Since the 1990s, MP3 has maintained the top position in the portable music file format world. But, its move to the top wasn’t easy as it was shrouded in piracy, the Napster lawsuits, and other stories of illegal file sharing. While MP3s are still quite popular, Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) files are slowly but surely gaining popularity in the audio world.
Benefits of FLAC Files
There are all sorts of audio file music formats, so what makes FLAC files worth listening to? One of the biggest benefits is that FLAC files provide lossless sound quality. This means that none of the source data is compressed or removed. In fact, this file format offers a one-for-one copy of CD sounds at half the size! You can even tag information in the file including album name, artist, lyrics, and more. FLAC files can be played on mobile phones, hi-fi components, and portable music players. With a quality FLAC music player, you can enjoy your favorite songs as they were meant to be heard.
Another big benefit of using FLAC files for listening to audio is that they’re much smaller than MP3, WAV, and other audio files. This means that you can store many more FLAC files on your phone or digital music player. FLAC files make digital storage and archive much easier. This is a huge deal for audiophiles who have hundreds if not thousands of tracks.
If you’re all about software freedom when it comes to audio files, you’ll be happy to know that FLAC files are completely free of the licensing issues that are often found with MP3s. These files have no digital rights management (DRM) attached to them. This means that there are no limitations when it comes to listening to FLAC files because of legal patent issues or DRM requirements.
Where to Find FLAC Files
There are two ways to get access to FLAC files. You can choose to rip files directly from a CD or you can purchase FLAC files from a digital audio store. To rip files from a CD you’ll need to use software. Ripping takes some time and most listeners much prefer to just legally download their favorite tracks.
For downloading FLAC files there are all sorts of options including:
- Merge Records
- Beggars Group
If you’re seeking music diversity, HDtracks is the digital store to use. The repository has dozens of labels and offers tons of different genres and artists. You can even use the site to listen to new releases. No matter if you listen to Beethoven, The Beatles, or Bathory, you’ll find what you want to hear at HDtracks.
Bandcamp is another great option. The site is widely used by artists who want to sell their music but can’t afford to run their own web site and digital store. You’ll find some of the newest up and coming names in the industry on Bandcamp.
How to Listen to FLAC Files
FLAC files are more supported by most devices. Some devices support the file format natively while others will require you to download an app in order to listen to your favorite sounds.
Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) and any newer versions of the OS natively support FLAC files. HTC, Google, and Samsung all offer FLAC support with their preloaded media players. For even more options, take a look at apps available in the Google Play store. The store offers a variety of FLAC player apps including Bubble UPnP and Player Pro.
If you use an iOS device, these devices don’t natively support playing FLAC files. This is mostly because the company has its own digital file storefront (Apple Music, iTunes, etc.). The good news is that the workaround to listen to FLAC files is simple. Download a FLAC player from the iTunes Store such as Capriccio, FLAC Player, or MediaConnect. Once downloaded and installed, you can listen to your FLAC files effortlessly.
For Mac users, you’ll need to download Fluke or Songbird which support FLAC files.
If your Windows computer has Groove player installed, you can listen to FLAC files. Groove is available with the Windows 10 operating system. For older versions of Windows, you’ll need to download a plug-in for Windows Media Player that supports FLAC files. Otherwise you can download JRiver, Roon, or Media Monkey to listen to FLAC files.
FLAC files are well-praised because they can be played using a hi-fi device. Many streaming audio players support FLAC playback including multi-room music systems and the affordable Chromecast Audio. FLAC files are also supported by other devices such as Roku, TVs, and other network attached storage gear.
FLAC files continue to grow in popularity, especially among audiophiles. If you’re looking for clean crisp music without huge file sizes, now is a good time to check out FLAC files.
If you are an audiophile who prefers music in FLAC format, why do you prefer it? Leave us a comment in the section below.