Sound Quality

First off, I am pleading ignorance here, so my apologies up front, but I need some help on figuring out what this digital stuff is all about. It was simple, just to pull out a CD and play it, but with streaming and such, it seems to be a whole different ball of wax.

After finally finishing the remodel on my home, I've have had a bit of time to sit down and listen to my system. My Aurender N200 came with an SD card loaded with music. Most of it is ripped from hybrid SACDs or at 16bit- 44.1kHz "Original Mastering Recording" CDs, (some are DSF files some WAV files, but all sound the same to me). The music sounds flat and dull but when I play the equivalent song on Tidal in 16bit-44.1 kHz it sounds much better.

I have a second SD card  with some HD Tracks CDs at 24 bit-96 kHz that I which sound really good through the N200. Maybe understandable being hi-res, but some say they can't hear a big difference between the two, but I sure can in this instance.

I understand that up sampling, DSD and HQ Player can even bring better sound to the table, but I'm having enough trouble with just the basics here, that stuff is way over my head. 

I'd like to rip a couple of my own CDs to a new SD card and try it to compare with the SD card that came with the N200. What is the best method to do this?

As always, your thought & comments are much appreciated!


For what it’s worth, I always rip my CDs to WAV files. Although less supported these days, WAV is an exact copy of the CD and is an uncompressed file. If you look, you’ll find a WAV converter out there. FLAC is a lossless compressed format and please remember ‘lossless’ is a euphemism for negligible loss. FLAC is 60% the size of the original file. Although, in most cases, you may not be able to hear the difference…with a high resolution system and good ears, the difference is there. My argument is twofold: 1) file size is not an issue these days so why compress. 2) once you convert to FLAC, there is no going back.



I really like playing my ripped CDs on my streamer. The SQ consistently is a tick above what I get from commercial services.  I listen to Classical and find that most services scramble the order of movements in a piece, which is a real PITA.

  If the OP is still interested in ripping CDs-he seems to have changed his mind mid-thread- I would recommend getting a Melco server and their dedicated Optical Player to do the rips

FLAC is a lossless compressed format and please remember ‘lossless’ is a euphemism for negligible loss.

No, FLAC is lossless. That is to say it can render a bit perfect copy of the original file.

FLAC is 60% the size of the original file.

Not necessarily. It depends on the degree of compression used.

... once you convert to FLAC, there is no going back ...

I’m not sure what you mean here. Certainly a FLAC file can be converted to a WAV file and if that was its original format you’ll get a bit perfect rendering. (Although, of course, you’ll lose any metadata.)

+1 @cleeds

He’s correct. There is no loss and the extracted data from FLAC, ALAC or WAV is the same.

There was a period of time when at least Stereophile was promoting the idea that the decompression process itself could result in audible effects like jitter depending on the device, CPU, algorithm, etc. and that because FLAC and ALAC used different decompression methods the three (FLAC, ALAC, WAV) could actually sound different even though they held the same data. Honestly I’ve never lent that theory much credibility. It certainly is possible that poorly implemented software with highly variable CPU performance could make for poor replay experience but I’ve never actually heard that happen.

If it did happen it would be very much replay device dependent, and in the 21st century I just can’t believe devices could overlook these issues and not mitigate them.  Decompression, buffering and clock driven DAC is just not rocket science anymore.