FLAC - How good is this new codec?

dancemb

Active Member
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!
 

Autopilot

Distinguished Member
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.
 

dancemb

Active Member
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:
 

badbob

Banned
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.
 

stevos

Distinguished Member
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).
 

dancemb

Active Member
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:
 

Autopilot

Distinguished Member
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 :)
 

badbob

Banned
re-download everything in the FLAC format

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.
 
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:

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 :)

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:
 

stevos

Distinguished Member
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 :)

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.
 

dancemb

Active Member
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!
 

amcluesent

Distinguished Member
>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.
 

dancemb

Active Member
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.
 
J

joshw

Guest
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.
 

p9ul

Distinguished Member
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.
 

badbob

Banned
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.

Also MP3 players with Rockbox installed allows you to play Rockbox too. This isn't official firmware of course.
 

Autopilot

Distinguished Member
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.

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.
 

hottstuff

Banned
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.

Agreed.
I have my Whole cd collection on my 1TB internal HDD in FLAC format and its still got 100 GB free.:smashin:
 

chrisgeary

Well-known Member
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).
 

Autopilot

Distinguished Member
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).

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.
 

chrisgeary

Well-known Member
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.

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.
 

Autopilot

Distinguished Member
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?
 

chrisgeary

Well-known Member
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.
 

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