Why do Wav and Flac Files Sound Different?

This article is from 2016, so outfits like JRiver may have developed workarounds for the metadata/sound quality issues sussed out below. Inquiring minds want to know.

Why Do WAV And FLAC Files Sound Different?

"Based on these results, we attempted to pinpoint which section of the metadata might be responsible. Since the cover art file associated with the metadata is the largest contributor to the metadata header size, we began by examining the effect of deleting cover art prior to the WAV-to-FLAC-to-WAV conversion protocol. This proved fortuitous, as our first suspicion proved correct."


Mofi Quad DSD Controversy

“I know that this revelation of Mobile Fidelity cutting from transfers made to digital is sort-of anathema to some of our purest fans, and I understand that strictly from what you might read on a piece of paper.  But the truth is that us cutting from digital transfers that we ourselves made is not an example of us losing our way, it’s actually an example of us adhering to it adhering to the purest aesthetic and perfecting things beyond anything in the past and the past goes back now 45 years…. Preserving the tape.” 


    Rob LoVerde, Mastering Engineer, Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs

I’m a long-time analog guy and I know it annoys some of my fellow analogists when I say this, but I can make 24/96 digital files from LPs from my VPI/SME V/ARC Ref Phono 2SE that are spookily faithful. I don’t think anyone could tell them apart.


WAV has always had the ability to have metadata it just wasn’t well supported as an official standard. This changed over time.

Qobuz downloads now embed the cover art and metadata into each track for WAV or FLAC. You can strip all metadata from an entire folder of music files using dbpoweramp tag editor. Just highlight all files and open (right click …) in tag editor, then delete all rows of metadata and cover art. You don’t have to do it for each track.

It would be interesting to see if the resulting cd burnt with ‘clean’ WAV files sound any different from one using the tagged WAV files.


Same. I did 1200 cd’s with dbpoweramp back in 2009 and it took 3-4 months.

I was gonna go full OCD and use Exactaudiocopy but would have killed myself ripping that many cd’s at 1:1 speed. Too difficult. Dbpoweramp does it all and I still use it all the time.