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FLAC is short for Free Lossless Audio Compression. It is an open source codec and file format which provides a perfect quality audio file. FLAC files usually contain CD quality audio, but can also support almost any audio data with a wide range of sample frequencies, amount of channels and bits per sample.

FLAC provides a smaller size of file than PCM WAV (about half the size), but much larger than lossy codecs like MP3. MP3s are about 5-10% the size of WAV files, but are lower quality.

A CD's worth of data is...

  • 700MB as a CD
  • 700MB as WAV
  • 300MB as FLAC
  • 40MB as MP3 (128 kbps)

Container format

VLC can decode this container.
The module name to use at the command line is flac.

FLAC can be used inside several container formats, such as ogg and matroska, but can also be stored in it's own container.

VLC can only decode this type of container, and cannot encode it. To encode files in FLAC format use the flac command line tool from FLAC's website.

Source code