ALAC and FLAC: Which One to Choose?

  • Understanding FLAC vs. ALAC
  • How are they similar
  • Converting FLAC and ALAC audio files
  • Which audio format is the best

Edited by Pat Bitton

December 25, 2019

ALAC vs. FLAC – What’s the Difference?

For those looking to get the best audio files possible, while still holding to true where these audio files can be played and recognized, take a look at the difference between ALAC files vs. FLAC files. Though both of these file types produce great sound, you'll notice a distinct difference between the two, and a difference in what programs are able to play them. First, we'll take a look at what ALAC and FLAC files are, and what each one stands for.

Understanding FLAC vs. ALAC

A FLAC file is an audio file compressed in the Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) format and is noted by its file extension: .flac. It's very similar to the more readily recognizable MP3 file but is compressed to a smaller file size without any loss of quality or any original audio data, thus making it "lossless", a phrase you'll see often throughout the article.

The ALAC file extension is a data format associated with Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) and is noted by its file extension of .alac. These file types were developed by Apple, specifically to be used by iOS and therefore the iTunes platform. They utilize an M4A format and, similarly to FLAC files, they're in a lossless compressed format, meaning they aren't losing any quality or original audio data simply by being compressed.

How Are They Similar?

Both file types are similar in that they're lossless compressed audio files that do not lose any of their original quality in the compression process. Generally, this compression means that you can hold more files on a personal storage drive like a thumb drive or a USB storage device. Also, there's no audio quality difference between the two, and neither one is likely to sound better than the other. What really makes the difference between the two audio file types is where you're looking to listen to them, as well as how compatible you'd like for them to be with certain programs.

ALAC: Created for iOS

Because ALAC files were created by Apple, they're readily available to be opened by iTunes and all iDevices like an iPhone or iPod. ALAC files have really gained steam with the creation of more and more Apple devices, as well as their popularity as the #1 device in the smartphone space. If you're looking to open an ALAC file on a PC, it's possible that you have an application that can readily open it, but it's more than likely that you'll need to download a different program in order to play them.

The best way to find out if you currently have a program that can play them is to double-click on your ALAC file and see if a program opens or if your PC asks for which program you'd like to run the audio file through. Once you've downloaded a program and selected it through this method, your PC will then automatically run all ALAC files you double-click through that preferred program.

FLAC: Open Source Audio Files

You may be wondering if an ALAC file is a compressed audio file used by iTunes, what is a FLAC file? Well, FLAC files are an open-source audio file option that can be readily played by most major platforms except for iTunes. Because Apple created the ALAC file type to run through programs like iTunes, it doesn't readily support FLAC and these files cannot be played in iTunes. Despite where you can play them, the FLAC vs. ALAC debate does not factor in audio quality, as both are equal in terms of high-quality sound for music and beyond.

Converting FLAC and ALAC Audio Files

Whether it's for music or other audio needs, converting FLAC or ALAC audio files from one format to the other may seem as simple as changing the file extension and re-attempting to open it. In all reality, the conversion process isn't as simple as altering an extension. In order to correctly change the audio file type and convert them from one to the other, you'll need an audio file conversion software that can handle converting from ALAC to FLAC or vice versa.

This is where the Movavi Video Converter comes into play. Though the converter is displayed as a tool solely for video formats, it's also helpful in converting audio file types from one to the other. Movavi offers unparalleled safety and security when it comes to file conversion. You also won't have to worry about any loss of audio quality as you switch from one audio format to another, as Movavi makes sure to retain the high quality of your audio files as it converts from one to the other.

When Would You Need to Convert Audio Files?

The most realistic reason for needing to convert audio files from ALAC to FLAC is when you're trying to play a file in iTunes or another audio program. ALAC files are meant for iTunes, so if you're utilizing a PC that doesn't support ALAC file types, it's simple and easy to use Movavi Video Converter to change those files to FLAC, which can be more readily played on a PC. The same goes for those who have downloaded FLAC files but are looking to play them in the ALAC format on iTunes.

So, Which Audio Format is Best?

If you're looking to find out which audio format is best between ALAC vs. FLAC, you need not worry. Both file formats take up a small amount of space on a hard drive or personal storage device, they both compress audio files into smaller formats without the loss of quality, and both can contain HD music that is high quality on any speakers. Both of these file types are more compact than MP3 format files, as MP3 files tend to take up much more space than a lossless compressed file.

The question really comes down to where you're looking to listen. If you're a huge fan of Apple products and use an iPhone or iTunes for listening to music, the ALAC file format is your best bet. If you utilize a PC, you may find that FLAC audio files are a better fit for you and that you already have a program on your computer that can play them.

For FLAC or ALAC, Use Movavi Video Converter

Regardless of whether you prefer ALAC or FLAC, you can always swap these files from one format to the other utilizing Movavi Video Converter. For those who also dabble in video editing or other audio formats, Movavi Video Converter is a great fit to ensure that you're getting the best quality video and audio without compromising any safety or security.

To learn more and download Movavi Video Converter now, click here and see exactly what makes Movavi the best audio converting software on the market.

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