Portable Music Using Lossless Audio Maintains Quality

Written by Andrew

262px-Flac_logo_vector.svgEver played mp3 audio on your audio speaker and thought that it sounds very water down or the sound quality seems off? Well that is because of the lossy format of an mp3. Lossy format was introduced when digital music download began while attempting to keep the file size small. When the mp3 was first introduced, hard drive spaces weren’t  big, so keeping the music mp3 size down to about 2-3mb was important and audio listeners can take their music with them without having to carry around CDs. Most mp3 transcoded before 2002 were compressed at bitrates of 128 kbps or less; thus, unless your mp3 file format was compressed at bitrates greater than 192 kbps, your music will lack a lot of detail and clarity. However, as we have much larger hard drives today, portable music in lossless audio format is much easier while having the same sound quality as a CD. There are many other lossy audio formats but mp3 is the most common format because almost all audio players today support mp3 playback. What makes lossless audio format great are the quality, details and dynamics of the song which makes for great music quality as intended by  the artist and producer. The sound of the percussion in the music will be very clear and crisp and higher pitch sound can be heard. Lossless audio format comes in various formats such as FLAC, APE, ALAC (m4a) and WAV, but FLAC is the most common as more audio players support it.

Lossless audio compression— a compression format that is used to fully mimic the original sound source produced by the musician. Lossless audio compression uses special algorithms to reproduce detailed sound quality. One draw-back to this format is that it requires more computer processing power to process those algorithms, and will require a higher capacity hard drive. However, since computer technology has improved, some lossless audio formats can be played on your portable music device, and hard drive space has become less of an issue. This allow for portable music while maintaining its great quality. So the question is, where can we find lossless audio? Those old audio Compact Discs (CD) that you bought from your favourite band in 1980s to 2007s are compressed with a lossless compression with audio bitrates up to 1411.2kbps. The higher the bitrate, the more detailed the audio sound will be. Lossless audio format comes in various formats such as FLAC(.flac), APE(.ape, ALAC (m4a) and WAV(.wav). Lossless compression files are at the most decompressed state. The advantage of having them in these formats is that if you were to transcode them into another lossless format, there would be no data loss. For example when you transcode from your CD to a FLAC Lossless format, sound quality and audio clarity is retained. At the same time, you will have quality portable music like it’s played from a CD.  In comparison, when transcoding from your CD to a lossy audio format such as the mp3 format, some sound details will be lost in order to keep the file smaller. This means that soft sound will be deleted in the transfer as it cannot be easily heard by the listener and can be rid of without notice.

headphones_06_hd650Headphones and speakers also factor in when it comes to listening to a lossless format. Without high-end headphones that produces quality sound and frequency range of 10Hz to 21Khz (up to 21khz will reproduce higher pitch noise) listeners will not even experience the great sound. Lossy formats may not retain the quality of the music, but it is not noticeable when most users carrying portable audio players also use low end headphones or earbuds. This makes it impossible for the listener to hear the difference in quality compared to the CD or any lossless formats. Another important factor when it comes to listening to lossless audio, especially on your computer, a decent sound card will be needed to be able to output the sound quality, otherwise your music will not be heard through your speaker with much quality.

When it comes to using portable devices to carry your music in a lossless audio format there are many devices. As the FLAC format is most popular of the lossless format, many portable devices that support lossless format support FLAC. Almost all Android smartphones are capable of FLAC lossless format playback and iPods today are able to play m4a with Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) stored in it. Every device should support the WAV format as a lossless audio but because it is uncompressed, the file size tends to be much larger than the FLAC which is compressed.

Listening to music for how the artist and producer intended it to be is important as music is an art and should be heard in all its glory. For listening at home or portability purposes, using a lossless audio format will maintain its quality like on a CD  while listening on the go. Lossy audio formats do have its advantages as its much better for portability due to smaller file size and doesn’t require high end players or headphones to listen. But whatever format you choose, just remember that the mp3 format is lossy and does not retain all the great qualities of the music that came in the CD and playing it through high end listening devices can make great music sound terrible.

After you got some nice Lossless files: