Audio CD -> best format...mp3, flac or...?

Discussion in 'iPod' started by parajba, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. parajba macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2008
    Hi everyone,

    I'm in the process of buying a new high end pair of in ear headphones ( 5 pro) and I would like your advice re encoding techniques and audio formats.

    I've heard that the mp3 technique is optimised for space and not for quality, and, even though is an excellent algorithm for compressing music files for the majority of people, there are better methods (e.g. flac) out there with quality as a main goal.

    Recently, while surfing for info on the new headphones, I came accross the FLAC algorithm.

    I'm fairly new to the Mac OS, and totally new to the FLAC or 'different from mp3' music files. I literally know nothing about it.

    I'm able to use iTunes, I can rip CDs setting bit rates and basic iTunes settings, and I would like to make a step towards a better quality format.

    Is it just a question of installing the right plug in (in iTunes) and let iTunes do all the work and do I need to pla around with different encoding/coding sw and then iTunes? I used iTunes and I own an iPod. And I'm quite happy to stick to iTunes...

    Can somebody summarize the situation for me and give me an advice? How does a flac file look like? what's its extension? can it be played in iTunes directly?

    Thanks heaps!
  2. DoFoT9 macrumors P6


    Jun 11, 2007
    convert everything to AAC and you'll be fine.

    i prefer using variable bit rate, i dont know what the por's think of it but its fine for me and it reduces file size (i have too many files and not enough space!).

    flac is too wierd for me, i prefer an apple standard.
  3. MisterEd macrumors 6502

    Jan 2, 2006
    I'm pretty sure iTunes doesn't support flac. (filename .flac)
    Depending on how much hard drive space you have for your music, you might want to take a look at ripping into apple lossless format.
    If you're getting some high end earphones you really want to rip into something that's lossless, so you can at least get CD quality audio.

  4. Lunchbox16 macrumors member

    Jul 28, 2008
    As of right now, iTunes does not support FLAC, unfortunately. Apple's lossless format will work for you if you use iTunes exclusively, but FLAC is far and away the "industry standard." I've used FLAC and Shorten (SHN) for years and have no qualms with them at all. One of the advantages of FLAC and SHN is that both can utilize verification to prevent against corruption (FLAC fingerprints, and both can use MD5). This is especially helpful if you trade music (the legal stuff).

    One thing to keep in mind, if you don't know already, is that it is best to convert from CD > WAV > FLAC (or whatever lossless you use). If you convert MP3 > WAV > FLAC, the sound quality will be the same as MP3. So if you have music you bought via iTunes in mp3 format there is no benefit in converting them to lossless.

    In terms of size, one minute of audio takes up about 10MB in WAV format, 1MB in mp3 (@128), and about 5MB in FLAC (level 8 gives you the best compression ratio).

    While the Apple lossless might be convenient if use nothing but Apple products and iTunes, FLAC is probably the best thing if you have broader interests. (Personally, I do a lot of music tradition - Grateful Dead, Allmans, bands of that nature that encourage their fans to tape and trade their shows.) I know some bands are releasing music in lossless formats, e.g. Pearl Jam, and they opt for FLAC.

    If you DO opt for the Apple lossless, you can always decode to WAV and reconvert to FLAC. It's more work, but the files should be the same (you can create an MD5 check sum for the original WAV file and run a test on decoded AAC and FLAC files if you'd like). If you opt for FLAC check out xAct. It will encode FLAC, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, create and check FLAC fingerprints and MD5, edit tags, etc. If you ask me, it's the easiest to use app out there for audio encoding with the most options available. Can't beat it.
  5. Trajectory macrumors 6502a

    Nov 13, 2005
    I ripped my CDs into the AAC format at 256 kbps. I have really good headphones and the sound quality is excellent.

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