Playback of Apple Lossless Files .m4a - Not Working

I have removed my own posts as a mark of protest. The rules of this forum need changing and the sooner this happens the better. Sorry to those members who have missed reading the original post by me but believe me after certain discriminatory comments were made by one rude and ignorant member the tone of my post just went down hill from then on. Ho hum!

I’ll confirm that standard Apple m4a files play fine on WD units (if they were made by user and not an older Apple copy-protected file) , but as for the “Lossless variety,” I don’t know – it could be they are too high of bit rate or something complex like that for the WD players.

M4a is the container, inside is Apple Lossless as a codec which is not supported. Use FLAC instead.

As per my first post…

Well, I prefer to rip my CDs to mp3, via iTunes instead of to any Apple format.  I decided upon this a long time ago after having an iPod for a few years.  Since mp3 seemed to be the de facto standard for any digital player, I settled on that format since anything could play the files – but I customize the settings.  Because I have downloaded my digital music from eMusic since 2006, I decided to match their format of 192 VBR bit rate the best I could.  BTW, my first rips for the iPod were at Apple’s default of 128 bps, m4a files.  I have quite a few, but have never re-ripped them – not my idea of a good time.

I have never considered a digital music file or player (software or hardware) to truly be equivalent to music on a CD.  If I want to listen “super-fi” I’ll play my CD via my excellent CD player instead of a digital file.  To me, digital music files are all about convenience – for Pods, Pads, WDTV, etc.  I really do not know the critical hi-fi stats of these devices; they are not published like they are for hi-end stereo gear.

I know some folks want digital files in FLAC, but not me.  Files are too large and the minor difference in sound quality is not worth it to me.  Anyway, I have been a “hi-fi nut” for many years, (actually was in the hi-fi biz for a while) and I am hard-pressed to hear any difference between the mp3 files I make and the original CD.  Believe me, I have tried using speakers and headphones!

So, for anyone interested in the iTunes settings I use to make my digital files, here is a screen shot of my customized iTunes Mp3 Encoder settings:

Mp3 Encoder settings.JPG

As per my first post…

Rips of CDs to lossless formats like FLAC produce the equivalent sound of CDs/WAV files unless something is broken or defective in the playback chain.  All my CDs have been ripped to FLAC.  Trivial storage requirements as compared to Blu-ray sourced video.  I have not played a physical CD in the house for years.  Multiple Logitech Squeezeboxes allow any track from any of many hundreds of albums to be instantly called up all over the house.  Makes playing physical CDs seem quite quaint.  One key advantage of ripping to a lossless format like FLAC is that you can easily convert to lossy formats as desired or required.  I have some scripts to automate making MP3s at various bitrates for use on iPods or car MP3 CDs.  For those purposes, 320kbps MP3 is fine.  Not for critical home listening though.  Disk space is cheap these days, so spending your time ripping to a lossy format is likely to end up wasting lots of your time at some point, when you decide you need better quality or a different lossy format (lossy to lossy transcoding is generally a bad idea). 


Thanks for all the info and links regarding “advances” in hi-fi.  Some sound interesting, (and expensive) although as we have both observed, the bigger the file, the less practical it is for our devices.  I really favor portability over “hi specs” for my digital music. 

As I mentioned, I select a format that fits many requirements, some of which are fidelity, compatibility and file size.  Since I have various modern portable devices like an iPod, iPad, and Kindle tablets, I want a single media file type all devices can play, and since my digital music/video collection grows steadily, I want to store their files conviently in the same place so that I can play them on these devices. 

I do not fill up my portable tablet devices’ storage capacity with media.  To me, this is a total waste of memory storage, so instead, I bought a wireless HD from Seagate that can store ALL my digital music and tablet video files for my devices to access, wirelessly. When I travel away from homebase, I can still have my digital media with me.  I also store my portable media in a cloud – both  on a disk-based cloud at my home and a virtual internet cloud – both accessable via the internet by the tablets so they can play from them.  The wireless HD is used mostly if the internet and network signals at my remote location are too poor for streaming, but then I can stream from the wireless HD in this case.  BTW, the drive can be accessed while riding in an airplane, too!  All, very handy and cool.

Here is a tip regarding this comment of yours:  “I agree MP3’s are by far better when it comes to storage space although for me personally I prefer to rip them at 320 kbps VBR”

The purpose of VBR is to prevent a file being created from dropping below the minimum threshold you set. Since 320kbps-fixed is the highest mp3 bit rate, it cannot fall below (or go higher) than that, so setting a minimum (via VBR) is meaningless and unnecessary.  Bottom line; 320 kbps files should not be created at a VBR setting.  Anything less requires a VBR rate setting if you want a minimum threshold set.  In fact, a VBR of say, 192kbps does not limit how high the bit rate can go (it could go to 320 if necessary) it only limits how low the bit rate can go.

SInce I have a giagantic music collection (over 1000+ LPs, over 2000+ CDs and a few hundred digital download albums) I want to limit file sizes if I ever hope to be able to contain all my digitized music files on one portable HD.  Right now, they are on a 500GB wireless drive (among other places) so someday I may need to move up to the 1GB model. wireless drive.

Thanks for your input, and have fun making and playing humongous super hi-fi media files!


I grew up in the age of LPs, so if you think playing CDs is quaint and inconvenient today, we can talk about what a PITA playing LPs used to be when it was all we had.  I recall things like static electricity, Discwashers, Dustbugs, cartridges and cleaning a stylus, cleaning drive belts, ticks and pops, warped records, scratched and unplayable LPs from the library, etc.  Personally, I find it easier to find a CD alphabetized in my CD racks and put it in the player, rather than scrolling down a list of 1000 digital albums or songs on my WDTV’s HD, just to find and play the new album I downloaded yesterday!

And, where the heck did album art and liner notes go?  They shrunk from being LP size, to microscopic CD size, to basically non-existent with digital today.  I would never convert ALL my LPs and CDs to digital – With the size of my collection, I just don’t have that much time to waste for that activity.  I have enough of my favorite stuff already digitzed, keep doing more, but never will do all.

mike: Oh, I am from the LP age too.  Had all the gear (including the vacuum record washer, still!).  There are around 1000 LPs in our storage room…now right next to the ??? (1000++) CDs that are also being stored.  Sorry, but having all our music on a server is absolutely fantastic.  Not at all difficult to find things, since they are indexed by artist, album name,  genre, year album released, and yes also date added to library.  The only downside is that listening to one thing often reminds me of something else I haven’t heard in a while, so click, click, and that plays next.  Hard to get through an entire album anymore because of how easy it is to music surf.  Would never ever go back now (don’t even have any CD players hooked up), so have to start thinking about what I will do eventually since Logitech discontinued the Squeeze units.

Just for reference, looks like 1000 CD-sourced albums takes around 250GB of storage in FLAC format.  Trivial these days.  Less than what would be required for just 10 Blu-ray movies.

As per my first post…

Slinky_McVelvet wrote:

Hi guys, nice to hear some healthy debate going on here. To be honest I was expecting at least one person to join the party and try shaming me into submission.

Submission? I’ve been following debates on Hydrogenaudio for years and read about some listening tests in computer magazines where MP3 achieved transparency at 192 kbit/s for most people. And sorry that I doubt your experience [Deleted] but when it comes to high resolution audio, I’m with Monty and I suggest you do some ABX testing before doing expensive investments in hardware (the WDTV won’t support HRA ever).

Well. I am glad all here are happy with their choice of digital format, preferred media to listen from, and all that kind of stuff.  So, I want to avoid any discussion as to what is better and what isn’t.  My experiences have shown me that there is a point of diminishing returns where dollars spent on hi-fi gear to reach perfection can taper off fairly quickly.  I have always been a “show me” kind of guy where I want to be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that A sounds better than B.  I really like perfect sound, too, but after a certain point of perfection, the next level is not easily attainable, or at least I don’t hear it.  A lot about how well a recording sounds has to do with how it was mixed, and not much our electronics can do about that.  I appreciate really clean sounding electronics that don’t add anything extra to sound, definitely don’t distort or sound harsh, etc… I could hear this happening in early digital files (including CD digital), but today’s digital is much better. 

Case in point:  one of my favorite recordings is the “Focus” album by Stan Getz.  The first LP (and subsequent ones I bought), and the first CD of it I bought, all had a harshness and edgyness to the recording that took away from an otherwise absolutely beautiful performance.  A few years ago I ran across a remaster from original tape, a CD that claimed to be the best version ever.  I took a chance and bought it,and the hype was right.  Gone was the harshness I had experienced each time before and a clarity that was amazing.  I had to listen to CD all over again just to believe my ears.  Whatever was done to make this recording shine as never before proved that wonderful CDs can be made from older material when done right.

And, the point I am trying to make here is that the mp3 files I created from the new CD album with iTunes sounds exactly like the new CD to my ears, and I like that a lot.  So, I’m not going to debate which way to make digital files from my recordings is best and better than any other.  I only want to say what works for me, like other’s methods work for them.  I only shared info about how I make my files, and one can either take it and use it or leave it to do their thing.  One thing is for sure, I am not going to get involved in any more “audiophile-like” conversations anymore. 

Everyone:  enjoy your music! 

Slinky_McVelvet wrote:

I do have a couple of lingering question for you ‘ncarver’. I noticed you mention a 1000 CD’s takes up around 250 GB in FLAC format but with the number of possible permutations I wonder which settings you personally recommend to achieve best quality sound whilst still maintaining a reasonable file size? Also do you have a preferred ripping tool?


I just use the default FLAC compression settings.  Since FLAC is always lossless, the only important choice is compression amount vs. speed.  Frankly not a big deal from what I recall.  Wiki says this:  “libFLAC uses a compression level parameter that varies from 0 (fastest) to 8 (smallest). (The compressed files are always perfect “lossless” representations of the original data.) Although the compression process involves a tradeoff between speed and size, the decoding process is always quite fast, and not very dependent on the level of compression.”

I run Linux systems only, so my ripping tools and scripts are all Linux only, which I am assuming is probably not what you are running, so wouldn’t be of any interest.  I know there are Windows rippers that will store in FLAC.

As per my first post…

As per my first post…


Guys, please keep it friendly. We are all here to help each other.

I thought it was friendly until Techflaws joined the band waggon. I guess some people cannot resist the urge to provoke a reaction! :confounded:

Exchanges about audio differences and listening tests on forums are virtually never productive.  I admit that I have wasted a fair amount of my time on them anyway over the years, but most recently this has only been to rebut claims from one side or the other that theirs is the “scientific” approach, when there were in fact critical flaws in their methodologies that rendered them scientifically invalid.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe I ever have gotten anyone to admit the flaws in their approaches.  People will always claim they are interested in “being scientific,” but that is almost never really true in my experience. :cry:

Incidentally, just got a new car with the XM radio turned on, and after getting over the number of channels, was severely underwhelmed by the sound quality–even for a car.  Decided to web search to see what the bitrates were:  64kbps!  No wonder it sounds the way it does.  The funny–and relevant–thing I found in the search was that for every person who was complaining about XM sound quality, there were an equal number of people saying that they thought XM sounded “great.”  Yeah, right, 64 kbps sounds “great” with music.  Truly YMMV.  :smileyvery-happy: 


Since we have SirusXM in my wife’s car, your comments were interesting, so I did a little checking myself.  Too bad Sirus doesn’t just tell us the bit rate.  From this interesting link, it appears it is propietary and seems a bit more complex than say, bit rate of an mp3.

I think if the bit rate was truly 64kbps, it would sound really crappy, and it isn’t; it sounds like FM for the most part.  There is something else going on.  BTW, the wife just told me she thinks it sounds a little better than FM.

Anyway, the really important part of Sirius XM is what they charge; especially to renew.  One HAS to negotiate with them via a phone call.  Example, my wife renewed this past week, and was presented with a bill for $185 for the combo pkg of standard music w/sports.  She knew this was too high and called their CS to see if they had any specials going on.  She more or less got blown off by the agent.  She received a questionaire asking her how her call went to CS.  She let 'em have it, and was called the next day.  Result, she got the pkg for less:  $89 instead of $185.  Caveat Emptor.