FLAC Compression

This follows up this thread about FLAC/WAV conversion, where it gets a brief mention: https://www.steinberg.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=91&t=6320

What’s the story with FLAC compression? Is it just a simple matter of how big you can put up with the files being or are there streaming/playback repercussions for going to the max (quality not - from what I read - being an issue whatever degree I use)? I got a headful of technical stuff and could use some practical advice, seeing as it looks like I’m going to be using it in future…


I’ve always preferred unpacking flac’s into wav’s before using them in a host and had no problem with it. It seems like there would be a performance hit if a host had to unpack them on the fly as they play back. I’m not sure if that is how the current implementation works. I don’t have anything to test it with at the moment.

When you import a flac, does it show up as a wav in the pool? That would make the most sense for performance…my guess.

Flac just reduces the size of wav’s without any loss of quality, though it is an archiving/compression mechanism that requires CPU horsepower to pack and unpack.

My question exactly. I’m confident that whatever level you use will make no difference to sound quality but I’m hoping I can get people to say what level of compression they prefer, to see if there’s anything to learn.

Certainly for ripping CDs (that one owns, of course!) for playback in WinAmp or whatever, FLAC is a real boon as you can tag the file and so re-structure your archive without losing all the info you have painstakingly setup in the media library database. Or it seems that way, not having tried it yet, although WinAmp does read and rip to FLAC, so you would have thought it would work as with an mp3.

Thanks for starting things off.

Use whatever compression level is most comfortable for you as relates to file sizes and the purpose. If I’m requesting stems or something I always ask for the highest compression level, the smallest file size. Here’s an example…

One 4 minute mono snare stem, 24/44, is about 40 mb. Convert it to FLAC at compression level 8, takes about 5 seconds, the resulting file is 18 mb… a big size saving. Multiply that saving (generally speaking, results vary by content I think) by 24 track stems and that’s a much smaller upload/download with no quality loss.

So for someone like me who has a 1mb download speed and a 284k or so upload speed, it helps considerably both ways when moving files around on the net… or trying to fit an entire project on a single data CD.

If you convert a few you’ll see how the compression varies. Converting the exact same file at compression level 5 only results in a file a few hundred k bigger. I’ll convert an entire project and post the difference.

Here’s a sample …

A relatively small project with 23 files, 24/44, 751 mb total. Convert it all in-place to FLAC at compression level 8 and it’s 292 mb.

A much smaller upload/download package for sharing, stemming, storing projects, burning project backups to data CD, whatever.

Wow, that’s impressive, thanks for taking the trouble. Have you noticed any playback issues with these higher levels of compression?