FLAC - How good is this new codec?

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by dancemb, Sep 9, 2007.

  1. dancemb

    dancemb
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2006
    Messages:
    698
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +3
    I have tumbled across this new codec recently.

    Not exactly sure how new this is, but until now it has eluded me, which I am surprised as I do a weekly check for new songs for my MP3 player.

    After a lot of fiddling by using a special guide, I managed to get this codec supported by my Windows Media Player, but was not there by default.

    It sounds like this is a superior quality that separates it from all others. How true is this? Because no portable device seems to support this yet!
     
  2. Autopilot

    Autopilot
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2005
    Messages:
    7,629
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Region 2
    Ratings:
    +1,516
    It's not new, type FLAC into the search function of this forum, you will find it very widely used around here and had been for some time.

    There are a couple of portable players that support it (well almost any player will do if you can install RockBox on them). It not really suitable for portable players (quite yet), partly because its open source, but mainly because the file sizes are much larger. The reason is because its a 'lossless' compression - unlike MP3, which is lossy and loses sound quality in order to make smaller file. With lossless, no data is thrown away during compression (hence lossless) and so its exactly the same quality as the original CD.

    It's quite popular now, probably the most popular lossless format although apple have their version called 'ALAC' and Microsoft have 'WMA Lossless ' (there are others too). People generally use lossless music when listening at home through decent HiFi equipment, often with a Squeezebox, Sono's, etc. It's also the best way to archive your music collection, even if you play to have MP3 companies for portable use.

    Like i said, search for "FLAC" ;)

    PS, before you ask - no, converting your MP3's to FLAC will make no difference to sound quality - you will need to re-rip the CD to have any benefit. The data when compressing to MP3 is lost forever.
     
  3. dancemb

    dancemb
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2006
    Messages:
    698
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +3
    So basically the best thing is to re-rip my whole collection to FLAC, and then if I want to listen to any of my songs on my MP3 player (Sony A808 8GB) I need to use something like DB Poweramp to convert the file to 320k MP3?

    That could be tricky after throwing most of my CD's away after doing a lot of clearing up and moving to the digital side of music instead.

    Oh how I wish I didnt make that decision if I knew now what I did back then :rolleyes:
     
  4. badbob

    badbob
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2006
    Messages:
    4,591
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Ratings:
    +318
    oops. Even if you ripped to flac, I wouldn't have thrown them away, as still a master backup. Since your files are MP3 then pretty low quality.

    Flac isn't a new codec, it's been around for a while. The latest 1.1.4 encoder has superior compression and faster to previous versions.

    Yes if you want to play on your ipod you'll want "lossy" versions, either have a 165kps mp3 copy of music on your desktop HD as well, or perhaps just favorite albums. Or install Rockbox on your ipod, if it supports it. You can then copy the flac to your ipod.
     
  5. padi89

    padi89
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    185
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +6
    :eek:
     
  6. stevos

    stevos
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2004
    Messages:
    6,189
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +585
    I would never chuck my cd's. Ignoring the fact i like the look of a load of cd's and the advantage of a solid state backup, chucking the cd's mean you no longer own the legal right to hold the mp3 (not that its legal to rip cd's anyway but your in a better legal state if you own the original).
     
  7. dancemb

    dancemb
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2006
    Messages:
    698
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +3
    Yes I do realise this now, but at the time I wasnt thinking along these lines as I had so many CD's and was finding it hard to find a space for them all as I am mainly on my PC or listening to my MP3 player.

    Looks like I might have a very costly & time consuming period to have to re-download everything in the FLAC format :eek:
     
  8. Autopilot

    Autopilot
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2005
    Messages:
    7,629
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Region 2
    Ratings:
    +1,516
    Ok, good thread but it's treading on thin ice a little. Firstly, it illegal to keep copies of music you no longer own. Secondly, i know of nowhere legal that provides 320kbps and FLAC downloads. So i'm just saying, keep it kosher please :)
     
  9. badbob

    badbob
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2006
    Messages:
    4,591
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Ratings:
    +318
    Not possible. All sites (that I know of) pay to download sites are in lossless DRM lossless format. That place in Russia had flac and ogg, although apparently illegel site.
     
  10. insomniak123

    insomniak123

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Messages:
    2,953
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Balamb Garden
    Ratings:
    +370
    there's no possible way that saying you'll download FLAC copies of every CD you used to own is anything near 'kosher' :rotfl:

    you'll have to buy the CD's again. get hunting thru those second hand bins :smashin:
     
  11. stevos

    stevos
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2004
    Messages:
    6,189
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +585
    As a side note, in the UK it is actually illegal to hold a copy of a cd whether you own it or not. However the music industry has stated they will not press charges (they could do for every ipod owner) for people who have ripped their own music.
     
  12. dancemb

    dancemb
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2006
    Messages:
    698
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +3
    I think they need to re-write the rules a bit as it is stupid to keep saying that it is against the law if you already own the original CD in the 1st place, as it should be a persons legal right if they wish to listen to the music on the move!

    Anyway, until music players grow in storage size & accept the FLAC codec, with music stores giving you this option, I doubt there will be any point trying to obtain this perfect compression.

    Sounds as though getting the original CD's are the only way to rip to perfect clarity sound!
     
  13. amcluesent

    amcluesent
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Messages:
    5,240
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Glasgow
    Ratings:
    +1,167
    >but until now it has eluded me,<

    LOL, they've got colour TV's now as well :D

    Seriously, people with Squeezebox etc. rip to FLAC as that is a supported format and gives equal quality to WAV. From FLAC you can convert to MP3/ACC for your mobile player.

    And, yes, you can now obtain FLAC quite legally from sites like Linn Records and Magnatune.
     
  14. city fan

    city fan
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Messages:
    1,622
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Location:
    Manchester
    Ratings:
    +76
    Hi quick question if I may. Why can't I seem to find any chart music, for example, in FLAC anywhere?
     
  15. dancemb

    dancemb
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2006
    Messages:
    698
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +3
    I think there are several reasons for this not happening with official chart music. Firstly, the file size is several times the size of MP3/WMA, which is currently the only formats music sites use, and they would all have to re-rip the whole download library of songs from the source CD to make this possible, which they will simply not do for the thousands of songs and the man hours required.

    Simply put, the only way to get the FLAC songs is to buy the source CD's, as there is no other way.
     
  16. joshw

    joshw
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi there,

    It's true that very few portable MP3 players currently support FLAC. However, Cowon (a Korean manufacturer), produce the iAudio D2 DAB MP3 Player and iAudio 7 16GB MP3 Player both of which support FLAC. These players are really popular with people who value top quality audio reproduction for this reason.

    Hope this helps.
     
  17. p9ul

    p9ul
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    Messages:
    8,837
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +780
    If it helps I recently experimented with going lossless on my iPod (Apple Lossless) and for me at least, there were too many negatives.

    File size - works out around 7.5mb per 1 minute, ripping an entire CD on average will occupy about 300-500mb, although there was a large range in the bitrate, anything from 550 - 1200kbps depending on the type of track (dance, rock etc)

    Sound quality - No apparent difference over my old 320 AAC files, but I put that down to my system not being high-end, I use the iPod at work and plugged into the car.

    Increased file size means the HDD is constantly being accessed so the battery life is reduced by a noticable amount.
     
  18. badbob

    badbob
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2006
    Messages:
    4,591
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Ratings:
    +318
    Also MP3 players with Rockbox installed allows you to play Rockbox too. This isn't official firmware of course.
     
  19. Autopilot

    Autopilot
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2005
    Messages:
    7,629
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Region 2
    Ratings:
    +1,516
    Actually they also use AAC, and others, but anyway...

    No, they would not have to rip-rip all the CD's - all music stores will have a master lossless archive backup that their tracks are created from. Usually they are provided digital recordings from the music labels which are converted to the format they want and DRM, tags etc added. If they decided they wanted to change the bitrate, format etc it would be a relatively trivial task of batch transcoding - not some guy sitting in a room feeding in cd's for weeks LOL. Don't worry, i think they have that one covered, they probably thought of the fact they might one day change formats ;)

    FLAC is popular now, but FLAC, ALAC, Monkey Audio, WAVpack, or WMA Lossless - it's all about the lossless. Most portable players now support lossless formats like FLAC. Many sites now offer lossless downloads too and Apple have said iTunes will one day offer ALAC (their version of FLAC) for downloads.

    Remember we only use highly compressed lossy files because of slow internet speeds and low storage. They constantly improve. Look how far we have come since the first MP3 players (people downloading HD movies now for example) - In a few years time we will all be using lossless (or even higher resolution music) as standard.

    The sensible people are ripping their collections to FLAC now. For great HiFi quality at home (and even portable use now too). You will future proof your collection and never have to rip them again, as you can just convert from FLAC -> MP3/OGG/WMA/AAC without the loss of quality you get converting lossy to lossy.
     
  20. hottstuff

    hottstuff
    Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    3,617
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    Rep. of Ireland
    Ratings:
    +149
    Agreed.
    I have my Whole cd collection on my 1TB internal HDD in FLAC format and its still got 100 GB free.:smashin:
     
  21. chrisgeary

    chrisgeary
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2003
    Messages:
    2,783
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Newbury
    Ratings:
    +255
    I have my entire collection (which is only about 250GB) as uncompressed WAV. The main reason is because when streaming FLAC from my server to squeezebox over a homeplug (the Panasonic one), the audio would drop out once every few minutes. I changed back to WAV and the dropouts stopped. This didnt happen with FLAC and my old CAT5 network though. I also felt that FLAC sounded slightly edgier than WAV (if I were being ultra critical).
     
  22. Autopilot

    Autopilot
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2005
    Messages:
    7,629
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Region 2
    Ratings:
    +1,516
    Thats odd, the fact that FLAC causes drop outs is nothing to do with the file content. WAV files are much larger and would drop out more - sounds like a setup issue with Slimserver/SB3, not a network issue. Have you tried the latest Slimserver version and SB firmware? What transcoding options where you using? I could not live with WAV - I could not imagine not being able to tag my music (or add album art). If worst came to worst though, you could still keep your library in FLAC are set slimserver to convert to WAV before sending across your network.

    Also, i think you are imagining the differences between FLAC and WAV. FLAC is effectively decompressed to WAV before playing. There are exactly the same at the point in which they get to the DAC.
     
  23. chrisgeary

    chrisgeary
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2003
    Messages:
    2,783
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Newbury
    Ratings:
    +255
    This is about a year ago now.. I will need to retest it. I'll do that when I get some time. It could also have been the processor I had at the time (which I no longer have) - it was also dropping out on DTS occasionally too... not sure I trust it 100% looking back.

    The transcoding options were all set to (built in) for WAV FLAC and MP3.

    Without doing a blind AB test, I cannot say with certainty that what I was hearing between FLAC and WAV was real or in my mind. The only thing I could suggest is perhaps higher jitter induced by the SB2 decoding the FLAC stream. That said, I don't need tagging or album art and disk space is not an issue. Plus I had the drop outs at the time - it was a no brainer for me to stay with WAV.
     
  24. Autopilot

    Autopilot
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2005
    Messages:
    7,629
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Region 2
    Ratings:
    +1,516
    You don't need tagging?! you do realise the massive benefits of tags and the SB3 (or any MP3 player)?

    You using CUE sheets or an elaborate file/folder structure? What when you want to search or Song X by Band Y? Or browsing by genre?
     
  25. chrisgeary

    chrisgeary
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2003
    Messages:
    2,783
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Newbury
    Ratings:
    +255
    I'm using an elaborate and consistent folder structure:
    HDD\Genre\Artist\Album\x. - title.wav

    Slimserver is set to guess the tags based on that structure. My library looks and performs exactly the same way as if the files were tagged. I don't download music, so my naming is always consistent from rips using EAC.

    When I come to transfer music to my portable player, I compress to WMA and apply tags at that point.
     
  26. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Messages:
    2,397
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +214
    FLAC does appear to be the way to go for home use with a decent stereo. Later conversion to MP3 is then really easy with tools like Foobar2000, which can deal with mass conversion (though mine took 2 days for all of my CDs to be cut from FLAC to MP3).
    On the move, I personally feel that the audio environment really is so poor that you'd struggle to tell the difference between the two formats, which is why I use [email protected] in my Pod.
     
  27. Dony

    Dony
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Messages:
    18,523
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    near Newry, Co. Down
    Ratings:
    +11,345
    I'm at the early stages of ripping my cd's to FLAC format. What do I need to send the music to a separate amp and speakers? :confused::confused: So far I've only really looked at the Cambridge Audio 640H but since I've about 400 cd's the storage is too small.

    What are you guys using? :lesson: Educate me!!!:lesson:

    I have a Russound Abus sytem around the house and would want to be able to connect to it through the main hub. At present I have a 400 disc multi changer connected up but the laser is playing up and I've already replaced it once. Thus my reason for going digital.
     
  28. amcluesent

    amcluesent
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Messages:
    5,240
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Glasgow
    Ratings:
    +1,167

Share This Page

Loading...