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Old 01-14-2017, 05:01 PM   #1
GtrsRGr8
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FLAC Support Coming to Chrome and Firefox this Month.

I hope that this forum is the correct place to put a post like the one below. This post has to do with recorded music. Although there is a thread, "Media Deals (non-eBook/non-audiobook)," it is in the "Deals, Freebies, and Resources" forum," and this post doesn't really fall squarely under either one of those rubrics.

The website BleepingComputer.com made a post today that states that two major browsers, Firefox (from Mozilla) and Chrome (from Google) are adding support for the FLAC audio format this month.

I am an almost complete ignoramus when it comes to music and electronics, so I am not quite sure that I know what that means. I use the Google Chrome browser and have had no problem playing FLAC-formatted music. However, I have always played them on external applications like Windows Media Player, iTunes, Groove, etc. after I have downloaded them. Perhaps this new development will allow FLAC music to be played directly in the browsers themselves? I didn't see anything in the BleepingComputer.com post that would shed some light on this--I suppose that they assume that anyone who would actually visit their website would already know that information.

Despite being musically- and electronically-challenged, I do know that FLAC is a very high quality format (one music publisher, at least, calls it "studio quality"). Part of the reason for the high quality, I think, is the fact that it is "lossless"--other formats (e.g., MP3) are "lossy," because they are compressed. There is some slight data (read: music quality) loss because of the compression.

Anyway, if you'd like to read the whole article (it's not very long), you can find it at this BleepingComputer.com webpage.
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Old 01-14-2017, 08:27 PM   #2
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FLAC is also compressed but you're right that it's lossless. MP3 and most compressors use standard compression methods, as does FLAC, but they take it a step farther by discarding sound data which it's hoped the user won't miss. They do this in a very intelligent way and it works pretty well but loss is loss and quality is reduced. How much it's reduced depends on the quality level the user tells it to use when creating the MP3 file.

I grew up listening to music on radios in the 1940's and then in the 50's and 60's the quality of the reproduction got a lot better. I can hear the difference at times in losseless and lossy compression but for the most part I don't notice it. It's all a lot better than I grew up with.

Still, if you have the equipment you might as well have files that can push it. I don't so I'm generally happy with middling MP3 compression.

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Old 01-14-2017, 08:48 PM   #3
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FLAC is also compressed but you're right that it's lossless. MP3 and most compressors use standard compression methods, as does FLAC, but they take it a step farther by discarding sound data which it's hoped the user won't miss. They do this in a very intelligent way and it works pretty well but loss is loss and quality is reduced. How much it's reduced depends on the quality level the user tells it to use when creating the MP3 file.

I grew up listening to music on radios in the 1940's and then in the 50's and 60's the quality of the reproduction got a lot better. I can hear the difference at times in losseless and lossy compression but for the most part I don't notice it. It's all a lot better than I grew up with.

Still, if you have the equipment you might as well have files that can push it. I don't so I'm generally happy with middling MP3 compression.

Barry
I had forgotten how complicated all of that was. I don't remember ever knowing that FLAC was compressed. I'm guessing that it's at such a low level that it can be uncompressed to exactly what quality it was when it was produced (sung, played, whatever) (I guess that that's what lossless means)?

I am not an audiophile. I have fallen into the pattern of being the only one, really, who posts free classical music on the Media (Non-Book/Non-Audiobook thread, in the Deals, Freebies and Bargains forum, though. That's enjoyable.

My "ears" would not be able to detect the difference between an MP3 and a FLAC, I'm pretty sure.

Isn't vinyl considered the medium with optimal sound quality? If so, the media that I use now is inferior to what I used growing up. ha That is, if the record hadn't been scratched, maybe played excessively, etc.

Thanks for your comments.
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Old 01-14-2017, 09:13 PM   #4
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Back when I got my first MP3 player in 2002 memory was expensive. In order to make the most of the available space I ripped my CDs to MP3s at 128kbps. At that rate the song files were fairly small and sound quality was good, but I could hear the difference between the MP3 and the original CD.

These days space is less of a concern. I usually rip MP3s at a variable rate of around 256kbps. The song files are larger but the music quality is very, very good. I have a very difficult time telling the MP3 from the CD -- if I can do it at all.

I also rip CDs to an external drive. I rip to the uncompressed, lossless WAV format -- mostly because I always have, and WAV is still a little better supported than FLAC. FLAC files are smaller than WAV files, and both are lossless, but large capacity hard drives are much less expensive than they used to be.


I use Firefox and I'm interested in seeing how FLAC will be supported. I don't think it's going to make any difference to how I store music, but I'm assuming it will offer better quality streaming music -- at the cost of additional bandwidth.


BTW, just to keep this semi on topic, I also listen to spoken-word podcasts. For these, MP3s at 64kbps is more than "good enough." I assume that would also be the case for most audiobooks. So, if you listened to a streaming audiobook, FLAC would give a much higher quality sound, but I really think it would be overkill.

Last edited by cromag; 01-14-2017 at 09:24 PM.
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Old 01-14-2017, 10:09 PM   #5
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My "ears" would not be able to detect the difference between an MP3 and a FLAC, I'm pretty sure.
Your ears probably could, if you knew what to listen for. The difference is in the little details, like plosives in speech, or high frequency details like cymbals. Weirdly, the biggest difference I found was in pops and ticks in music record from vinyl. Encoding in MP3 made them sound like tin-foil being crushed.

The differences are small, though, and probably not worth worrying about.
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Old 01-14-2017, 10:30 PM   #6
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For people who don't know the difference WAV files are CBR (Constant Bit Rate) and FLAC is VBR (Variable Bit Rate). What this means is WAV includes all frequencies whether they have sound or not, FLAC discards the frequencies not being used.
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Old 01-15-2017, 05:21 AM   #7
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For people who don't know the difference WAV files are CBR (Constant Bit Rate) and FLAC is VBR (Variable Bit Rate). What this means is WAV includes all frequencies whether they have sound or not, FLAC discards the frequencies not being used.
It is true that FLAC has a VBR. It is not true that FLAC discards any frequencies. The output of a FLAC decoder is bit-for-bit identical to the input to the FLAC encoder.
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Old 01-15-2017, 06:00 AM   #8
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The variable bit rate would be because some sections compress better than others, I guess.
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Old 01-15-2017, 03:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by GtrsRGr8 View Post
I had forgotten how complicated all of that was. I don't remember ever knowing that FLAC was compressed. I'm guessing that it's at such a low level that it can be uncompressed to exactly what quality it was when it was produced (sung, played, whatever) (I guess that that's what lossless means)?
Basically. It works like ZIP compression, but especially optimized for music.

Let's say you do this:

A --zip--> B --unzip--> C.

Then A and C will be exactly the same, bit for bit.

If you do this:

A (wave) --make mp3--> B (mp3) --reconvert to WAV--> C (wav)

Then, because creating the MP3 throws data away, A will be of better quality than C.

FLAC works like the ZIP-method. It throws nothing away, and you can go from WAV to FLAC and back as often as you like. You can even go from WAV to FLAC and then to any other lossless format and back to WAV again at any point, and you still get exactly the same WAV as you started out with.

Quote:
My "ears" would not be able to detect the difference between an MP3 and a FLAC, I'm pretty sure.
Mine can't either, if the MP3 is 192 kbps or higher. The reason I use FLAC though, is so I can reconvert to any other lossless format in the future, if necessary, without losing any quality.

Quote:
Isn't vinyl considered the medium with optimal sound quality?
No, it's not optimal. It can be scientifically proven that a CD can attain a much higher sound quality than an LP record. However, there are several reasons why people like vinyl more.

1. They just like the sound signature better. (They *do* sound different from a CD.)
2. Ever heard of the loudness wars, where CD's are remastered at extremely loud levels? That destroys the music. All soft/loud peaks are gone, and some music actually distorts. You can push digital music to MUCH higher levels than an LP. At some point, it's just not physically possible to make the LP louder. Therefore, an LP can't be destroyed (as much) as a CD when pushing loudness.
3. And then there are the people who always think everything was better 'back then'.

If you think that 'all' LP's sound better than 'all' CD's, always and without question, then you either fall into groups 1 or 3, or you just never heard a properly mastered CD.

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Originally Posted by DrNefario View Post
The variable bit rate would be because some sections compress better than others, I guess.
Yes. Silence can be compressed pretty well. An orchestra can't. Therefore very low bitrates are used for silence, and high bitrates are used for the orchestra.

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Old 01-15-2017, 06:10 PM   #10
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(most consumer) CD's have sampling imposed limits 44.2KHz. HARD cutoff ~20K/ch

Vinyl roll off . CD4 (Discrete Quad) used a sub-carrier (system (similar to that of FM Stereo) for the rear channels. Vinyl could handle much higher frequencies.

If you can hear above 18KHz, you will miss the overtones on CD's (usually Classical orchestras. Think Triangle chimes)

CD's excel in low noise, NO 'print through' (adjacent track deformation) and 1 Hour playing time per side

Note: I own (media and playback equipment)
Open Reel Tape: Quad and Stereo
CD4, SQ , QS Quad Vinyl
Loads of Stereo and Mono Vinyl (33-1/2, 45 I think there is even a 78 in there somewhere)
Laser Discs
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Old 01-15-2017, 07:13 PM   #11
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If you can hear above 18KHz, you will miss the overtones on CD's (usually Classical orchestras. Think Triangle chimes)
If you can hear above 18 KHz, then you have exceptional hearing. In the past I could hear at least to 18.5 KHz. That was where the test equipment (headphone) capped out. That was 15 years ago. My vision is very poor, but I hear (or at least, heard) like a bat. I still hear a lot better (by a *wide* margin) than all the people I know, both younger and older than me, even though I'm not 18 anymore.

I've just ran a frequency sweep on my laptop, and in the low 15 KHz range, it just stops sounding. It could be that it's me not being able to hear the frequency anymore, but the laptop capping out at around 15 KHz is also a distinct possibility. I'll have to attach either my Senn headphones or Shure earbuds. They both can go higher.

Thus even *if* you can hear above 18 KHz, it's not even certain that your equipment will be able to reproduce it.

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Old 01-15-2017, 08:45 PM   #12
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Unfortunately I have had a partial hearing loss since I was nineteen. I am unable to tell the difference between flac and mp3s.
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Old 01-15-2017, 09:20 PM   #13
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Thus even *if* you can hear above 18 KHz, it's not even certain that your equipment will be able to reproduce it.
I could hear the Horizontal Oscillator in US TV flyback circuits (thru closed doors, even with no sound)

Oh my Yes, My rig has always been up to this. 20Hz-22KHz +/-3db 97dbS{L 1w
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Old 01-18-2017, 12:56 PM   #14
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I could hear the Horizontal Oscillator in US TV flyback circuits (thru closed doors, even with no sound)

Oh my Yes, My rig has always been up to this. 20Hz-22KHz +/-3db 97dbS{L 1w
I would like to 'comment' on your 'rig', but I'm too much of a nice guy.

I just bought the DSD64-DSF audio of "After Silence," by Andre Heuvelman, from Sound Liaison for only 10 pounds ($12.30 USD).

They offer incredible-sounding high-resolution audio; and right now, their offerings are 50% off.

This DSD will blow your socks off (for any old-timey members here who still wear socks). If not your socks, then it will unravel your bow-tie and cause your Brill creamed hair to unfurl and fall out at the roots. Yes, indeed.

Highly, highly recommended, even for those lucky enough to own a SME Series V tonearm, or a VPI HR-X turntable (which I don't have, but have heard).

Warm, rich, detailed......My DAP is running out of room (unfortunately), so I may need to look at Cary Audio (or OPPO) for a streamer solution.
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Old 01-18-2017, 04:25 PM   #15
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<snip>
I just bought the DSD64-DSF audio of "After Silence," by Andre Heuvelman, from Sound Liaison for only 10 pounds ($12.30 USD).

They offer incredible-sounding high-resolution audio; and right now, their offerings are 50% off.
<snip>
I thought about making some kind of re-post on the Media Deals (Non-Eboook/Non Audiobook) thread in the Deals, Freebies, Resources forum about this sale that you mentioned. Sounds like a good one. However, the prices are about 50% higher than the prices that I prefer to pay (i.e., free. ha). I've bookmarked the site, however.

We've been having a lot of success finding free classical music, although relatively little of it is a complete album, or of better quality than MP3 (one company actually provides entire free FLAC albums once a month, however). Too, I'm on the mailing list of quite a few music publishers/retailers and see sales of up to 50% off occasionally; sales of 30% or so off are pretty frequent. It would just get to be too much work to post all of those and, too, it seems like it would cause the thread to seem very cluttered.

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