iTunes Streaming v. CD Player? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-22-2013, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm not sure where this question belongs.

For a while, I've been streaming my music from iTunes through an Apple Tv and into a Peachtree Nova. Although I still have many CDs, I haven't had a CD player in years.

Is there a significant quality difference between my streaming set-up and a decent dedicated CD player?
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post #2 of 4 Old 08-22-2013, 02:50 PM
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It depends on what you are streaming from iTunes, as you may not be comparing like with like source material to begin with.

Firstly only if you are streaming either of the Apple CD quality formats, ALAC (aka Apple lossless) or AIFF, have you then got something to compare to.

Secondly there's very likely a problem with using the Apple Tv to stream music files with anyway, since it upsamples all the music data it receives to the industry broadcast spec sampling rate of 48kHz. This means that a potentially bit perfect copy of a CD ALAC or AIFF file, originally sampled at CD spec rate of 44.1kHz is modified by the Apple Tv so that it is no longer bit perfect. I say very likely because all but the earliest versions of Apple Tv do this.

In the unlikely scenario of all sources to the DAC being equal, then, your setup has a good chance, of sounding very much better than a CD player costing about the same. This is because the quality of Peachtree DAC would be so much better than than the internal DAC of the CD player. If you think about it a lot of the production cost of the CD player goes towards dealing with the mechanics & electronics of reading the music data from the CD and the quality of its internal DAC is thus compromised.

So really what I'm actually hinting at here is yes, you don't need to go back to playing CDs for decent SQ, but chances are you can only take advantage of that if you don't stream via the Apple Tv and also use CD quality music files as your source material.

A good replacement for the Apple Tv would be an AirPlay supporting hifi seperate network audio player to allow you to play from iTunes. Not only do they support Apple files, but they can also play back non-Apple rest of the world formats such as FLAC & WAV. So if you decide to rip your CD collection you are not restricted as to which format you can use and also not have to use iTunes to play back from. A middle of the road hifi streamer like the Pioneer N-30 (at ~$300) would make a decent partner for your Peachtree.
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post #3 of 4 Old 08-23-2013, 06:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you. This is very interesting, and very helpful. How do you learn all this? Do you (and many others here) just read a lot of magazines? Or are you in the business?

The info I find on-line is all over the place. I recently came across this: "the track you can buy at iTunes Store are just the same quality as what you can rip from a CD. However, ALAC is not available from the store." Does that mean that ALAC is better than a CD? If so -- How, since I thought ALAC was a format for ripping CDs?

Oh -- If I ripped most of my CDs many years ago (probably 2005) -- is there any benefit to deleting those files from iTunes and re-ripping in ALAC?
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post #4 of 4 Old 08-23-2013, 12:43 PM
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Can't speak for the others, but this is just a hobby for me & yes reading magazines is one way of picking this stuff up. More likely to have find about things online, these days, especially through excellent forums like this one. Perhaps 15+ years of using the internet as search/help tool as an IT professional also helps. Certainly a background in IT comes in handy, especially as some of these AV & hifi devices are just computers in a fancy box.

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Originally Posted by Dstone001 View Post

I recently came across this: "the track you can buy at iTunes Store are just the same quality as what you can rip from a CD. However, ALAC is not available from the store."
Taken literally, its is sort of true, the get out clause being where it says 'the same quality as what you can rip from a CD'. Of course you CAN rip from a CD in any number of ways, both lossy and lossless formats, in other words. So it's really a bit of a misleading statement and does not imply the iTunes Store tracks are the SAME quality as CD quality itself, so it follows that neither does it imply that ALAC is better than CD. I don't download music from the iTunes store, but I believe most (if not all) are lossy AAC. However, it's up to the individual (& arguably the quality of the playback equipment being used) as to whether they'll notice a difference in sound quality between the AAC iTunes download and CD quality ALAC.

BTW, the ALAC format is not just restricted to being used for lossless bit perfect CD rips. It can be used for even higher resolutions than CD quality (ie it's not restricted to the 16 bit/44.1kHz bit depth/sample rate), if the source material was from the original master recordings or even from a vinyl record, for example. The same can be also said for the other lossless formats, such as FLAC & WAV.


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Oh -- If I ripped most of my CDs many years ago (probably 2005) -- is there any benefit to deleting those files from iTunes and re-ripping in ALAC?
It depends if those original CD rips were done in a lossless format or not. If you are using them in iTunes then if lossless (and not ALAC), they can only be WAV or AIFF, so should be no need to do these again. If you ripped them to lossy MP3, for example, then it may be worth doing them again.

Are you using a Windows computer or a MAC for iTunes? It'll be useful to know for answers to any more questions you may have.
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