WAV sounds better than AIF - (both sound better than flac)

I have long been aware that AIF made from a flac sounds better. This was on the perfect wave with B1 and DS with bridge2, using first Ps audio sever software (forgot the name) and also with Jriver.

What I was surprised to find today is that WAV files sound better than aif, (and a tiny bit louder and more natural).

It’s fairly easy to hear on my system, (I just hooked my bridge2 ethernet direct to my mac as opposed to going through the router and that was barely better if at all)

Has anyone else found WAV to sound better than aif and either better than flac?

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I’m surprised at that. Depending on the FLAC encoding level you could possibly not hear the difference at low level encoding. I have WAV files that sound like a 60’s portable radio or something out of my Sonos system.

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Yes a tiny bit. I described it longer ago somewhere here when I made the comparison. I think it was in bass, but it was so little that I didn’t go back and forth and stuck with aif due to the tagging support.

If I play WAV from my mac the bowed bass sounds more textural. At least I think so.

But streaming is so much cheaper. And if my mac were connected with my 1 ft usb I wouldnt be able to type this.


Surprising but you may have a higher resolving system and healthier ears than I have. I tend to buy all my HR music in FLAC at this point.

Please … realize that all sources and lossless formats deliver the bits 100% intact to the DAC. Ted’s spdif is jitter immune and USB is asynchronous. The FPGA gets the bits perfectly as they come from your source storage. It’s 2018 and this is a known fact.
Claims that source or format sounds different/better/worse are all due to analog noise/RF/EMI either seeping along the metal of a USB/AES/coax cable or thru the AC lines …and affecting the reference voltage or small signal processing of the DAC.

So go optical or use RF shielded cables and pay attention to eliminating noise where possible. Don’t waste time fretting on the digital side …it’s all good.

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An excellent point; it is well worth trying good quality optical cable and doing the comparisons using this cable.

Some random thoughts:

Remember with the Bridge you have choices of where various decodings happen: you can choose to decode in the computer and send linear PCM or to send files in their original format and have the Bridge do the decoding so if a Bridge is involved in these comparisons then it matters where the decoding is being done (for each format): you may be comparing apples to oranges if you are assuming all differences come from different formats.

In general I usually blame the computer (or the sensitivity of the interface card) for things sounding different in different source formats. It may be more productive to concentrate there, e.g. which outlet things are plugged into, (as people have mentioned above) the quality of the cable’s shielding or grounding, etc.

Electrical isolation is a good idea, but not all isolators are created equal: most of the chips available for isolation are designed for use in industrial settings or isolated power supplies, etc. i.e. they assume they are in a noisy digital environment and that are mostly designed for surviving higher voltage differences (e.g. 1000VAC) not for minimizing electrical noise (conducted or radiated.) Further, most are designed for passing high frequencies (they turn high frequency signals on and off to send 1s and 0s) so they won’t really filter out those high frequencies in the digital connection and will add high frequency interference to the connection. If the full isolation unit is built in a single box and doesn’t have a shield between the input and output electronics it also can easily pass non-conducted (RFI, etc) interference between the input and outputs…

Some isolation units can also transmit power from one side to the other and it’s tempting to use them - but they pass high frequency signals with huge current spikes, which, in essence means they are little radio transmitters - they often have ap notes for the chip user on how to pass FCC with their chips so they clearly are generating signals that aren’t good for audio systems. I’d be skeptical of an isolation unit that didn’t have a separate power supply (powered from outside the isolation unit) for each side of the isolator (USB can provide power for the computer side of the interface, but you’d still need a quality power supply for the DAC side.)

Also FWIW until recently USB isolator chips didn’t support USB 2.0 (“high speed”) so they didn’t handle anything above 96k and weren’t good for audio.

My point in all of this is that there’s a lot more going on than you might think between the computer and the DAC and it’s not a surprise that with many systems which programs the computer is running affect the output of the audio system (with many possible interference paths between the computer and the rest of the audio system not even involving the DAC.) When someone says that they have a great computer setup for audio I listen while doing a CD rip at the same time on the source computer and if ripping changes the audio output of the sound system I pass on the computer setup.


Thank goodness someone said it…

Boy, after reading Ted’s excellent post, I removed my Intona isolator from my USB chain and chucked it over the fence. So all I have now is twenty 300Mhz ferrites. Nice and passive.:slight_smile:

That sounds like utter overkill and may do more harm than good!

How are you attaching these ferrite beads to the cable?

This is a good read:

So if bridge is set to “NativeX” does that mean flac decoding is being done by the pc/server and the bridge is receiving pcm?

The NativeX setting would be on the PWD Mk II rather than the Bridge, if I recall correctly. If your server is sending FLAC files the Bridge would be doing the decoding.

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