Why Not FLAC?

FLAC is the Free Lossless Audio Codec and does what it says on the tin. It is better quality than MP3 and smaller than Wav so it is a good halfway house for the discerning listener. WordPress do not allow FLAC files to be hosted. But for what reason?

One could argue it is because FLAC files are too big, much larger than mp3 or ogg files. But then why allow WAV files which are even larger?

FLAC cuts away all the data which is unnecessary in conveying the sound completely, unlike mp3 and ogg which cut some of that sound away. WAV files include this unnecessary data and so the file size is even larger than FLAC. Given this, file size cannot be the issue.

Maybe there is some restrictive licensing agreement or patent stopping the use of FLAC? Not so and it is in the name. The FREE Losless Audio Codec is a standard belonging to everyone and no one and can be freely used. Also, mp3 files were not free to use and yet were allowed by wordpress. Given this, licensing cannot be the issue.

Perhaps it is an issue with the end user? Again, as FLAC is free, there should not be an issue with playing FLAC back on users’ machines. Even if it were, WAV is far more unwieldy and difficult for users to work with, not least because WAV files cannot be tagged with properties. Given this, user-friendliness cannot be the issue.

I wouldn’t like to think it was an active attempt to discourage the uptake and use of FLAC. Perhaps I am being cynical? If so, can anyone think of a good reason why FLAC shouldn’t be allowed? I asked WordPress and was assured it would be added to “suggested improvements” but I don’t imagine anything will come of it.

However, since I started writing this, mp3 has become free! This is great news as you can now listen to my songs directly from my website (yay!, right?) and they will take up less space if you choose to download them. In terms of quality, I challenge even the most hardened audiophile to consistently tell FLAC from 320kbps mp3 in a double-blind trial.

Incidentally, I have just published music from the musical “A Man & His Piano” in 320kbps over on the downloads page.  Savour that high quality mp3 goodness!

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