My Format Factory
My Format Factory

Why a Lossless Audio Format

Lossless audio formats are becoming very popular these days. One of the main reasons for this is as the name suggests, they are lossless. In other words, they allow the exact same audio to be played back as the original. This is in contrast to lossy formats in which some information is lost during compression. Losing of information, no matter how small, changes the quality of sound. Since nothing is lost in a lossless format, the quality is also high.

Another reason for people converting to lossless formats is that till some time ago bandwidth was expensive, so people preferred lossy formats in order to save space (lossy formats are smaller in size due to loss of some information). But today both bandwidth and file storage have become less expensive and more easily available, so people are converting to lossless formats.

People among whom lossless audio formats are becoming more popular are mainly audio engineers, audiophiles, and those who wish to archive their music files. Audio engineers and audiophiles know quite a bit about the different formats, but what about those of us who want to archive our collection of music and yet do not know which format to use? Hereís a look at some of them.

For overall performance, FLAC is best. Itís free; its compression rate is up to 60%; coding and decoding is very fast; its flexibility, error handling, and hard- and soft- ware support are all very good; and above all, it is multiple-platform compatible. WV is just as good as FLAC except that its hardware support is a bit limited. APE also has almost the same features as FLAC, with the exceptions that its speed is slower and it has no error handling or hardware support. TTA, also open source, has high speed coding and encoding, but limited hard- and soft- ware support. OFR and WMAL are other lossless formats that though relatively not that fast, are flexible, small in size, and can handle error, but the problem with these is that they are not open source and have limited hard- soft- ware support.

Now keeping these differences and features in mind, one can easily select the right audio format. Again, a lot also depends on the purpose, since each format suits a different need. In case after converting, you find that your choice was wrong, you can always convert your file to another format.

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Wit of the day

Brass bands are all very well in their place outdoors and several miles away
Sir Thomas Beecham, conductor of Royal Philharmonic