Thursday, December 23, 2010

Welcome to the World of Lossless (FLAC 101)

I will be posting download links for both MP3 and FLAC files (when available). Since some readers might not be familiar with FLAC as a file format, I thought I would offer a brief primer. While the MP3 files I post are high quality (usually either 256 or 320 kbps), they are, nevertheless, "lossy," meaning they leave out some of the digital information of a recording due to being compressed into a smaller-sized file. The advantage to this is that if you have high quality lossy files, the sound depreciation is negligible (though audiophiles passionately dispute this), and because the files are significantly smaller, you can house more music on your harddrive.

The advantage of having lossless files such as FLAC is that they are CD quality. While lossless files are significantly larger, there is no loss of digital information, so they are sonically superior to lossy files such as MP3. Also, in many cases, there is no way to purchase a physical copy of a recording, which usually means the recording is entirely out of print or only lossy formats are available in the form of digital downloads. In such cases, FLAC downloads offer a much needed lossless option.

Having said this, there are a few things you should know about FLAC, especially if you are an iTunes user. First, FLAC files will not upload into iTunes because Apple has its own lossless format, ALAC, and I guess they don't want the competition. What this means for those using iTunes is that you need to convert FLAC files to another lossless file format that is compatible with iTunes, such as ALAC or WAV. To do so, you need to download a file converter such as:


xrecode II

These are both free downloads. Another thing you should know is that after uploading lossless files to iTunes, you will need to write in all the tags. REMEMBER: if you have limited harddrive space and are happy with high quality MP3s, then stick with them. I'm offering FLAC for audiophiles and for those who prefer to choose what lossy file format to convert to.

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