Read the simple explanations

How to Open FLAC File [Converters, Players] Read Easy Guide >

In audiophile circles, Free Lossless Audio Codec is very popular music file format. Read easy explanation what is FLAC, about its sound quality, and more.

Author: Yuri Korzunov,
Audiophile Inventory's developer with 25+ year experience in digital signal processing,
author of the articles that make audio easy for beginners
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Audio Basis - articles about audio

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) (.flac extension) is PCM audio format. It provides lossless data compression. Also, FLAC is a container file for music stuff.

"Lossless" means "original and compressed audio contents are binary identical completely".

Read how to open FLAC files, convert, playback, what sound quality.



Watch and share: How to split CUE FLAC


To store continuous albums, a single big *.flac file may be used with CUE index file, that point to each track's beginings.

Free Lossless Audio Codec is supported by Xiph.Org Foundation.

Open-source programming library of the codec is available under Windows, Unix family (Linux, *BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X, IRIX), BeOS, OS/2, Amiga.

Also, FLAC codec has hardware implementations.


FLAC specification

  • Sample rate - up to 384 kHz
  • Bit depth - up to 32 bit
  • Channels - 1 to 8
  • Compression kind - lossless
  • Compression - compressed/uncompressed (non-standard)
  • FLAC file size compression/packing speed ratio - 9 levels
         (approximately, target FLAC size is 60% of original WAV and more)
  • Using as format container - yes
  • Text metadata support - yes
  • Artwork metadata support - yes
  • Storing several artworks in a single music file - yes
  • Programming code - open-source


Sound quality of FLAC

One of the infinite discussions is "Sound quality FLAC vs. WAV". There is an opinion that WAV sounds better than FLAC.

Even FLAC uncompressed was released.

FLAC and WAV have identical binary musical content. Thus, FLAC sound is absolutely identical to WAV.

Watch and share: Free Lossless Audio Codec vs. WAV, comparison music content


In the video, we can see, how to compare FLAC and WAV musical content. Main question: how FLAC and WAV can sound differently when both ones contain absolutely identical digital stream? It's a software "bug"?

There is a hypothesys that FLAC decoding increases CPU calculating intensity. And, more intensive electromagnetic radiation with wire noise impact to analog part of DAC more significantly. It increases noise level at the analog output. However, for modern computers, FLAC decompression is not too big load.

The author doesn't see researches, where noise levels are compared for playback FLAC and WAV with similar binary audio content.


FLAC resampling

Upsampled FLAC has losses, technically. But playback distortions may depend on the sample rate.


FLAC converters


  1. AuI ConverteR 48x44 (Win, Mac)
  2. XLD (Mac)
  3. Foobar 2000 (Win)


How to convert FLAC:



How to play FLAC files (software players)

  1. Foobar 2000 (Win)
  2. VOX (Mac)
  3. AIMP (Win)

See more audio players...


FLAC file and iTunes

FLAC file is iTunes incompatible. However, FLAC can be converted to AIFF with keeping metadata (including artwork).

As example, if you use FLAC file converter AuI ConverteR, into its Settings > Metadata > check Compatibility metatags with iTunes switch.



FLAC or mp3

FLAC is a lossless format. MP3 is lossy.

MP3 may have different levels of compression. It is not obligatorily, that you distinguish the sound difference between FLAC and MP3.

If you don't hear the difference now, simply keep original lossless FLACs, WAVs or other. Maybe in other equipment, you get the sound difference. Or new compressing format appears to achieve lesser size with keeping quality, as example.




Both FLAC and WAV are lossless audio formats.

The main FLAC advantages are:

In instance, sometimes audio players don't display song name, performer, genre and others that are embedded into WAV files.

However, WAV supports sampling rates above 384 kHz and bit depths in float point format and above 32 bit.

Read discussion about sound quality here...


FLAC file download free

FLAC audio sample download:

  1. FLAC music samples...
  2. Also, FLAC music files are placed here...




Read more


Additional information

  1. DFF File Format Audio. DFF File Extension >
  2. DSF File Format Audio. DSF File Extension >
  3. Audio converter >
  4. ISO converter [1-bit audio] >
  5. CD ripper audio >
  6. Metadata editor >
  7. Tutorials >
  8. Educational Audio Basis program >



What is FLAC file



Frequently Asked Questions

Is FLAC the best audio quality?

FLAC is a lossless audio format. So, it is one of the formats that provide the best sound quality.



Is FLAC better than MP3?

mp3 is a lossy sound file format. FLAC is a lossless one. Technically, FLAC is better.



Is FLAC better than WAV?

FLAC and WAV provide lossless sound quality. They are identical in the first approach.



What is the best cue splitter?

Read what is the best cue splitter...


How do I split a FLAC file with CUE?

Read the guide on how you can split FLAC file with CUE splitter...


How do I split cue files into tracks?

You can split big audio file with .cue sheet file according to this guide...


How do I extract a CUE file?

You can extract audio data from big sound file by .cue file according to the manual...


How do I convert CUE files to MP3?

You can convert CUE files with audio file to mp3 according to the guide...


How do I convert MP3 to DSD?

To convert mp3 to DSD read this manual...



How do I trim FLAC files on a Mac?

You can trim FLAC files on Mac via an audio editor like Audacity or other.