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FLAC vs. Apple Lossless file sizes

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parish_chap's picture
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Joined: 10 Jul 2010
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I've been looking into moving up to lossless audio files. From what I've been able to discover, FLAC and Apple Lossless should be roughly the same file size, but I downloaded a 24-bit/44.1kHz FLAC from the Bowers & Wilkins site (about half-way down the page - search for Portico) which is 35MB. I transcoded it to Apple Lossless using Max and the resulting file is 62MB - 77% larger!!

Does this seem right? Is the compression level variable for FLAC and/or Apple Lossless (as there is for ZIP for example)? There's no such option in Max. Do I need a better transcoder?

Also, in this thread someone says:

FLAC files are slightly smaller and ALAC due to a slightly better compression ratio (but only very slightly).

which confirms what I was expecting.

fr0g's picture
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Joined: 7 Jan 2008
Posts: 2883
RE: FLAC vs. Apple Lossless file sizes

parish_chap wrote:

I've been looking into moving up to lossless audio files. From what I've been able to discover, FLAC and Apple Lossless should be roughly the same file size, but I downloaded a 24-bit/44.1kHz FLAC from the Bowers & Wilkins site (about half-way down the page - search for Portico) which is 35MB. I transcoded it to Apple Lossless using Max and the resulting file is 62MB - 77% larger!!

Does this seem right? Is the compression level variable for FLAC and/or Apple Lossless (as there is for ZIP for example)? There's no such option in Max. Do I need a better transcoder?

Also, in this thread someone says:

FLAC files are slightly smaller and ALAC due to a slightly better compression ratio (but only very slightly).

which confirms what I was expecting.

 

There are degrees of compression for FLAC. It doesn't change the quality, rather it changes the amount of CPU required to unpack to PCM (irrelevant on a PC, but can be a battery drainer on a portable device). It sounds like the FLAC you downloaded is fully compressed and the settings you used for ALAC were less so. 

Just use the one you feel suits you.

For me that would be FLAC all the way, as all my players natively play it other than my old mp3 player. 

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MajorFubar's picture
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Joined: 3 Mar 2010
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RE: FLAC vs. Apple Lossless file sizes

parish_chap wrote:
From what I've been able to discover, FLAC and Apple Lossless should be roughly the same file size

Not necessarily. As explained, there are varying levels of FLAC compression (five I think...someone will correct me).  My understanding is that ALAC files are designed to be less CPU-intensive to unpack, which is an important consideration on portable devices. This means that their file-sizes are larger than FLAC at its most compacted.

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parish_chap's picture
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Joined: 10 Jul 2010
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RE: FLAC vs. Apple Lossless file sizes

Thanks for the replies. I take it that the compression is fixed for Apple Lossless then? This table shows the compression rate as being more or less the same for both but makes no mention of variable compression rates for FLAC.

 

I am choosing Apple Lossless so I can use then on my iPhone and Apple TV