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Thread: FLAC Compression level?

  1. #16
    dBpoweramp Guru
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    London, UK

    Re: FLAC Compression level?

    Quote Originally Posted by timster67 View Post
    I know that flac compression doesn't make a difference in the general scheme of things. Compressing to level 8 all this time just made the operation that much slower, especially with 192/24 recordings.
    So, 5 would have been better, and I would have preferred 0. Not better as in better quality end result. Just better.
    So better in the original encoding processing time, but not better in terms of file size. I guess we all have different priorities.

  2. #17
    dBpoweramp Enthusiast
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Re: FLAC Compression level?

    Quote Originally Posted by garym View Post
    I think he thinks that the more "compressed" the FLAC file, the harder the server has to work to decode and this could could somehow degrade sound quality. Without getting into the issues with that belief, I think the OP might not realize that the extra work by the computer is in the ENCODING of the FLAC file. It works harder to encode at "8" vs "0". That said, this is only in the original encoding (done one time). The playback of FLAC files (DECODING) is essentially the same work by the computer whether an 8 or 0. There's a lot of bad (incorrect) information on this issue floating around at "audiophile" websites.

    edit: missed his response. Ignore what I said above. So yes, timster67 is correct. Slower compress at 8 than at 5 or 0. (then again, on my year or two old computers, the difference in time is tiny, but I'm not doing 24/192 either....)
    Thanks for the clarification. And yes I was mainly talking about the compressing (by Audacity in this case).

    But I do have a question re. the decoding/decompressing you mention.
    My understanding has been that flac compression was mainly developed for transmission. Compress to make the file size smaller (not important these days really), but also transmission rates would be lower, so less bandwidth.
    So for a 44.1/16 file, compressed at level 8, the transmission bitrate wouldn't actually be 1.4Mbps. More likely 60% of that. But the renderer does stream at 1.4Mbps after receiving the stream. So it must have to decompress.

    I don't understand why the renderer would not have to work harder decompressing (at any level) than none at all. I know "unwrapping" is not as hard as wrapping (with Christmas coming up the analogy is fine and everyone can relate to it!). But it would still need to work. Perhaps between levels it wouldn't make mush difference, but if you could explain why?

  3. #18
    dBpoweramp Guru
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    New York

    Re: FLAC Compression level?

    Actually, your computer works harder (though not by much) to play a LESS compressed FLAC or a WAV file. Why? Because the files are bigger, there is more disc access, and more data to transmit over your network if you are using a networked system. The processor works very fast in any modern computer and any audio file, any form of lossless compression or uncompressed is not going to stress it in the least. But the disc drive (unless you have an SSD) is an electromechanical device and is far slower than the processor. So the larger less compressed files that you play back make the slower parts of your computer work harder.

    Likewise if you are using WIFI to listen to the files. WIFI is bandwidth limited, and shared with other uses. The larger, uncompressed or less compressed files use up more of that bandwidth. Most modern Ethernet (particularly gigabit) has plenty of bandwidth for any task, but then if you have a very old 10baseT network, you are bandwidth limited like WIFI.

    So the real story is that the end audio is the same for any lossless compression, like any level of FLAC compression, as long as the original file isn't corrupt. Compressing more works your system harder when encoding, but only happens once. Compressing more works your system less when playing/decoding, every time you play it back.

    And think about it, hard drive failures are all too common. When was the last time you actually had a processor fail? More likely the power supply.

  4. #19
    dBpoweramp Guru
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Florida, USA

    Re: FLAC Compression level?

    As an aside, Roon music server converts all music files (FLAC, mp3, etc.) to raw PCM on the server side and then distributes this PCM file to network endpoints serving DACs. Thus in their system, the conversion back to PCM is done far away from the final player.

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