FLAC file type is primarily associated with “Free Lossless Audio Codec”, an open-source lossless compressed audio format.
Free Loss Audio Codec (FLAC) is an audio codec for lossless audio data compression, primarily authored by Josh Coalson.
FLAC is specifically designed for efficient packing of audio data, unlike general purpose lossless algorithms such as DEFLATE which is used in ZIP and grip. While ZIP may compress a CD-quality audio file by 10-20%, FLAC achieves compression rates of 30-50% for most music, with significantly greater compression for voice recordings. By contrast, lossy codecs can achieve ratios of 80% or more by discarding data from the original stream.
FLAC accomplishes data compression without sacrificing the integrity of the audio source, since it does not discard any part of the data. A digital audio recording (such as a CD track) converted by FLAC can be decompressed into an identical copy of the audio data. Audio sources encoded to FLAC are typically reduced to 50%-60% of their original size.
An annoyance for music lovers who enjoy FLAC format, is there’s no native support for WMP or WMC. If you’re a music enthusiast who prefers FLAC format, we’ll look at adding support to Windows 7 Media Center and Player.
Download and Install madFLAC v1.8
The first thing we need to do is download and install the madFLAC v1.8 decoder (link here). Just unzip the file and run install.bat.
You’ll get a message that it has been successfully registered, click Ok.
To verify everything is working, open up one of your FLAC files with WMP, and you’ll get the following message. Check the box Don’t ask me again for this extension and click Yes.
Now Media Player should play the track you’ve chosen.
Delete Current Music Library
But what if you want to add your entire collection of FLAC files to the Library? If you already have it set up as your default music player, unfortunately we need to remove the current library and delete the database. The best way to manage the music library in Windows 7 is via WMP 12.
Since we don’t want to delete songs from the computer we need to Open WMP, press Alt+T and navigate to Tools \ Options \ Library.
Now uncheck the box Delete files from computer when deleted from library and click Ok.
Now in your Library click Ctrl + A to highlight all of the songs in the Library, then hit the Delete key. If you have a lot of songs in your library (like on our system), you’ll see the following dialog box while it collects all of the information.
After all of the data is collected, make sure the radio button next to Delete from library only is marked and click Ok.
Again you’ll see the Working progress window while the songs are deleted.
Deleting Current Database
Now you need to make sure you are starting out fresh. Close out of Media Player, then you will basically follow the same directions the Geek pointed out for fixing the WMP Library.
Click on Start and type in services.msc into the search box and hit Enter.
Now scroll down and stop the service named Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service.
Now, navigate to the following directory and the main file to delete CurrentDatabase_372.wmdb.
Again, the main file to delete is CurrentDatabase_372.wmdb, though if you want, you can delete them all. If you’re uneasy about deleting these files, make sure to back them up first.
Now after you restart WMP you can begin adding your FLAC files. For those of us with large collections, it’s extremely annoying to see WMP try to pick up all of your media by default. To delete the other directories go to Organize \ Manage Libraries then open the directories you want to remove.
For example here you are removing the default libraries it tries to check for music. Remove the directories you don’t want it to gather contents from in each of the categories.
You remove all of the other collections and only add the FLAC music directory from you home server.
SoftPointer Tag Support Plugin
Even though you are able to get FLAC files to play in WMP and WMC at this point, there’s another utility from SoftPointer to add. It enables FLAC (and other file formats) to be picked up in the library much easier. It has a long name but is effective –M4a/FLAC/Ogg/Ape/Mpc Tag Support Plugin for Media Player and Media Center (link below). Just install it by accepting the defaults, and you’ll be glad you do.
After installing it and re-launching Media Player, give it some time to collect all of the data from your FLAC directory. It can take a while. In fact, if your collection is huge, just walk away and let it do its thing.
If you try to use it right away, WMP slows down considerably while updating the library.
Once the library is setup, you’ll be able to play your FLAC tunes in Windows 7 Media Center as well and Windows Media Player 12.
One caveat is that some of our albums doesn't show any cover art. But we are usually able to get it by right-clicking the album and selecting Find album info.
Then confirming the album information is correct.
Although this seems like several steps to go through to play FLAC files in Windows 7 Media Center and Player, it seems to work really well after it’s set up.
A FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) file is an audio file that is compressed much like an MPEG file. However, with MPEG files, some of the data are lost as the file is compressed; with FLAC there is no loss of data, so the compressed file sounds exactly like the original. FLAC is a nonproprietary open source codec, so there are no patents or restrictions on programmers; this means there are many free FLAC players and recorders, and no royalty has to be paid to the creators of FLAC.
Download and install dBpoweramp and select the default options (you do not need to download the FLAC codec, since it is now included in dBpoweramp).
Navigate to the audio file you would like to convert to FLAC. Right-click on it and click Convert To (this is a new option dBpoweramp has installed to make file conversions easier).
Select FLAC in the Converting To: drop-down.
Choose where you would like to save your converted file and click Convert.
Click Finished when the file conversion process is completed.
Navigate to the location of your converted file and play it.
If you want to convert the FLAC files to MP3 to take with you on your iPod or MP3 player, this tutorial will walk you through the steps to do just that, using Microsoft Windows.
There are two steps in converting your .flac files to .mp3. The first is to decode the .flac into .wav files. After that’s done, you’ll encode the .wav files into .mp3’s.
Decoding .flac files with Winamp
1 Open Winamp and select Options and then Preferences… (note: if you’re using the classic version skin, open the Winamp Preferences by clicking the Control and p keys on your keyboard).
2 Select Output from the Plug-ins section of the left window, and then select Nullsoft Disk Writer. Click Configure.
3 Click the Directory: button so you can choose a location to save the .wav files.
4 Navigate to the folder you want to save the .wav files in. You can save them in the same folder as the .flac files.
5 Click OK to return to the Preferences window, and then Close to return to Winamp. Now select File -> Play file… and navigate to the folder with your .flac files. Select all of the .flac files by single-clicking the first file, holding down the Shift key on your keyboard, and then single-clicking the last file. When all of the files are selected, click Open.
6 Press the Play button. Winamp will now decode the .flac files and turn them into .wav files. It typically takes about 20 seconds to convert a 5 minute song, but this depends on how fast your PC is.
Once Winamp is done decoding the files, make sure to set the Plug-ins -> Output back to DirectSound output, or the next time you try to play a file using Winamp, it will decode that file instead.
Check to make sure all of the .wav files are created.
Encoding .wav files with iTunes
1 First you need to make sure that iTunes will encode the songs to .mp3 (rather than the default, which is .aac). Start by selecting Edit and then Preferences….
2 On the General tab click the Import Settings… button.
3 Select MP3 Encoder from the Import Using: list, and then choose a quality from the Setting list. Click OK when you’re done.
4 Back in the main iTunes window, select File and then Add Folder to Library….
5 Navigate to the folder that you saved the .wav files in and select it. Click OK.
6 Find the newly imported .wav files in iTunes and select them all (single-click the first file, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard, and then single-click the last file). Right-click on any of the selected files and choose Create MP3 Version. You may want to get a cup of coffee right now, as this step will take a while (depending on the number of files you’re converting).
7 iTunes will let you know it’s done converting the files by playing a little “beep”. Now is also a good time to remove the .wav files from your iTunes library so you don’t confuse them with the (identical looking) mp3 files. With the .wav files still highlighted, click the Delete key on your keyboard. If prompted, click the Remove button.
That’s it, you’re done! Rename the files in iTunes (if you wish), give them a listen or transfer them to your iPod/mp3 player. Don’t forget to delete the .wav files if you no longer need them – they’re pretty big and take up quite a bit of space on your hard drive.
The .mp3 files can be found by going to My Documents -> My Music -> iTunes -> iTunes Music -> Artist Name -> Album Name.
This instructions below will guide you in installing all of the required software (and in which order) to get iTunes to play FLAC files. It works for iTunes version 7.4.1 and up (and Quicktime 7.2.0) running on OS X.
Updated method to play FLAC files in iTunes
1 Download and install Fluke. Fluke is actually an AppleScript, saved as an Application bundle, that includes all of the software used in the longer method.
2 Select one or more FLAC files, right-click (ctrl-click for single-button mouse folks), choose Open With and select Other….
3 Navigate to Fluke, select it and click Open.
4 A window will pop up, some text will fly by. The window will close, and you’ll be presented with the option to import the items (flac files) into iTunes. Click Yes.
5 And your FLAC files will be added to iTunes. That’s it – give them a play, set the tags etc. You’re done!
Longer method to play FLAC files in iTunes
1 Exit out of iTunes and Quicktime if they’re open.
2 Start by downloading xiph-qt-0.1.8.dmg. Unpack it and drag XiphQT.component to /Library/Components/ if you’d like it to be available to all users on your Mac, or /Users/your-user-name/Library/Components/ if you want it to just be available for you. If you’ve ever installed the Xiph QuickTime Component before, drag it to the trash before copying the new version over.
3 Now download flac_import_0.5b1_p0.1.dmg. Open it up and drag FLACImport.component to /Library/QuickTime/ or /Users/your-user-name/Library/QuickTime/.
4 And finally, download set-OggS-0.1.dmg. Unpack it and drag Clear OggS.app and Set OggS.app to your Applications folder.
5 Launch iTunes. You can try loading a .flac file now, but it likely won’t work quite yet. If it doesn’t, drag the flac (or multiple .flac files) and drop them on Set OggS.app. A window will pop up confirming that all of the .flac files have been converted.
6 Now you should have no problem loading the flac files that have been through Set OggS.app into iTunes. You’ll have to tag them manually (tags aren’t carried over to iTunes) but at least they’re working!