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What is a FLAC audio file?

by Casey Schmidt  |  October 1, 2019

2 min. read
The flac file type icon.

The flac file is a powerful way to store audio without losing quality or sacrificing harddrive space. Here’s everything you need to know about flac.

What is a FLAC audio file?

Flac stands for ‘Free Lossless Audio Compression’. This is because it’s an audio file that has been compressed into a smaller, more manageable size than the original. However, this compression is lossless, meaning it doesn’t lose any of the quality of the sound during the size reduction.

Think of lossless compression like folding a large blanket so that it can fit into a drawer. Whereas other types of compression might involve cutting off pieces of the blanket to make it fit, lossless just folds it until it’s smaller. Ultimately a folded blanket hasn’t lost any of its quality – it can still be unfolded into its original size.

How to open a FLAC file

The flac isn’t the most accessible audio file types available. Fortunately, there are some quality third party systems that allow both Windows and Mac users to open them. One such program is VLC Media Player. VLC opens flac files as well as many other common file types. You’ll likely end up using VLC instead of your current media player.

A phone wearing headphones.
The VLC Media Player is great for opening flac.

How to convert a FLAC file

There are a bunch of different ways to convert a flac file. The easiest way is to locate a browser-based conversion system. The valuable part about these is they don’t require a download and installation of a new program to use. If you need to convert a massive amount of flac files, then downloading a converter makes the most sense. FlacSquisher is one of our favorites. It converts flacs to all sorts of different audio file types.

Who should use FLAC?

Anyone with large quantities of sensitive audio formatted files should consider flac, especially if they plan on sharing or uploading them. A flac takes up only about sixty percent of the original file size on a hard drive. This makes it easier to share and upload to the cloud. It’s also nicer for recipients of the files.

A digital representation of sound waves.
If you need to upload audio to the cloud, flac is a great option.

What types of users should consider flac? Anyone with professional-grade recordings needs to use flac. For example, a recording artist wouldn’t want to place their audio into an mp3, which would create lossy compression. The flac would compress the file without sacrificing initial quality. Furthermore, lovers of sound – especially music – should consider flac for the same reason.

If you’ve been looking for a way to save drive space, quickly share audio files and maintain sound quality, flac is the right file type for you.