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Thread: Quality question at FLAC

  1. #1

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    Unhappy Quality question at FLAC

    We rip CDs for customers. With the Acronova Nimbie robot.
    Today a customer reports that our results are terrible. He says our FLAC sounds as bad as MP3.
    He would be very disappointed with the sound quality.
    He uses a Mac with the XLD software and would have significantly better results.
    He says the difference is immediately audible when he rips a CD for test purposes.

    At the moment, the customer still owes us proof of the quality of its ribbed versions.
    Therefore we ask here in advance.

    Could it be because of the FLAC converter?
    We use the secure option and all results are accurate.
    We are currently using dbPowerAmp version 16.5.

    Is there anything known or could anything be improved?
    Or does someone have an idea what could be wrong?
    Please help.

  2. #2
    dBpoweramp Guru
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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    I have 3 questions:

    1. Are you definitely ripping to the flac format?
    2. Are you definitely getting accuraterips (you stated accurate)?
    3. You are NOT using any DSPs, when ripping?

    If you answer yes to all questions, then the ripped audio will be identical to that on the CD.

    Your customer's playback system is unknown here, but I suspect this is where the problem lies.

  3. #3

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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    Yes to all 3 questions.
    The customer's playback system is unknown. But if he rips a few himself - and compares them to ours - the playback system is identical. So he shouldn't be able to hear a difference.
    I asked the customer to upload an example to us. My fear is that there are quality differences in the FLAC converters.

  4. #4
    dBpoweramp Guru
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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    Flac is lossless. You can convert it back and forth to different compression levels or wav without any loss of audio data. So as long as you rip accurately your Audio CDs with 16bit, 44,1 kHz without DSPs you will have 1:1 copies.


    Dat Ei

  5. #5

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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    Thank you.
    That calms me down a bit. So I'm waiting for what the customer uploads to me as a comparison. Maybe he is looking for an excuse not to have to pay.

  6. #6
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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    As noted, something is odd here, and it is NOT the FLAC codec in dbpoweramp. There seem to be a few oddballs out there that start claiming that a WAV file copied from one computer to another sounds different (impossible unless an error, and this is easy to check). The other thing is that if you are adding replaygain values, and his player uses these, then maybe his rips do not include ReplayGain tags, and his rips are louder (and thus sound "better" to him).

    If I was you, I'd do the following.

    1. Have him send you one of his own rips (which he thinks sound good) of a CD that you also ripped for him. Then you can do a bitcompare to prove to yourself that the two rips are bit identical.
    2. If the audio is bit identical (be sure to use the dbpa tool that only compares audio data, not the tag data).
    3. If all bit indentical in the audio, then look at tags, ReplayGain tags in particular.
    4. If you determine that these files are truly idendical then do the following:

    take a few of his tracks (his own rips) and your FLAC rips, strip out all the tags, naming, etc. Send him back a set of these with tracks marked only as "A" or "B" as name (use file date manager, to change the creation date of both to be identical). Then have him play all these comparisons, without knowing which is which (he doesn't know that in some cases A is your rip and B is his rip). Have him report preferences. You might find that in a blind test like this, he can't even pick out what he thinks is best.

    have fun. And he sounds like a customer I'd rather not have.

  7. #7

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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    Thank you.
    Now I got his audioexamples.
    I realize that his CD rips are almost 7dB louder. Totally overcompressed. He claims to have used nothing but XLD CD-Ripper.
    But XLD works with the help of iTunes. His ripped CDs has Metadata form iTunes_CDDB.
    So I'm wondering how this man can get this completely over-compressed Ripps.

    Top picture of us. Bottom picture from the customer.
    01-04-_2020_15-37-22.jpg

  8. #8
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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    interesting. Not surprising he thinks his rips sound better (in blind tests, even small increases in volume have led to listener's rating it as "better"). Very odd though, as unless his ripper is doing some sort of Volume adjustment to the ripped audio, the two FLAC files should be bitperfect equal.

  9. #9
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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    It is interesting how he prefers the dynamically compressed audio which is clipping...

  10. #10
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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    Quote Originally Posted by THambrecht View Post
    I realize that his CD rips are almost 7dB louder. Totally overcompressed. He claims to have used nothing but XLD CD-Ripper.
    It looks to me like his rips are adding +6dB and so doubling the amplitude.

    If the customer is confident and willing, he might be able to explain the differences between your dBpoweramp rips and his XLD rips here, in this thread?

  11. #11
    dBpoweramp Enthusiast
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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    Are you 100% sure that you and the customer are ripping the same edition/remaster of the album?

  12. #12

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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    Thank you all.
    Based on the metadata, the customer seems to rip the same album. The customer does not want to pay after receiving our work. We are just not sure whether the customer is trying to cheat us or whether it is actually possible to get these audio files with a misconfiguration.
    It is possible that XLD ReplayGain includes the values in the file. In the absence of a MAC and XLD, I cannot check this.
    However, I find it strange that the customer supposedly presents us with !! better !! results immediately after receiving our work.
    We then bought the title from Amazon. This Amazon-title corresponds exactly to our ripp with dBpoweramp.

    So the question is, how can he do this unintentionally?

    At the moment the customer is telling us that our bad work is on the Windows PC. He would have expected such work to be done on a MAC. He says: only the MAC could achieve good audio results. And only XLD would have perfect audio results. Therefore, he does not pay inferior PC work. Apparently a spinner.

    But that doesn't tell us how the customer gets this compressed ripps. Based on the conversations on the phone, I don't have the impression that he is doing this on purpose.

  13. #13
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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    Of course he's 100% wrong thinking that only a Mac and XLD can get perfect audio results.. Time to just write off this customer as an idiot and move on. As they say, you can't fix stupid.

    p.s. XLD is a perfectly ok bitperfect ripper. So nothing wrong there.

  14. #14
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    Re: Quality question at FLAC

    Quote Originally Posted by THambrecht View Post
    At the moment the customer is telling us that our bad work is on the Windows PC. He would have expected such work to be done on a MAC. He says: only the MAC could achieve good audio results. And only XLD would have perfect audio results. Therefore, he does not pay inferior PC work.
    Stick by your guns and invoice the client for the work done. Nowadays, the misunderstanding of digital audio technology and/or pc platform ignorance is very common. What your customer is claiming is total rubbish. Let him argue with me if it is required as, based on the information you have provided, he hasn't got a leg to stand on.
    Last edited by mville; 04-02-2020 at 09:36 PM. Reason: happy to help

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