Old 09-15-2021, 11:04 AM   #1
EricTbone
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Default Glue/consolidate/record to FLAC/WavPac?

I was preparing projects for transfer to a new machine, and found myself consolidating to FLAC. I've also considered changing FLAC to my default glue format. And now that I'm writing this, I'm considering even recording to FLAC.

Are there reasons I shouldn't do this? Will I run into any trouble editing? Is it a meaningful processing burden? Has anyone benchmarked this in various scenarios?

I'm assuing "16 bit" means the same thing for FLAC/WavPac as it does for WAV, so if my media is 16 bit WAV I lose nothing by gluing/consolidating to 16 bit FLAC/WavPac?

Just trying to asuage some fears here, any info welcome.

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Old 09-17-2021, 10:02 AM   #2
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When using FLAC/WV as the default audio format, the computer has to permanently convert those media files on-the-fly so your computer will start to produce audible glitches a little sooner than when using WAV. You could try out how many tracks your computer can play back flawlessly until glitches occur (probably in the hundreds with a current computer). If the no. of tracks is sufficient for your needs, then you can get away with much less storage space needed for your projects. As long as the computer has enough power, there's no reason not to use FLAC/WV. Your project will sound exactly the same.

I've set a few of my project templates to WV as the default audio format. For others, I prefer using WAV because I know that I'll have to hand over the raw tracks at some point and unless the other party also uses Reaper, WAV is the most compatible format for file exchange.

If you regularly need to convert a lot of files between WAV and FLAC/WV (or other formats) I'd recommend having a look at AVConvert (see my sig) which is a free right-click context-menu conversion tool for Windows that I created exactly for this purpose

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Old 09-17-2021, 10:15 AM   #3
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FWIW wavpack is more optimized for fast writing, and flac is more optimized for fast reading (although flac is also pretty fast when encoding). You should not see much of a performance cost while recording to either format.

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Old 09-17-2021, 10:17 AM   #4
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FWIW wavpack is more optimized for fast writing, and flac is more optimized for fast reading. You should not see much of a performance cost if you record to wavpack.
thanks, schwa! Good to know!

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Old 09-17-2021, 12:49 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by SonicAxiom View Post
so your computer will start to produce audible glitches a little sooner than when using WAV
Yeah, obviously there's overhead. My question is (1) whether that overhead is meaningful (i.e. if it means 999 rather than 1000 tracks, then it's a non-issue) and (2) if there are any other negative ramifications, such as weirdness during editing.

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FWIW wavpack is more optimized for fast writing, and flac is more optimized for fast reading (although flac is also pretty fast when encoding). You should not see much of a performance cost while recording to either format.
Perfect. Given that I get the smallest files with flac, I guess I'll go with that.

Thanks for the responses.
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Old 09-17-2021, 01:18 PM   #6
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Yeah, obviously there's overhead. My question is (1) whether that overhead is meaningful (i.e. if it means 999 rather than 1000 tracks, then it's a non-issue) and (2) if there are any other negative ramifications, such as weirdness during editing.
the ouverhead will be rather small, I'd guess. You can try it out loading hundreds of WAV files and see how many your machine can handle without glitches. Then, you do the same test loading WV or FLAC files until drop-outs occur during playback. I don't think that a modern computer will have trouble handling 150+ WV files. Obviously, in a real world scenario your project will also have a bunch of plugins loaded that take cpu cycles on top of the format decoding process so you'll not get the same amount of glitch-free tracks as in the test without any plugins.

Regarding editing and everything else, there's no difference whatsoever between WV/FLAC/WAV. It's just a matter of taste.

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Old 09-17-2021, 01:57 PM   #7
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You can try it out [..]
Of course. The reason I was posting was to find out if someone else had already done this or if perhaps it was common knowledge. If you can get an order-of-magnitude savings in disk space by using a lossless format with no meaningful cost, it seems a no-brainer that this would be a common practice, but I've not seen it discussed and googling it turns up almost nothing. That made me nervous.

So I was hoping to get a lowdown about the costs (CPU and otherwise) from people doing it or people who know why I shouldn't be doing it.

I have briefly tested it myself, with several projects each with 65 tracks. The CPU meter fluctuates wildly, so it's hard to meaningfully measure small differences, but I couldn't see any big differences other than disk read MB/s.

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Old 09-17-2021, 02:12 PM   #8
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Of course. The reason I was posting was to find out if someone else had already done this or if perhaps it was common knowledge. If you can get an order-of-magnitude savings in disk space by using a lossless format with no meaningful cost, it seems a no-brainer that this would be a common practice, but I've not seen it discussed and googling it turns up almost nothing. That made me nervous.

So I was hoping to get a lowdown about the costs (CPU and otherwise) from people doing it or people who know why I shouldn't be doing it.

I have briefly tested it myself, with several projects each with 65 tracks. The CPU meter fluctuates wildly, so it's hard to meaningfully measure small differences, but I couldn't see any big differences other than disk read MB/s.
Well, computer specs and demands vary so much among users that it's a good idea to try it out with your own system to be sure. Basically, there's no reason not to use lossless compression. There's no sacrifice apart from that small increase in cpu load which will most likely be a non-issue. Obviously, disc access rates are much lower with the small compressed WV/FLAC files. As I said, I'm using WV as the default format in many projects. In case a situation occurs where I see a need or benefit in changing the format afterwards, it's no big deal changing the media format preferences for that project to WAV and then quickly re-glue all items in-place to convert them - it's lossless and you never find yourself in a dead-end.

I'm not sure if any other daw allows the user to set it to another audio format than wav (even per track!), so this might be the reason why there's not much discussion about it (especially outside the Reaper forum).
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