUT, do have faults. This may be a single frame, dozens, or even, 100's of frames with errors. Obviously some scratched CDs, have the potential to give ripping errors.

    As @curbach and @patient_ot mentioned, some of these are obvious, with mutes, if you're lucky, and clicks, if you're less lucky. These and skips are the obvious errors, what you don't know using iTunes, is if there is any more subtle, sonic degradation, where you have not achieved, a bit perfect rip.

    The question was, Is iTunes good enough? iTunes can give you a lossless rip, in ALAC, or AIFF. What it can't guarantee you, is an error free rip. Is that good enough?

    I used iTunes to populate 90% of a 160 GB, using mp3 @ 320 kbps. Does it have any errors? Yes, everyone in my work department, have heard the occasional glitch. Does it have other errors? Almost certainly. How many errors has my iPod got? I've heard some, but I haven't a clue!

    I've also used dBpoweramp to rip 60,000 files. Obviously I haven't listened to every song, but I know how many bad, audible errors there are: none. Every CD that gave an AccurateRip, will not have a single frame with an error. I believe 1 frame is 1/75 of a second. Those very few CDs where the report shows an error, on a specific track, I have played, and they have no muting, clicks, or skipping.

    Is iTunes good enough? Depends if you are happy, not knowing when the next glitch will occur.
     
  3. Bubbamike

    Bubbamike Forum Resident

    Use what you want. I'll use dbPoweramp and XLD. As long as we're both happy that's what counts. But yes, I've had issues with ITunes rips. Sometimes it's the disc, sometimes the drive and on occasion it's the computer doing something else at the same time. These things happens, why not be secure in knowing that it isn't happening to y0u.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2017
  4. MrRom92

    MrRom92 Forum Supermodel

    Location:
    Long Island, NY


    A frame is 1/75th of a second, but taking that a step further - CDs are sampled at 44.1khz, meaning that there are 44,100 samples every second. I know that in my collection not a single sample is erroneous, and to me that is invaluable
     
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  5. Steve G

    Steve G Forum Resident

    Location:
    los angeles
    not for me but maybe I don't know enough about file types. I need to have .wav or FLAC for gapless play and of those iTunes will only rip .wav. I would think that converting AIFF to .wav will have more changes than converting AIFF to FLAC but if I am not correct, someone please let me know. FLAC sounds okay.
     
  6. Randoms

    Randoms Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    I
    FLAC, WAV and AIFF are all lossless, as is ALAC. iTunes can rip to ALAC and AIFF.

    FLAC and ALAC are compressed, lossless formats. FLAC sounds more than OK, it is lossless!
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
    Balthazar and Steve G like this.
  7. EddieVanHalen

    EddieVanHalen Forum Resident

    I use dBPoweramp too, it's easy to configure, it has accurateRip so if a rip checks correct you can be 100% sure it really is, and the interface is very intuitive and clear. I haven't used another ripper in ages.
     
    ShallowMemory likes this.
  8. Steve G

    Steve G Forum Resident

    Location:
    los angeles
    But my question is: if you rip aiff to wav is it the same samples or different?
     
  9. Sevoflurane

    Sevoflurane Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Yorkshire
    WAV is the format Microsoft use for uncompressed PCM. AIFF is Apple’s version. You should be able to convert between then as many times as you wish without losing a bit. Same data, different packaging. FLAC / ALAC use lossless compression, so have smaller file sizes vs. WAV / AIFF, but still store the same data. One weakness of WAV vs. the others is that its metadata support (artist, genre, cover art) is limited whereas the other three have good metadata support.

    If you need FLAC or WAV for gapless play on your system then you can either use a ripper other than iTunes just to rip to FLAC, or use iTunes to rip to ALAC and then use a separate app to convert to FLAC. You might well find dBPoweramp suitable; firstly you can set it to rip to ALAC and FLAC simultaneously and save them in separate folders, so you can just add the ALAC files to your iTunes library and use the FLAC files elsewhere. Second, it has a very versatile format converter, so even if you have a load of music ripped to another format you can convert it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
    Randoms, Balthazar, Grant and 2 others like this.
  10. Randoms

    Randoms Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Absolutely correct, and WAV tends to be the format where people have tag issues.

    WAV is still used in some studios, but when archiving, the metadata issue, usually results in more work, than the other formats. As @Sevoflurane states, WAV and AIFF are both uncompressed PCM, and because of this tend to get lumped together, but AIFF is more robust when converting to other file formats.

    If there is any sort of standards in ripping, and downloading sites, then it is FLAC, but with the large number of Apple devices, and their insistence on doing their own thing, ALAC is very popular. Is iOS 11 finally when Apple gives playback of hi-res FLAC files?

    dBpoweramp is,an excellent program, both for ripping, with its use of the AccurateRip database, and the simplicity and convenience of converting to other formats.

    With storage being so cheap these days, it makes a lot of sense to rip to a lossless format, for archive purposes, as well as lossy, for use on portable devices. Once compressed to a lossy format, that data, the musical information, is lost forever.
     
  11. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    That is the only failing of .wav: it's limited and flaky way of handling tags.

    Using the word "robust" is misleading. Both formats are very robust. As we both noted before, though, .wav is not good about tags. The reason AIFF is uses in studios is mainly because it is a product of Apple, and what did most studios use when digital recording was becoming popular? Macs.

    Another format that gets ignored (mainly because very few people use it) is lossless .wma. Microsoft's proprietary format. Some devices and players use it, but it just isn't popular. It, too, can be easily converted to any other lossless file format. But, both Microsoft and Apple have finally decided to incorporate FLAC into their operating systems, as it is the de-facto lossless standard now. I favor FLAC because it has the lowest overhead, meaning that its uncompression process taxes the processor the least of the one's i've used.

    I wish the unwashed masses understood and cared about this, and most importantly, heard the difference.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
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  12. Gaslight

    Gaslight Cave dwelller

    Location:
    Northeast USA
    This is exactly what I do.

    One day those lossless archives may likely be the files being carried in my pocket, but storage isn't quite there yet. If I only wanted to carry a few hundred albums then almost certainly today but my full lossless collection is something like 1.5TB right now.
     
    Grant likes this.
  13. Steve G

    Steve G Forum Resident

    Location:
    los angeles
    This is all very interesting and informative to me. So if the PCM data is identical between .wav and AIFF then the only advantages to using a FLAC ripper are tags (which I don't care about since they all seem to be wrong anyway), disc space, and the crazy way iTunes hides the files it rips so you can't find them with Finder. I guess one of these days I will explore getting iTunes to default to saving rips someplace out of the morass of the iTunes directory...
     
  14. Sevoflurane

    Sevoflurane Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Yorkshire
    Again (and I am not being paid to say this, honest), you may find that dBPoweramp gets you more accurate tags on your rips as it uses multiple sources to find the correct tags. When it comes to actually browsing and playing a large music collection, good metadata is worth its weight in gold IMHO.

    As far as controlling the location of my rips goes, the two things I do with iTunes to stop it messing up my library are:

    1. Go to Preferences>advanced and UNCHECK the "Keep iTunes Media Folder Organised".
    2. Preferences>advanced and UNCHECK the "Copy files to iTunes Media Folder".

    Essentially, my ripping workflow is as follows; use dBPoweramp to rip the CD into ALAC into my "Music ALAC" folder, which sits on a different hard drive (it also rips FLAC and MP3 versions, also to their own folders at the same time). Then, I use the "Add folder to library" option in iTunes to add the newly ripped files to my library. The iTunes library file simply records where the folder and files are, and the actual music files stay where I ripped them.

    Left to its own devices iTunes will move your rips around, and I have always found it inconsistent at tagging and properly sorting compilations. However, it can be tamed with a bit of tinkering and will play nicely with files ripped using better ripping software.
     
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  15. Bubbamike

    Bubbamike Forum Resident

    Wav doesn't really handle tags at all. The tags exist within your program rather than in the files. To see how this works try using a different program to access your files, poof, no tags. AIFF does have tags imbeded in the file so is more portable.

    ITunes has a method of how it arranges files, they may not be your method and that can be a problem. You can set where you want ITunes to put it's media folder in the preference pane. If you use an external drive make sure that drive is mounted before you load ITunes or it will change it and you'll have to change it back. Files are organized by artist and album within the ITunes Media folder. Tags are key. If you are unhappy with the tags you download you can edit then from within ITunes or you can use an external program such as MP3tag. If you have an album with tracks by different artists make sure you click the "Compilations" check box and ITunes will put it in the ITunes Media/Compilations folder under the album name. Do not click the compilation check box for albums by the same artist such as a best of album. It really is logical but has a DB that can get corrupted and that is a major issue.

    ALAC was proprietary but is now open source. When ITunes allows playback I will probably convert my files to FLAC as it is more robust.
     
  16. hvbias

    hvbias Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeast
    I think it goes beyond just used discs. There are many new discs that just aren't pressed well where secure ripping apps like dbpoweramp, EAC will perform better than iTunes. Maybe it is just the majors cheaping out on these classical box set discs...
     
  17. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Please label the photos you post

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    What do you mean by this?
     
  18. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    Getting back to the original question: it all depends on your measure of what "good" is. My belief is that Apple doesn't want it to rip the best because they want you to buy music from them, not rip your own stuff.
     
  19. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Please label the photos you post

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    So you think that Apple is somehow purposely introducing errors during the rip process? Come on now...
     
  20. MrRom92

    MrRom92 Forum Supermodel

    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Flash storage has advanced so much in 10 years. Remember when the 8gb iPhone was the top model? And 1gb SD cards were $50+?


    Today we might have to be selective with what albums we carry with us, but 10 years from now it might be as simple as just carrying our entire library. 1TB wouldn’t fit mine either, let alone everything else necessary on a phone, but I think 1TB as an option might be as little as 5 years away. And that’s a pretty major milestone for a portable device.
     
    Gaslight likes this.
  21. Gaslight

    Gaslight Cave dwelller

    Location:
    Northeast USA
    For the DIYers out there, there are actually ways to get a 1TB mSATA in an old iPod Video.
     
    MrRom92 likes this.
  22. MrRom92

    MrRom92 Forum Supermodel

    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    No idea whatever happened to mine but I took that thing everywhere… till the iphone came out anyway.
     
  23. cmcintyre

    cmcintyre Forum Resident

    I use iTunes have always done since buying an iPod back in 2004. It does almost everything I'd like it to do, and I find it easy to use. I haven't experimented with other music library software. That said there have been occasions where I've listened back to the tracks at some later date and notice there's a sound glitch which wasn't on the CD. Almost always I'm ripping a CD I own (rather than a digital copy of an LP I own), so I can always go back and fix it.

    I notice that if I'm burning a CD-rom (not in iTunes) I get some message that asks if I wish to check it's all OK, and agree that facility could make iTunes better. Perhaps I should investigate what's available for a Mac that checks the rip.

    My understanding is that "error correction" effectively makes the optical drive behave like a CD player - as mentioned by others, CD players have error correction built in so most faults in the disc are not heard (the software grabs some info before and after the fault and creates an approximation of what would be there).

    If error correction is activated, then I suppose it's not a "bit-perfect" replica, but an acceptable approximation. Not noticeable. I use it every time.
     
    Tim Müller likes this.
  24. Sevoflurane

    Sevoflurane Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Yorkshire
    For the Mac, XLD is worth a try, supports AccurateRip, and is free. Alternatively, dBPoweramp has a free trial period.
     
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  25. Tim Müller

    Tim Müller Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    That depends.
    The error correction scheme on CD is quite an intelectual masterpiece of clever engineering.
    There are three stages of error correction.

    Zeroth, the data is recorded as dents (pits) and no dents (lands) on the reflective plane of the CD. That plane is covered by about roughly half a milimeter of transparent plastic. The plane of focus of the laser is at the plane of the pits and lands.
    Scratches are on the plane level of the protective plastic, which is roughly halfe a millimeter above the plane of focus.
    Scratches therefore, do not directly erase data pits or lands, or render pits or lands un-readable, but just reduce the brightness of the laser beam in the plane of focus, that is where the pits and lands are.
    Small scratches go completely un-noticed, because that small reduction of brightness does not harm the optical detector from detection, wheter it was a land or pit.
    Summarizing, small scratches just appear blurred in the area of the pits and lands, and therefore are below the threshold of read errors.

    First, the audio data is not sequentially streamed on CD. On conventional records, where the spacial order of groove elongations is directly related to the temporal amplitude of the signal, a scratch or damage in the groove will damage all data during a time that corresponds to the spatial length of groove damage and record speed.

    On CD, the audio data is grouped into blocks. Temporal sequential data then is re-shuffeled into different block-order. Then, by clever coding, redundant data and error detection data (check-sums or the like) is added.
    That means, audio stream data is spread out across a certain lenght of the CD's pit spiral, which holds the data.
    So to speak, the data of some bits of the first sample are recorded over a full revolution of the disc, like on the 12, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 o'clock positions on the disc, the data of the remaining bits is recorded also spread out over a full revolution, but at 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 o'clock positions on the disc. (That is a very coarse description, but preserves the principle of it. Along with the audio data samples bits, error correction data and redundant data is also recorded on the CD.)

    Now, if there is a scratch on the CD. Error correction stage 1 takes action.
    The scratch does not errase one or a few consecutive samples of the digital audio stream. But, it erases a few redundant bits of a number of temporal consecutive samples. The defects can be detected by the error correction data (check sums), and can be fully recovered because of the redundant data. Because, of every single sample, only a few redundant bits are lost, which can be fully recovered, because of the redundancy; so we get bit-perfect data.
    At this stage, error correction recovers the full data, just as if there was no defects on the disc at all! Bit-perfect at this stage.
    As I recall, at least 1 or even more Millimeters of scratch can be fully corrected and recovered.

    Now, there may be a larger defect. Error correction stage 2 would take action
    Then, as recall correctly, the laser would "dance" between earlier and following pit spirals, trying to read samples (or, more correct, data blocks) at temporal earlier and later times, to interpolate between them.
    And, as I recall, that never worked in reality. If defects were as large so that the bit-perfect reconstruction of error correction stage 1 would not be able to recover the data, then also error correction stage 2 would fail.
    Resulting in drop-outs.
    So, if I recall correctly, you either get bit-perfect from a player, or drop-outs, crackles or the like.

    So, if the drive behaves like a CD player, you still would get bit perfect data.
     

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