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lossless clarification

I do not know much about lossless compression but I was under the impression that lossless was no different than mp3/mpc/aac etc except that it was the closest quality to the original CD.

But I just read a comparison of lossless to zip files whereas all the original information is there, it is just compressed (but no information is removed).  So in other words it is no different than playing the CD...except that you save up to half of the size.

Can someone clarify for me that lossless is a compression scheme like a zip where ALL the original sound is in the file?  OR is it more complicated than this?

Also, does anyone know of a good tutorial for digital audio newbies like myself on lossless audio?


lossless clarification

Reply #1
lossless == no loss == exactly the same

So, yes, lossless formats are completely lossless. You can decode a losslessly encoded WAV file to the same WAV file again.

FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. Grossly oversimplified, FLAC is similar to MP3, but lossless, meaning that audio is compressed in FLAC without any loss in quality. This is similar to how Zip works, except with FLAC you will get much better compression because it is designed specifically for audio, and you can play back compressed FLAC files in your favorite player (or your car or home stereo, see links to the right for supported devices) just like you would an MP3 file.
"To understand me, you'll have to swallow a world." Or maybe your words.

lossless clarification

Reply #2
You are correct, lossless formats are pretty much equivlent to zip.  What you put in is EXACTLY what you get out (try diff or md5, it should say the input wav and output wav file are equal).  The difference is metadata (comments for artist and album and such), better compession for audio data than zip/rar, fast decoding, and fast seeking.

lossless clarification

Reply #3
AWESOME...I guess my quest at figuring out what format I want is over...Lossless it is...oh crap which lossless codec though  LOL

lossless clarification

Reply #4
AWESOME...I guess my quest at figuring out what format I want is over...Lossless it is...oh crap which lossless codec though  LOL
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FLAC is the most supported (in hardware devices and such), and has excellent encode and decode times.  It's also the only lossless codec currently supported by the matroska container (though wavpack support should be coming VERY soon).

WavPack (usually) has slightly better compression (usually in my music the difference between flac --best and wavPack is between 2-4%).  It also has a hybrid mode:

The hybrid mode provides all the advantages of lossless compression with an additional bonus. Instead of creating a single file, this mode creates both a relatively small, high-quality lossy file that can be used all by itself, and a "correction" file that (when combined with the lossy file) provides full lossless restoration. For some users this means never having to choose between lossless and lossy compression!

Apple Lossless Audio Compression (ALAC) aproximatly equivlent compression ratios and times with flac at 5 or 6.  It's good if you use itunes and have an iPod.  However it's difficult to transcode to another format and keep tags.

Look around and try some out, then decide what you want to use yourself 

lossless clarification

Reply #5
Thanks for your suggestions. Tagging is important for me so I might be happier with Flac especially since it is better supported (as you suggest).  I also see that the majority of people here use it (going by the poll I just saw)...and it's free which I like.


lossless clarification

Reply #6
Lossless it is...oh crap which lossless codec though  LOL[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Looks like you've got plenty of reading ahead of you.

[a href="]MPEG-4 Audio Lossless Coding (ALS)[/url]
First Principles
Compression and speed comparison of lossless audio formats (Hans van der Heijden)
HA Wiki
Performance comparison of lossless audio compressors (Wim Speekenbrink)
this very forum

And then of course, there are the different codecs themselves, of which the most important ones are:
Monkey's Audio
Don't forget about Apple Lossless (ALAC) and WMA Lossless, which don't have a proper homepage.

To give you an idea of how widely each of them are used and favoured by HA members, have a look at this poll. In the wild, being outside HA, you'll see that Shorten is nonetheless still widespread.

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