[Flac-dev] Idea to possibly improve flac?

David Richards rawdod at gmail.com
Fri Jan 7 14:38:34 PST 2011

I for one am not worried about getting mp3 encoded stuff in my flac
files, but I want to respond about "legitimate" OggFLAC.

OggFLAC as a format for files, I agree, used by no one. However, I
don't know of any other open source way to stream lossless audio.
Maybe I did not look hard enough. Certainly nothing I can think of
that would hope to be compatible with standard media player softwares
out there.

I am interested in streaming lossless audio, FLAC is probably the best
option for that. Currently the OggFLAC way of doing it mostly works
with a few hacks in libflac and my version of edcast. It might be that
the Ogg packaging layer is ill suited for this purpose, and an
alternative model developed.  I've seen that its possible to stream
native flac with netcat, but thats not really the solution I'm looking

I'm also interested in another concept of lossless streaming with
flac. Lets call it broadcast flac. A problem with streaming for long
periods of time is that the sending and receiving computers clocks go
out of sync, for example even if I stream myself on localhost, with
something like 1 second of buffertime, the client will eat into that
over about one hour and run out of buffer causing a skip. It could
also theoretically keep getting more and more lagged until its way
behind. I'd like to develop a standard system that could be sent
between the server and client side to keep there clients in sync to a
fairly exacting amount of lag time behind the server (say 1.5 seconds,
I think you end up with about a half second of delay with flac
encoding no matter what but my brain is blanking on this right now,
meaning it would not be suitable for 'real time" remote sound mixing).
Anyway what could happen is the client could do a little bit of
re-sampling here or there to ensure its in sync with the servers

If anyone is interested in such things, or knows of an existing system
that I don't know of, give me a hollar!


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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