Frequently Asked Questions
What is LOSSLESS ?
Lossless data compression is 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 compression reduces 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 compression basically 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.
What is FLAC ?FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec, an audio format similar to MP3, but lossless, meaning that audio is compressed in FLAC without any loss in quality. This is similar to how Zip works, except with FLAC you will get much better compression because it is designed specifically for audio, and you can play back compressed FLAC files in your favorite player (or your car or home stereo, see supported devices) just like you would an MP3 file.
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.
Lossless audio comprression
Lossless compression means that the compressed, smaller file can be expanded back into the original file without losing any information whatever.
That is: take a file; compress it, and uncompress it again. If the original file is bit-for-bit identical, 100% of the time, for any given input file, then the compression scheme is lossless. No information is lost.
Unfortunately, compressing audio losslessly is hard. General-purpose compression programs like WinRar, WinZip only manage about 5% on average.
There are special-purpose compressors (like ape, flac, wavpack etc.) which were designed solely for losslessly compressing audio, but even they only manage about a 50% reduction in filesize on average. While this is enough for some, for music files to be truly portable they must be even smaller.
What you need to play or make FLAC files - download places
FLAC is a general purpose audio format supported by many programs.
Most of the documentation here is about the FLAC format itself and the tools we provide, but there is also information on using other programs that support FLAC.
To download official FLAC tools go here.
And to see the extras section for other third-party tools go here.
I recommend to Windows users, use free player foobar2000 which supports MP3, MP4, AAC, CD Audio, WMA, Vorbis, FLAC, WavPack, WAV, AIFF, Musepack...
Also in foobar2000 you can convert from/to lossless/lossy formats, join and split files using cue-sheets and even rip Audio CDs.
What software use to play/convert/rip/burn FLAC ?
Since FLAC is supported by so many different programs, it can be a big question for the new user to choose a suitable program foer using FLAC.
Let's see the best free software that we can use in different operating systems.
To play FLAC files, here is some popular players:
- 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
For accurate ripping CDs to FLAC, here is a short list of the most popular programs. Experts generally prefer EAC for the most accurate ripping. dbPowerAMP also does a fine job and is easier to set up.
- 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.
For burning FLAC files to CD, here is a short list of the most popular programs:
- dbPowerAMP CD Writer
- Burrrn - Supports burning from FLAC out of the box.
For converting audio files to/from FLAC, there are quite a few programs:
- foobar2000 - Best free player that converts as well, a lot of plugins also exist.
- dbPowerAMP Music Converter
MAC OS X
For playing FLAC files, here is some popular players:
For ripping CDs to FLAC, there are also a few options:
- Free Audio Converter, a free GUI audio file converter
- XLD a nice GUI ripper/converter/burner
For burning FLAC files to CD:
- XLD a nice GUI ripper/converter/burner
For converting audio files to/from FLAC:
- 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.
In the Unix world, FLAC support is very widespread and it's usually only a matter of installing packages, so here are a few tools.
To play FLAC files:
- Muine: a music player for GNOME
- VideoLAN client
- Xine multimedia player
- xmcd: X CD player
To rip CDs to FLAC:
- 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
To burn FLAC files to CD, here is a short list of the most popular programs:
To convert audio files to/from FLAC, there are quite a few programs:
- Official FLAC tools have the command-line programs.
When you should use lossless compression
If you want to create a high fidelity digital archive, a better solution is to use a lossless compression format.
These formats work more or less like ZIP compression; redundant bits are taken out to create the compressed file, which is then uncompressed for playback.
So what you hear has exact fidelity to the original, while still being stored in a smaller-sized file.
Of course, a lossless compressed file isn't as near small as a file with lossy compression. While an MP3 file might be 10% the size of the original, uncompressed file, a file with lossless compression is typically about 50% the original's size.
This is why lossless compression isn't recommended for portable music players, where storage space is limited.
If you're storing your CD collection on hard disk, however, it works just fine—especially with today's cheap hard disk prices. You can easily store 1,000 CDs on a 300GB hard disk, using any lossless compression format.
Lossless vs. Lossy formats, what is the best ?
Lossless vs. Lossy formats
We call RAW a “lossless” format because it preserves all of the file’s original data, while we call JPEG a “lossy” format because some data is lost when we convert an image to JPEG. However, these aren’t the only formats that are lossy and lossless.
Images: RAW, BMP, and PNG are all lossless image formats. JPEG and GIF are lossy image formats.
Audio: WAV, FLAC, and ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec, used by iTunes) are all lossless audio formats. MP3, MP4, WMV, and OGG are lossy audio formats.
Video: Few lossless video formats are in common consumer use (Lagarith, Huffyuv, Alparysoft, CorePNG), as they would result in video files taking up a huge amount of space. Common formats like H.264, MKV, and WMV are all lossy. H.264 can provide smaller files with higher qualities than previous generations of video codecs because it has a “smarter” algorithm that’s better at choosing the data to throw out.
Some of these lossless formats also provide compression.
For example, a WAV file is a completely uncompressed audio file, and takes up quite a bit of space. FLAC and ALAC are both lossless types of audio files that contain the same data as a WAV file, but they use a form of compression to create smaller files.
Formats like FLAC and ALAC don’t throw any data away – they keep all the data and compress it intelligently, like ZIP files do.
However, they are still significantly larger in size than MP3 files, which throw much data away.
Advantages of lossless audio compression
First, it's a good idea to understand the difference between lossy and lossless audio.
Look at the root of the noun: lossy means that some material is lost and lossless means that no data has been lost from the original source material.
You can visibly watch music specters to see the difference below.
Comparison of lossless audio formats
Many lossless comparisons look at only compression ratio and speed.
FLAC decoding is the fastest among lossless codecs and it has the fastest encoding mode. FLAC's compression is within 3% of even the most complex codecs. Note that the compression ratios of all lossless codecs fall in a quite narrow range; the difference between the very best and very worst is only around 7%, and only 4% for the practical codecs.
So the evaluation of lossless codecs typically depends mainly on other features, which is what our first table shows; features like how well it is supported in devices and software, licensing, etc.
Additionally, as archiving is one of the main applications for a lossless codec, of chief importance is the ability to use and recover data in the future.
FLAC stands out as the most widely supported codec, and the only codec 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.
The rest of the tables show in detail the compression ratios and speed of the codecs in different modes. FLAC's high decoding speed is due to very low complexity and is instrumental to its support by dozens of consumer electronic devices.
Reviewed encoders (besides FLAC):
Apple Lossless - A proprietary codec by Apple.
Bonk - An open-source source codec. No player or library support yet.
La - A closed source symmetric adaptive codec. Highest compression ratio but extremely slow.
Monkey's Audio - A symmetric adaptive codec with good compression. Source is available under a non-OSI license.
Ogg Squish - An open source source codec that is no longer maintained.
optimFROG - A closed source, Windows/Linux codec, with Winamp and XMMS plugins. Slow but high compression ratios.
Shorten - A.J. Robinson's well-known codec; source is available here.
Tak - A new and efficient codec, but closed-source and Windows only.
WavPack - A fine open-source codec, released under the BSD license.
The results of comparison, technical details and conclusions you can read here.
Overview of lossless compression formats
Below is brief overview of lossless audio compression formats.
WAV - Wave files
Uncompressed audio format developed by IBM and Microsoft. Became standard audio file used on PCs. WAV don't contain compressed data, so the files have same size as original source.
FLAC - FLAC files
FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec.
Grossly oversimplified, FLAC is similar to MP3, but lossless, meaning that audio is compressed in FLAC without any loss in quality.
This is similar to how Zip/Rar works, except with FLAC you will get much better compression because it is designed specifically for audio, and you can play back compressed FLAC files in your favorite player just like you would an MP3 file.
It's advantages are: open source, very fast encoding/decoding, very good software/hardware support, error robustness, streaming, multichannel audio, high resolutions, pipe, RIFF chunks support, and it has only one little disadvange - no hybrid/lossy mode.
APE - Monkey's Audio files
Monkey's Audio is a fast and easy way to compress digital music.
Unlike traditional methods such as mp3, ogg, or wma that permanently discard quality to save space, Monkey's Audio only makes perfect, bit-for-bit copies of your music.
That means it always sounds perfect - exactly the same as the original. Even though the sound is perfect, it still saves a lot of space. (think of it as a beefed-up Winzip for your music)
The other great thing is that you can always decompress your Monkey's Audio files back to the exact, original files.
That way, you'll never have to recopy your CD collection to switch formats, and you'll always be able to recreate the original music CD if something ever happens to yours.
It's advantages are: open source, high efficiency, good software support, simple and user friendly, has multiplatform Java version, RIFF chunks, pipe, high resolution audio support, and it has some disadvanges - no hybrid/lossy mode, no multichannel support, no error robustness and it has limited hardware support.
WV - WavPack files
WavPack is a completely open audio compression format providing lossless,high quality lossy, and an unique hybrid compression mode.
In the default lossless mode WavPack acts just like a WinZip compressor for audio files.
However, unlike MP3 or WMA encoding which can affect the sound quality, not a single bit of the original information is lost and so there's no chance of degradation. This makes lossless mode ideal for archiving audio material or any other situation where quality is paramount.
The compression ratio depends on the source material, but generally is between 30% and 70%.
It's advantages are: open source, very fast encoding/decoding, good efficiency, error robustness, good hardware/software suppor, streaming, multichannel audio and high resolutions support, supports hybrid/lossy mode, pipe, RIFF chunks, ability to create self extracting files and has only one disadvantage: limited hardware player support.
ALAC - Apple Lossless files
ALAC is a proprietary lossless audio compression scheme. Apple never released any documents on the format.
Apple claims that audio files compressed with its lossless codec will use up "about half the storage space" that the uncompressed data would require.
It's good for very fast decoding, Apple hardware support (iPod, AirPort Express), integration with iTunes/iPod and streaming support.
But it has limited software support because of it's proprietary original.
WMAL - Windows Media Audio Lossless files
WMA Lossless is the lossless codec developed by Microsoft to be featured in their Windows Media codec portfolio.
This lossless format has closed source, limited hardware support, doesn't support RIFF chunks, replay gain, has no hybrid/lossy mode, but has streaming, pipe, multichannel audio and high resolutions support and very good Microsoft software support
Which lossless format use to store audio ?
Which lossless format use to store audio ? This question was quite hard some time ago, because the enormous amount of lossless audio compressor choices available, and it was a very difficult task to choose the one most suited for each person's needs.
But today FLAC became industry standart for storing, sharing, ripping music in high quality. It's opensource, wide known, popular and a lot of devices/software support it.
Several people only take into consideration compression performance when choosing a codec. But as the following table and article shows, there are several other features worth taking into consideration when making that choice.
For example, users wanting good multiplatform compatibility and robustness (E.G, people sharing live recordings) would favour WavPack or FLAC. Another user, looking for the very highest compression available, would go with OptimFROG. Someone wanting portable support would use FLAC or ALAC, and so on.
En fin, this is not a matter worth getting too worked up about. If you later find out the codec you chose isn't the best for your needs, you can just transcompress to another format, without risk of losing quality.
|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)
MP3 and lossless compression
MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, which is more commonly known as MP3, is definitely the most popular lossy audio format out there.
Development started in 1987, led by members of Fraunhofer IIS in Germany. It quickly became the unacknowledged standard for lossy audio encoding as it provides high compression rates while still retaining relatively respectable quality.
The MP3 format applies a series of filters that remove some upper frequency content. This is often acceptable to the human ear as the upper limits of a human's hearing is considered 20 kHz, with a much lower cutoff frequency being fairly standard particularly as we age.
The MP3's biggest advantage is the acceptance it has already achieved.
While other formats are trying to gain ground, more audio is being encoded in MP3 format every day.
It is widely supported in almost all relevant software and hardware. It also provides fast decoding which is key for efficient playback.
Still, it’s performance is a little sub-standard when compared to other more modern formats.
It does have a maximum bit rate at which it can rip which may fall below your desire (320 kbit/s) and it’s sampling rate does not lend well to high definition audio (doesn’t support sampling at a rate higher than 48 kHz).
Below are alternatives to the MP3:
1. AAC – Advanced Audio Coding. This is the default format for anything and everything Apple, including the iPhone, iPod, and iTunes, but it's supported on pretty much every portable player out there. This format was developed in part by Fraunhoffer IIS, who were the original developers of the MP3 algorithm, and has been touted as the successor to the MP3. It's deviation from MP3 includes:
- Supports 48 channels of audio, whereas MP3 supports 2 channels in MPEG-1 mode and 5.1 channels in MPEG-2 mode.
- Has a wider bandwidth of sample frequencies. Where MP3 can range from 16 kHz to 48 kHz, AAC can range from 8 kHz to 96 kHz. This is very good for getting an accurate digital representation of the original source.
- Higher coding efficiency for both stationary signals and transient signals.
- Handles audio frequencies above 16 kHz significantly better than MP3. - Supports a bit rate between 8 and 529 kbit/s.
- Supports Digital Rights Management.
2. RA – Real Audio. This format was developed by RealNetworks, the makers of Real Media Player, amongst other things. It's most commonly used in streaming media from the internet. Real Audio supports several different codecs of varying sample and bit rates. It hasn't been widely adopted as a method of transferring digital audio outside of the occasional streaming audio website. The likely cause for this is that there aren't many media players that support the format outside of RealNetworks' own player.
3. Ogg – Ogg Vorbis was initially developed as a response to the MP3 when it was announced that there were plans to charge licensing fees for the MP3 audio format. It is an open-source approach, meaning it is completely free and unrestricted by patents.
- Ogg is extremely flexible in the sampling rates it supports, ranging from 1 Hz to 200 kHz.
- Ogg also supports a wide variety of bit rates. If you assume a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz (the standard CD sampling frequency), an Ogg encoder will output a variable bit rate between 45 and 500 kbit/s, depending on the quality setting that is specified.
- Independent listening tests have suggested that at mid to high bitrates Ogg has better quality than MP3 encoded audio.
- Ogg is largely DRM free.
4. WMA – Windows Media Audio is a proprietary format developed by, surprise, Microsoft. There have actually been a few revisions of the original format to create WMA Pro, WMA Lossless, and WMA Voice. This is considered one of the most supported formats, in direct competition with MP3 and AAC.
- WMA Standard supports stereo output (ie. two discrete channels).
- Offers a sample rate of up to 48 kHz.
- At lower bit rates, WMA has been interpreted as better than MP3, although not quite as good as AAC in terms of quality.
- At higher bit rates, the differences become less distinguishable.
- Supports Digital Rights Management.
So you can see the alternatives to the MP3 format are out there. They were all developed as an alternative to MP3 due to perceived disadvantages of the format.
Lossy audio is pretty much standard across the internet. As of late, it has seen some considerable popularity as the bandwidth each user has access to increases, as does the storage space available in both computers and portable devices.
Why you should never convert lossy to lossless ?
When you convert a file from a lossless format to a lossy format – say, ripping an audio CD (a lossless format) to MP3 files (a lossy format) – you’re throwing away some of the data. The MP3 file is so much smaller because much of the original audio data has been lost.
If you converted the lossy MP3 file to a lossless FLAC file, you wouldn’t get any of that data back. You’d get a much larger FLAC file that’s only as good as the MP3 file you converted from. You can never get the lost data back. Think of it like taking a perfect copy of a photocopy – even if it was possible to create a perfect copy of a photocopy, you would still end up with a photocopy, which isn’t as good as the original document.
This is also why it’s a bad idea to convert lossy formats to other lossy formats. If you take an MP3 file (a lossy format) and convert it to OGG (another lossy format), more of the data will be thrown away. Think of this like taking a photocopy of a photocopy – each time you photocopy a photocopy, you lose data and the quality becomes worse.
Conversion from lossless formats to lossy formats works well, however. For example, if you rip an audio CD (lossless) to FLAC files (lossless), you’ll end up with files as good as the original audio CD. If you later converted those FLAC files to MP3 files – say, to shrink them down so more of them will fit on an MP3 player – you’ll end up with MP3 files that are as good as MP3 files ripped from an audio CD directly.
How to play FLAC in iTunes?
Due to the unique features of iTunes, only Apple can add support for FLAC.
And why wouldn't they?
FLAC usage is accelerating, many worldwide bands like Pearl Jam, The Beatles, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Metallica - the same hip, influential people whose fans Apple courts - are already distributing music in FLAC format, and thousands of users are clamoring for it in the iTunes forums.
Through tremendous effort by various developers, goes as far as possible in allowing some playback capability via QuickTime. But proper iTunes support - tag handling, no import delays, etc. - is not possible without Apple support.
Make your voice heard! Fill out the iTunes feedback form (politely!) and let them know.
Converting from lossy formats
Converting from lossy formats to lossless have no sence, since it doesn't make track sound better in any way.
So usually this form of converting is not allowed in any forms. Some people can suppose this is cheating.
People call such "bad" process - upscale, transcode, upconvert.
Do not share such upscaled (transcoded, upconverted) files in places where people share lossless files. They can ban, block, purge, delete you (at the tracker, forum, board, site, etc)
Can my ears hear the difference between a lossless and lossy song?
Can your ears hear the difference between a lossless and lossy song?
When you hear mp3 tracks their bitrate differs from 128 Kbps up to 320 Kbps, even ша you’ve purchased them through online services like Amazon or iTunes. With lossless audio (flac, wav, etc), that bit rate typically lives in the vicinity of 700 to 1100 Kbps — a range well above the human ear’s ability to discern differences. With lossy audio, however, the standard these days is 320 Kbps CBR or 256 Kpbs VBR, a rate that produces audio well within the human ear’s ability to notice differences when compared to the lossless analogue.
The question is, can most people really hear the difference between lossless and lossy audio — say 320 Kbps, since it’s the current standard? The answer is a bit more complex, but before we start explore into that sometimes touchy subject, let’s talk about what is called an “ABX test.” That is a double-blind way to compare an A and B source with a random X source selected from A or B that you then try to match to the original source. In an audio ABX test, you first listen to the lossless and lossy versions of a song, then attempt to match random playbacks (X) of one or the other with the correct version (A or B).
You can find several free utilities that offer this test for both Windows and Mac. My favorite for Windows is a plugin for the free audio player foobar2000 called ABX Comparator. You pick the audio files for the A and B sources, then the player plays (or lets you play) either sample at random and asks you to match it with its source.
A little note before testing: What you listen to the audio samples on matters just as much as things like the sample’s bit rate. Your laptop speakers aren’t going to cut it. Neither are your computer’s desktop speakers if they’re your garden variety Labtec or Bose or Insignia. You’re going to want a pair of reasonably high-end, over-the-ear headphones, ideally. That’s for the audiophile listening test.
Usually audiofreaks able to hear the difference between 320 Kbps and lossless audio in the audiophile version of these ABX tests. So try yourself and see the results - this will be interesting.
Lossless video - Lagarith lossless codec
Lossless audio today comes to our usual life instead of mp3. But what about video?
Lagarith lossless codec - is a lossless video codec intended for video editing and archiving. Lagarith offers better compression than codecs like Huffyuv, Alparysoft, and CorePNG. There are a few lossless codecs that can compress better than Lagarith, such as MSU and FFV1; however Lagarith tends to be much faster than these codecs (For DVD video the compression is typically only 10-30% better than Huffyuv, but for high static scenes or highly compressible scenes, Lagarith significantly outperforms Huffyuv).
It is also suitable for video capture on high-end systems. It is capable of handling RGB24, RGB32, RGBA, YUY2, and YV12 input video. To facilitate editing, Lagarith currently only supports keyframes, and optional null frames. Other features that make it suitable for video editing include a simple configuration interface, a good compression to speed ratio, full backwards compatibility with earlier versions of the codec, and a reduced resolution mode that is useful for 'bait-and-switch' editing.
Lagarith is able to outperform Huffyuv due to the fact that it uses a much better compression method. Pixel values are first predicted using median prediction (the same method used when "Predict Median" is selected in Huffyuv). This results in a much more compressible data stream. In Huffyuv, this byte stream would then be compress using Huffman compression. In Lagarith, the byte stream may be subjected to a modified Run Length Encoding if it will result in better compression. The resulting byte stream from that is then compressed using Arithmetic compression, which, unlike Huffman compression, can average fractional bits per symbol. This allows the compressed size to be very close to the entropy of the data, and is why Lagarith can compress simple frames much better than Huffyuv, and avoid expanding high static video. Additionally, Lagarith has support for null frames; if the previous frame is mathematically identical to the current, the current frame is discarded and the decoder will simply use the previous frame again.
Lagarith lossless codec have good compression results, supports multithreading and 64-bit systems (64-bit version is significantly faster than the 32-bit version on a 64-bit AMD processor)
Lagarith data is typically transported in AVI files and is released under the GPL.
You can download installer, codec, source code at offsite: http://lags.leetcode.net/codec.html
How to convert flac to apple lossless?
A lot of people collection music in most popular lossless format FLAC. But sometimes they need to convert FLAC to Apple lossless format (ALAC). Why? Usually because of buying Apple's production like Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc. And FLAC is incompatible with Mac, iTunes, iPhone, iPod, iMovie, QuickTime, etc, but ALAC is. Also iTunes lacks ability to import/play FLAC files.
They start to search utilities that can do it quick and easy. And there are a lot of them mainly commercial products with nice and attractive description and not so good results.
FLAC and ALAC formats are both lossless and will sound identical. Even FLAC has advantage than ALAC since FLAC is open source while ALAC is powered by Apple. Meanwhile, converting FLAC to ALAC will keep the 100% original quality. That's why more and more Apple users choose to convert FLAC to ALAC.
iTunes does support Apple Lossless (a.k.a. ALAC), Apple’s own open source lossless audio codec. But how can you get files already in the FLAC format converted to ALAC so they can be added to an iTunes library. Thankfully, using foobar2000 and the refalac encoder you can do exactly that.
Why you should use refalac? A lot of reasons:
- it's free and based on ALAC source code
- it's much faster
- no need to use QuickTime and iTunes libraries
- single-phase convert (no double converting to WAV and then to ALAC as before)
- no need to install additional software (virtual CD, etc)
- foobar+refalac can be portable, just insert your flash drive in any PC around
- copy tags from original FLAC files, you don't need to re-tag your music
- you can use not only foobar2000, but also CUETools, CUERipper, XRecode II, Exact Audio Copy, etc to convert your files
To use refalac and foobar2000 you need:
- the latest foobar2000 with the converter component installed
- the latest version of QAAC (today it's qaac_2.44.zip) which includes refalac, available here
- extract qaac_2.44.zip to the folder with foobar2000 encoders
- in foobar2000 in Encoder Settings add new preset and set following:
refalac64.exe (point path to file)
--ignorelength - -o %d
lossless (or hybrid)
Highest BPS mode supported:
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