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Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons, [TOS #6: was “Future proof lossless audio/codec” in General Audio]
DonP
post Jun 27 2012, 12:20
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QUOTE (JJZolx @ Jun 25 2012, 14:43) *
Thirty years from now there will be little reason to compress files as small as those used for audio. Network speeds and storage device capacity will dwarf what currently exists. It would be like bothering to compress an 80k spreadsheet today.


Compressing spreadsheets makes more sense than most things because you can have a high percentage of empty cells.
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DonP
post Jun 27 2012, 12:30
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QUOTE (greynol @ Jun 25 2012, 23:08) *
QUOTE (krafty @ Jun 25 2012, 16:34) *
I think FLAC is popular because it was on the internet scene first.

There once was a lossless codec called shorten.


AT least early on shorten didn't support tags, and (maybe a problem with players rather than format?) wasn't good at random access (drag bar). SO it was a pain to use in ways beyond a few percent in space or time efficiency and good reason for a better format to replace it.

Generally the first thing I did with anything I got in shorten was convert to flac and (hopefully using a foobar plugin) extract tags from the accompanying text file.


On the "20 years out" thing, consider that 20 years ago no one had even heard of DVD and now that's just a legacy format so trying to switch now to the future proof format is a lost cause.

This post has been edited by DonP: Jun 27 2012, 12:38
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greynol
post Jun 27 2012, 13:22
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All true, but doesn't change the order of history. Flac was not "on the internet scene first;" it wasn't on the internet scene second or third either. wink.gif

This post has been edited by greynol: Jun 27 2012, 13:23


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onkl
post Jun 27 2012, 15:52
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QUOTE (Zarggg @ Jun 27 2012, 08:39) *
One could argue that "WMA" and "AAC" are just as easy to pronounce as "MP3" and that "Ogg" is actually easier (completely ignoring the fact that the lossy codec is actually called "Vorbis," of course.)

Are they? I'm not a native english speaker, but it takes slightly more effort to spell "double-u emm aay" and "aay aay see" rather than "empathy" (nice one bandpass!). Also the general public doesn't care about containers and codecs. It's called what the file extension says and that means MP3 is for audio and MP4 is for video. And "Ogg Ogg" is what you say to call chickens. FLAC has become a synonym for lossless audio. Most consumer devices claim MP4 or MKV support rather than H264, so when you want your buyers to know that it plays lossless audio you slap a FLAC sticker on it.

QUOTE (bandpass @ Jun 27 2012, 09:36) *
However, FLAC does not sound nice to anyone cognisant of WWII; the phrase 'taking the flak' (originally meaning being shot at) is still in use.

It's not so much about the meaning, but the sound. "Diarrhea" also has a nice sound to it.
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Destroid
post Jun 27 2012, 17:57
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Ok, the trademark name does come into play with FLAC's apparent popularity. Additionally, after reading other points in this thread, it appears tagging and seek-able files were also highly desired by users. (I actually remember writing to David commenting, "Nice features in WavPack, but the fast-forward type seeking is a bit of a drawback.")

Given the above, it might be fair to say FLAC was first on the scene with: a) basic necessary features; AND, b) a friendlier license than Monkey's Audio. Of course, I didn't much care about the latter point since my software areas were covered, so to speak (and wrapped in an installer, including a colorful GUI front-end smile.gif ).

As for future-proof, it also seems difficult to say whether higher sample-rates/#-of-channels are the only factors. Of course, there is areas like: better compression ratio, faster decompression, and platform compatibility. The foremost is an area that is theoretically improvable by varying degrees by any existing codec. Platform compatibility is good for a widespread format. Decompression speed is going to be trickier for symmetric-type codecs.


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greynol
post Jun 27 2012, 19:44
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QUOTE (Destroid @ Jun 27 2012, 09:57) *
there is areas like

headbang.gif

emot-eng101.gif

Ok, play on.

This post has been edited by greynol: Jun 27 2012, 22:13
Reason for edit: second smiley made into a link


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Alexxander
post Jun 28 2012, 17:02
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First I ripped my albums into 128 kbps CBR mp3. Then storage became cheaper and I noticed quality was not satisfying. So I ripped all my CD's again to 320 kbps Lame mp3. Then my hard drive died and had no backup. Considering that storage space was getting cheaper and cheaper I decided to go lossless. APE compressed nicely but decoding speed was slower than upcoming competitors. Wavpack was (is) good but I didn't like the potentially confusing hybrid mode. FLAC is free and open source and decoded very fast and latter was my priority because I suspected I would convert often to mp3. I wanted the fastest conversion from lossless to lame mp3. As of today I regularly convert to quicktime mp4 (I have rockboxed portable player, car with usb and android smartphone). Decoding speed and compression level of TAK, especially at default level, really impressed me and at some point I was doubting to convert all my FLAC's to TAK. But I don't see reasons important enough to spend any more time doing such conversion, especially because slowly more hardware support FLAC.

This is why I choose FLAC and stick with FLAC until who knows when. Still, all my relatives and friends don't know what FLAC or lossless is.
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Porcus
post Jul 1 2012, 23:46
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QUOTE (Porcus @ Jun 24 2012, 22:25) *
Records, average over a physical CD (only counting CD rips):

252 for an Edith Piaf compilation which was auto-tagged as Voice of the Sparrow, disc 2 (those things show up with various titles, this was purchased as a single CD, I don't have disc 1 nor 3). Luckily it didn't show up any CD with a long silence in there.


The 252 for the Edit Piaf, is 17.86 percent of WAV. TAK.exe running a test with the -p4m option, reports the compression to 14.8 percent of WAV (using the heaviest option). TAK is 17 percent down compared to FLAC.
WavPack, on the other hand, doesn't do this very well on this particular album: Even with the extra high x6 option, it returns 289. That is 14.7 percent up compared to FLAC.
TAK improves 28 percent over WavPack (!), and that saves 80 kb/s on this record.


Other end of the scale:

QUOTE (Porcus @ Jun 24 2012, 22:25) *
1345 for Merzbow: Venereology. Listen to it and understand why. WavPack x6 improves it five percent to 1275 (just to compare, it compresses my only DTS CD to 1251).


TAK.exe, test, -p4m: 97.15 percent. That corresponds to 1371, which is worse than FLAC -0 (which encodes at 1366)!
Indeed, the worst track measures to above 100%. (Track #3 is the worst in all three codecs, but only TAK fails to improve over PCM.)

WavPack x6 improves 7 percent over TAK (!), and that saves 96 kb/s on this record.




I'm a quite a bit surprised, since I didn't deliberately look for extreme differences, I only tested the two extremes of my collection (as judged by FLAC -8).


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Dario
post Jul 2 2012, 01:10
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The speed at which WavPack x6 encodes makes me wanna do bad things. If WavPack were better at compressing, then I’d switch without any hesitation.

I do think that TAK has the most potential of the ‘widely’-present lossless codecs—but it’s all being wasted.

And seriously, regarding FLAC’s popularity—private torrent trackers have to be mentioned. They’re literally the biggest source of FLAC (that’s the only format they, or at least the trackers that ‘matter’, are allowing) files that is currently available (be it legally or illegally). You just can’t ignore that.

This post has been edited by Dario: Jul 2 2012, 01:14
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Porcus
post Jul 2 2012, 01:38
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QUOTE (Dario @ Jul 2 2012, 02:10) *
And seriously, regarding FLAC’s popularity—private torrent trackers have to be mentioned. They’re literally the biggest source of FLAC (that’s the only format they, or at least the trackers that ‘matter’, are allowing) files that is currently available (be it legally or illegally). You just can’t ignore that.


That's most likely effect, not cause. (To the extent it's actually true ...) Was there any reason for filesharers to choose Shorten/WavPack/Monkey/FLAC/TAK/[whatever] over the others, that isn't just as good/bad reason to the rest of us? [Edit: except the fact that major players would use success in the filesharing segment as argument to shun that particular technology as were it infected with ebola?]


(There could have been one reason for choosing WavPack for filesharing, it being a compression method in the .zip file format – provided that there is/were a convenient method to extract the WavPack stream from the .zip file without reencoding (is there?). But anyways, the Megauploaders seem to have settled with .rar over .zip – that's another “codec choice” to be explained – long before WavPack found its way into the .zip format.)

This post has been edited by Porcus: Jul 2 2012, 01:50


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Soap
post Jul 2 2012, 16:04
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QUOTE (Dario @ Jul 1 2012, 19:10) *
And seriously, regarding FLAC’s popularity—private torrent trackers have to be mentioned. They’re literally the biggest source of FLAC (that’s the only format they, or at least the trackers that ‘matter’, are allowing) files that is currently available (be it legally or illegally). You just can’t ignore that.


The format war was over before bittorrent was even invented.


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db1989
post Jul 2 2012, 16:14
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QUOTE (Porcus @ Jul 2 2012, 01:38) *
Wavpack […] found its way into the .zip format.
A big ‘Wha—?’ and a trip to Wikipedia later… Whoa! I had no idea about about that. Well, that’s Monday’s ‘learn something new every day’ sorted. biggrin.gif
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Porcus
post Jul 2 2012, 17:31
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QUOTE (Soap @ Jul 2 2012, 17:04) *
The format war was over before bittorrent was even invented.


BitTorrent was actually released 19 days before FLAC.


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Soap
post Jul 2 2012, 21:29
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QUOTE (Porcus @ Jul 2 2012, 11:31) *
QUOTE (Soap @ Jul 2 2012, 17:04) *
The format war was over before bittorrent was even invented.


BitTorrent was actually released 19 days before FLAC.


Wow.

Ok, let me rephrase.

The format war was over before BT caught on.

wink.gif


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saratoga
post Jul 2 2012, 22:08
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Probably the better phrasing would be, "by the time anyone was interested in sharing lossless files over BT, FLAC was already the standard".
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simonh
post Jul 2 2012, 22:52
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I'm amazed nobody has mentioned that FLAC's dominance was caused by joining xiph.org. Marketing matters even when your stuff is free.
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Porcus
post Jul 2 2012, 23:11
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QUOTE (simonh @ Jul 2 2012, 23:52) *
I'm amazed nobody has mentioned that FLAC's dominance was caused by joining xiph.org.


Post #11 wink.gif


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twistedddx
post Jul 15 2012, 07:16
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flac was winning (if not standard) years before xiph took it.
flac got set in motion for doing enough right and nothing wrong. Very few formats could claim they ticked all the boxes.
Once a format gets a nose in front it is hard to start losing unless you do something wrong or someone else enters with revolutionary tech.

Flac will remain #1 until someone comes up with something big. Eg bigger than 20% filesize win might get a look at, 3-6% wont (10% wont be enough).

I think it came down to(in no particular order):
-good defined tag support
-free license
-open source
-easy API
-seek support
-decoding speed. Encoding speed is not a huge issue, but decoding was for many portable devices.
-private sharing groups. FTP in particular but also usenet/dcc/fserve and later reenforced again with private BT trackers.
-EAC guides to adding flac.exe command lines for encoding and tagging <<years and years before flac.exe shipped included

Other formats lost with the opposite:
-confusion over ape, id3, vorbis and other tagging formats.
-limited licenses
-closed source
-complex API
-no seek support
-poor decoding speed that portable devices could not reach realtime playback.
-no enough dictator/leader users to push the format as the standard
-lack of guides

This post has been edited by twistedddx: Jul 15 2012, 07:19
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Porcus
post Jul 15 2012, 11:11
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QUOTE (twistedddx @ Jul 15 2012, 08:16) *
flac was winning (if not standard) years before xiph took it.


18 months after the 1.0 release (OK, 2 years after the format specification was frozen) and it had already beeen 'winning' for 'years'? Porcus is impressed.


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bernlin2000
post Dec 20 2012, 20:43
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QUOTE (eahm @ Jun 23 2012, 11:03) *
I am trying to understand why is FLAC standardizing in the lossless world? Reading here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of...chnical_details isn't True Audio more future proof? All these channels and huge range, isn't it the "best" option for the next "100 years"?

If one day everyone will start using FLAC, will there be a way to expand the number of channels available? For expample the "new new" 12.1 Surround System or whatever they will come up with.

Just some thoughts, don't want to get anyone upset, I use FLAC and I love it.

Thanks.


Well, you can always convert it back to wave losslessly, and I'd say wave is almost certainly future-proof (as long as Microsoft is still making operating systems). As for channels, that's up to sound engineers who mix music. None of your music is future-proof in any format in that regard: most of it is probably stereo, quadraphonic (rare), or 5.1. To get 12.1 would require remastering, which none of us can do without those original tapes.
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ktf
post Dec 26 2012, 22:00
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FLAC supports only 8 channels from it's native container. This was designed like this. If you need more than 8 channels, you should use several FLAC-streams in the OGG container, says the specification. So, more than 8 channels are not a problem at all.

You might find this strange, having to take such a 'detour', but even standardizing the order of 8-channel input seems to be an issue right now, more channels will only behave worse in this aspect. Using several streams in a container might even improve this.

This post has been edited by ktf: Dec 26 2012, 22:03


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