View Full Version : Lossless Format Links

10-19-08, 12:56 PM


The Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC for short) is currently the preferred format for trading lossless audio shows amongst many members of the community. It has many superior features including good compression ratio, native support for Vorbis tagging, a fingerprinting feature which causes files to be unusable if they become corrupted, increasing support amongst standalone media players, and is supported by a dedicated group of open source developers.
A feature that sets FLAC apart from all other major lossless formats is it's ability to self-test itself. Basically, any FLAC file stores an md5 checksum of the audio content contained within the file (also called the FLAC Fingerprint) within the header of the file itself. By using FLAC's "test" function, you are able to run the check on the audio, compare it to the fingerprint stored when the file was encoded, and confirm that they are the same. This is extremely useful when trading files through BitTorrent as it will confirm that the files you were downloaded completely and without being corrupted. You should run a "test" on every batch of files after every time they are transferred, especially over BitTorrent.



Monkey's Audio (which uses the .ape extension) is a file format that has recently rivaled FLAC for the top seat in the lossless file format arena. It provides superior file compression (on the highest setting it can compres files 10% smaller even than FLAC), has support for a robust system of file tagging, and is distributed through a very straight-forward and simple software frontend. For straight file archiving, the ape is king, allowing the best bang for your media storage buck.
Ape's main disadvantage to FLAC is it's lack of an inherent fingerprinting check. Also, this format is much more processor intensive than it's main competitor, and playing back or decompressing the files may drag some middle-range computers to a halt. While it's the least used of the three lossless formats used at this site, it has a well-deserved following of devotees and is becoming more popular every month.


The older and most well established of the three formats used at this site is called Shorten (.shn). Originally named for it's revolutionary concept of "shortening" the length of PCM wav data, this format is very well supported and widely used. The praise of the Shorten codec, however, is no longer lavished by many of today's technically adept lossless traders. Newer and more robust formats such as FLAC and APE have surpassed SHN in every possible category.
This disadvantages to these newer formats that Shorten is faced with runs the gamut from larger filesize, to lack of native seekability in media players, to no file tagging support, to an overly restrictive licensing agreement. The SHN format has embedded itself well within the archives of many longtime traders, but is doomed to slowly but surely start fading out. Very few people remain who use this for new seeds, and an increasing number of older seeds are being converted over.