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Comparing FLAC and Monkey's, Advantages of each encoder & frontend
IveyLeaguer
post Apr 2 2003, 03:01
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Hi Everybody,

As of today, which of these might be the best to use for archiving Wave files?

Which one is more compatible with the software commonly used by most of us here? Which is faster or more accurate? Are there tag or feature advantages of either?

I have used Monkey's for about a year now and have been very happy with it. I was told in the beginning that FLAC or Monkey's were both excellent and it primarily depended on who (here) you talked to, that there were supporters of both. Monkey's is just the one I happened to get.

I presently need to archive a large number of valuable Wave files that have no other backup and I want to do it on discs. A member I respect has suggested I look into FLAC. So, I would appreciate your input.

FWIW, I downloaded Nero plugins for both Monkey's 3.97 and FLAC 1.1.0 today, so that's not a factor. I'll be using Replay Gain and that could be a factor. From what I've been able to find here, Monkey's files may be somewhat smaller (high compression setting) - all else equal that could be a factor.

What about the front ends? Monkey's frontend is certainly nice - and easy to use.

Would it ever make any sense to use both? I prefer to rip and encode separately and I'll be using the usual software - EAC, Lame, MPC, Ogg, and future improved lossy encoders, like everybody else here.

Thanks in advance.
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Differenciam
post Apr 2 2003, 03:30
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APE gets you slightly smaller files, while FLAC is more of a standard and isn't as annoying to get to work under Linux.

I use APE.
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Sachankara
post Apr 2 2003, 06:10
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Monkey's audio:
+High compression
+Fast compression
-Not pure open source, more like Microsoft's "source available"
-Very processor demanding playback (not suitable for portables)
-Full bitstream failure on single broken byte
-Format changes now and then, rendering older encodings useless (has happened before)

FLAC:
+Open source, multiplatform compatible
+Streamable (accepts bitstream failures without stopping playback)
+Low processor demand for playback (suitable for portables)
+The audio format is frozen and playback compatibility will not change with newer versions
-Slow encoding
-A few percentages lower compression than APE (2-3% average)

Okay, so I'm a bit biased. wub.gif So what? tongue.gif
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darin
post Apr 2 2003, 06:17
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I never used Monkey's audio to compare, but I have been using FLAC and I am real happy with it. My only complaint is that I wish the files would compress smaller(that goes for Monkey's Audio also).

-Darin

:alien:


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X-Fixer
post Apr 2 2003, 07:35
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QUOTE (Sachankara @ Apr 2 2003 - 12:10 PM)
FLAC
-Slow encoding

much faster than ape on default compression level. --best is somewhat useless, because it does not give noticable benefits in size, while being about 5-8 times slower.
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budgie
post Apr 2 2003, 08:44
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I use only WavPack for lossless and many times for lossy compression. It's very fast and when I compared it with FLAC, WavPack always ended with a bit better compression. The main reason for me was its speed and hybrid mode, anyway.
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CiTay
post Apr 2 2003, 13:04
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I'd say FLAC. It's more resistant to errors (speaking of CD-R archiving), and at least for me, ReplayGain is a must.
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jcoalson
post Apr 2 2003, 18:49
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QUOTE (budgie @ Apr 2 2003 - 02:44 AM)
I use only WavPack for lossless and many times for lossy compression. It's very fast and when I compared it with FLAC, WavPack always ended with a bit better compression.

Default Wavpack is ~2x faster than default FLAC on encoding and gets about 1% better compression, but FLAC still decodes faster (~15%), which does matter on hardware players. In any case, Wavpack's compression/speed and decompression/speed ratio is very good. I have toyed with the idea of adding its method to FLAC now that their two licenses are compatible; I'm only worried about be more vulnerable to patent claims (not Bryant's, someone unknown third person's) since the method is more complicated.

Josh
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Warlock
post Apr 3 2003, 18:37
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I have been using Monkey's audio for archiving and I am very pleased with it, but these boards have convinced me that FLAC is the better choice (primarily because it is streamable and might someday be supported on my ipod). I use Music Center 9 to manage my library and transfer files to my ipod (the smartlists are really amazing). At this point, however, MC9 does not play FLAC files, so I am kinda in a holding pattern before I make the switch to FLAC.

Josh: I've noticed that a lot of people over at the MC9 forums are asking for FLAC support. Have you heard anything about a plugin? Is there any chance one might be in the works?
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jcoalson
post Apr 3 2003, 23:29
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QUOTE (Warlock @ Apr 3 2003 - 12:37 PM)
Josh: I've noticed that a lot of people over at the MC9 forums are asking for FLAC support.  Have you heard anything about a plugin?  Is there any chance one might be in the works?

It used to be that MJ would use winamp2 plugins and the FLAC winamp2 plugin supposedly worked fine. I don't know if that broke or MC does not support wa2 plugins. I don't think the media jukebox guys are going to write a native plugin since Matt Ashland (the Monkey's Audio author) works there. I don't have any plans to write one either but it should be straightforward for someone else to do.

Josh
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joeg
post Apr 4 2003, 01:00
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QUOTE (CiTay @ Apr 2 2003 - 07:04 AM)
I'd say FLAC. It's more resistant to errors (speaking of CD-R archiving), and at least for me, ReplayGain is a must.

what do you mean?

how do ape files get errors?
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bryant
post Apr 4 2003, 01:42
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QUOTE (joeg @ Apr 3 2003 - 04:00 PM)
QUOTE (CiTay @ Apr 2 2003 - 07:04 AM)
I'd say FLAC. It's more resistant to errors (speaking of CD-R archiving), and at least for me, ReplayGain is a must.

what do you mean?

how do ape files get errors?

Because of the way FLAC is designed, if a bit error happens somewhere in the FLAC file, only that block is affected. In most other lossless formats (including current versions of MAC and WavPack), a single bit error can corrupt the entire file beyond that point.
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buzzy
post Apr 4 2003, 01:52
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Do a search for some of the best lossless codec threads, and browse the forums a little, you'll see lots more comments.

As far as file size, encode speed, and decode speed, see:
http://home.wanadoo.nl/~w.speek/comparison.htm

For some other comparisons, see:
http://flac.sourceforge.net/comparison.html
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joeg
post Apr 4 2003, 04:20
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QUOTE (bryant @ Apr 3 2003 - 07:42 PM)
QUOTE (joeg @ Apr 3 2003 - 04:00 PM)
QUOTE (CiTay @ Apr 2 2003 - 07:04 AM)
I'd say FLAC. It's more resistant to errors (speaking of CD-R archiving), and at least for me, ReplayGain is a must.

what do you mean?

how do ape files get errors?

Because of the way FLAC is designed, if a bit error happens somewhere in the FLAC file, only that block is affected. In most other lossless formats (including current versions of MAC and WavPack), a single bit error can corrupt the entire file beyond that point.

ohh... does this only occur during downloading/burning?
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Warlock
post Apr 4 2003, 05:24
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QUOTE
QUOTE

QUOTE (Warlock @ Apr 3 2003 - 12:37 PM)
Josh: I've noticed that a lot of people over at the MC9 forums are asking for FLAC support. Have you heard anything about a plugin? Is there any chance one might be in the works? 

It used to be that MJ would use winamp2 plugins and the FLAC winamp2 plugin supposedly worked fine. I don't know if that broke or MC does not support wa2 plugins. I don't think the media jukebox guys are going to write a native plugin since Matt Ashland (the Monkey's Audio author) works there. I don't have any plans to write one either but it should be straightforward for someone else to do.


Thanks for answering this for me. Unfortunately, recent MC9 builds no longer work with the old Winamp2 plugins. I guess I just need to be patient and wait for someone to put together a new FLAC plugin. In the meantime, I will keep archiving with Monkey's and then convert to FLAC at some later date (although that will obviate one of FLAC's advantages). I'll just have to hope that I don't get any file corruption before I convert.
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bryant
post Apr 4 2003, 05:40
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QUOTE (joeg @ Apr 3 2003 - 07:20 PM)
QUOTE (bryant @ Apr 3 2003 - 07:42 PM)
QUOTE (joeg @ Apr 3 2003 - 04:00 PM)
QUOTE (CiTay @ Apr 2 2003 - 07:04 AM)
I'd say FLAC. It's more resistant to errors (speaking of CD-R archiving), and at least for me, ReplayGain is a must.

what do you mean?

how do ape files get errors?

Because of the way FLAC is designed, if a bit error happens somewhere in the FLAC file, only that block is affected. In most other lossless formats (including current versions of MAC and WavPack), a single bit error can corrupt the entire file beyond that point.

ohh... does this only occur during downloading/burning?

I'm not sure where most file errors come from. They can come from downloading or reading from a bad CD-R or transfered over a local net or even just sitting on a hard drive, even though all of these errors should be detected when they happen. I have actually never seen a file go bad (except on floppies), but I prefer old cheap stable systems. smile.gif

But anyway, if a FLAC file does get corrupted it's no big deal. If it's another lossless compressor you might be hosed. sad.gif
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budgie
post Apr 4 2003, 08:53
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bryant:

I always verify my wavpack files and then make MD5 checksum before burning it on CDRs. On burned CDR again I verify and MD5 checksum verify... and as I use only high quality CDRs, I think I am okay. It costs some time but then you know you did everything you could.
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MusicLover
post Apr 5 2003, 14:22
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QUOTE (Sachankara @ Apr 1 2003 - 09:10 PM)
-Very processor demanding playback (not suitable for portables)

With the standard settings?

QUOTE (Sachankara @ Apr 1 2003 - 09:10 PM)
-Format changes now and then, rendering older encodings useless (has happened before)

It was only once (v1?). The athor swears not to do it again... wink.gif

QUOTE (Sachankara @ Apr 1 2003 - 09:10 PM)
-Full bitstream failure on single broken byte

If I'm not mistaken, alraedy corrected or will be soon.


edit: standart -> standard. This is an important word (--alt-preset standard, --standard...), don't misspell it... wink.gif

This post has been edited by CiTay: Apr 5 2003, 17:53
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DonP
post Apr 5 2003, 16:03
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QUOTE (budgie @ Apr 4 2003 - 02:53 AM)
bryant:

I always verify my wavpack files and then make MD5 checksum before burning it on CDRs. On burned CDR again I verify and MD5 checksum verify... and as I use only high quality CDRs, I think I am okay. It costs some time but then you know you did everything you could.

That lets you know that the write is ok. If an error develops later doesn't the checksum
only verify that there is an error? ie no recovery function, and no audio past the error?
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sony666
post Apr 6 2003, 17:44
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I got a small question about flac..
Does the compression level of flac files have any impact on CPU usage when playing them? I would go for max compression when encoding, but only if it doesnt affect playback (like it does happen with monkey's)
thx
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Differenciam
post Apr 6 2003, 18:31
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Not even close as much lag as the monkey does, even on the highest compression setting.
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jcoalson
post Apr 7 2003, 02:33
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QUOTE (sony666 @ Apr 6 2003 - 11:44 AM)
I got a small question about flac..
Does the compression level of flac files have any impact on CPU usage when playing them? I would go for max compression when encoding, but only if it doesnt affect playback (like it does happen with monkey's)
thx

Not much. FLAC is asymmetric in favor of decoding speed. See the comparison page for decoding speed comparisons with different settings. "flac -8" decodes fine even on hardware players.

Josh
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Moguta
post Apr 7 2003, 03:24
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One thing I don't like about current lossless compression is that many of my CDs are long enough and/or have complex enough music that 2 CDs won't compress to fit on 1 CD. And I'm currently using MAC, so getting even larger filesizes, like with FLAC, is not something I'd love to do.

FLAC is able to run on hardware players, but is there a single hardware player out there yet that plays FLAC?

I must ask, why would you use such a huge file as FLAC on portables? You could use --alt-preset MP3s instead, and likely you'll get about as good quality considering the small hardware you're listening through, for much less space. And ReplayGain support isn't really that useful for archiving files.

I must admit, though, the fact that one bit-error corrupts an entire MAC file is disconcerting. Hopefully it can & will be changed, as MusicLover asserts.
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flloyd
post Apr 7 2003, 04:24
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QUOTE (Moguta @ Apr 6 2003 - 09:24 PM)
FLAC is able to run on hardware players, but is there a single hardware player out there yet that plays FLAC?

I must ask, why would you use such a huge file as FLAC on portables?  You could use --alt-preset MP3s instead, and likely you'll get about as good quality considering the small hardware you're listening through, for much less space.  And ReplayGain support isn't really that useful for archiving files.

FLAC already has a few products with hardware support, mostly car systems and home audio digital servers. Check out the right side of the FLAC homepage. The home audio digital servers are really cool because you can rip all of your CDs to them and use it like a 300 CD player yet sort them much easier and catergorize them by genre, year etc. The one big disadvantage is that they can be very expensive. I don't think we will see any portable support though until we start getting about 50 GB portables though.


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jcoalson
post Apr 7 2003, 16:57
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QUOTE (Moguta @ Apr 6 2003 - 09:24 PM)
One thing I don't like about current lossless compression is that many of my CDs are long enough and/or have complex enough music that 2 CDs won't compress to fit on 1 CD.  And I'm currently using MAC, so getting even larger filesizes, like with FLAC, is not something I'd love to do.

If you are using CDRs for backup, then the small difference in compression between FLAC and MAC is the least of your problems. Search the board for Pio2001's many fine posts on the unreliabilty of CDRs. You will probably have to add significant error correction information anyway.

Josh
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