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A musician friend, who is producing his own album, asked for advice about how best to master the FLAC edition of the album. It will be distributed as a physical CD, as MP3 files, and as FLAC files. Customers will choose whichever format they prefer. The FLAC format edition can be tweaked to do something better than the other formats.

My friend is not a FLAC format expert. He starts from the studio masters, which were professionally done. What instructions should he give the software producing the FLAC files? Should the audio in the FLAC be 24 bit/96kHz, or 16 bit/44.1 kHz? What metadata should he include? What does FLAC do better than CD or MP3 formats? Any other best practices he should follow?

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FLAC is lossless compression. FLAC itself is compatible with the bit depth and sample rates of your studio masters. However, those listening won't always have sound hardware that are compatible with that bit depth and sample rate. (This problem has nothing to do with FLAC itself.)

If you want guaranteed compatibility, distribute FLAC at 44.1kHz 16-bit, and have it be identical as your CD.

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It will be good if your friend launches album in MP3 or CD format. There are not many FLAC players out in market but may come in future.

I recommend 24bit/96kHz will be better for FLAC encoding. btw, FLAC is lossless audio encoder.

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Never mind the Flac. Guru Madashavi says:" what is flac? Dont use that- there are no Flac players out there. Get a grip!"

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    My information says there are plenty of smartphone and apps which play FLACs. Dedicated music devices aren't the only market. – Jim DeLaHunt May 17 '14 at 20:24
  • Every Android device since 3.1 plays FLAC out of the box. That doesn't even include the software codecs to make it work on prior versions. Millions and millions of folks have FLAC players in their pocket. Chrome and Firefox play FLAC, as well as others. There is FLAC decoder support in JavaScript, meaning any browser supporting the Web Audio API can play FLAC even if it can't natively. – Brad Jun 17 '14 at 23:07

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