Friday, June 27, 2008

FLACkey MP3s

Happened to buy a set that promised over 100 songs in a single CD. Should have looked at the small print or made some mental calculations on what bit-rate the songs might have been compiled. But, those were the moments where you have the 'urge' to buy (like shopping for food when you are hungry!). After buying, I realized all songs to be compiled at the rate of 128kb which usually sounds bad using the laptop speakers!

The collection that I maintain through legal CDs purchased over the last ten years were meticulously encoded at 192kbps and when VBR (variable bit rate) came into play, the ranges that I supplied were 32 to 320 kbps which sounded quite good. But with diskspace available for a few rupees / MB, no, infact much less than a rupee, I have moved to using FLAC.

Most encoding techniques are lossy, which means that you loose some information from the original music which cannot be recovered at any cost. FLAC is a loseless compression technique where, if you were to decode a FLAC file, the contents will be equal to the orignal.

Though most media players do play FLAC files, I found minor issues on some of them. But, FLAC being an open source project guarantees that you get the source which you can port to a machine of your choice or convert to a format that could be readable by the platform with ease.

The other popular format is WMA lossless which comes preinstalled with your windows media player. But, then, you do not get the source and possibly will find it difficult to playback on a non-windows box.

So, until then, I am slowly converting my collection to FLAC.

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