FLAC lossless audio updated for first time in six years

Jonathan Riggall


FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) has been updated to version 1.3.0 The update doesn’t bring any huge changes, just ‘small code and build improvements.’ However, it’s notable as FLAC has not been updated since 2007, despite being one of the most widely used lossless audio codecs.

A lossless audio codec means that in theory absolutely nothing is lost when audio is compressed into that format. Most people listen to digital music via MP3, but even at higher bitrates (like 320kbps) there is some loss of sound quality. If you want to backup audio CDs, or any other audio, FLAC will give you a perfect copy, while still compressing the raw audio by 50-60%. FLAC stands out as it is ‘non-proprietary’ and does not contain any patents, unlike other formats like Apple Lossless.

FLAC is also notable for its glacial development. As a codec it works really well, but it has taken thirteen years to reach version 1.3.0! The original developer, Josh Coalson, stopped working on the project some years ago, and since then development has been done by Xiph.Org Foundation. This group is ‘a non-profit corporation dedicated to protecting the foundations of Internet multimedia from control by private interests,’ so an open source lossless audio format fits them very well.

FLAC is not supported by iTunes, but can be played in Windows Media Player, Winamp, foobar2000 and more. The Android OS has supported FLAC since version 3.1, and you can play FLAC on iOS through Songbird.

[Sources: Reddit, Xiph.Org, Wikipedia]

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