Reader participation Wednesdsay, "how lossless is lossless?" edition

Items needed: A reasonably good stereo system capable of playing cds and accepting input from an iPod, an iPod, iTunes, a couple of cds.

Step One: Using iTunes, import a couple of tracks using the Apple Lossless Encoder. Be sure to pick tracks that you know pretty well and that exhibit a variety of sonic qualities.

Step Two: Put those tracks on your iPod (duh) and hook it up to your stereo (duh dum).

Step Three: Simultaneously play the encoded tracks and the source cd through your stereo, occasionally switching between sources and comparing the sound.

Step Four: Post your results in comments.

I tried this with Well, You Needn't off of Steamin' With the Miles Davis Qunitet, which is pretty much my go to track for testing stereo equipment. I found that while neither source had great flaws (no clipping or anything like that), the encoded track lost quite a lot of detail. This was especially noticable on Miles' solos, which were missing the breathiness that makes Miles' tone so remarkable. Also disappointing was the way that the encoded track rendered Paul Chambers' string bass solo. What was there was fine, but on the cd you can hear the sound of the notes reverberating within the bass, and that was entirely gone from the encoded track.

My understanding is that the Apple Lossless Encoder uses an algorithm that predicts, on the basis of what sound is being produced now, what sound will be produced not very long from now. I don't really see how that saves space, but whatever. Given my results, I'm left wondering if the algorithim just has a particularly difficult time with acoustic music because of the way that the notes trail off.

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