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What is FLAC?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Alright so I have been hearing about FLAC a lot here on Head-Fi and I just don't seem to get exactly what it is. I know its lossless, and I would like to know how I can try a FLAC file. Where are some legit websites I can download FLAC files from? Is the difference that noticeable? Again, I am a newbie here.
Thanks in advance
post #2 of 24
Thread Starter 
Also, what programs would I need to play them?
post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by oremor12 View Post

Is the difference that noticeable?

Compared to what? Even if you were comparing against MP3, it would have more to do with the MP3 bitrate than anything. FLAC vs 128kb MP3 would be easily noticeable, but I doubt many would be able to notice a difference between FLAC and 320kb MP3.

Compared to CD, there would be no difference. That is essentially the definition of lossless in that context.

Most players can play FLAC these days.
post #4 of 24
FLAC is artillery used to shoot down planes
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by randomkid View Post

FLAC is artillery used to shoot down planes

FLAK?
post #6 of 24
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies. Yes, i managed to get a FLAC album, and yes it had a much higher bitrate than my typical 320kb MP3s...

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by oremor12 View Post

Alright so I have been hearing about FLAC a lot here on Head-Fi and I just don't seem to get exactly what it is. I know its lossless, and I would like to know how I can try a FLAC file. Where are some legit websites I can download FLAC files from? Is the difference that noticeable? Again, I am a newbie here.
Thanks in advance


FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec, and is simply another encoding scheme or "container" for music files.  FLAC, by definition is lossless (i.e.: none of the source material is discarded in the encoding), while mp3 is lossy (bits of source information are discarded for the sake of compact file size).  Theoretically, if you rip a CD to FLAC, you can use that FLAC file to burn a new CD, with no measurable difference in quality.

 

FLAC does have different levels of encoding, however these levels have to do with compression (again, for the sake of file size).  All levels are still lossless, the only difference being a highly compressed file (smallest file size) puts more load on the CPU to decompress (or decode) than a lower compressed file.   There is also an option for no compression whatsoever (largest file size), which puts virtually no load on the CPU (advantages are power savings, and less potential for any errors in decoding, which could result in increased noise, but not likely discernable).


Edited by Hard Head - 3/18/13 at 5:35am
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hard Head View Post


FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec, and is simply another encoding scheme or "container" for music files.  FLAC, by definition is lossless (i.e.: none of the source material is discarded in the encoding), while mp3 is lossy (bits of source information are discarded for the sake of compact file size).  Theoretically, if you rip a CD to FLAC, you can use that FLAC file to burn a new CD, with no measurable difference in quality.

FLAC does have different levels of encoding, however these levels have to do with compression (again, for the sake of file size).  All levels are still lossless, the only difference being a highly compressed file (smallest file size) puts more load on the CPU to decompress (or decode) than a lower compressed file.   There is also an option for no compression whatsoever (largest file size), which puts virtually no load on the CPU (advantages are power savings, and less potential for any errors in decoding, which could result in increased noise, but not likely discernable).
Thanks for the reply! Well i converted one of my CDs into FLAC using Winamp, but it still has a a compression rate of 80%. Is that still considered lossless? Im not sure if there is a threshhold where regardless of the higher compression rate, the ear will no longer hear the difference.
post #10 of 24

FLAC uses lossless compression. It's compressed without losing any data. No exceptions. There isn't a threshold of lossless compression where it's no longer lossless compression.

 

If there are enough blank passages in a song it can have a lower average bitrate than a CBR mp3. But it still hasn't lost any of that data.

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by oremor12 View Post


Thanks for the reply! Well i converted one of my CDs into FLAC using Winamp, but it still has a a compression rate of 80%. Is that still considered lossless? Im not sure if there is a threshhold where regardless of the higher compression rate, the ear will no longer hear the difference.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post

FLAC uses lossless compression. It's compressed without losing any data. No exceptions. There isn't a threshold of lossless compression where it's no longer lossless compression.

 

If there are enough blank passages in a song it can have a lower average bitrate than a CBR mp3. But it still hasn't lost any of that data.

 

What Chewy said.

 

No matter what, it's lossless.  Only difference between zero compression vs. high compression is the amount of CPU "horsepower" that's needed to decode or decompress it.  The end result (as far as sound goes) is the same.  But, if you have an older computer with a slow CPU, and you like to do a lot of other CPU-intensive things while listening to highly-compressed FLAC files, you might run into a problem (but not likely).  Aside from that, the advantage is smaller file size, if you're limited to storage space (like on a DAP).

post #12 of 24
If you compress the files on an audio CD with FLAC and then decompress the FLAC files, the resulting files will be bit for bit identical to the original files on the CD.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hard Head View Post
But, if you have an older computer with a slow CPU, and you like to do a lot of other CPU-intensive things while listening to highly-compressed FLAC files, you might run into a problem (but not likely).

 

In my opinion, unless your computer happens to be a dinosaur, there's no reason not to use maximum compression, which usually reduces size by almost half (compare that to the 80% you got).

If your computer is less than five years old, go for maximum.

post #14 of 24
I benchmarked FLAC on my 5k song collection; FLAC --best (-8) only compresses about 0.4% better than default (-5)…
Edited by skamp - 3/19/13 at 3:27am
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by skamp View Post

I benchmarked FLAC on my 5k song collection; FLAC --best (-8) only compresses about 0.4% better than default (-5)…

Which makes me wonder what settings the OP used to get 80%. Or maybe the songs he tried were just relatively complex.

 

In any case, If you have 5k tracks, i estimate you have about 100GB of data there. That 0.4% adds up to about 400MB.

I was only stating my opinion, i do think it's worth it to use level 8 compression, but it's up to each person to decide for him/herself, i guess.

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