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Best compact/high quality audio format?


So I've just wiped my phone completely, and before I put all my music back on it, I want to convert it to a smaller format. Before, I was using uncompressed flac because on my PC the file size isnt a problem and until recently, it wasnt a problem on my 128GB phone either. However, I am getting a bit tired of having almost 50gb worth of music on my phone and I want to keep a seperate library for my phone's music on my hard drive. Now, before I start converting all my music to one certain format, I need some recommendations on which audio codec to use. I tried the highest flac compression that foobar2000 has to offer, but the reduction in file size wasnt significant enough to be worth spending the time. I also tried ogg vorbis (i think it was 500kbps) and that gave me a nice reduction of about 60% when I tested it on one album. It should also be noted, that I don't need the highest quality possible and I just rip albums to flac because I can. So now I am asking, what audio format would give me a nice size to quality ratio, while supporting meta-tags nicely? Also Id prefer not to use proprietary formats so no mp3 or proprietary windows formats please


alac is apples version of flac. It attempts to be just as high quality in just a smaller space and tends to pull it off rather well.


On my desktop I stick to flac v8, the most compressed version of flac.

then I use musicbee to transcode as it copies to mp3 v0, whcih I think has the best quality to filesize ratio.


Opus. Seriously it's good.


If you've had good results with OGG Vorbis then I'd say just stick with that. If not then I'd say just go with MP3 at 320kbps.


For compression and being free and/or open source software you'll probably want Vorbis or Opus. The latter really just being a new version of the former. They're both lossy, but actually pretty decent.


Never heard of Opus, so I'll give it a try

Also @Aremis I always thougnt alac files were bigger than flac (at least judging from bandcamp downloads). Also I heard it doesn't handle metadata very well. Either way, it doesn't hurt to give it a try


I dunno, converting to alac on my iphone kept the quality but they were smaller.



@HEXcellerate and @The_Space_Bear Like I said, I tend to stay away from MP3 (also I seem to remember that it's less compact than ogg) and flac v8 doesn't seem to be that much smaller than v0 (otherwise id use it). Also, what makes me curious is how does compression work with lossless audio formats. I mean how does it make the file smaller without losing quality?


its like zip compression, and theirs a HUGE difference between flac 0 and flac 8.

also there's nothing wrong with MP3.

wsir: file size difference


I wonder what's up with my files then, I'll check if the results change if I rip the CD again, instead of just converting (if that's the reason, I won't go with with flac 8 because I'm not going to re-rip all my CDs)
The thing with MP3 is, that 1. I may not be as much of a fanatic as richard stallman but with simple things like audio codecs, i prefer to use FOSS. I mean even AFAIK even apples alac is open source 2. Even Ogg Vorbis offers better quality at a smaller size and codec compatibility simply isnt a problem anymore (unless you are using an iphone, but even there you have better alternatives)


I'll try it, I'll just have to see how to use alac with foobar it says I need to itunes, so I'm installing that right now


Update: I justed tested a number of Codecs in a bunch of different configurations (I also included some very pointless once like Opus in both 190 and 192kbits/s as well as 500 and 512) and the results can be found here. I tested by converting the 2010 remastered version of the Album "Welcome My Last Chapter" by "Vinterland" from my original rip (which is in Flac V0) to the respective codec. For shits and giggles I also tested Ogg Vorbis at 45 kbits/s and mp3 at 64 kbits/s.

What I found out is that:

  • for me, going to from flac v0 to v8 only seems to make a difference of around 10% (the album went from 435 to 390 mb)

  • ALAC is slightly bigger than flac v8 (which is still pretty impressive)

  • If a similar bitrate is used, Ogg Vorbis the most compact lossy codec tested here. The only common bitrate that all three codecs have is 320 kbits/s and here Ogg Vorbis used 121 mb while mp3 and opus used 127 (5% bigger) and 125 (3% bigger) respectively. This difference is obviously not very significant, however, if you set both Opus and Ogg Vorbis to 500 kbits/s (although with Opus you might as well max it out and go to 512) this gap jumps to 8% (onces again not very big, but still)

  • If I use Opus or Ogg Vorbis at their highest respective bitrates I can save around 45% or 40% respectively

  • Using Opus at 6 kbits/s will make any music trve kvlt

Now there just 2 questions left unanswered:
1. Why does the flac compression make such a miniscule difference (same thing with alac, but I dont know how small those files are supposed to be)? @The_Space_Bear Any idea why this could be?

  1. Should I use Ogg Vorbis or Opus (in their respective maxed out configuration)? I'm leaning towards Opus right now, or is there any particulary reason why I should use Vorbis over Opus?

  2. Is it possible (in foobar) to automatically rip a CD into two formats, so I can use the Flac 0 files on my PC and have a seperate directory for the more compact files?


last one.

make a master library by ripping with EAC, DO NOT RIP WITH FOOBAR.

then use DBpoweramp to convert.


I didn't imagine you would use such high bit rates for the lossy codecs. Supposedly for Opus @ 128 you should be approaching the point where you can't distinguish between the 128 and a higher bit rate encoding with the lossy codecs.

The idea with Opus is that you can use a slightly lower bit rate than MP3/etc. For instance this listening test claims Opus has better quality sound @ 96 than mp3 @ 128. These bit rates are probably too low for your ears but you get my point.


Because FLAC is lossless by design. It won't destroy any data, and there is only so much it can handle before it hits its limit and the file size doesn't get any smaller. Same with Apple lossless.

Both are good.

I dislike MP3; however, it is extremely efficient. 320k is pretty tolerable, especially if you are using VBR.

As far as ogg, look at compatibility. If all your devices or players can play whatever format without trouble or additional software, then you're golden. Rip to FLAC and convert to a smaller format with a high bitrate.

Also, keep in mind that when ripping from a CD to any format, there's no need to upsample anything past 44.1khz/16-bit. You won't get any additional data; just zeroes.

You could probably set up a watch folder for your music, then pipe it into something else for autoconversion of anything that's ripped to a specified directory into a lossy format. I.e., folder "music" contains "ripped" and "converted". You rip to "ripped," then anything dropped into that folder is converted to ogg or mp3, and is output to "converted". You get the idea.


FLAC is lossless, so in theory a FLAC file will sound the exact same as the media it was ripped from. Since it aims to be an exact copy it is limited in just how much it can compress before it starts to mess with audio quality. Lossy file formats will also nuke some data from the audio stream (usually the inaudible parts) whereas FLAC will have that data tucked in the file.

Opus is more or less the successor to Ogg Vorbis. It's supposed to have lower latency and as high or higher audio quality while being similar or smaller in size. Opus isn't supported by some applications though, so it can break some things (foobar does support it though).


If choosing between Opus and Vorbis. Opus is a newer format primarily made for Voice and later adapted with vorbis features to handle other audio data better, Vorbis was originally made for music and general audio and is popular in games.

This is a general rule, Opus was mainly designed for low latency low bitrate audio while vorbis sacrifices latency for higher bitrate and quality.

That being said, at higher bitrates (above 64k) they become almost identical. The ideal Bitrate that I've found for me is about 192K, above that become meaningless since my phone couldn't reproduce the intricacies of the audio as good as the original source anyway.


I converted my flac library to alac, and all of the files I looked at gained a few megs iirc. Any lossless format will sound exactly the same as any other, so you might as well use flac 8 since it's generally supported better (alac is broken on everything besides DeaDBeeF in Linux Mint rn for example). One exception is if you're using an iphone, since they don't read flac files (this is why I converted my library). Dunno about the lossy formats firsthand though.


FLAC for everything. If it has to be small use vorbis.