[Flac-dev] Idea to possibly improve flac?

Brian Waters brianmwaters at gmail.com
Fri Jan 7 14:32:42 PST 2011

I actually agree with pretty much everything Brian just said.

To add to that though, I'd say that mp3-to-FLAC transcodes are a very
real problem for, shall we say, illegitimate sources of material. (And
that is a totally legitimate thing, in and of itself... er, what?)

- BW

On Fri, Jan 7, 2011 at 5:22 PM, Brian Willoughby <brianw at sounds.wa.com> wrote:
> First of all, I am not aware of any official source of FLAC files
> that provide MP3 sourced data.  I meticulously check the music I
> purchase, especially when it is 24/48 or 24/96 material, because this
> is new technology, and sometimes people get it wrong.
> However, you should be aware that many modern producers use software
> to create their music, and when the software stores sound clips in
> MP3 format, what you end up with is music that sometimes looks like
> MP3.  I recently purchased a second release of an old download from
> an artist who has his material re-mastered.  Since he made such a big
> deal about the re-mastering, I took a close look at the quality.  For
> some reason, the second track looked like an MP3 source, but I'm sure
> it just has to do with the software that was used to create the music
> originally.
> In other words, if you try to shut down the FLAC encoder based on an
> FFT, you might have a lot of false triggers!
> I purchase a great deal of music, exclusively in FLAC format.  I
> purchase from LINN Records, Bleep.com, Warp Records, and also
> directly from artists like Nine Inch Nails who provide FLAC files.  I
> have never seen anyone provide MP3 quality.
> For that matter, OggFLAC seems to be a format that has never been
> used.  Ever.  I have simply never come across a legitimate source of
> music for purchasing which used the OggFLAC format.  I have seen FLAC
> come and go and come back again.
> Various online record labels started out with FLAC for bandwidth
> reasons.  Then they seemed to switch over to WAV as bandwidth became
> less of an issue, and I assume that their customers were confused by
> FLAC because of the lack of support in iTunes and other highly
> popular players.  Meanwhile, hardware such as the Sound Devices 700
> Series, the Squeezebox, and many other professional products has
> started with FLAC and stuck with it.  The sites who switched to WAV
> are now bringing back FLAC, but none of them have ever used OggFLAC.
> Finally, I think that people who are not embedded firmware developers
> do not understand why the FLAC sources have stopped changing.  What
> we have here is a rare case of a professional set of sources which do
> not have bugs, and which represents a solid standard that does not
> need changing.  People are selling hardware devices in droves, and
> they cannot afford to change their firmware every time some random
> change happens in the FLAC source.  It's actually way better that
> FLAC is not changing.
> Even when Apple came out with ALAC, their version of FLAC, I noticed
> that they could not consistently beat FLAC on coding speed and file
> size.  Some audio turns out smaller with ALAC, other audio turns out
> smaller with FLAC.  Overall, the average performance is identical.
> Apple hired some of the most amazing geniuses of physics to design
> ALAC, and if they can't beat the performance of FLAC in all
> situations, then what makes you think there is any reason to make a
> single change to the FLAC sources?
> While I'm writing, I also want to respond to the question about how
> to change FLAC so that all of the third party tools pick up the
> change.  Well, I don't think that is possible.  Many tools run the
> command-line flac utility behind the scenes.  Others use the FLAC
> library directly.  The problem is that both of them often run with
> out of date versions of the FLAC code, so no matter which way they
> incorporate the official FLAC sources, you cannot make them update to
> your anti-MP3 version.
> On that last note, I want to encourage you to experiment and have fun
> trying to create an MP3 detector that could warn users about quality
> issues.  However, I believe it is extremely unlikely that you would
> ever be successful in getting your code into the official FLAC
> sources.  This kind of change has nothing to do with the official
> FLAC format, and thus I doubt there would be any professional
> interest in changing things just for the sake of change or "newness."
> Brian Willoughby
> Sound Consultinf
> On Jan 7, 2011, at 12:56, David Richards wrote:
>> Its really sad to hear thats happening but even more sad is the fact
>> that flac is becoming a very common format for music on the interweb
>> whilst at the same time the development has ceased. I've found some
>> severe issues with OggFLAC that essentially make it a useless format
>> for streaming, no one cared.
>> On Fri, Jan 7, 2011 at 3:42 PM, Jørgen Vigdal <jorgen at anion.no> wrote:
>>> Due to the fact that more and more users increasingly use MP3 <
>>> 320kbps as
>>> their source for encoding music, and publish it as flac files, I
>>> suggest
>>> that something is done in the flac encoder to possible avoid this.
>>> My idea is kinda easy/stupid, but might work;
>>> Implement a function that use a FFT to check if the input has
>>> frequencies >
>>> 16kHz, and informs the user that the file would not be encoded
>>> unless a
>>> -force parameter is specified (or at least ask the user if he or
>>> she want to
>>> do this :) )
>>> Hopefully, this will reduce the number of files released on the
>>> internet,
>>> re-encoded from a lossy file format. Unfortunately, many users
>>> avoid using
>>> flac, because they think the encoder is lossy due to the poor
>>> sound on some
>>> files released.
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