Why does Qobuz & Tidal FLAC sounds better than my ALAC rips?

Roon Core Machine

Mac mini 2018
Montery 12.4

Networking Gear & Setup Details

Ethernet all the way, no WiFi

Connected Audio Devices

Cambridge CXN V2
Mac Mini 2018
Marantz CD 6005
Yamaha HTR-4069 Receiver

Number of Tracks in Library

70.000 tracks

Description of Issue

My Cambridge CXN V2 plays Qobuz and Tidal FLAC’s really good, no problems.
My Marantz CD 6005 plays CD’s really good and sounds terrific.
So far no problems.

I rip my own CD’s with a ”normal” Asus CD player connected to my Mac (made in september of 2020) to iTunes (aka Music ver 1.2.4.3), I let iTunes rip the CD’s using the only way I can find, that is on Import Settings using ”Apple Lossless Encoder” → ”automatic”.

But my rips doesn’t sound as good as the Qobuz or Tidal FLAC’s.
In Roon I can see that my CD’s are ripped as a ALAC 44.1 kHz 16bit.
A song that is 4.29 long takes 34,3 mb of space

Can I do something to make the soundquality of my rips better ?

Buy dbpoweramp and rip to flac perhaps.

2 Likes

Hello,
Thank you for your reply.
You do mean their CD-ripper software?

I will try it right now.

Since ALAC is lossless, like FLAC, there should be no difference in the audio data.

Yes that’s the one. There are others obviously but it is well liked by users on this forum.
It is very configurable so you can get it to rip to two or more music types on each rip and out them in separate directories.
So you could continue to rip ALAC as well as FLAC.

1 Like

I didn’t say there was, the OP was asking for options.

It would be a futile exercise from an SQ perspective.

Hi @Marian,

Transcoding from ALAC to FLAC or the other way round I agree.

However, @ged_hickman1’s suggestion to use dBpowerAmp is a good one as not all ripping software are equal. As Ged said later the OP could still rip to ALAC if he wished to with dBpowerAmp.

I know there are other good rippers out there as well, I’ve tried some alternatives in the past and settled for dBpa which has always provided good results for me.

2 Likes

The most likely explanation for the difference in SQ is that the Qobuz/Tidal versions are based on a different mastering than your CD versions. Not that iTunes rip to ALAC is doing something wrong. If you had read/etc errors during the rip process, iTunes would tell you and you’d have audible clicks/pops in the resultant file (if it recovered enough to even write the complete file).

1 Like

I’m not sure what you mean. Unless they are defective, all ripping software should read the exact same bits.

Check the ReplayGain tag info. Even slight differences in volume normalization can make the slightly louder version more preferred in blind tests. Otherwise, as others have said, lossless is lossless. ALAC = FLAC = WAV.

And by the way, I’ve ripped my almost 9,000 CDs to FLAC with dbpoweramp. So I’m a fan.

1 Like

Not really. What you actually should say is “Unless the disc is damaged or defective, all ripping software should read the exact same bits.”

But nearly all run of the mill ripping software operates in “burst” mode without effective error detection/correction. iTunes is the quintessential example. It is for the casual ripper; it is not serious ripping software. dBpoweramp, on the other hand, can be set up to operate in “secure” mode, comparing rips against a crowdsourced database of other rips statistically known to be accurate. Furthermore, with the right optical drive, dBpoweramp can be configured to use C2 error pointers, which greatly assist in lossless error detection/correction.

AJ

2 Likes

FLAC and ALAC should have identical SQ.
I’m not an Apple user and I don’t know their conversion software. Is it possible for the software to apply some DSP (volume leveling, etc.) to the conversion? Does it have such settings in the software menu?

Feel free to ignore the quibbling above, and welcome to the forum! :wink:

As stated, the ALAC format is just as capable as FLAC when it comes to store uncompressed audio. But, iTunes is not a very thorough CD ripper and you’d be better off using XLD (for Mac, free) or EAC for Win. Both have error correction and detection and will compare the rips’ checksums with online databases to make sure your rips (i.e. software and hardware) is up to the task.
If ypu are about to pay for software i’d also recommend to look at Easy CD Audio Converter, the best tool for me.

I agree for Mac is XLD the way to go, free!
You can make a small donation when you like it.
I ripped all my CDs with XLD, it also supports a lot of formats.

Cheers John