Audio downloads have, for a long time, only been available as compressed audio, such as MP3 or AAC files. These files are compressed by removing the parts of the music small computer speakers and headphones cannot reproduce (which is why they are often referred to as “lossy” files).
For pop music the differences are often indiscernable. However, with the rise of broadband and a desire to hear classical, jazz and other instrumental music in its full glory, other methods of compression have become available.
FLAC is a universal, free-to-use audio file format. However, certain software manufacturers, including Apple and Microsoft, would prefer you to use their own proprietary lossless formats and at present refuse to support FLAC natively in their media players. We can show you the way around this.
What’s the difference between 24bit studio and 16bit files?
- The 16 bit files are equivalent to CD and have no information removed, whereas lossy formats, such as MP3, WMA and AAC, do. 24 bit files sound superior to 16 bit files and CDs by containing more audio information. Recording studios work with 24 bit audio.
Can I burn 24bit files to an audio CD?
- No. You can only burn 16bit files onto an audio CD.
How can I listen to 24bit files?
- Your computer is actually an excellent DAC (digital audio converter) so the best way to listen to 24bit files is if you can connect high quality speakers to you computer. You can also burn them to a DVD as DVD-Audio if you have the right equipment to play these discs back. Many DVD players will do this.
Recommended programs and plugins
The FLAC site also lists a list of programs that you can use to listen to these files on your PC or Mac.
Burning CDs (16bit FLAC)
Both Roxio Easy Media Creator (for PC) and Roxio Toast Titanium (for Mac) will allow you to write FLAC files direct to an audio CD. Burrrn is also a free and lightweight audio CD burner. If you already have Ahead Nero for PC, you can download a plugin using the following steps:
1. Open Nero Burning Rom.
2. Cancel the first window, then go to File > Options
3. Select the Audio tab.
4. Make note of the Plug-in directory.
5. Close Nero.
6. Download this plugin file to the Plugin directory you noted
7. Restart Nero and you should be able to burn FLAC files in the normal way!
Burning DVD audio (24bit FLAC)
We recommend you take a look at this list of software from Wikipedia.