Frequently Asked Questions
Lossless data compressionis a class of data compression algorithms that allows the exact original data to be reconstructed from the compressed data. The term lossless is in contrast to lossy data compression, which only allows an approximation of the original data to be reconstructed, in exchange for better compression rates.
Lossless compressionreduces a file's size with no loss of quality. This seemingly magical method of reducing file sizes can be applied to both image and audio files. While JPEGs and MP3s use lossy compression, newer compression algorithms, such as JPEG 2000 and FLAC compression, can be used to create lossless compressed files.
Lossless compressionbasically rewrites the data of the original file in a more efficient way. However, because no quality is lost, the resulting files are typically much larger than image and audio files compressed with lossy compression. For example, a file compressed using lossy compression may be one tenth the size of the original, while lossless compression is unlikely to produce a file smaller than half of the original size.
FLAC stands out as the fastest and most widely supported lossless audio codec, and the only one that at once is non-proprietary, is unencumbered by patents, has an open-source reference implementation, has a well documented format and API, and has several other independent implementations.
FLAC supports tagging, cover art, and fast seeking. FLAC is freely available and supported on most operating systems, including Windows, "unix" (Linux, *BSD, Solaris, OS X, IRIX), BeOS, OS/2, and Amiga.
There are many programs and devices that support FLAC, but the core FLAC project here maintains the format and provides programs and libraries for working with FLAC files. See Getting FLAC for instructions on downloading and installing the official FLAC tools, or Using FLAC for instructions and guides on playing FLAC files, ripping CDs to FLAC, etc.
When we say that FLAC is "Free" it means more than just that it is available at no cost. It means that the specification of the format is fully open to the public to be used for any purpose (the FLAC project reserves the right to set the FLAC specification and certify compliance), and that neither the FLAC format nor any of the implemented encoding/decoding methods are covered by any known patent. It also means that all the source code is available under open-source licenses. It is the first truly open and free lossless audio format.
Notable features of FLAC:
- Lossless: The encoding of audio (PCM) data incurs no loss of information, and the decoded audio is bit-for-bit identical to what went into the encoder. Each frame contains a 16-bit CRC of the frame data for detecting transmission errors. The integrity of the audio data is further insured by storing an MD5 signature of the original unencoded audio data in the file header, which can be compared against later during decoding or testing.
- Fast: FLAC is asymmetric in favor of decode speed. Decoding requires only integer arithmetic, and is much less compute-intensive than for most perceptual codecs. Real-time decode performance is easily achievable on even modest hardware.
- Hardware support: FLAC is supported by dozens of consumer electronic devices, from portable players, to home stereo equipment, to car stereo.
- Flexible metadata: FLAC's metadata system supports tags, cover art, seek tables, and cue sheets. Applications can write their own APPLICATION metadata once they register an ID. New metadata blocks can be defined and implemented in future versions of FLAC without breaking older streams or decoders.
- Seekable: FLAC supports fast sample-accurate seeking. Not only is this useful for playback, it makes FLAC files suitable for use in editing applications.
- Streamable: Each FLAC frame contains enough data to decode that frame. FLAC does not even rely on previous or following frames. FLAC uses sync codes and CRCs (similar to MPEG and other formats), which, along with framing, allow decoders to pick up in the middle of a stream with a minimum of delay.
- Suitable for archiving: FLAC is an open format, and there is no generation loss if you need to convert your data to another format in the future. In addition to the frame CRCs and MD5 signature, flac has a verify option that decodes the encoded stream in parallel with the encoding process and compares the result to the original, aborting with an error if there is a mismatch.
- Convenient CD archiving: FLAC has a "cue sheet" metadata block for storing a CD table of contents and all track and index points. For instance, you can rip a CD to a single file, then import the CD's extracted cue sheet while encoding to yield a single file representation of the entire CD. If your original CD is damaged, the cue sheet can be exported later in order to burn an exact copy.
- Error resistant: Because of FLAC's framing, stream errors limit the damage to the frame in which the error occurred, typically a small fraction of a second worth of data. Contrast this with some other lossless codecs, in which a single error destroys the remainder of the stream.
- Lossy. FLAC is intended for lossless compression only, as there are many good lossy formats already, such as Vorbis, MPC, and MP3 (see LAME for an excellent open-source implementation).
- DRM. There is no intention to add any copy prevention methods. Of course, we can't stop someone from encrypting a FLAC stream in another container (e.g. the way Apple encrypts AAC in MP4 with FairPlay), that is the choice of the user.
- foobar2000 - Best free player that converts as well, a lot of plugins also
- Winamp - Winamp plays FLAC out of the box (download the Full version to also get FLAC encoding).
- Windows Media Player (WMP) - install the Xiph's OpenCodec plugins
- Exact Audio Copy (EAC) - The official download ships with FLAC
- dbPowerAMP Music Converter
- Winamp - Winamp can rip to FLAC out of the box since version 5.31 if you download the Full version (not Lite).
- Windows Media Player (WMP) - Sorry, Microsoft has made it impossible to rip to FLAC in WMP; hopefully this will change eventually.
- foobar2000 - Best free player that converts as well, a lot of plugins also exist.
- dbPowerAMP Music Converter
- XLD a nice GUI ripper/converter/burner
- Free Audio Converter, a free GUI audio file converter
- XLD a nice GUI ripper/converter/burner
- MacFLAC. Also includes our command-line programs for converting FLAC files and editing metadata.
- MediaRage can edit FLAC tags.
- Muine: a music player for GNOME
- VideoLAN client
- Xine multimedia player
- xmcd: X CD player
- Grip is a great ripping and encoding front end and can be easily configured to use flac. See this thread on how to configure Grip for FLAC.
- xmcd is a CD ripper with CDDB support as well as a player.
- K3B, for KDE, has ripping possibilities
- Official FLAC tools have the command-line programs.
|Encoding speed||fast||very fast||very fast||fast||slow||average||average|
|Decoding speed||very fast||very fast||very fast||average||average||fast||average|
|Flexibility**||very good||very good||very good||very good||very good||bad||bad|
|Tagging||Vorbis tags||ID3/APE||APEv2 (exp.)||ID3/APE||ID3/APE||iTunes||ASF|
|Hardware support||very good||limited||no||limited||no||good||limited|
|Software support||very good||good||average||good||average||average||good|
|Replay Gain||yes||yes||yes||no||yes||sort of||no|
|Open source||yes||yes||no||yes||no||yes (third-party)||no|
|OS support||All||All||Win/Linux Wine||All||Win/Mac/Linux||All||Win/Mac|
(table continued below)
|Features||Shorten||LA||TTA||LPAC||MPEG-4 ALS||MPEG-4 SLS||Real Lossless|
|Encoding speed||very fast||slow||very fast||average||average||slow||slow|
|Decoding speed||very fast||slow||fast||fast||fast||slow||fast|
|Software support||very good||bad||average||average||bad||bad||bad|
* The Compression ratio is calculated with the division of compressed size by uncompressed size * 100. So, lower is better.
Encoding speed, Decoding speed and Compression ratio are based on each encoder's default settings.
** Flexibility refers to the amount of encoding choices offered to the users (Fast/low compression, Slow/high compression and everything inbetween)
refalac64.exe(point path to file) Extension:
--ignorelength - -o %dFormat is:
lossless(or hybrid) Highest BPS mode supported:
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