Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums

FLAC or WAV (Lossless) Audio

  1. #1

    Hafnarfjörður IS
    Posts : 4,374
    Linux Centos 7, W8.1, W7, W2K3 Server W10

    FLAC or WAV (Lossless) Audio

    Hi there
    For years I've stored my music collections as FLAC - however with massive size HDD's is it worth it any more -- - WAV can easily be stored -- mind you all my players even on the mobile phone handle FLAC so should I just keep using it.

    Note I'm not interested in compressed formats like Mp3 - only LOSSLESS. As both (WAV and FLAC) are free OPEN codecs I can't see them disappearing any time soon. I'm not going to be suckered into using proprietary stuff like WMV either though.

    32 / 64 GB micro SD cards on phone ensures I can store More than enough music on the device and these days fast access to remote computer via internet means I can always download other music to the device if I need it at any time.

    The only slight disadvantage with FLAC on the phone is that the battery usage is slightly higher due to the hardware having to convert the FLAC to analog (takes a wee bit more processing power than using WAV - the hardware in the phone is actually the DAC - Digital to Analog converter).

    Even on a phone I am using a high quality pair of Bose headphones so typically compressed mp3 files don't interest me --however that type of file is fine for those Bud type earphones though.

    Just interested in what other people are using for High Quality Audio.

    (BTW I've done enough tests on High quality STUDIO grade equipment to show that a FLAC file can be restored 100% to the original WAV file so the FLAC lossless compression really is LOSSLESS even though it's compressed).


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  2. #2

    Posts : 2,073
    Windows 8.0 x64

    I suppose you could do .wav and compress to .flac if space becomes an issue. I had use for .wma for my car stereo CD player. I found .wma ripped directly from CD at 192 kbit sounded as good or better than 320 .mp3 from the same source. With .wma I could easily get 4 or 5 CDs worth of music on one data CD. If I hit a pothole the original CDs were safe at home.
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  3. #3

    Most people can't hear the difference between 192kbps and 320kbps bitrate. There's a difference between 128 and 192 that is noticeable to the trained ear, but any higher than that isn't needed in my opinion. Especially since 192 - 256 is already considered studio or CD quality. I would recommend WAV over FLAC though, just my preference. There's much more support on the WAV side from my experience as an audio visual technician. Either way PCM as an encoding is usually the basis for lots of the equipment that I deal with. Anything after that is an afterthought, or considered after PCM decoders are implemented.

    Other than that, unless you are a record company, it's the same viewpoint from myself as 4K video. Unless you have a huge screen where the pixel density between 4K resolution and 720 or 1080p is noticeable, there's really no point in 4K, and especially until later when 4K devices are less expensive and more mainstream. Most people don't have high quality equipment, or the ear, to detect the difference between say 320kbps and lossless. MP3 is capable of those nitrates, but at a much smaller filesize. I have no problem with MP3 for that reason.

    It was tougher back when MP3 capable players, were less common, but now it's near a standard.

    Just my two cents. If you need lossless, my preference is WAV.
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  4. #4

    Posts : 2,073
    Windows 8.0 x64

    The point is that .wma at 192 is better than .mp3 at 320. In my experience .mp3 at 192 is fine if the source is pristine. For example one of the Postcards Jazz CDs. Whereas some older jazz CDs such as bluenote from the 60s or OJC label may need to be at 320(for mp3) to get as much sound as there is available.

    For those who can't hear the difference there's MTV.
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  5. #5

    Bitrate does not matter if the source is bad, so comparing filetypes that way is irrelevant. Bitrates are constant.
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  6. #6

    Posts : 2,073
    Windows 8.0 x64

    If the source is bad there's no sense saving the audio. Every time I post about wma 192 being better than mp3 320 there's a response about people with bad hearing. If they can't hear the difference fine. But if they can hear and reject without trying then they can't see. It's the same thing when I posted on Linux about defragging ext2 partitions. I got all this theoretical jazz about how ext2 does not get fragmented and how defrag is a waste of time. When I knew from actual experience the contrary was the case. Theory is fine. But concrete is harder.

    edit: btw the comment "bitrate is constant" assumes the 2 lossy formats have equivalent quality at equivalent bitrate. Which begs the question. To me it's obvious that if wma 192 sounds better than mp3 320 it will certainly sound better than mp3 192. Take a Postcard jazz CD and rip it twice. Once to wma 192 and once to mp3 320. Listen to both. That's what I did when selecting my CDs for traveling music. The author of AudioGrabber felt the same way. If I'm crazy at least I'm not alone.
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  7. #7

    I listen to audio all day long at work through some nice Grado SR125's, and I listen at home via my Marantz receiver and my Audio Technica ATH-M50's and I'm perfectly happy with the quality of my music using a VBR bitrate MP3 over 192Kbps. I do know audio pretty well, I actually do some audio mixing at our church (which is very large and uses some very nice equipment. (Digico consoles, L-acoustics line arrays and amps, crown amps). Aside from pure travelers who need the noise cancellation, I'm not a fan of most things made by Bose. Most are overpriced and under performing. For my own personal CD's, I have ripped most with AudioGrabber, or EAC. For anything in the last 2 years, I've bought it using Amazon MP3.

    While I do agree that hard drives are huge and file size shouldn't be the #1 issue anymore, but you also probably should also have backups of this stuff and that will also chew up more space and lots more time. I also keep lots of music on my phone and on an SDCard in my car. The road noise from the car negates any advantage in my opinion to any higher quality file format.
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  8. #8

    Posts : 2,073
    Windows 8.0 x64

    So if I buy more expensive techie stuff I'll be right and you'll be wrong? That's what it sounds like(pun intended.)

    Anyway it was fun arguing about it.
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  9. #9

    ^ No, that wasn't the point that i was trying to make.

    Obviously, a lossfile file format is going to technically have more bits and will by default have better sound than other compressed formats. However, on most equipment used by consumers, even the pro-consumer market place, it's most likely that most users are never going to notice a difference with the human ear. Couple that with fact that so many people play music from a smartphone, iPod or crappy headphone jack from a computer, an an environment with ambient background noise, traffic noise, road noise, office noise or HVAC noise and often times any gains in audio fidelity will be negated.

    So, it's my opinions that storing things in a FLAC or WAV format simply because hard drives are cheap is going to probably just result in larger amounts of space being consumed for storage and backup storage while probably not providing that much benefit for those who aren't in an audio equipped studio, with high end studio monitors.

    I tested a ton a long while back using multiple rippers, (foobar, eac, audiograbber, cdex and fair stars), I used FLAC, WMA, MP3. I switched between CBR, and VBR. I played with a variety of bitrates. From my listening, with my equipment and my headphones, it was almost impossible for me to discern any difference in blind tests between FLAC and a VBR between 1 and 2 with MP3. If I really want to nitpick exactly where the benefits are, I can almost talk people into noticing what might be missing, but the second you add any ambient noise and so forth and most consumer equipment, it's mostly negated.

    But these are just my opinions. I'm not saying I am right, perhaps my ears are substandard.
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  10. #10

    Orbiting the Moon
    Posts : 2,972
    Windows 10 x64

    A lossless file will also consume more battery because of the higher sample rate read. Lossless WAV has about 1411kbps and FLAC also about 800 - 1400kbps depending on settings.

    If space is not an issue: go for it, why not. But we don't have Clark Kent's ears to hear all those subtle details do we? 192 - 320kbps of MP3, AAC or WMA will do in most cases, as it was mentioned, if the source file is good enough.

    I'm not going fully lossless, due to some small disks, lossy formats are good enough if your settings are right...
    I prefer AAC and have converted all older MP3's (for the consistency) and newer files to M4A. All is set to variable bitrate (VBR) 256kbps is excellent already. Since Win7 we have mp4, AAC and M4A native support.
    One of my Zen players hasn't got enough space on it and all my songs are sampled down at 96kbps in M4A and I can say that it' s better than 128kbps MP3. This sounds good to the ear while more songs fit on the device. After all AAC/M4A is the successor of the MP3 format technically speaking so it has some extra advantages in compression efficiency.

    To achieve good quality at low bitrates (example: M4A/AAC @96kbps) one might best use a good quality input file (one of those lossless WAV or FLAC) to get the best possible output (lowest filesize, lowest bitrate at the best sound quality).
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FLAC or WAV (Lossless) Audio

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