Flac vs Apple Lossless
Playing music on a computer
I like to play music from my computer
- It’s more convenient to play music from the computer than inserting the CD in my hi-fi;
- It offers enhanced features, such as displaying the lyrics, artist bio, etc.;
- The software can build smart playlists from what has been played before;
- Don’t worry, my iMac is very silent, and my hifi is plugged with an optical link.
What format to use?
But there are many ways to store Music on the computer:
- Wav, Aiff, etc. are just wasting to much space, and do not handle tags (artist, album, track name, etc.)
- MP3 is ubiquitous but severly impacts sound quality. However, I have bought several sounds on Amazon MP3 store, and I must keep this format.
- Ogg is similar to MP3, it has a better compression but is less supported (shame on you, iTunes). I have downloaded sounds on Jamendo in this format.
- Now, when storage is cheap, the best choice to rip CDs is to use a lossless encoding ; I know flac and Apple Lossless.
Flac is the format I have used to rip my CDs in the past couple of years.
- It is open-source,
- it is well supported: Extremely well supported on Linux, well supported on Windows, little support on Mac OS (but not in Apple iTunes)1
- it supports tags;
- it has very fast encoding;
- if offers very fast decoding2;
- from my experience, it is slightly (5%-10%) more compressed than Apple Lossless
Apple Lossless (Alac)
iTunes can rip CDs into « Apple Lossless ».
- the format is proprietary;
- Poor software support. Only works in iTunes;
- Poor hardware support, only Apple devices can play it.
- it supports tags.
For mobile play
For mobile play, it is not necessary to have genuine sound quality, because small hear plugs can give a good sound anyway. Plus, memory space is rare precious.
That’s why, I re-encode my songs in Ogg Vorbis, at 96 kbds VBR.