What are FLAC and Lossless Audio for?

What is FLAC and Lossless Audio?

Many users have heard about the capabilities of various extensions only superficially. After using FLAC, it is considered that such files are slightly better than other audio formats in terms of quality and clarity. There is some truth to this, but this does not explain what the FLAC format is and where to use it.

Introducing Lossless Audio

To understand what FLAC is, you first need to understand what is pure sound without loss. The sound quality during file compression plays a very important role during audio playback. Lossless audio means that the file has been compressed in such a way that the quality remains unchanged.

There are several compression methods, e.g. MP3, when audio quality is lost. In this case, excess data which is unnecessary is considered cut off. Such compression can lead to unpleasant deformation of the sound, however, the files will be smaller. To maintain the original sound quality, it is better not to use similar compression methods and turn to the FLAC format.

Lossless sound allows you to maintain the best audio quality comparable to CD quality. Many users will not agree with this statement, because the lossy sound is used in such a format as MP3. Indeed, in this popular format, good sound quality is preserved and at the same time each file “weighs” much less, but this is not comparable to the CD-quality in terms of playback clarity.

Why is FLAC so special?

FLAC is a special audio format that helps to compress files without loss of quality. It is this extension that provides the best sound quality that surpasses even CD. In addition to FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AIFF, and many others have the same property.

But why is FLAC considered the best of all? The answer is simple – this format has several advantages that make it the best of the best:

  1. Unique source code

FLAC is open source so you can use it without restriction. It is compatible with any digital player and has no restrictions on ownership of ownership, as is the case with many other formats. Also, for certain formats, only certain players are allowed.

  1. Effective file compression

FLAC can reduce the file size by half of its original weight. Using this format helps to save a lot of space both on the hard disk and when burning DVD or CD. This format was specially created for audio files and allows you to avoid loss of sound quality when converting files.

Compared with the WAV format, the FLAC extension is smaller with almost the same quality. If we take the well-known MP3 as an example, then these files are several times worse in terms of sound quality than FLAC.

  1. Software support

Smartphone users need not worry: FLAC support continues from Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) to the present. Even in older versions of the OS (for example, HTC and Samsung phones), FLAC support was added in software players (players). On Windows, FLAC playback is performed through several standard programs. Compared to the streaming services that come and go, local FLAC files are like CDs and remain with the owner forever after purchase. Although MP3 is not expected to be supplanted in the mass market, for connoisseurs of high-quality sound, FLAC will be the best choice both at this moment and shortly.

Like MP3 before it, the FLAC format is starting to be used by the music industry as a convenient way to distribute music of CD quality and higher, eliminating the sound quality problems that are inherent in the MP3 format. FLAC is a lossless format and resembles a ZIP file in structure – theoretically, the sound quality should match the original in the unpacked form. If we draw an analogy with the Hi-Fi standard, then MP3 can be equated to the MiniDisc format, while FLAC is closer to the CD.

Until today, the FLAC music format had the same «pirate» reputation as MP3, due to the lack of DRM protection, but recently it turned out that it is very popular among audiophiles and technical enthusiasts. As a result, large record companies such as Warner and Merge are already using it to distribute commercial music at a price comparable to the cost of music on iTunes.


Recently, this “clean” format is gaining great popularity among connoisseurs of high-quality sound and music. Yet it’s not easy to find music in the original, non-compressed quality and sometimes music lovers are happy just to keep the original quality making sure it won’t be compressed once again losing more information. One of the ways is to record sound directly from the source and save it to FLAC format. Using these apps anyone can create a digital collection of their favorite audio tracks or create their own collection of music with high-quality sound.

Using special software you can provide maximum compression and maintain sound quality. To listen to the result, you can use any free program that can be downloaded either to a computer or to a phone. Over the past few years, FLAC has become one of the most common lossless formats.