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Great news!!! Apple Lossless audio codec (ALAC) now open source!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 



Considering how massive iOS device is in the music player market, sounds like ALAC is now definitely a worthy alternative to FLAC for lossless audio files! beyersmile.png

post #2 of 21

I think i will stick with my 320kbps mp3s.

post #3 of 21

So, non-Apple DAPs will be able to run ALAC? Am I understanding this right?

post #4 of 21

I'm not really sure they couldn't before - AFAIK apple never really bothered with trying to extract license fees for it or anything.


It was just a closed format which was the main reason people picked FLAC over it, but it's open now. Hooray.

post #5 of 21

What does or could this mean for the audiophile on the street?

post #6 of 21

Existing DAPs, probably not. I doubt most non-high-end manufacturers will care.


The Apache license allows closed-source software to use the codec. So for future DAPs it will be relatively painless for manufacturers to add support.


The file format was reverse-engineered years ago and added to libavcodec. It could only be used in open-sourced projects like Rockbox, though.


If you've already got your files in FLAC and are happy with what you're playing things on, this doesn't really change things. But if you've got lossless files you want to play in both iTunes and your Android or Sansa or whatnot, you will eventually be able to do it without having to keep the same music in two different formats.


Personally I'd like to see Apple reciprocate by supporting FLAC as well, but I'm not holding my breath on that one.


(Edit: It doesn't mean a whole lot to the audiophile on the street right now, unless you're in the industry and developing digital audio/video playback devices. It means that down the road -- maybe as little as a week or two for apps for Android, Windows, etc. phones -- you will have more file support options in whatever software or non-Apple manufactured media players you want to buy.)

Edited by ardgedee - 10/27/11 at 8:07pm
post #7 of 21

Cool.  My library is in lossless, but I was starting to build a FLAC archive, as I thought FLAC stood the greatest chance of long term viability as a format.  Now that ALAC is open, and very widely used, I may rethink the need for a FLAC archive...

post #8 of 21

Here's what it could mean to me: Right now I'm downloading 24/96 from HDtracks in flac, that's the only format these files are offered. If these were offered in ALAC I would be able to send them to my iTunes library without conversion, as I need to do now.


post #9 of 21

My library is already entirely in FLAC - there's no way I'm going to spend time transcoding it to *another* lossless format. In addition- most DAP's support FLAC natively so there is no incentive to switch. I'm not a fan of Apple's iPod Touch or iPhone, and prefer my Android phone with PowerAmp, or my Cowon S9.


Is it a good move by Apple? Probably- nothing wrong with releasing an open source audio codec. I just don't think it'll upset any of the current audiophile "standards".


If however, ALAC made my headphones pour rainbows out of the cups and my tubes turned into smiley faces and danced to my music... well maybe then I might switch. Maybe. But only for the rainbows.

post #10 of 21

FLAC. Apple can stuff it in their pantaloons. 

post #11 of 21

I think in terms of useful imapct this news is not that big of a deal.  IIRC decoding was always freely available, but encoding was not.  But as ardgedee states, it seems like the file format was reverse engineered long ago.  But it does perhaps give peace of mind to the community at large that even if Apple drops support for it later on, the code and documentation is all still out there for everyone now.  My hope is that maybe this increases adoption of ALAC, and maybe Apple starts selling ALAC in the itunes store.  Then maybe I'd actually consider buying from there...


Personally I keep my library in ALAC, because I use an iPod and iTunes, and it's the best lossless format for that system.  Honestly I don't get all the hate/fanboyism towards lossless formats though.  First of all, it's all lossless, so it's not like any one format is better than the other in audio quality.  Don't use iTunes or iDevices?  Fine!  Use FLAC!  But why the need to hate on ALAC?  Second, if your format de jour goes away, all you need to do is transcode to another lossless format and you're good to go.  IME transcoding from lossless>lossless is so fast anyways it's hardly worth the effort to talk about it.  When I transcode FLAC to ALAC and it takes all of like 3-5 seconds per song.  With my 8-thread mac mini, and a very fast SSD, I can transcode an entire FLAC album to ALAC in like 30 seconds or less.


If anything, the open sourcing of ALAC will hopefully finally shut up the FLAC fanboys because now they can't lord their FLACness over the ALAC users and how their format is somehow "better" because it's open source.


The point is, you're already on top of the mountain.  You have a library of lossless music.  Whether you look at the great view to the north or the great view to the south, it doesn't matter much because all you have to do is turn around.

Edited by Ruahrc - 10/28/11 at 10:20am
post #12 of 21

I know there are a lot of FLAC lovers in the forums and I respect that. 


Being honest with myself, I have to see the most likely future here. Apple dominates (and by dominate, I mean they are deeply entrenched) music downloads and consumer music devices. So any manufacturer who wants to make real money is going to try for Apple compatibility. 


So if you're wanting to start a lossless library, you'd be best suited to go with Apple Lossless. It's only a matter of a couple of years before any respectable high end device or software maker will support it, which means it's lifespan just got a massive boost.


Staying with FLAC may not be an issue, but honestly, it's going to require more effort as time goes on whereas finding devices and software compatible with ALAC will be a breeze.


I know that will ruffle some feathers, but it's clearly the truth. Like it or not, ALAC is now the way to go.

post #13 of 21

Foobar plays FLAC and ALAC (with plug-in), until they decide to drop FLAC altogether my library and backup will stay FLAC.

post #14 of 21

Too many Apple fanboys blowing up this whole thing.  FLAC is still the widely accepted standard for web-based lossless distribution (Beatport, Bandcamp, etc etc), and offers better compression than ALAC.  ALAC was honestly an unnecessary creation in the first place and while it's nice that Apple actually made it open-source, it doesn't necessarily make it a more viable option.

post #15 of 21

Naa, ALAC is late to the party. FLAC has been the dominate format since around 2005. ALAC will be available in Itunes downloads, but Cd manufacturers are not going to start encoding their cd's in FLAC or ALAC and will likely stick with WAV for sometime.


FLAC is 98% of the market now. It's free, and it will not change. ~ Since there is no reason to change. Many FLAC lovers are also 'anti' Apple, (I think that applies to most of us) in any shape, face, or form. The compression ratios are also better.


It works and there's disadvantage to using ALAC.





And I will not give into it.



Edited by Hennyo - 10/29/11 at 11:27pm
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