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Difference Between ALAC and FLAC

ALAC vs FLAC

If you want to have the best sound quality, whether it be on your phone or your home theater, there is no argument that lossless codecs are the way to go as it provides reduced file sizes without any compromise on the sound quality. With this in mind, there are two very popular codecs, ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), also known as Apple Lossless, and FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec). Since both are lossless codecs, compressing a sound file with either would result in a file of identical sound quality.

Although there is no difference with the end result of the sound, there are underlying differences between the two that may affect the usage of users. For starters, ALAC is the codec developed by Apple for use with their products. Apple products do not support FLAC or any other format so you are basically stuck with ALAC if you want lossless audio quality. In this regard, it is easier to just stick with ALAC if you have Apple products like the iPhone or iPod as it would be quite tedious to keep on converting files or to keep duplicates on your computer.

Although both formats are free, only FLAC is open source and ALAC is proprietary to Apple. This does not have any urgent implications to the usage of both but may hold some possible drawbacks in the future. A lot of people have voiced out their concerns over ALAC. The biggest issue would be the control over the codec. Since Apple owns ALAC, they can decide on what to do with it later on and user would have absolutely no say over it. Users would also be pretty dependent on Apple when using this format and could be at risk when Apple fails for any reason or if they simply decide to cease support for ALAC.

FLAC, as the first letter implies, is totally free and open source. There is no doubt about the future of FLAC as it would always be available because it is not tied up to any one entity. Development is also not hampered as there are many people who are working on improving the codec.

Summary:

ALAC and FLAC are both lossless and no difference in sound quality can be detected

ALAC is the lossless audio codec for Apple products while FLAC is not supported

FLAC is open source while ALAC is not


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1 Comment

  1. ALAC is, in fact, open source. It was developed by Apple, but if Apple were to stop supporting it tomorrow, others could still build players and converters for it without any problems.

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