Hydrogenaudio Forums

Lossless Audio Compression => FLAC => Topic started by: eahm on 2012-06-23 18:03:29

Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: eahm on 2012-06-23 18:03:29
I am trying to understand why is FLAC standardizing in the lossless world? Reading here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of...chnical_details (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_audio_formats#Technical_details) isn't True Audio more future proof? All these channels and huge range, isn't it the "best" option for the next "100 years"?

If one day everyone will start using FLAC, will there be a way to expand the number of channels available? For expample the "new new" 12.1 Surround System or whatever they will come up with.

Just some thoughts, don't want to get anyone upset, I use FLAC and I love it.

Thanks.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: saratoga on 2012-06-23 19:04:56
If people wanted more channels they'd just update the format. I don't think there is much interest in even multichannel music though.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Debby747 on 2012-06-23 19:26:57
I use and prefer WavPack for its features.

The reason Flac is still the most widely spread lossless compression format
is simply the fact that it is supported by many hardware devices.
I don't know why it is but it is, and it is most of the time the only compatible lossless format (except WAV).

So when you can't play TAKs or TAs or WavPacks on your stereo Hi-Fi or mobile player,
it's hard to justify their use. Not even all software media-libraries fully support those...

Greetings
D.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: lvqcl on 2012-06-23 19:51:14
Why care about future? FLAC is lossless and DRM-free so it can be converted (easily!) to any format of choice if necessary.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: felix26591 on 2012-06-23 20:39:35
I don't know about the channels, but flac is in constant development. FLAC has become standard, one because it's open-source, two it's future proof, you will always be able to find a FLAC decoder and all future FLAC decoders are backwards compatible.

FLAC is excellent, it's versatile, it has very good compression and it encodes very quickly. You can convert it into anything without losing quality and this is the reason everybody is moving to FLAC. It was understandable before that people used mp3, and mp4, the sizes of their hard drives didn't allow for a lossless copy. I can carry my CD collection in lossless in a backup drive and have a high fidelity lossy copy of ogg vorbis or AAC in my phone or in my computer.

Also with FLAC you only have to rip once and you have all the codecs you need, if a new one comes along that you want to convert it too, you can without transcoding lossy to lossy.

Hope that helps.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2012-06-23 20:43:40
I don't know about the channels, but flac is in constant development.

No, it's not, at least not the official reference implementation (http://flac.sourceforge.net/changelog.html). From what I heard the lack of development is quite problematic, for example regarding large file support (>2GB, iirc), among some other missing features/bugs.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: eahm on 2012-06-23 20:48:56
I use and prefer WavPack for its features.

I strongly believe a lossless codec should be ONLY lossless, no other forms/situations.
In my opinion True Audio literally kills the competition.


I don't know about the channels, but flac is in constant development. FLAC has become standard, one because it's open-source, two it's future proof, you will always be able to find a FLAC decoder and all future FLAC decoders are backwards compatible.

FLAC is excellent, it's versatile, it has very good compression and it encodes very quickly. You can convert it into anything without losing quality and this is the reason everybody is moving to FLAC. It was understandable before that people used mp3, and mp4, the sizes of their hard drives didn't allow for a lossless copy. I can carry my CD collection in lossless in a backup drive and have a high fidelity lossy copy of ogg vorbis or AAC in my phone or in my computer.

Also with FLAC you only have to rip once and you have all the codecs you need, if a new one comes along that you want to convert it too, you can without transcoding lossy to lossy.

Hope that helps.

Yes, I do the same as well and you didn't get my question. What you are trying to annoyingly explain is easily doable with other lossless codecs, my question was why FLAC since mathematically speaking there are better lossless codecs.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: skamp on 2012-06-23 21:07:21
In my opinion True Audio literally kills the competition.


Technically speaking, TAK rules all, IMO. It's (much) faster and compresses (significantly) better than pretty much anything else that's remotely comparable. But being closed source with very little support and no hope for progress on those fronts, it has no chance whatsoever of becoming a "standard" (a codec/format being very different from, say, music playback software, e.g. foobar2000).
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: lvqcl on 2012-06-23 21:08:07
IMO a codec that supports 4GHz samplerate is not better than a codec that support 'only' 655kHz.
Also, FLAC is very fast to decode.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: db1989 on 2012-06-23 21:28:38
I use and prefer WavPack for its features.
I strongly believe a lossless codec should be ONLY lossless, no other forms/situations.

Should we assume you’re referring to hybrid mode? Debby747 didn’t name any specific features, including that. Or do you just mean that compression time and so forth do not matter, as long as maximal compression ratio and the ability to support hugely inflated sampling rates, bit-depths, etc. are in place?

Either way, it’s probably good that you aren’t in a place to arbitrate over what codecs can and cannot do! Being lossless is of course the main factor, but why would you proscribe other options and benefits? That you don’t use them isn’t sufficient justification.

Quote
Yes, I do the same as well and you didn't get my question. What you are trying to annoyingly explain is easily doable with other lossless codecs, my question was why FLAC since mathematically speaking there are better lossless codecs.

What you are trying to annoyingly ask(!) is easily answered, since the (quasi-)mass-market niche for a lossless codec is incredibly small and was first entered by FLAC, making it the victor by default. Of course, this might change with the advent of ALAC, but it still seems that very few people care about lossless compression anyway. And those who do are probably just going to settle for whichever codec has the most support – which usually isn’t much in relative terms – anyway.

And again, the ability to support contrived parameters or combinations thereof is not the best metric of a codec’s performance. Look at features that are (much) more relevant in real use cases, or the level of active development. The latter is something with which FLAC could be more legitimately criticised, for instance.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-23 21:50:30
If I were dictator and could order specifications for The Next Universal Lossless Audio Codec, I can think of a quite a few improvements, but let me rather offer my $2e–02 on the 'why FLAC is standardizing' (which I am not sure will be true for forever, given the power of The New Microsoft with the fruity logo and name).

First: there need not be any 'good' reason why one product dominates over another market-wise. And especially not here, where compatibility is more or less everything as soon as features are 'good enough'. If N equally good codecs share the market evenly, that is most likely an unstable equilibrium. Whichever gets the upper hand (even if just by coincidence) will have better chances of growing quicker. And when concerns 'good enough' ... that TTA can sample at 4 GHz is certainly nothing compared to compatibility.

Some time ago, I tried to start a thread asking why these formats came about – which problems did they set out to solve?
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=79491 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=79491) Didn't really find the answers.


I would suppose that the main reason for FLAC's success, is being at the right place doing the right thing at the right time. And I can only guess that parts of this 'right thing', were
- optimized for decoding speed. Ten years ago, I think that was fairly important (and maybe even today for portable devices): it didn't require much CPU load. (AFAIK, no codec improved over FLAC on both compression and speed simultaneously until TAK, am I right?)
- licensing. Free, could be used in any device.
- quite future-proof feature-wise, at least for quite a few years' horizon. (Compare to Shorten and WAV ... and their tagging ...)
- good enough compression ratio. I mean, most don't even use the –8 switch.
And the right place, would be under the wings of Xiph, who had gained a reputation after doing Vorbis at the time when manufacturers were worried about licensing costs for MP3.


Compare to the competition at (approximately) that time: WavPack (1998) and Monkey's (2000?) decoded slower, and not to mention the closed-sourcers LA (2002) and OptimFrog (2003). LPAC was also closed source, and not to mention WMA Lossless, which was release at a time where Microsoft was getting knocked big time for their attempts at locking-in, and at the same time everything DRM-enabled was getting the middle finger big time. Meridian Lossless has some market though, on physical media, but has never target the 'decode yourself' market.



I have to say though, that I don't really understand why WavPack didn't catch on, being so early available. Though I don't know what features it had back in last century.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: 2012 on 2012-06-23 21:55:14
I don't know about the channels, but flac is in constant development.

No, it's not, at least not the official reference implementation (http://flac.sourceforge.net/changelog.html). From what I heard the lack of development is quite problematic, for example regarding large file support (>2GB, iirc), among some other missing features/bugs.


Wrong link, the right one
http://git.xiph.org/?p=flac.git;a=summary (http://git.xiph.org/?p=flac.git;a=summary)

Also:
http://git.xiph.org/?p=flac.git&a=sear...mit&s=large (http://git.xiph.org/?p=flac.git&a=search&h=HEAD&st=commit&s=large)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: db1989 on 2012-06-23 22:26:27
First: there need not be any 'good' reason why one product dominates over another market-wise. And especially not here, where compatibility is more or less everything as soon as features are 'good enough'. If N equally good codecs share the market evenly, that is most likely an unstable equilibrium. Whichever gets the upper hand (even if just by coincidence) will have better chances of growing quicker. And when concerns 'good enough' ... that TTA can sample at 4 GHz is certainly nothing compared to compatibility.
[…]
I would suppose that the main reason for FLAC's success, is being at the right place doing the right thing at the right time. And I can only guess that parts of this 'right thing', were
[…]

This was pretty much exactly what I meant in the second part of my above post, which was probably too brief/vague, so thanks for substantiating.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-23 22:49:07
(AFAIK, no codec improved over FLAC on both compression and speed simultaneously until TAK, am I right?)

If you mean encoding speed vs. compression, then no, not really; though this is a moving target.

MAC is pretty swift at its lowest compression which is generally stronger than flac at its most aggressive settings.  WavPack also fares better than flac by virtue of it being stronger at compression as well, though not as fast as MAC for compression levels where it can compete.  TAK generally does a faster job than MAC at encoding at the weaker end of where they share common compression levels.  Once TAK is configured to encode aggressively, its speed drops substantially, more so than MAC the last time I looked at data, but things may have changed since then.  WavPack's encoding speed drops even more sharply.

When you take it into perspective, however, we're only talking about a 2% improvement in compression over flac at -6 at which point flac begins to lose efficiency.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: IgorC on 2012-06-23 23:22:18
Technically speaking, TAK rules all, IMO. It's (much) faster and compresses (significantly) better than pretty much anything else that's remotely comparable.

Is  3% compression gain  significantly  better? ( TAK vs FLAC)
Less than 3% for profiles with the same decoding speed.
An encoding speed isn't issue with today hardware. I don't see anybody talking about speed issues and FLAC. Not even closer.

People prefer TAK less and less
2012 ripping/encoding general poll (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=92660)
2011 ripping/encoding general poll (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=86830)

LA is better than FLAC by laughable  5.3%.  Big unbelievable deal?
http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison...sion&Desc=0 (http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison/lossless/index.asp?Sort=Compression&Desc=0)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-23 23:28:04
(AFAIK, no codec improved over FLAC on both compression and speed simultaneously until TAK, am I right?)

If you mean encoding speed vs. compression well it's a moving target, so no, not really.


Decoding speed and compression. And by 'both [...] simultaneously', I meant offering not both higher decoding rate in one setting and better compression in another, but a setting where your files both (I) smaller and (II) decode faster. A Pareto improvement, that is: one that is better for any trade-off over those two parameters.

As an example (now I dug to find one that isn't TAK): in Josef Pohm's test, http://synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison/jos...Rate&Desc=1 (http://synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison/josef/index.asp?Sort=DecodeRate&Desc=1) , there is – apart from YALAC née TAK – one and only one way to improve over one and only one FLAC setting: MP4 ALS - Garf -a -o4 Pareto-improves over flac -3.


And of course there is the test at flac.sourceforge.net, which is hardly neutral ground, but shows performance on slow hardware (... how fast a CPU does a portable player have these days?)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-23 23:49:29
MAC at it's weakest setting compresses better than flac at its strongest setting, so there is no way to make a comparison.  The same is true for other compressors such as TrueAudio which itself is very fast.

Furthermore, flac may still decode faster than TAK at any setting.  If this hasn't changed then there is no arbitrary line to be drawn for any comparison.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: yourlord on 2012-06-24 01:01:50
FLAC was early on the scene. Performance is good enough. Royalty free. BSD licensed libraries.
FREE is part of the name.

Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Takla on 2012-06-24 01:13:20
Some other factors which imo made/make for widespread adoption:

FLAC is not only open source but is available with simple installers and/or really easy to follow instructions for lots of different OS.  This is hugely important for less technical users and of course for distributors and vendors.  Anyone who wants to offer FLAC to consumers/purchasers doesn't want to be spending much time with support queries.

Another important factor is easy and flexible metadata handling.  FLAC is as easy to use as any codec can be, and so is metaflac with and its simple, adaptable key pair tag format. If you want to integrate a lossless codec into rippers, library managers, taggers, players, scripts, devices etc. then free, easy and convenient is a pretty good combination.

Looking back at early large capacity portable/personal players it's hard to see what other lossless format would have been considered by manufacturers who were significant at the time, such as Rio or iRiver.  Portable lossless playback capability was probably never important for more than a tiny minority but it was a feature that always gained very positive reviews and generated interest.

I also find it very hard to imagine record labels being keen to pay patent licensing fees and maybe even per CPU or per server software licenses when there is a high quality, gratis, liberally licensed equivalent that their customers know about and want to use.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: eahm on 2012-06-24 01:54:29
I am not talking about speed, compression, hardware support, software support, just features. Can everything in the audio world (DTS, Dolby, Studio production, DJ/Mixing, Sharing) be used in the FLAC codec? No. What about True Audio since the range of its features is so big? Yes? This I don't know.

I completely understand these are all extremely important factors to determine which codec will become the standard but if we have to change again in 10 years why don't everyone picks the "most complete one"? This was my thought.

People get angry, please try to understand English is my third language, sometimes I invert words and you may get something else other than what I really wanted to say, sorry about this.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Takla on 2012-06-24 02:52:13
That's fine but most people, even music lovers and audio equipment hobbyists, just don't care about surround sound, are not involved in music production and aren't DJs.  Multi channel audio has been heavily promoted to domestic buyers/listeners several times since the 1970s and it's still the case that hardly anyone cares enough about it to buy SACD discs or players, just like they didn't buy Quadraphonic equipment or DVD-A.  But they did buy many millions of radio cassette players and Walkmans, then radio CD players and CD Walkmans, and then iPods and similar.  And how exactly do you promote the benefits of high fidelity multichannel playback to people who listen with earbuds?

Even a huge proportion of people who do care a lot about sound quality are content with stereo reproduction, and have also seen numerous formats and expensive next-big-things arrive and then expire over the years.

I think this idea of One Complete Codec has much to do with the human affinity for the mythical complete and universal answer, aka religious type feeling, and not much to do with what actually happens now or is likely to happen in the future.  Probably what will continue to happen is that people involved in audio production will use various formats and codecs that suit their purpose, and people who consume/listen will use other, different, formats and codecs which suit theirs.  The particular formats and codecs will inevitably change but the differences between production and consumption will remain.  A tiny minority of consumers will want the format with all the extra features and the other 99.99% of the world will want something that sounds good (stereo without obvious artefacts is good enough), and works on their iPod and in the car and at home, and which they can easily share with their friends and family.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: skamp on 2012-06-24 08:53:58
Is  3% compression gain  significantly  better? ( TAK vs FLAC)

If compression factor is a priority, then yes.

An encoding speed isn't issue with today hardware. I don't see anybody talking about speed issues and FLAC. Not even closer.

If your point is that FLAC is fast enough for most people, then I agree.

People prefer TAK less and less

Like I said. The way things are, TAK can't possibly grow its user base to the point of dethroning FLAC.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-24 10:57:27
@ Greynol: you don't seem to get the point. I didn't claim – nor did I want to imply that it would be crucial – that FLAC would be unbeatable on each parameter (of the two I would guess were the key ones). Rather, I was saying that there was nothing that would beat it on one without having to sacrifice on another (suppose it were, there would be harder to explain FLAC's relative success). It's a partial ordering (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partial_ordering)) issue.


@ eahm: I do agree with you that 8 channels might not be enough in [fill in number] years. For all that I know, someone might at some point want to deliver the multitrack recordings, 'one track per instrument' style, in a format which specifies the mix but allows for the user to add effects to each. Just to take an example that none of the 'consumer-oriented' lossless formats (to my knowledge) offer. I would guess that the 'next' such format would be a container format which also supports e.g. video, and which would be able to store multiple discrete streams of a certain codec (want 24 channel ALAC? Store three 8-channel streams.).


I don't see anybody talking about speed issues and FLAC. Not even closer.


Not even on portable devices? Even when the CPU can decode in realtime (a must!), then higher effort means lower battery time.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: dumdidum on 2012-06-24 16:35:16
First: there need not be any 'good' reason why one product dominates over another market-wise. And especially not here, where compatibility is more or less everything as soon as features are 'good enough'.

tbh, as an economist, i am a bit offended by your statement. of course, there are good reasons why a product dominates the market despite the presence of competitors. individuals do not roll dice to determine which product to adopt. individual decision-making is not arbitrary, and therefore what is happening in the aggregate isn't arbitrary.

i do agree that once most competing products are "good enough", network effects (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect) and other externalities (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality) become a bigger and bigger part of the story, importantly affecting both consumers' and firms' decisions. nevertheless, we can still explain how a product became number one in the first place while competitors faded into obscurity. for example, various game-theoretic models illustrate how a monopoly can arise out of oligopolistic competition where one firm has a first-mover advantage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-mover_advantage).

Quote
If N equally good codecs share the market evenly, that is most likely an unstable equilibrium. Whichever gets the upper hand (even if just by coincidence) will have better chances of growing quicker.

homogeneous goods (and services) are rare. i think codecs vary significantly and competition between them is imperfect. so, i can very well imagine situations were various codecs all have non-trivial market shares. of course, it's all a question of how narrowly you define the market. but, i think, for reasonable definitions of the relevant market, there can be equilibria in which several codecs own non-trivial shares of the market. look at youtube. they encode videos using no less than three lossy codecs. look at beatport, they offer four different audio formats. bandcamp offers even more. look at the variety of codecs--even lossless ones--employed by HA readers. etc.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Dario on 2012-06-24 16:36:48
Technically speaking, TAK rules all, IMO.

I second this. Simply said, TAK can’t be beaten by any other lossless codec that is currently present. It's a shame that there are no cross-platform binaries. Oh, and the lack of Unicode support it annoying, too.

Technically speaking, TAK rules all, IMO. It's (much) faster and compresses (significantly) better than pretty much anything else that's remotely comparable.

Is  3% compression gain  significantly  better? ( TAK vs FLAC)

The compression gain of TAK over the reference FLAC implementation is something like 6%, not 3%. And 6% is a lot (even 3% is a lot).
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-24 17:28:18
@ Greynol: you don't seem to get the point.
If what you were trying to say was the only development on a asymmetric lossless codec with any visibility since flac was on YALAC/TAK, then yes, you're right.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-24 17:31:07
The compression gain of TAK over the reference FLAC implementation is something like 6%, not 3%.

Link?
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-24 18:04:24
The compression gain of TAK over the reference FLAC implementation is something like 6%, not 3%.

Link?


(Reference) FLAC doesn't fare that well with the particular test corpus at http://synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison/jos...sion&Desc=0 (http://synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison/josef/index.asp?Sort=Compression&Desc=0) , where YALAC (now TAK) yields an almost 8 percent improvement over FLAC -8. This result is at odds with the others I have seen though, but most of us probably don't have a 'representative' music collection.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: IgorC on 2012-06-24 18:21:28
Those are old results (2006)

The last comparison (2008)
http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison...sion&Desc=0 (http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison/lossless/index.asp?Sort=Compression&Desc=0)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-24 18:23:40
Thanks.  I see 6% there, not 8% though.

Re: Old results

IIRC, TAK has continued to sacrifice compression strength for speed since 2008.  Perhaps individual collections might see improvements greater than 3%, but on average I highly doubt it.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: IgorC on 2012-06-24 18:29:06
http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison...sion&Desc=0 (http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison/lossless/index.asp?Sort=Compression&Desc=0)

The highest compression:
TAK p4m  - 1290.33 MiB
FLAC -8 -Ax2 - 1328.08 MiB   

1328.08/1290.33 = 1.029...
aprrox. 3% of filesize reduction
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-24 18:52:34
Those are old results (2006)

The last comparison (2008)
http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison...sion&Desc=0 (http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison/lossless/index.asp?Sort=Compression&Desc=0)


That's a different test corpus than the one I linked to, which is Josef Pohm's study (result hosted by Synthetic Soul).
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-24 18:54:30
That doesn't change the fact that much has changed since then. 
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: IgorC on 2012-06-24 18:57:22
That's a different test corpus than the one I linked to, which is Josef Pohm's study (result hosted by Synthetic Soul).


It's from 2006 while there were two new realeses of FLAC later in  2006/2007 http://flac.sourceforge.net/changelog.html (http://flac.sourceforge.net/changelog.html)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Destroid on 2012-06-24 19:01:10
I'm late to the discussion so I am starting with earlier points in this thread.

I think FLAC is widespread because it had a head-start and probably a decent trademark name (Free Lossless...)

Future-proof is something that is never guaranteed with any software, but since most these lossless codecs are free I remind users the terms of use in the license usually says "author is not liable for any [bad things]"

It was mentioned the high number of multichannel capability is limited. I agree that quadraphonic and A-DVD are a tiny market (in some ways just the same fraction of mass-appeal as wearing 3d glasses in movies). Also, the "each instrument in the orchestra on a separate track" was something I initially thought was interesting until the real problems of software support and updating a huge monolithic file for minor changes to one track, so it seems better to stick with mono files in this regard.

One-codec-for-all is a common quest that I was better off ditching. For me, I can easily distinguish which audio files pertain to which files/projects I work with. I say: use all of them and use them for their individual merits and rule the galaxy.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: TBeck on 2012-06-24 19:19:24
http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison...sion&Desc=0 (http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison/lossless/index.asp?Sort=Compression&Desc=0)

The highest compression:
TAK p4m  - 1290.33 MiB
FLAC -8 -Ax2 - 1328.08 MiB   

1328.08/1290.33 = 1.029...
aprrox. 3% of filesize reduction

Well, TAK doesn't fare that well with this particular test corpus...

TAK will achieve the biggest advantage if the files are highly dynamic and if it can make use of higher predictor orders of it's filters. Both doesnt't apply for the files of this comparison. While the quite old version used in this test could use up to 256 predictors, the files rarely benefited from more than 32.

This comparison rather shows the lower bound of TAK's possible advantage.

The official FLAC Comparison (http://flac.sourceforge.net/comparison_all_ratio.html) contains more files where TAK can use it's stronger filters:

Tak 1.0.3b (insane max): 50.60%
FLAC 1.2.1 (-8): 53.36%

This is quite close to the results of my own music collection. Which surely isn't representative.

But it possibly illustrates, that the results of Synthetic Soul's comparison hardly define the upper bound of TAK's possible advantage.

IIRC, TAK has continued to sacrifice compression strength for speed since 2008.  Perhaps individual collections might see improvements greater than 3%, but on average I highly doubt it.

Well, it's a bit more difficult. Newer versions don't use more than 160 predictors (vs. 256 or more in earlier versions). This way they will loose some compression for those files, where TAK's advantage was the biggest. In exchange average compression improved for those files, where TAK's advantage was small. Overall the average compression has improved for my test sets.

Those are old results (2006)

The last comparison (2008)
http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison...sion&Desc=0 (http://www.synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison/lossless/index.asp?Sort=Compression&Desc=0)


That's a different test corpus than the one I linked to, which is Josef Pohm's study (result hosted by Synthetic Soul).

I don't think Josef Pohm's comparison should be taken into account. It contains many files from lossy sources what leads to some very specific results.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-24 19:51:19
Personally I only care how comparisons fare against each other on my collection or a collection like it.  Short of this, I'm only interested in average results instead of cherry-picking those that make one codec look much better or worse than another.

2-3%, not 6-8%.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: IgorC on 2012-06-24 19:53:04
But it possibly illustrates, that the results of Synthetic Soul's comparison hardly define the upper bound of TAK's possible advantage.


My results are in line with Synthetic Soul's comparison.


Max. compression:
FLAC 1.2.1 -8
TAK 2.2.0 p4m

The results for 16 albums:
14 albums from here http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=761670 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=89208&view=findpost&p=761670)
15. Pink Floyd - Division Bell (rock)
16. Lady GaGa  -The Fame Monster Uncensored (pop)

Bitrate:
FLAC - 872 kbps (5,798,731,761 bytes)
TAK - 843 kbps (5,605,149,806 bytes)


FLAC/TAK = (5,798,731,761 bytes)/(5,605,149,806 bytes) = 103.45% of filesize.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-24 19:54:08
many files from lossy sources


Now that's a good argument.


Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-24 20:03:36
FLAC/TAK = (5,798,731,761 bytes)/(5,605,149,806 bytes) = 103.45% of filesize.

I was going by improvements in compression against the original instead of against each other. With this in mind I can see how a 6% improvement can grow to 8% and that the higher number is more meaningful.

Not feeling terribly sharp today.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-24 20:06:33
@ Destroid: a few good points, although I don't think the headstart can explain why FLAC got the upper hand on the .ape and the .wv, which were earlier.



Apart from that, at the risk of running off-topic:

Future-proof is something that is never guaranteed with any software, but since most these lossless codecs are free I remind users the terms of use in the license usually says "author is not liable for any [bad things]"


That is common regardless of cost, regardless of open/closed source, and regardless of libre/non-libre license.


One-codec-for-all is a common quest that I was better off ditching. For me, I can easily distinguish which audio files pertain to which files/projects I work with. I say: use all of them and use them for their individual merits and rule the galaxy.


Myself, I use WavPack for files ripped from CDs with pre-emphasis – simply because it is different. Yes they are tagged, they have a unique glyph at the end of the file name, but they also have a different file format. Because I want them to be easily distinguishable even if I should accidentally hit some wrong buttons in MP3Tag.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Dario on 2012-06-24 20:21:48
Well, I don’t know what kind of albums you guys use to compare those compression ratios.

I listen mostly to neofolk, and the results I get are quite different than the ones you do. Here’s the compression for the album “Forlatt” by Vàli (if you’re into good acoustic music, you may want to check it out yourself):

reference libFLAC 1.2.1 20070917 with -8: 157.129.638 bytes
TAK 2.2.0 with -p4m: 128.642.073 bytes

do you know how much difference that is (tip: it’s over 20%)? If you don't believe me, I can upload the album so you can check it out yourself. I hope you wouldn’t mind.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: IgorC on 2012-06-24 20:25:26
Well, I don’t know what kind of albums you guys use to compare those compression ratios.

I listen mostly to neofolk...

Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Destroid on 2012-06-24 20:36:23
@Porcus Ah, is true. The average user sometimes is suspicious of the connotation "free" but as you said this is another topic entirely.

In regards to test corpus, it may be of interest to note that almost all lossless codecs do extremely well with non-altered recordings of single instruments. But many mainstream CD releases since the late 90's have almost no semblance to natural acoustic/dynamic audio. I mention this purely in regards to the seemingly marginal gains using TAK over FLAC and also higher compression modes. I would have to do another single-instrument track corpus test to see if the "only 3% gain" argument withstands, and either way it doesn't resemble the majority of usage by the majority of users (which I imagine is CD's).
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Dario on 2012-06-24 20:36:38
Well, I don’t know what kind of albums you guys use to compare those compression ratios.

I listen mostly to neofolk...



Quite funny, indeed. Allow me to say that the aforementioned album is probably the thing that fares best with TAK’s compression (by far!). On other albums I get a 5–7% difference in compression.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-24 21:25:34
Well, I don’t know what kind of albums you guys use to compare those compression ratios.


The tests linked to, disclose the test corpus. As they should.

Those figures of yours (wow ...) don't state uncompressed size. If you ripped from CD, then bitrate (per second) is probably a better figure to state, as the uncompressed is 1440. (If you didn't ... say, bought a 48 kHz file off Bandcamp, or something like that, then state uncompressed.)


For my own CD rips:
616 kb/s for those sorted by composer (classical/contemporary), and
925 kb/s for those sorted by performing artist (jazz/rock/metal ... mainly the latter) – that is 50% more music per time unit!   



Records, average over a physical CD (only counting CD rips):

252 for an Edith Piaf compilation which was auto-tagged as Voice of the Sparrow, disc 2 (those things show up with various titles, this was purchased as a single CD, I don't have disc 1 nor 3). Luckily it didn't show up any CD with a long silence in there.

1345 for Merzbow: Venereology. Listen to it and understand why (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDsQshrjIO0&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLF0B07B2D9592167B). WavPack x6 improves it five percent to 1275 (just to compare, it compresses my only DTS CD to 1251).
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: IgorC on 2012-06-24 21:49:57
I have encoded two sets of samples from two last public tests.
Those can be considered as independent ones.

And, yes, TAK has an advantage of 6% comparing to FLAC for both sets. 
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: IgorC on 2012-06-24 22:23:02
I listen mostly to neofolk, and the results I get are quite different than the ones you do. Here’s the compression for the album “Forlatt” by Vàli (if you’re into good acoustic music, you may want to check it out yourself):

reference libFLAC 1.2.1 20070917 with -8: 157.129.638 bytes
TAK 2.2.0 with -p4m: 128.642.073 bytes

do you know how much difference that is (tip: it’s over 20%)? If you don't believe me, I can upload the album so you can check it out yourself. I hope you wouldn’t mind.

Yes, it will be interesting to see  this kind of music  which  produces such a big variation of compression efficiency per codec.
30 seconds will be enough.

Thank you.

Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: bryant on 2012-06-24 22:47:59
I have to say though, that I don't really understand why WavPack didn't catch on, being so early available. Though I don't know what features it had back in last century.

Maybe this post (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=36408&view=findpost&p=321408) will at least partially answer your question.

Quote
Myself, I use WavPack for files ripped from CDs with pre-emphasis – simply because it is different.

This made me smile...it's got to be the most unique reason for using WavPack! 
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: TBeck on 2012-06-24 23:31:36
Personally I only care how comparisons fare against each other on my collection or a collection like it.  Short of this, I'm only interested in average results instead of cherry-picking those that make one codec look much better or worse than another.

If this is a response to my post: I am not cherry-picking. I didn't say, one comparison was more representative or meaningful than the other, furthemore i tried to  name some audio properties which favour TAK, what implies that this will only sometimes help.

But to rely only on less TAK-friendly file sets, would be cherry-picking too and don't provide the whole picture.

Other than that i totally agree. Given the immense difficulty to create a representative comparison, the best advice for everyone probably is to try it himself on his collection.

I have encoded two sets of samples from two last public tests.
Those can be considered as independent ones.

And, yes, TAK has an advantage of 6% comparing to FLAC for both sets. 

Nice, but: The sets may be independend, but somehow biased. I found, that problem samples often have some of those typical properties which favour TAK. For instance TAK can cope very well with fast transients.

Therefore those samples too aren't representative. I had to learn this myself, when i arrived at hydrogen. My own music collection and my primary test set, which consists of codec test samples from rareware.org, favoured TAK and i was a bit disappointed, when i saw some of the first test results of the users.

What i like about this thread is that it illustrates how difficult it is to create a representative comparison.

I listen mostly to neofolk, and the results I get are quite different than the ones you do. Here’s the compression for the album “Forlatt” by Vàli (if you’re into good acoustic music, you may want to check it out yourself):

Yes, it will be interesting to see  this kind of music  which  produces such a big variation of compression efficiency per codec.
30 seconds will be enough.

I second that...
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-25 01:01:53
@ Bryant:

Thanks for enlightening.

And well maybe this is the weirdest reason for using WavPack, but it probably illustrates my reasoning why this is a natural monopoly situation (well, Apple might create their own market though). For those 50 hours of music which I wanted to flag as 'do not play except in foobar2000' (that includes the DTS CD too), I picked my second choice – but my point is, being everyone's second choice, does not pay off in terms of market share. When it comes to sausages, it does, because you don't want to eat the same all the time. When it comes to a file format, it doesn't.

(Except in terms of respectful thumbs-up from geeks. I suppose there are quite a few people who think WavPack is cool, but don't use it. Including myself, until I fairly recently found a (laughable?) reason to ditch my single-format principle.)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: db1989 on 2012-06-25 06:53:01
I listen mostly to neofolk, and the results I get are quite different than the ones you do. Here’s the compression for the album “Forlatt” by Vàli […] do you know how much difference that is (tip: it’s over 20%)?
Those figures of yours (wow ...) don't state uncompressed size. If you ripped from CD, then bitrate (per second) is probably a better figure to state, as the uncompressed is 1440.
1411 kbps, surely?

But yeah, it would be good to have more information, such as uncompressed size/bitrate and a sample. On which note:
If you don't believe me, I can upload the album so you can check it out yourself. I hope you wouldn’t mind.
Hydrogenaudio limits sharing of copyrighted material to samples for use in demonstration/identification, which can be a maximum of 30 seconds long, so please don’t link any full album or even song (at least not publicly).
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: skamp on 2012-06-25 09:31:02
Is  3% compression gain  significantly  better? ( TAK vs FLAC)


Well, I measured the difference on my music collection (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=95701), which turns out to be 2.19% on average. Not quite as significant as I would have thought.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Dario on 2012-06-25 11:39:15
Here’s (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=95709) a 30-second sample of the album I was talking about. I’ve no idea why it’s such an “exotic” case—but it is.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: lvqcl on 2012-06-25 11:45:38
Apparent lowpass at 13...14 kHz and other signs of lossy encoding.

(http://i.imgur.com/tfEKB.png)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: skamp on 2012-06-25 11:46:34
Well, I measured the difference on my music collection (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=95701), which turns out to be 2.19% on average. Not quite as significant as I would have thought.


Correction: a 3.52% improvement of TAK over FLAC (derived from the TAK to FLAC ratio, not FLAC to WAV minus TAK to WAV). See the linked thread.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-25 11:52:54
The Vàli upload has a peak of only 0.82, and is from a lossy source. Edit: lvqcl beat me at the latter.

Code: [Select]
auCDtect: CD records authenticity detector, version 0.8.2
Copyright © 2004 Oleg Berngardt. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2004 Alexander Djourik. All rights reserved.
------------------------------------------------------------
Processing file: [V…li {2004} ~ Forlatt ~ 03 ~ Et ensomt minne.wav]
Detected average hi-boundary frequency: 1.933682e+004 Hz
Detected average lo-boundary frequency: 1.443311e+004 Hz
Detected average hi-cut frequency: 1.823435e+004 Hz
Detected average lo-cut frequency: 1.397679e+004 Hz
Maximum probablis boundary frequency: 2.153600e+004 Hz
Coefficient of nonlinearity of a phase: 9.019672e-002
First order smothness: 8.209877e-001
Second order smothness: 6.141975e-001

------------------------------------------------------------
This track looks like MPEG with probability 100%

------------------------------------------------------------
Final Conclusion:
------------------------------------------------------------
These tracks looks like MPEGs with probability 100%
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Dario on 2012-06-25 12:00:19
Apparent lowpass at 13...14 kHz and other signs of lossy encoding.

http://i.imgur.com/tfEKB.png (http://i.imgur.com/tfEKB.png)

Alright then. This is a demo recording, and while I can guarantee that it was ripped from an original copy (it’s also verified by AccurateRip), I’d no idea that it was sourced from lossy files, but I’m not surprised, because it is, as I said, a demo recording.

Thank you for the clarification.

On a side note, I have a bunch of other albums that I know to be lossily-mastered (all kinds of stuff happens in the “underground” scene…), and I just realized that I get pretty much the same results (over 15% difference in compression). The album I checked now was bought as WAV from here (http://www.klicktrack.com/naturmacht/releases/from-the-sunset-forest-and-grief/cold-empty-and-forgotten) (but is mastered from lossy files). I guess that settles it. Thanks again.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-25 12:24:57
I am not surprised that a demo from a one-man-band (http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/V%C3%A0li/67892) is kept as .mp3 and then pressed to CD if someone offers to release it.

Earlier in the thread[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a], TBeck warns against that comparison where his codec performed also outperformed FLAC by larger margin than usual, on the grounds of the test corpus which included lossy sources.

(That said, I am a bit fascinated by the fact that lossless encoders fail so miserably at packing mp3's back to anything near mp3 size. They are obviously very far from the [a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shannon_entropy#Data_compression]information content (http://index.php?act=findpost&pid=800089") on those particular samples. Then on the other hand, there are good reasons why developers of lossless codecs/encoders do not bother to tune them to for efficiency on cases everyone advises against.)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: db1989 on 2012-06-25 12:36:36
(That said, I am a bit fascinated by the fact that lossless encoders fail so miserably at packing mp3's back to anything near mp3 size. They are obviously very far from the information content (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shannon_entropy#Data_compression) on those particular samples. Then on the other hand, there are good reasons why developers of lossless codecs/encoders do not bother to tune them to for efficiency on cases everyone advises against.)
I?m probably oversimplifying (as is customary!), but I think it?s important here to distinguish between entropy/information as is in theory vs. as it is perceived. Lossy encoding adds noise, distortion, and other features that cannot be classed as information in the sense of something that has any use ? but this nonetheless is not something that can be used as a shortcut by a subsequent lossless encoder, which has no way of identifying that it arose in such a way and has no choice but to store it (in all its content-free glory).

Also (and as you implied), there?s little point in making lossless encoding better at representing something that has already been processed by a lossy codec. Transcoding is bad, m?mkay?
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: lvqcl on 2012-06-25 13:19:07
Half a year ago I took 7 albums from my music collection and encoded them to various lossless formats. Max. difference between FLAC -8 and TAK -p4 is 3.64%, min. difference is 2.43%, average is 3.15%.

Also, the whole test (44.1/16/stereo; CPU = Intel i7 950; no multithreading, no GPU encoding; ALAC: QT 7.7.0 libraries via qaac 0.85):

encoding speed vs. compression ratio:
(http://i.imgur.com/bAV2R.png)

decoding speed vs. compression ratio:
(http://i.imgur.com/TOfff.png)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: smok3 on 2012-06-25 13:26:26
as far as longevity goes, i'd use whatever appears as a decoder in ffmpeg, seems to be:

Code: [Select]
 DEA D  alac            ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec)
 D A D  als            MPEG-4 Audio Lossless Coding (ALS)
 D A D  ape            Monkey's Audio
 DEA D  flac            FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec)
 D A D  ralf            RealAudio Lossless
 D A D  tta            True Audio (TTA)
 D A D  wmalossless    Windows Media Audio Lossless
 D A D  wavpack        WavPack
ffmpeg version N-40617-g70e9308 Copyright © 2000-2012 the FFmpeg developers
  built on May 12 2012

(but do test first if decoding is ok)

p.s. also i would slightly prefer the ones starting with DEA.

p.s.2. full list http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=e1aWDcDZ (http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=e1aWDcDZ)
(hopefully i haven't missed any)

p.s.3. not only longevity, this is also a voucher for decoding your audio on almost any platform.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: TBeck on 2012-06-25 13:59:59
Earlier in the thread[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=800089"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a], TBeck warns against that comparison where his codec performed also outperformed FLAC by larger margin than usual, on the grounds of the test corpus which included lossy sources.

Since i have read several reports of commercial CDs containing probably lossy compressed audio, i think it's ok to have a few such files in a larger test corpus, but they should contribute only a bit to the sum results.

Also (and as you implied), there’s little point in making lossless encoding better at representing something that has already been processed by a lossy codec. Transcoding is bad, m’mkay?

I don't think it's totally irrelevant if a codec can compress such files well. Files with very high sampling rates like 192 KHz also "appear" low passed because there is so little natural high frequency content. Accordingly TAK compresses them very well.

This is not always true for files converted from a DSD-source, where the conversion process seems to add a lot of high frequency noise.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: stephan_g on 2012-06-25 16:10:49
This is not always true for files converted from a DSD-source, where the conversion process seems to add a lot of high frequency noise.

It's not the decoding - this is inherent to DSD, being a heavily noise-shaped 1-bit format. Results would be expected to vary depending on how fancy the noise shaper was.

How's TAK's handling of 24-bit files? FLAC doesn't compress these too well.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: pdq on 2012-06-25 16:38:59
I doubt that any lossless encoder would do well with 24 bits. Those 8 extra bits are essentially uncompressable, uncorrelated noise.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: benski on 2012-06-25 16:43:28
How's TAK's handling of 24-bit files? FLAC doesn't compress these too well.


I suspect that compression of 24-bit PCM as well as higher sample rates could be improved in FLAC without any format-breaking changes.  The encoder is non-optimal in these scenarios.

I'd also be curious if improvements from FLAKE could be added, as well as more exhaustive coefficient calculation (or a more modern algorithm).  CPU speeds have gone up drastically since FLAC's encoder was developed.

That being said, it's never going to be able to beat TAK or other formats without making format-breaking changes.

As far as future-proofing, it would be nice to add floating-point support, particularly for "studio master" files or synthetically generated files.  It would have to be part of a newer format, and it might require someone to write a fixed-point version to be able maintain good platform support like FLAC has today.  But it's definitely the main thing "missing" today from FLAC.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: db1989 on 2012-06-25 16:49:37
Does Josh ever still, or have any intention to ever again, work on FLAC? If not, does anyone else, and/or do projects such as FLAKE have many improvements besides speed? Improvements and additions such as those mentioned by benski sound great; I’m just wondering where they’re going to come from.

[edit]

I now recall seeing recent changelogs from Xiph, but checking these now suggests that almost all of the recent changes have amounted to little more than housekeeping, rather than changes to the format itself. So, I’m still curious.

Also, lvqcl: thanks for the very interesting graphs!

[/edit]
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: JJZolx on 2012-06-25 16:55:30
Half a year ago I took 7 albums from my music collection and encoded them to various lossless formats.


I assume that the points on the graph for FLAC are the compression levels 0 through 8. Am I reading it correctly, that the encoding speed at -6 is actually _faster_ than -5?

Edit: Actually, I think I'm reading it the wrong way 'round. It looks like compression levels 0 through 8 are plotted right to left. It's interesting that there's essentially zero difference between -5 and -6.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: eahm on 2012-06-25 17:13:11
How's TAK's handling of 24-bit files? FLAC doesn't compress these too well.

I suspect that compression of 24-bit PCM as well as higher sample rates could be improved in FLAC without any format-breaking changes.  The encoder is non-optimal in these scenarios.

Really? It doesn't even properly handle 24bit? I have few albums in FLAC and 24bit, what do you mean by this?

Going back to the original question, not looking at the 1% better compression and not talking about TAK in every post, what doesn't True Audio have that other formats have? Again, reading the specs it seems the absolute best, please let me understand why I shouldn't convert and keep everything in True Audio.

Can anyone add TAK's details here? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of...chnical_details (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_audio_formats#Technical_details)

Thanks.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-25 17:31:24
I doubt that any lossless encoder would do well with 24 bits. Those 8 extra bits are essentially uncompressable, uncorrelated noise.


I did a test after applying a de-emphasis EQ filter and writing the output to 24-bits. (Which means, there wasn't noise in those 8 extra bits until the EQ moved the original noise in there, so I suppose that filling up with noise from the beginning, would not benefit the figures?)  Then I took the FLAC file, reduced to 16 (without dithering) and measured the ratio.

With FLAC -8, the 16 bits filesize was only 52.1% of the size of the 24-bit file. Those extra 8 bits were fairly expensive.

I didn't compute the corresponding ratios for other codecs, but I converted the 24-bit file to other formats in order to see if there was any that would perform 'by eyeballing' unexpectedly better or worse. Nope:

7 761 846 272 bytes - flac -8
7 672 954 880 bytes - WavPack high, x5   
7 629 369 344 bytes - Monkey's extrahigh   
7 582 380 032 bytes - TAK -p4
7 533 199 360 bytes - ofr extranew   


The respective percentage improvements over flac -8:
1,1 %
1,7 %
2,3 %
2,9 %

Probably a bit less than what one would expect for 16-bit files, which is natural from the hunch that the least-significant bits are more like white noise, which is incompressible regardless of codec and will push results towards equality.


(Test corpus (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=65067&pid=728830&mode=threaded&start=#entry728830) ... WTF did I really intend to write? Anyway, the filesizes are easy to read.)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: benski on 2012-06-25 17:39:39
I suspect that compression of 24-bit PCM as well as higher sample rates could be improved in FLAC without any format-breaking changes.  The encoder is non-optimal in these scenarios.

Really? It doesn't even properly handle 24bit? I have few albums in FLAC and 24bit, what do you mean by this?


I mean that the algorithm is tuned for 16bit 44,100Hz input
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: IgorC on 2012-06-25 18:32:27
Going back to the original question, not looking at the 1% better compression and not talking about TAK in every post, what doesn't True Audio have that other formats have? Again, reading the specs it seems the absolute best, please let me understand why I shouldn't convert and keep everything in True Audio.

Let me ask You probably a stupid question but it's the only way to figure out if we're on the same page here.

Do You know that all lossless formats have exactly the same audible quality (100% bit-to-bit exactly CD quality in case if source was a CD) no matter the specifications and applied algorithms?
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: db1989 on 2012-06-25 18:41:04
Yes, quality has nothing to do with it. eahm seems to have simply read the Wikipedia article linked in their first post, seen that TTA has bigger numbers, and concluded that it must be ‘the best’ (whatever that means) despite (1) its being almost unknown to laypeople and developers, and not even very well-known amongst enthusiasts such as HA users; and (2) the fact that numerical parameters mean very little when they’re almost completely nominal and should be quite trivial to increase in the code.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: eahm on 2012-06-25 18:47:26
Yes, quality has nothing to do with it. eahm seems to have simply read the Wikipedia article linked in their first post, seen that TTA has bigger numbers, and concluded that it must be ‘the best’ (whatever that means) despite (1) its being almost unknown to laypeople and developers, and not even very well-known amongst enthusiasts such as HA users; and (2) the fact that numerical parameters mean very little when they’re almost completely nominal and should be quite trivial to increase in the code.

Exactly, asking a simple question. Not "the best" just "the most future proof".

It's funny people attach to codecs like they are the parents, we are talking about transferring the same data with a wider range, like IPv4 vs IPv6. Of course the data isn't lost during the transfer but it's also obvious a codec with a wider range will be more future proof, it's inevitable in 10 years we will have to switch FLAC to something else when people will start wondering why no one use 64bit audio etc. etc. Same story repeating.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: skamp on 2012-06-25 18:50:24
numerical parameters mean very little when they’re almost completely nominal and should be quite trivial to increase in the code


Given FLAC's streaminfo metadata block (http://flac.sourceforge.net/format.html#metadata_block_streaminfo), increasing the number of supported channels would require an update to the format, and updated decoders, though. I didn't bother to check further.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: IgorC on 2012-06-25 18:59:31
it's inevitable in 10 years we will have to switch FLAC to something else when people will start wondering why no one use 64bit audio etc. etc. Same story repeating.

A sound can be recorded  with 20-22 bits resolution in best case. This is why 24 bits is already overkill. A humanity won't need more than 24 bits in any circunstance.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: lvqcl on 2012-06-25 19:14:25
TTA is more future-proof than FLAC, Itanium is more future-proof than x86...

I fail to see why TTA is better as a consumer format. 192kHz/24bit is more than enough, and multichannel music is still rare.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: eahm on 2012-06-25 19:15:49
it's inevitable in 10 years we will have to switch FLAC to something else when people will start wondering why no one use 64bit audio etc. etc. Same story repeating.

A sound can be recorded  with 20-22 bits resolution in best case. This is why 24 bits is already overkill. A humanity won't need more than 24 bits in any circunstance.

Quoting from way back: a codec for everything. Will studio production ever need 64bit? What about 128bit? I have a 32/192 album so...someone does produce in >24bit audio.

MP3 is 19 years old, I am thinking 20 even 30 years ahead. The matter is not even this anymore, I completely understand what everyone means, "who cares about the future" was actually the best answer, let's enjoy what we have now and worry about new codecs/formats later. I am starting few companies and life in a completely different country the other side of the world and we just had a baby, I guess I am thinking for him now, what I have to fill my hard drive with to let him enjoy full audio experience without worry about replacing everything when he's 20 years old. I guess...
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: saratoga on 2012-06-25 19:35:54
it's inevitable in 10 years we will have to switch FLAC to something else when people will start wondering why no one use 64bit audio etc. etc. Same story repeating.

A sound can be recorded  with 20-22 bits resolution in best case. This is why 24 bits is already overkill. A humanity won't need more than 24 bits in any circunstance.

Quoting from way back: a codec for everything. Will studio production ever need 64bit? What about 128bit? I have a 32/192 album so...someone does produce in >24bit audio.


To be clear, the most you can record is ~20 bits.  So while someone can save something in 1024 bit PCM if they want, there is not going to be actual information in those bits.  So a distribution format supporting it would indeed be completely pointless, and this is not something that will change in the future.

MP3 is 19 years old, I am thinking 20 even 30 years ahead.


Hopefully 30 years from now FLAC will be obsolete because mathematics and computers will have advanced enough that we have more efficient lossless formats available then anything we have access to now.  But it won't be due to limitations on things like PCM format.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: JJZolx on 2012-06-25 19:43:03
Hopefully 30 years from now FLAC will be obsolete because mathematics and computers will have advanced enough that we have more efficient lossless formats available then anything we have access to now.  But it won't be due to limitations on things like PCM format.


Thirty years from now there will be little reason to compress files as small as those used for audio. Network speeds and storage device capacity will dwarf what currently exists. It would be like bothering to compress an 80k spreadsheet today.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: lvqcl on 2012-06-25 19:50:07
It would be like bothering to compress an 80k spreadsheet today.


Quote
Office Open XML (also informally known as OOXML or OpenXML) is a zipped, XML-based file format developed by Microsoft for representing spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word processing documents.
 
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: saratoga on 2012-06-25 19:58:05
Hopefully 30 years from now FLAC will be obsolete because mathematics and computers will have advanced enough that we have more efficient lossless formats available then anything we have access to now.  But it won't be due to limitations on things like PCM format.


Thirty years from now there will be little reason to compress files as small as those used for audio. Network speeds and storage device capacity will dwarf what currently exists. It would be like bothering to compress an 80k spreadsheet today.


Aside from some legacy formats, all modern spreadsheets are always zipped today.  Contrary to what you're assuming, better technology doesn't excuse inefficient or bad design.  This will be no less true in 30 years.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: IgorC on 2012-06-25 20:00:05
It might be the case that the next step will be not higher bit-depths of sampling rates but 3D representation of  sound.
That would change a lot of things.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-25 20:06:19
It might be the case that the next step will be not higher bit-depths of sampling rates but 3D representation of  sound.
That would change a lot of things.


Yeah. It would require 4 channels ...


(Agree with you, though.)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: benski on 2012-06-25 20:14:02
It might be the case that the next step will be not higher bit-depths of sampling rates but 3D representation of  sound.
That would change a lot of things.

Yeah. It would require 4 channels ...


For height, it would require at least 6 (assuming Ambisonics format)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: eahm on 2012-06-25 20:23:57
TTA is more future-proof than FLAC, Itanium is more future-proof than x86...

I fail to see why TTA is better as a consumer format. 192kHz/24bit is more than enough, and multichannel music is still rare.

Hopefully 30 years from now FLAC will be obsolete because mathematics and computers will have advanced enough that we have more efficient lossless formats available then anything we have access to now.  But it won't be due to limitations on things like PCM format.

Thank you.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-25 20:41:50
It might be the case that the next step will be not higher bit-depths of sampling rates but 3D representation of  sound.
That would change a lot of things.

Yeah. It would require 4 channels ...


For height, it would require at least 6 (assuming Ambisonics format)


I know nothing more about Ambisonics than can be found at Wikipedia, but that article says 4 channels (reproduced by six speakers, but that's something else).  In theory, four points span space (like three span the plane).
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: hlloyge on 2012-06-25 22:41:54
To return to the original question, I think EAC has a lot to do about popularization, since FLAC started coming with the installer, and since audio pirates started using EAC as preferred tool for ripping audio CDs.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-25 23:20:54
Nah, EAC has had (and still has) internal support for Monkey's Audio, provided you get a copy dll and put it in the EAC directory.  Even if the dll had been included with the installation I don't think this would have changed anything. For a long time MAC was a complete PITA for non-Windows users.

I am under the impression that flac became the standard even before it became bundled with EAC. In fact it being the standard was more likely why it was bundled with EAC in the first place. For me, the question remains why flac and not WavPack?
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-25 23:23:52
To return to the original question, I think EAC has a lot to do about popularization, since FLAC started coming with the installer, and since audio pirates started using EAC as preferred tool for ripping audio CDs.


When was that, anyone? FLAC isn't even mentioned in the EAC changelog. But it mentions Monkey's Audio (and Shorten) as early as May 2000, which was pre-FLAC.

I've had the impression that Monkey's and Shorten were/are more popular among filesharers than among general (lossless) users, but then, I've had a focus on bootlegs. (That's a conservative bunch. Still lots of them insist on .shn or .wav for audio, and .txt or .nfo rather than tags.)


Edit: Gargamel beat me at it.
(Greynol: Above here, Bryant has linked to some thoughts on why WavPack didn't succeed.)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: saratoga on 2012-06-25 23:42:41
I am under the impression that flac became the standard even before it became bundled with EAC. In fact it being the standard was more likely why it was bundled with EAC in the first place. For me, the question remains why flac and not WavPack?


My vague and probably incorrect recollection is that flac was pushed really hard in the very early 2000s as a more cross-platform replacement for SHN that supported native seeking among people taping and trading live concerts.  For instance, searching some old SHN FAQs brings up plenty of discussion about FLAC:

http://userpages.umbc.edu/~hamilton/shnfaq.html (http://userpages.umbc.edu/~hamilton/shnfaq.html) 

And very little about wavpack. As for why they didn't seem to be aware of Wavpack, I'm not sure.  You'd probably have to dig through old mailing lists and try to figure out where the first interest in FLAC originated.  My guess it was a few users who by chance heard of FLAC and spread it.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: lvqcl on 2012-06-26 00:14:34
From 2009 ripping/encoding general poll (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=68338&view=findpost&p=607138):

(http://img206.imageshack.us/img206/3774/ha1fg1.png)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: krafty on 2012-06-26 00:34:54
I think FLAC is popular because it was on the internet scene first. Its public is a niche though. For the past 2 years I tried to talk 3 people into FLAC format and none of them had the smallest consciousness of what means a lossy vs. lossless format. I was sad, because that means people in general just don't care. It is sad because this dictates a bit what we see on hardware support. If people start demanding a format and stop buying things like unsupported FLAC devices, then the scene will change. But since people themselves don't have a clue..........
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Destroid on 2012-06-26 01:18:44
Which I guess brings the question of, "How easy is [lossless format] to implement into software/hardware?" As I am not a fluent programmer perhaps libs/API of some lossless formats are easier (or more license compatible) for developers.

My scenario: discovering lossless audio when starting home recording; gleefully finding Monkey's Audio had plug-in's for all the software I was using bundled in one installer; result- got a lot more done in less time and saved significant costs of archival CD's all thanks to a cleverly written suite of lossless tools. (I still do some occasional Cooledit Pro remixing  )
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: saratoga on 2012-06-26 01:36:35
Which I guess brings the question of, "How easy is [lossless format] to implement into software/hardware?" As I am not a fluent programmer perhaps libs/API of some lossless formats are easier (or more license compatible) for developers.


check out my benchmarks here on ARM:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....=0&p=716976 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=82125&st=0&p=716976)

The FLAC, Wavpack, TTA and APE decoders are quite well optimized for embedded use (in some cases by the developers of the format). 
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-26 04:08:07
I think FLAC is popular because it was on the internet scene first.

There once was a lossless codec called shorten.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: onkl on 2012-06-26 04:32:01
FLAC has a nice sounding name. I believe one of the reasons Apple used ALAC as a name was because of this popularity.
Just like MP3 is so much nicer to pronunce in comparison to OGG, WMA, AAC, ...
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Zarggg on 2012-06-27 07:39:21
One could argue that "WMA" and "AAC" are just as easy to pronounce as "MP3" and that "Ogg" is actually easier (completely ignoring the fact that the lossy codec is actually called "Vorbis," of course.)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: bandpass on 2012-06-27 08:36:53
Onkl's point was that the names are nicer sounding: MP3 sounds a lot like the word 'empathy' (a nice thing to have); OGG sounds like a noise one might make prior to vomiting.

However, FLAC does not sound nice to anyone cognisant of WWII; the phrase 'taking the flak' (originally meaning being shot at) is still in use.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-06-27 08:39:41
So, what's in a name?

yalike, Offer my4ay? assless Lay, WavePeck Bonk Marian's-a-pac? owMa'hell, Alas, Monkey's shorten flaccid ... :-(
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: DonP on 2012-06-27 12:20:36
Thirty years from now there will be little reason to compress files as small as those used for audio. Network speeds and storage device capacity will dwarf what currently exists. It would be like bothering to compress an 80k spreadsheet today.


Compressing spreadsheets makes more sense than most things because you can have a high percentage of empty cells.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: DonP on 2012-06-27 12:30:40
I think FLAC is popular because it was on the internet scene first.

There once was a lossless codec called shorten.


AT least early on shorten didn't support tags, and (maybe a problem with players rather than format?) wasn't good at random access (drag bar).  SO it was a pain to use in ways beyond a few percent in space or time efficiency and good reason for a better format to replace it.

Generally the first thing I did with anything I got in shorten was convert to flac and (hopefully using a foobar plugin) extract tags from the accompanying text file.


On the "20 years out" thing, consider that 20 years ago no one had even heard of DVD and now that's just  a legacy format so trying to switch now to the future proof format is a lost cause.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-27 13:22:28
All true, but doesn't change the order of history. Flac was not "on the internet scene first;" it wasn't on the internet scene second or third either.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: onkl on 2012-06-27 15:52:41
One could argue that "WMA" and "AAC" are just as easy to pronounce as "MP3" and that "Ogg" is actually easier (completely ignoring the fact that the lossy codec is actually called "Vorbis," of course.)

Are they? I'm not a native english speaker, but it takes slightly more effort to spell "double-u emm aay" and "aay aay see" rather than "empathy" (nice one bandpass!). Also the general public doesn't care about containers and codecs. It's called what the file extension says and that means MP3 is for audio and MP4 is for video. And "Ogg Ogg" is what you say to call chickens. FLAC has become a synonym for lossless audio. Most consumer devices claim MP4 or MKV support rather than H264, so when you want your buyers to know that it plays lossless audio you slap a FLAC sticker on it.

However, FLAC does not sound nice to anyone cognisant of WWII; the phrase 'taking the flak' (originally meaning being shot at) is still in use.

It's not so much about the meaning, but the sound. "Diarrhea" also has a nice sound to it.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Destroid on 2012-06-27 17:57:40
Ok, the trademark name does come into play with FLAC's apparent popularity. Additionally, after reading other points in this thread, it appears tagging and seek-able files were also highly desired by users. (I actually remember writing to David commenting, "Nice features in WavPack, but the fast-forward type seeking is a bit of a drawback.")

Given the above, it might be fair to say FLAC was first on the scene with: a) basic necessary features; AND, b) a friendlier license than Monkey's Audio. Of course, I didn't much care about the latter point since my software areas were covered, so to speak (and wrapped in an installer, including a colorful GUI front-end  ).

As for future-proof, it also seems difficult to say whether higher sample-rates/#-of-channels are the only factors. Of course, there is areas like: better compression ratio, faster decompression, and platform compatibility. The foremost is an area that is theoretically improvable by varying degrees by any existing codec. Platform compatibility is good for a widespread format. Decompression speed is going to be trickier for symmetric-type codecs.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: greynol on 2012-06-27 19:44:06
there is areas like



[a href="http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/599/01/" target="_blank"][/a]

Ok, play on.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Alexxander on 2012-06-28 17:02:13
First I ripped my albums into 128 kbps CBR mp3. Then storage became cheaper and I noticed quality was not satisfying. So I ripped all my CD's again to 320 kbps Lame mp3. Then my hard drive died and had no backup. Considering that storage space was getting cheaper and cheaper I decided to go lossless. APE compressed nicely but decoding speed was slower than upcoming competitors. Wavpack was (is) good but I didn't like the potentially confusing hybrid mode. FLAC is free and open source and decoded very fast and latter was my priority because I suspected I would convert often to mp3. I wanted the fastest conversion from lossless to lame mp3. As of today I regularly convert to quicktime mp4 (I have rockboxed portable player, car with usb and android smartphone). Decoding speed and compression level of TAK, especially at default level, really impressed me and at some point I was doubting to convert all my FLAC's to TAK. But I don't see reasons important enough to spend any more time doing such conversion, especially because slowly more hardware support FLAC.

This is why I choose FLAC and stick with FLAC until who knows when. Still, all my relatives and friends don't know what FLAC or lossless is.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-07-01 23:46:35
Records, average over a physical CD (only counting CD rips):

252 for an Edith Piaf compilation which was auto-tagged as Voice of the Sparrow, disc 2 (those things show up with various titles, this was purchased as a single CD, I don't have disc 1 nor 3). Luckily it didn't show up any CD with a long silence in there.


The 252 for the Edit Piaf, is 17.86 percent of WAV. TAK.exe running a test with the -p4m option, reports the compression to 14.8 percent of WAV (using the heaviest option). TAK is 17 percent down compared to FLAC.
WavPack, on the other hand, doesn't do this very well on this particular album: Even with the extra high x6 option, it returns 289. That is 14.7 percent up compared to FLAC.
TAK improves 28 percent over WavPack (!), and that saves 80 kb/s on this record.


Other end of the scale:

1345 for Merzbow: Venereology. Listen to it and understand why (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDsQshrjIO0&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLF0B07B2D9592167B). WavPack x6 improves it five percent to 1275 (just to compare, it compresses my only DTS CD to 1251).


TAK.exe, test, -p4m: 97.15 percent. That corresponds to 1371, which is worse than FLAC -0 (which encodes at 1366)!
Indeed, the worst track measures to above 100%. (Track #3 is the worst in all three codecs, but only TAK fails to improve over PCM.)

WavPack x6 improves 7 percent over TAK (!), and that saves 96 kb/s on this record.




I'm a quite a bit surprised, since I didn't deliberately look for extreme differences, I only tested the two extremes of my collection (as judged by FLAC -8).
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Dario on 2012-07-02 01:10:43
The speed at which WavPack x6 encodes makes me wanna do bad things. If WavPack were better at compressing, then I’d switch without any hesitation.

I do think that TAK has the most potential of the ‘widely’-present lossless codecs—but it’s all being wasted.

And seriously, regarding FLAC’s popularity—private torrent trackers have to be mentioned. They’re literally the biggest source of FLAC (that’s the only format they,  or at least the trackers that ‘matter’, are allowing) files that is currently available (be it legally or illegally). You just can’t ignore that.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-07-02 01:38:44
And seriously, regarding FLAC’s popularity—private torrent trackers have to be mentioned. They’re literally the biggest source of FLAC (that’s the only format they,  or at least the trackers that ‘matter’, are allowing) files that is currently available (be it legally or illegally). You just can’t ignore that.


That's most likely effect, not cause. (To the extent it's actually true ...) Was there any reason for filesharers to choose Shorten/WavPack/Monkey/FLAC/TAK/[whatever] over the others, that isn't just as good/bad reason to the rest of us? [Edit: except the fact that major players would use success in the filesharing segment as argument to shun that particular technology as were it infected with ebola?]


(There could have been one reason for choosing WavPack for filesharing, it being a compression method in the .zip file format – provided that there is/were a convenient method to extract the WavPack stream from the .zip file without reencoding (is there?). But anyways, the Megauploaders seem to have settled with .rar over .zip – that's another “codec choice” to be explained – long before WavPack found its way into the .zip format.)
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Soap on 2012-07-02 16:04:16
And seriously, regarding FLAC’s popularity—private torrent trackers have to be mentioned. They’re literally the biggest source of FLAC (that’s the only format they,  or at least the trackers that ‘matter’, are allowing) files that is currently available (be it legally or illegally). You just can’t ignore that.


The format war was over before bittorrent was even invented.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: db1989 on 2012-07-02 16:14:42
Wavpack […] found its way into the .zip format.
A big ‘Wha—?’ and a trip to Wikipedia later… Whoa! I had no idea about about (http://www.winzip.com/comp_info.htm) that (http://www.pkware.com/documents/casestudies/APPNOTE.TXT). Well, that’s Monday’s ‘learn something new every day’ sorted.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-07-02 17:31:02
The format war was over before bittorrent was even invented.


BitTorrent was actually released 19 days before FLAC.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Soap on 2012-07-02 21:29:23
The format war was over before bittorrent was even invented.


BitTorrent was actually released 19 days before FLAC.


Wow.

Ok, let me rephrase.

The format war was over before BT caught on.


Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: saratoga on 2012-07-02 22:08:01
Probably the better phrasing would be, "by the time anyone was interested in sharing lossless files over BT, FLAC was already the standard".
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: simonh on 2012-07-02 22:52:05
I'm amazed nobody has mentioned that FLAC's dominance was caused by joining xiph.org. Marketing matters even when your stuff is free.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-07-02 23:11:21
I'm amazed nobody has mentioned that FLAC's dominance was caused by joining xiph.org.


Post #11
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: twistedddx on 2012-07-15 07:16:05
flac was winning (if not standard) years before xiph took it.
flac got set in motion for doing enough right and nothing wrong. Very few formats could claim they ticked all the boxes.
Once a format gets a nose in front it is hard to start losing unless you do something wrong or someone else enters with revolutionary tech.

Flac will remain #1 until someone comes up with something big. Eg bigger than 20% filesize win might get a look at, 3-6% wont (10% wont be enough).

I think it came down to(in no particular order):
-good defined tag support
-free license
-open source
-easy API
-seek support
-decoding speed. Encoding speed is not a huge issue, but decoding was for many portable devices.
-private sharing groups. FTP in particular but also usenet/dcc/fserve and later reenforced again with private BT trackers.
-EAC guides to adding flac.exe command lines for encoding and tagging <<years and years before flac.exe shipped included

Other formats lost with the opposite:
-confusion over ape, id3, vorbis and other tagging formats.
-limited licenses
-closed source
-complex API
-no seek support
-poor decoding speed that portable devices could not reach realtime playback.
-no enough dictator/leader users to push the format as the standard
-lack of guides
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: Porcus on 2012-07-15 11:11:17
flac was winning (if not standard) years before xiph took it.


18 months after the 1.0 release (OK, 2 years after the format specification was frozen) and it had already beeen 'winning' for 'years'? Porcus is impressed.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: bernlin2000 on 2012-12-20 19:43:16
I am trying to understand why is FLAC standardizing in the lossless world? Reading here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of...chnical_details (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_audio_formats#Technical_details) isn't True Audio more future proof? All these channels and huge range, isn't it the "best" option for the next "100 years"?

If one day everyone will start using FLAC, will there be a way to expand the number of channels available? For expample the "new new" 12.1 Surround System or whatever they will come up with.

Just some thoughts, don't want to get anyone upset, I use FLAC and I love it.

Thanks.


Well, you can always convert it back to wave losslessly, and I'd say wave is almost certainly future-proof (as long as Microsoft is still making operating systems). As for channels, that's up to sound engineers who mix music. None of your music is future-proof in any format in that regard: most of it is probably stereo, quadraphonic (rare), or 5.1. To get 12.1 would require remastering, which none of us can do without those original tapes.
Title: Why’s FLAC ‘the’ lossless codec? Is it future-proof(able)? Comparisons
Post by: ktf on 2012-12-26 21:00:48
FLAC supports only 8 channels from it's native container. This was designed like this. If you need more than 8 channels, you should use several FLAC-streams in the OGG container, says the specification. So, more than 8 channels are not a problem at all.

You might find this strange, having to take such a 'detour', but even standardizing the order of 8-channel input seems to be an issue right now, more channels will only behave worse in this aspect. Using several streams in a container might even improve this.
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