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Best Audio Format for Archiving Music Long-Term?, Is FLAC really my best choice?
Cyba.Cowboy
post Dec 10 2012, 01:37
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Until recently, I have been ripping all of my CDs in MP3 format, however I’ve recently been ripping them into FLAC format so that I have the best quality, and also so that the CDs can be put into long-term storage…
The main reason I chose FLAC – aside from the fact that it’s a lossless format – is because Sony’s Media Go software can rip into FLAC, and convert from it (on a side note, if you haven’t tried Media Go, you’re missing out – it’s probably the best Windows-compatible alternative to Apple’s iTunes).


But before I get too carried away though – we have a LOT of CDs in our household and I’ve only just started re-ripping all of them – if FLAC really the best option?


With regards to the desktop, we use Microsoft Windows 8 (don’t believe the bad publicity – it’s fantastic!) and although unlikely, there’s a small possibility we may buy a single Apple computer in the future (the wife wants one, specifically for the kid’s schoolwork)… Windows will also be the primary operating system in the foreseeable future, however.

In terms of mobile devices, we’ll almost always buy Sony products, with Android being the most common mobile operating system – also in use is BlackBerry OS (which much to my surprise, natively supports FLAC!) and Windows Phone 8, with a small possibility of BlackBerry 10 being used upon release.

Going forwards, our mobile device use is likely to be a combination of Android and Windows Phone 8 OR BlackBerry 10 (the majority of the family is running Android, however I am currently trialling a number of alternatives as I am unhappy with the usage times and certain other aspects of Android)…

For gaming, we primarily use PlayStation products, though the wife and kids have been bugging me for an Xbox 360 for a while now, so it’s likely we’ll get one of these in the near future – going forwards, our gaming will most likely revolve around PlayStation and Xbox, as we don’t really use the Nintendo products we have very often.

Finally, I am a perfectionist when it comes to metadata – I’ve gotta have it all perfect, with album artwork – and I am very anti-Apple... I simply will not use Apple products unless there is no viable alternative (thus far I’ve always been able to work around the “iWorld” we live in with minimal effort and expense).


My biggest concern is the availability and support of a lossless codec in the long-term future.
FLAC and Apple Lossless are both Open Source, which means that in theory they should be supported for a long time to come… But certain other Open Source formats (the “OpenDocument” formats being the most obvious example) have not lasted the test of time, nor gained widespread adoption – FLAC is a good example of this, as there are very few devices that natively support the format.

Microsoft’s Windows Media formats have generally held-up well against the competition in terms of quality, and despite minimal adoption by the market, Microsoft has continued to support virtually all of the various Windows Media formats… But Microsoft have clearly lost at least some confidence in the formats, as they no longer actively promote any of these formats.

I actually went looking to try and identify the market share for all of the lossless codecs, but was unable to turn-up any positive results…


So, taking all of this into consideration, is FLAC really the best choice for the long-term preservation of my music collection? Or am I better off looking at something like Windows Media Lossless, Apple Lossless or something else?
What do major radio stations use to archive their vast music collections, and it is something that’s viable for a middle-class personal user?
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andrewfg
post Dec 10 2012, 17:18
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QUOTE (Cyba.Cowboy @ Dec 10 2012, 01:37) *
But before I get too carried away though – ... – if FLAC really the best option?


You could always rip to WAV (or AIF)...

Both are lossless and not compressed (so you don't need a fancy algorithm to read them). AIF stores the pure sample bytes big-little and WAV stores them little-big, and that is basically the only difference.

Almost all control point softwares (and operating systems) can understand WAV (even iTunes can do it), and most can also understand AIF. And of course they can transcode them to whatever else format you could dream of.

You need to check which portable devices can support which formats. But if you drive the player via UPnP/DLNA then even this is not a limitation.

Both WAV and AIF, in addition to the regular music data boxes, can also contain metadata boxes for your tags.

The "big" issue with WAV or AIF used to be the price of hard disks. Bu frankly they are getting so cheap, that it seems hardly a big deal any more.

And for audio purists, the advantage of WAV or AIF are that they are "flat", so every sample is exactly the same size, there is minimal CPU processing involved (perhaps a byte order swap), and even that minimal processing runs smooth without peaks and troughs.

Just my 2c...


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AndrewFG (Whitebear -- http://www.whitebear.ch/mediaserver )
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probedb
post Dec 14 2012, 12:01
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QUOTE (andrewfg @ Dec 10 2012, 16:18) *
And for audio purists, the advantage of WAV or AIF are that they are "flat", so every sample is exactly the same size, there is minimal CPU processing involved (perhaps a byte order swap), and even that minimal processing runs smooth without peaks and troughs.


Erm, which decade of computing are you in that you think decoding FLAC even remotely taxes even an embedded CPU?
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andrewfg
post Dec 14 2012, 16:42
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QUOTE (probedb @ Dec 14 2012, 12:01) *
Erm, which decade of computing are you in that you think decoding FLAC even remotely taxes even an embedded CPU?


Two answers:

1) note that I prefaced my post with the words "and for audio purists" -- there are many of those out there who still believe they can hear the difference...
2) and to give you a concrete example: the Squeezebox Radio (for example) is not able to decode flac at 192kbps, 24bit, 2ch



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yourlord
post Dec 14 2012, 18:19
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QUOTE (andrewfg @ Dec 14 2012, 10:42) *
and to give you a concrete example: the Squeezebox Radio (for example) is not able to decode flac at 192kbps, 24bit, 2ch


I would suspect this is more a limitation of their firmware decoder than a problem with the processing overhead..

It can decode mp3, Vorbis, and AAC, all of which require a LOT more computational power to decode than FLAC, even at absurdly high resolution and sample rates.


Also, as far as support.. A great number of mid-to-high end A/V receiver brands support FLAC natively including Pioneer, Denon, Onkyo, etc.

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Posts in this topic
- Cyba.Cowboy   Best Audio Format for Archiving Music Long-Term?   Dec 10 2012, 01:37
- - Apesbrain   QUOTE (Cyba.Cowboy @ Dec 9 2012, 19:37) I...   Dec 10 2012, 02:56
- - saratoga   QUOTE (Cyba.Cowboy @ Dec 9 2012, 20:37) M...   Dec 10 2012, 03:32
- - twostar   If you want the best quality and you've only s...   Dec 10 2012, 04:38
|- - garym   QUOTE (twostar @ Dec 9 2012, 21:38) If yo...   Dec 10 2012, 13:42
- - Porcus   You will be able to decode and therefore convert l...   Dec 10 2012, 14:20
- - Nessuno   QUOTE (Cyba.Cowboy @ Dec 10 2012, 01:37) ...   Dec 10 2012, 15:55
|- - yourlord   QUOTE (Nessuno @ Dec 10 2012, 09:55) Ther...   Dec 10 2012, 17:47
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (yourlord @ Dec 10 2012, 17:47) As ...   Dec 10 2012, 20:54
|- - yourlord   You'll note the "I" in my post   Dec 10 2012, 21:52
- - Dynamic   As you're enjoy ease-of-use and minimal config...   Dec 10 2012, 16:45
- - andrewfg   QUOTE (Cyba.Cowboy @ Dec 10 2012, 01:37) ...   Dec 10 2012, 17:18
|- - BFG   I asked a similar question a couple weeks ago when...   Dec 10 2012, 17:35
|- - DonP   QUOTE (andrewfg @ Dec 10 2012, 11:18) Bot...   Dec 10 2012, 17:39
||- - andrewfg   QUOTE (DonP @ Dec 10 2012, 17:39) I gener...   Dec 10 2012, 20:20
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (andrewfg @ Dec 10 2012, 12:18) Alm...   Dec 11 2012, 01:14
||- - pawelq   QUOTE (saratoga @ Dec 10 2012, 20:14) Car...   Dec 26 2012, 19:54
||- - Porcus   QUOTE (pawelq @ Dec 26 2012, 19:54) A few...   Dec 27 2012, 02:39
|- - probedb   QUOTE (andrewfg @ Dec 10 2012, 16:18) And...   Dec 14 2012, 12:01
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (probedb @ Dec 14 2012, 12:01) QUOT...   Dec 14 2012, 16:04
|- - andrewfg   QUOTE (probedb @ Dec 14 2012, 12:01) Erm,...   Dec 14 2012, 16:42
|- - DonP   QUOTE (andrewfg @ Dec 14 2012, 10:42) 1) ...   Dec 14 2012, 17:39
|- - yourlord   QUOTE (andrewfg @ Dec 14 2012, 10:42) and...   Dec 14 2012, 18:19
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (andrewfg @ Dec 14 2012, 11:42) 1) ...   Dec 14 2012, 19:05
|- - polemon   QUOTE (saratoga @ Dec 14 2012, 19:05) Lot...   Dec 25 2012, 23:59
|- - EddievV   QUOTE (saratoga @ Dec 14 2012, 12:05) Wha...   Dec 26 2012, 16:11
|- - maikmerten   QUOTE (EddievV @ Dec 26 2012, 16:11) I ca...   Dec 26 2012, 16:37
||- - garym   QUOTE (maikmerten @ Dec 26 2012, 09:37) Q...   Dec 26 2012, 17:06
||- - EddievV   QUOTE (garym @ Dec 26 2012, 11:06) QUOTE ...   Dec 27 2012, 16:48
||- - [JAZ]   QUOTE (EddievV @ Dec 27 2012, 16:48) So W...   Dec 27 2012, 17:52
|- - julf   QUOTE (EddievV @ Dec 26 2012, 16:11) My c...   Dec 27 2012, 17:54
- - zima   QUOTE (Cyba.Cowboy @ Dec 10 2012, 02:37) ...   Dec 10 2012, 22:58
- - zima   QUOTE (Cyba.Cowboy @ Dec 10 2012, 01:37) ...   Dec 13 2012, 18:42
|- - BFG   QUOTE (zima @ Dec 13 2012, 11:42) PS. Che...   Dec 13 2012, 19:27
|- - andrewfg   QUOTE (zima @ Dec 13 2012, 18:42) Checkin...   Dec 14 2012, 16:51
- - leo-bogert   I am planning long-term archiving of my audio file...   Dec 14 2012, 17:03
- - polemon   I realize I'm chiming in pretty late into this...   Dec 14 2012, 18:33
- - Porcus   Recording has exceeded eight channels for decades,...   Dec 26 2012, 03:42
- - saratoga   All modern lossless formats are supported by ffmpe...   Dec 26 2012, 20:09
|- - pawelq   QUOTE (saratoga @ Dec 26 2012, 15:09) All...   Dec 26 2012, 20:27
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (pawelq @ Dec 26 2012, 14:27) QUOTE...   Dec 26 2012, 20:42
|- - pawelq   QUOTE (saratoga @ Dec 26 2012, 14:42) QUO...   Dec 26 2012, 21:43
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (pawelq @ Dec 26 2012, 15:43) OK. I...   Dec 28 2012, 01:42
|- - pawelq   QUOTE (saratoga @ Dec 27 2012, 19:42) Did...   Dec 28 2012, 04:20
- - yourlord   And again one of my main reasons for using FLAC. I...   Dec 26 2012, 22:07
- - Mach-X   As long as rockbox exists NO format will die! ...   Dec 27 2012, 10:23
- - Wombat   QUOTE (EddievV @ Dec 27 2012, 17:48) I fi...   Dec 27 2012, 17:01
|- - Porcus   QUOTE (Wombat @ Dec 27 2012, 17:01) QUOTE...   Dec 27 2012, 23:42
|- - garym   QUOTE (Porcus @ Dec 27 2012, 16:42) QUOTE...   Dec 28 2012, 12:53
- - Wombat   QUOTE (Porcus @ Dec 28 2012, 00:42) There...   Dec 28 2012, 00:04
- - Porcus   Not sure if I get your point, but I am not sure if...   Dec 28 2012, 01:02


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