Posted on Tue 26 February 2019

technology marches onwards

Somehow, without me being consciously aware of it, every device in the house that I use to play music has become capable of playing FLAC.

(FLAC is the Free Lossless Audio CoDec. A CoDec is a compressor/decompressor, a method of potentially squeezing lots of data into less data. Lossless means that the bits you put in one side are exactly the bits that you get out the other side after you decompress them. MP3 and most other music and video formats are lossy – the bits that you get out are an approximation of the bits that you put in. Free means free to use, copy and modify. This parenthetical has gone on long enough.)

The den is where the big music and video storage computer is. It has no problem playing FLAC through the A/V receiver and out the big speakers.

The living room has a laptop connected to a stereo amp with more speakers. No problem.

The bedroom has a Google Chromecast Audio (no microphone, they swear…) connected to powered speakers. Those are all on a single power bar, so flipping the switch makes the CCA and the speakers ready about ten seconds later. Chromecast Audio can be told to play audio from the main music storage computer, and it understands FLAC just fine.

Finally, my tiny MP3 player not only understands FLAC, but a 128GB microSD card is cheap enough that I can afford to put FLAC in it. (FLAC is typically a third the size of uncompressed music, rather than the 1/10th size of MP3. Those are the tradeoffs.)

Being an idiot, I did not rip all of our CDs as FLAC; I discarded the raw data and converted things into 320Kb/s VBR MP3. On the other hand, I cannot reliably tell the difference between said 320Kb/s MP3 and FLAC on a random piece of music.

So it’s not really that big a deal.

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