Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is an audio compression codec which employs a lossless data compression algorithm. A digital audio recording compressed by FLAC can be decompressed into an identical copy of the original audio data. Audio sources encoded to FLAC are typically reduced to 50–60% of their original size FLAC is an open and royalty-free format with a free software implementation made available. FLAC has support for tagging, cover art, and fast seeking. Though FLAC playback support in portable audio devices and dedicated audio systems is limited compared to formats like MP3, FLAC is supported by more hardware devices than competing lossless formats.
FLAC is specifically designed for efficient packing of audio data, unlike general purpose lossless algorithms such as DEFLATE which is used in ZIP and gzip. While ZIP may compress a CD-quality audio file by 10–20%, FLAC achieves compression rates of 30–50% for most music, with significantly greater compression for voice recordings.
Since FLAC is a lossless scheme, it is perfect not only as an archive format for owners of CDs and other media who wish to preserve their audio collections. but is also a fantastic way to take your music on the go. Either way, If the original media is lost, damaged, or worn out, a FLAC copy of the audio tracks ensures that an exact duplicate of the original data can be recovered at any time. An exact restoration from a lossy archive (e.g., MP3) of the same data is impossible.
FLAC can handle any PCM bit resolution from 4 to 32 bits per sample, any sampling rate from 1 Hz to 655,350 Hz in 1 Hz increments, and any number of channels from 1 to 8. Channels can be grouped in cases like stereo and 5.1 channel surround to take advantage of interchannel correlations to increase compression. FLAC uses CRC checksums for identifying corrupted frames when used in a streaming protocol, and also has a complete MD5 hash of the raw PCM audio stored in its metadata header.
We appreciate the sound quality and flexibility of this codec, and find it easy to include meta tags. While there are plenty of software choices to rip, tag, and play audio files, we use the following:
- dB PowerAmp - CD Ripper software, which includes auto tagging.
- Tag & Rename - Audio File Meta Tagging.
- Album Art Exchange - Free High Quality Album Artwork.
- Foobar 2000 - Plays a variety of file formats, including FLAC.
Please note: iTunes and iPods do not support FLAC.
For more information about FLAC, please see the Free Lossless Audio Codec Article on Wikipedia.