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.

ddruveman - I think I started the idea that  flac 0 is uncompressed here. But now we know that flac 0 is not uncompressed. I have have had it wrong for a while. You need to go to dBpoweramp to actually get uncompressed. Personally I still used flac 5 or 6, since I cannot hear any difference.
jwm - look at my data above. Flac 0 is less compressed, but not by much - 39% for level  0, 42% for level 6 for my file. And, according to the flac gurus decompressing for 0 or from 5 or 6 takes essentially the same amount of processor time.
And given that there is division between FLAC and WAV among certain of those who have responded to this topic, I’d now like to ask if it is the opinion of those in the FLAC or WAV camp as to whether or not there is a quality difference in playing and/or decompressing FLAC depending on the original compression level.

The reason I'm asking is not simply to fuel yet another debate. In my case, I obtain the flac files from bt.etree.org. I (seemingly) have no visibility into the compression level. In fact I have never read a notation from any of the posters on that site who distribute in flac (both 16 and 24 bit) having anything to do with the compression.

What I have found is that when I download a show in totality it is (hypothetically) 600 meg and when I convert/decompress to WAV it is closer to a 1.5 gig.

Thanks to everyone.