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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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From: NT, Australia
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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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leo-bogert
post Dec 14 2012, 17:03
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I am planning long-term archiving of my audio files as well.

I wanted to be dead-sure that the encoding process is flawless and that decoding the files in the future will work.
For being more sure about this than with just using the naked flac encoder, I developed perfect-flac-encode, a completely paranoid flac encoding script.
It does a lot more than encoding:
CODE
1. It checks the EAC LOG to make sure that AccurateRip reported a flawless rip.
2. It uses shntool len to check for any of the following problems with the input WAV:
    * Data is not CD quality
    * Data is not cut on a sector boundary
    * Data is too short to be burned
    * Header is not canonical
    * Contains extra RIFF chunks
    * Contains an ID3v2 header
    * Audio data is not block‐aligned
    * Header is inconsistent about data size and/or file size
    * File is truncated
    * File has junk appended to it
3. It checks whether the Test and Copy CRC in the EAC LOG match.
4. It computes the EAC CRC of the input WAV image and checks whether it matches the Copy CRC in the EAC LOG.
5. It computes the AccurateRip checksums of the splitfiles which it has created and compares them with the ones from the EAC LOG.
6. It re-joins the singletrack files to an image and compares the checksum with the checksum of the original image from EAC to make sure that it would be possible to burn an identical CD again.
7. It encodes the singletracks to FLAC with very carefully chosen settings. The full manpage of FLAC was read by me when chosing the settings.
8. It runs flac --test on each singletrack which makes FLAC test the integrity of the file.
9. It decodes each singletrack to WAV again and compares the checksums with the checksums of the original WAV splitfiles.

Notice that everything which would be needed to restore the original input WAV image is tested by actually doing it in temporary directories. Decompressing the FLACs, joining the singletracks to an image, etc.

Further notice that it is still in the beta phase and shall not be used for production yet.
But I work on it every second day and plan to finish it within the next month.
I have over 40 commits in the pipeline for the next beta version.

Once it is finished, I will run my existing collection of >200 WAV images through it for testing (and migrating from WavPack to FLAC).

Here is the thread of perfect-flac-encode, subscribe to it for being updated about the development.

This post has been edited by leo-bogert: Dec 14 2012, 17:14
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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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