A quick guide on music: how FLAC (MAC) can make things better

This article will give you an insight into how and why FLAC can help you when organizing your music collection, as well as giving you a brief overview of the tools you will need in order to start migrating your music to FLAC.

Let me start out with the basics. FLAC is not for everyone. The majority of people probably won’t be able to tell the difference between a CD and an MP3 file. But if you care about the sound quality of your music collection and you are tired of constantly having to upgrade your computer with extra or new hard drives, FLAC might be the solution that you are looking for. FLAC is a format that allows you to store information within the individual tracks. More after the break.

Simply put, FLAC is a lossless audio format (codec). This compression method allows you to pack CD quality music (also 5.1 surround and 96khz/24bit) in a package almost half the size (average compression 57%).  If you have a laptop and a large collection of music – it can be quite time consuming to move music from your internal hard drive to an external drive, because you constantly run out of space. Luckily, internal 2.5 inch drives are quite big and cheap these days (future post to come about my laptop HD upgrade), nevertheless most laptops only allow one internal hard drive.

Additionally, FLAC allows you to tag your music (just like the MP3’s ID3 tags), so you can easily organize and search within your collection.

So, what do you need?
You simply need 2 programs. One program to import the music and convert the imported files to FLAC files, and another program to play the FLAC files. I know that there are a lot of programs out there, so to make it easier for you I have researched programs that are stable, free and frequently updated. I use them all with great results.

MAC FLAC PROGRAMS
importing/ripping:

For Mac I can recommend xACT for ripping CDs, encoding to FLAC, and tagging your ripped/imported files. This little, amazing toolkit is FREE and is very easy to use. You simply drag and drop your WAV or AIFF file to encode them. You can use the “util” tab to rip your CD collection, the “FLAC tags” to tag your FLACs and last the “lossy” tab is available in case you need to encode your music to an iPod, or other portable device, that does not support the FLAC format.

The Player:
My preferred player is VLC. It reads basically every audio and video format out there (with the exception of real-audio and WMA3). It reads ID3 tags (MP3), Vorbis tags (FLAC), and APEv2 tags. As a nice bonus, VLC is a great movie player as well, it plays both DVDs and a wide range of movie formats – while boosting the volume if you need extra volume on movies with low sound (your Macbook will be able to output much higher volumes with VLC).

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