FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec and is an audio coding format used for lossless compression of the original raw digital audio file. A non-profit organisation named Xiph.org foundation developed and released it in the year 2001. During late 90’s, a larger sect of music lovers was debating over the need of an unprecedented method of audio file compression to replace the sound deficiency in MP3 file formats.
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MP3 followed lossy compression method, which ultimately achieved around 90% reduction in file size as compared to its equivalent uncompressed file size. Although, the quality of audio file got compromised. It was not a big deal for many, but at least the audiophiles cried for better alternatives.
A lossless compression preserves the original audio quality and yet reduces the file size. FLAC does follow the same method where it can reduce the source file size nearly by 50% without any loss in quality. This fact was widely appreciated.
It is an open format and follows royalty-free licensing. It also supports album cover art, metadata tagging, etc. Also, it is impossible to reconstruct the raw audio format from its MP3 version. But FLAC could be that viable option to rip off audio CDs in reduced file formats maintaining the same sound quality.
Later, FLAC audio files could be used to create MP3 or other lossy audio formats further.
How is FLAC better than WAV, ALAC, WMA Lossless, etc.?
There are other alternatives such as ALAC, WAV and WMA lossless. But still, FLAC has the edge over these lossless audio formats. ALAC is Apple’s proprietary format, and it hardly has any presence outside Apple’s territory. Lossless version of WAV file is not as compressed in size as FLAC. Also, WAV audio format does not have information related to tagging, artist, album, etc.
WMA and its lossless version could not get support on most of the popular devices. On the other hand, FLAC audio codec has support on most of the devices.
FLAC vs MP3
MP3 is a lossy format where part of audio data, which is unnoticeable to human ears, is chopped off. Also, the quality of background sound score, which is not easy to detect, is reduced. Typically, you will have tough time recognising these music instruments such as guitars, reverb, etc. On the other hand, FLAC file format does not compromise on the quality of the audio file. However, the file size is not as reduced as it in MP3.
When it comes to high-quality audio, FLAC has secured a spot among people who care for sound quality.
How to get Free Lossless Audio Codec music files?
The most suitable way to get it is by ripping off audio CD. However, there are several paid websites which provide you with an option to download FLAC music files after spending a reasonable amount as a fee. Some of the favourite sites are HDTracks, Bandcamp, Merge Records, Beggars Group, Murfie, Linn Records, etc.
How to play Free Lossless Audio Codec files?
You do not have to worry if you have an Android smartphone since Android version 3.1 and up has native support for this file formats. Windows system has native windows media player who can play FLAC files. Before iOS 11 release, Apple did not support this file formats but now you can playback lossless audio files on various Apple devices such as 4K Apple TV, iPhone 8, iPhone X and even on iPhone 7.