Developed by the Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG), MP3 is the most common audio format today. It uses compression technology to encode audio data by discarding some sound elements that are considered to be beyond the hearing capabilities of most humans. As a result, the file size will become fairly smaller but a relatively high-quality is promised at the same time.
FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), on the other hand, is a lossless audio coding format created by Xiph.org Foundation. It doesn’t lose any signal information during the compression and can achieve a significant file size reduction, typically around 50–70% of the original size, but is still larger than MP3.
From the basic information of the two formats, we can easily conclude that MP3 is better for saving on devices with small storage and FLAC is a good option for intact and high-quality music. However, during the actual usage, there are more things you need to take into consideration when choosing between them. Let’s delve into the details.
- MP3 VS FLAC: Quality
FLAC undoubtedly overshadows MP3 in terms of audio quality. As we have noted that FLAC uses the lossless compression to keep 1:1 flawless content while MP3 certainly deletes some details of the original soundtrack. But without a good device, most people can hardly tell the difference of the audio quality between MP3 and FLAC. So people don’t need to go for hi-fi music blindly. Actually, the MP3 320kpbs can deliver the decent audio quality, as well.
- FLAC VS MP3: File Size
Typically, a FLAC audio file is several times larger than an MP3. But if your devices have enough storage room or you’re going to make a digital backup of your CD collection, converting CD to FLAC is worthy. What’s more, you can convert FLAC to WAV and burn it to CD to make an exact CD disc copy later. There is no data loss during the whole process. On the other hand, if there is insufficient space on your devices, MP3 is proven to be space-efficient in practice.
- MP3 VS FLAC: Compatibility
MP3 is the most common audio format so far. Nearly all platforms and modern devices give support for this format so you don’t worry about the usability of MP3 on your computer, mobile phone, tablet, and any other portable device. Despite the fact that FLAC owns increasing popularity in recent years, people still run into playback issues caused by the FLAC incompatibility. For instance, Apple doesn’t natively support FLAC on some early products.
It depends on how you use the audio and what your purpose is. If you’re an audiophile and values high quality music experience based on a good headphone or sound system, or you want to make an exact copy of original audio at a respectively smaller size, go and choose FLAC. But if storage space is your concern, MP3 is a good way to go. Besides the advantage of small size, MP3 is also useful for streaming and share music since it requires less bandwidth and features fast loading.