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:
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)