FLAC vs WAV


I have observed (heard and then tested so as to confirm) the following “condition” as it relates to the widely debated issue of FLAC quality. The purpose of this topic is to gather opinions as to whether or not your observations are similar too – and therefore support – my own.

It is widely understood and accepted that a FLAC file while “compressed” is “lossless” as compared to its corresponding WAV file. Let’s assume (i.e. not debate) this is completely true. What I am noticing is that when the FLAC file is “played” via any FLAC player it sounds different from the sound of the “same” (equivalent decompressed FLAC) WAV file when played back via the same player that was used to play the FLAC file. This is specifically noticeable (to me) in the low frequency spectrum. The WAV has considerably more “sonic energy” that manifests itself as appearing to be a bit louder, wider in frequency range and perhaps even dynamic range as compared to the FLAC equivalent.

I’m curious as to your findings when you compare a FLAC file played natively as compared to the WAV equivalent played via the same player (for example, play both the FLAC and WAV via VLC media player) or practical equivalent, such as if the FLAC was burned to CD and you are comparing the FLAC played via VLC and the CD played via a CD player.

I am further assuming that the WAV file is a more accurate representation of the audio than the FLAC. This is to say that should you agree with the aforementioned, it would be preferable to play the WAV file or decompress the FLAC file before using it.

128x128gdhal
NAIM Uniti rips to WAV only..maybe that is WHy they made that decision ( long ago)... they do seem to place a priority when voicing on bass drive.

One thing you may want to do is precise level match check with your FLAC to WAV comparisons including ripping some tones, the Stereophile test disc and or a tone generator might be a good starting point....as a thought.

cool thread and civil discussion..appreciated..

I personally would feel more comfortable converting FLAC to WAV and then use that file to burn a CDROM.  I would recommend DBpoweramp. I dont use CD's anymore myself because I can reduce the jitter more by using computer playback.  If you rip to CDROM, I would recommend Mitsui Master Gold disk.


Steve N.

Empirical Audio

From the dBpoweramp site

"Compression affects how much effort goes into compressing the audio, all compression modes give the same decoded audio (it is lossless after all), the higher compression levels will give a small % file size saving, but will require more time to compress and decompress. Compression Level 0 requires the least compression time, whilst Compression Level 8 the most. Uncompressed is a special compression mode with stores 16 bit audio in an uncompressed state."

So, uncompressed sounds like the best for 16 bit data, although I have never tried it.

No experience with EZ CD Audio Converter.
Computer should decompress files before putting them into memory buffer. Up to this point it is just a data, that can be verified by the checksum. Music starts when timing is added. In case of S/Pdif it is done in computer but in case of asynchronous USB it is done on the receiving end (DAC). Computer or data format cannot affect it unless big electrical noise can flip-up the bits that are being send (not likely).
One should becsurevwav sounds better in their specific setup before committing.  Flac played right should have no difference.  Use hardware and software designed for high quality flac streaming and you should be fine    I used wav for a few years then decided flac was the way to go and converted everything.  Both sound similarly excellent imho in my setup.  Flac supports flexible tagging which enhances user experience. Wav does not.