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FLAC - lossless audio for free

Last updated January 13, 2012 - 1:15pm by Steve Swettenham

FLAC = Free Lossless Audio Codec


Why use this codec?

  • Free
  • Open-source
  • Non-proprietary
  • Stable and well developed
  • Archival quality codec
  • Saves space (and time up/down-loading)
  • Playable directly without conversion
  • Free conversion utilities

Relavance to Podcasting

  • Preferred audio capture and preservation is lossless WAV or AIFF audio formats
  • Storing and transferring WAV/AIFF is inconvenient due to extreme file size
  • Solution is lossless audio compression using FLAC with an average compression ratio of 50% reduction in file size


MAC OS X Intel Utilities

Overview of MAC utilities:

Max focused on CD conversion to file.  XLD was very similar to MAX application focus.

xACT is a useful FLAC utility, but has some GUI issues with font rendering, placement of functions for FLAC, and limited FLAC options.  Does not create user defaults (which means user setting are gone after each session).

There appears to be no clear winner in freeware utilities for MAC.  It is noteworthy that MAC Audacity natively imports and exports FLAC.


PC Utilities

The easiest approach is to download the Windows link (FLAC for Windows with installer) and install.  The GUI frontend decodes and encodes on Windows 7.  It is noteworthy that Windows Audacity natively imports and exports FLAC (note: even Adobe Audition CS5.5, a commercial audio software, cannot match that feature).