Welcome to the World of Lossless Music

As you may know, MP3 files are "lossy," meaning they lose digital information in the process of being compressed into a smaller file size.  While lossy media files help save harddrive space, "lossless" media files such as FLAC offer CD quality audio. Lossless file formats are able to do this because their file size is much larger; consequently, no digital information is missing. This blog's chosen lossless codec (file format) is FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec). While many people download FLAC files in order to enjoy lossless audio, many others prefer downloading FLAC files because it gives them the power to choose what lossy file format to convert to. For example, let's say I'm an iTunes user. While iTunes has no problem playing MP3s, Apple has its own lossy codec called AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), which is thought by many to to sound slightly better than an MP3 at a comparable bitrate (for example, 192kbps, 256kbps, 320 kbps). If I download MP3s, I'm stuck with that file format unless I am willing to further degrade the sound quality by converting to another lossy format, but if I download lossless FLAC files, I can convert (transcode) them to any lossy file format I want, including AAC. In other words, FLAC files give you the ability to control both the format and quality of your lossy files.


Having said this, there are a few things you should know about FLAC files, 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 in order to play FLAC files, you need to convert them to another lossless file format that is compatible with iTunes, such as ALAC or WAV or to convert them to a lossy format such as MP3 or AAC. To do so, you need to download a file converter such as:

foobar2000

xrecode II

xld (for MAC users)

While I realize dealing with FLAC files might seem a little confusing at first, I can tell you from experience that it is well worth the effort. Once you are able to convert FLAC files to whatever format you want, you will open yourself up to a lot more interesting and unusual downloading possibilties, as FLAC is quickly becoming the file format of choice in the music sharing community. However one important thing to always remember: NEVER convert lossy files such as MP3s to a lossless format like FLAC. This does NOT create a lossless copy of the music; rather, it converts a small lossy file into a big lossy file, and sharing lossy files that have been converted to a lossless format is just about the worst sin you can commit in the music sharing community. Don't do this or I will command poisonous moonbeams in the form of fire-breathing serpents to descend upon your dwelling where they will eat your harddrive and small pets!  If you have any questions, difficulties or comments, feel free to use the comment box on this page- voixautre (man in the moon)

16 comments:

  1. Thank you for all your sharing! I completely support your decision to move exclusively towards FLAC!
    Just one question about recognizing true FLAC files: I use Audiochecker, but sometimes I get false negatives (from my personal CD rips). Is there any way to avoid that?
    And, more important, if Audiochecker tells me that files are >99% CDDA, can I be sure they're not MP3s converted in FLAC?
    Thank you

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  2. Thanks for the information!
    I still am a bit sad with the loss of mp3 links, however, because my internet connection sucks quite a lot, which makes it quite difficult for me to download such big files! I guess there's no way around that... I do intend to keep coming back to your blog, however, because of the sheer quality of the music!

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  3. I'm a Mac user, and my choice to convert FLAC into ALAC (Apple Lossless), MP3 (LAME) or many other audio formats is XLD:
    http://tmkk.pv.land.to/xld/index_e.html

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  4. @sumasumares, would it help your situation if I split the larger FLACs (say anything over 300 mb) into 2 smaller files?

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  5. @anonymous, yes, xld, thanks for reminding me; I don't mean to be PC-centric. I also have a MAC but the music's on PC. I put up a link for xld, thank you!

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  6. Msid2000, I'm nowhere near an expert on such things, but if audiochecker has a file at 99% CDDA, it is most certainly not MPEG. However, I've noticed the same thing about false readings on personal rips or rips I know are lossless. It makes me wonder how reliable audiochecker actually is. Maybe someone else could enlighten the both of us on this issue. For now, check out this forum discussion: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=65512

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  7. Trader's Little Helper is an excellent tool for decoding FLAC to WAV then to MP3. It also can check files to see if they are truly lossless. It's free and be grabbed from: http://tlh.easytree.org/

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  8. Just found a post that consisted of .ape files. Trader's Little Helper can deal w/ those as well.

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  9. Hi Steve, yes, I run into Ape files too from time to time. Thanks much for the link. I'll post a link to that site above with the others soon :)

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  10. Steve, by the way, thank you for following the blog. I appreciate it.

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  11. Support your decision!!!
    I already dealing with lossy (MP3,WMA,...)&lossless (FLAC,.ape,...) formats,so i want share with you some usefull tips.
    -http://www.foobar2000.org/ is small but VERY powerful player for all kind of audio works (play,convert,split,...).
    -Some sites share lossless .ape format of audio,but when you play these file,player recognize him like 1 file with pauses betwen songs,and when you try to burn on CD,same thing occur.
    So,you need to dll foo_input_monkey http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_input_monkey and put them in instalation folder of Foobar2000,and now you can split (or convert) .ape format.
    Enjoy the music!

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  12. Hi thanks for the info provided about FLAC.
    Pretty interesting

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  13. Thanks Rose, please let me know if you have any questions about converting FLAC files or anything else :)

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  14. Although I do have over 80% of my music in FLAC, I am no stranger to LAME MP3. I have done ABX blind tests using foobar2000 on some killer samples from hydrogenaudio forum and believe me, I cannot tell the difference between FLAC - 320 and V0 mp3s. My laptop is a IBM and I am using HD280s. The probability I am guessing is over 90%. FLAC is nice and all, but easily it becomes a snobbish discussion point. Music is all that matters in the end!

    Fantastic choice of music and great idea to offer mp3 and flac downloads! Godspeed!

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  15. Anon. in terms of sound, I tend to agree with you, but in terms of conversion, FLAC is the standard because it allows you to convert to any lossy codec you want and to have control over the process

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  16. Dear voixautre,

    Thank you good man, for sharing your taste in Music / SQ / Clockwork O!

    Since I use Mac, I open everything with XLD set to AIFF, easy peasy. AIFF is uncompressed Apple format with perfect embedded metadata, unlike WAV. Lots of space on my 3TB external anyway...

    BTW, as you know, the various Lossless formats are not limited to CD quality. My B&W Society Of Sound subscription ($59/year) gives me two/month 24/48 albums. And 24/96 or 24/192 is no problem also. The higher the resolution, the less digital / more musical it sounds!

    Thank you,
    Your's truly...

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