If you have amassed a substantial collection of compact disks that no longer get the airtime they deserve since streaming has taken over, or you just want to create a digital back up in case the worst should happen, then here are four of the most popular and convenient file formats to consider.
Probably the first format that springs to mind when talking about digital music files. Pioneered in the early 1990s by the Moving Picture Experts Group MPED-3 or as it’s more commonly known MP3 is capable of compressing a cd to 75 – 95% of its original size. This space saving wizardry makes MP3 a great option for use on portable devices, such as the ambiguously named ‘MP3 Players’, mobile devices and tablets.
Designed to be the successor to MP3, and Apples current default (and only) option when purchasing from the iTunes store, AAC offers similar file saving benefits as MP3, while yielding slightly better sounding results. There are many conflicting views on the AAC vs MP3 debate, however the majority of folk would agree that the newer technology of AAC offers a cleaner sound than that of the ageing MP3. We would agree with this, but as with most things in the audio world it’s really only your ears that can tell you for sure.
Apple Music (unsurprisingly) uses the AAC format for its streaming service, as does Tidal if you opt for their entry £9.99 a month option.
Both AAC and MP3 use lossy encoding to achieve their small file sizes, Lossy compression removes data from the original file in order to shrink it down. Once this data has been removed the only way to retreve it would be to rip the CD again in a higher quality format.
FLAC, or Free Lossless Audio Codec, is a Lossless form of encoding that is ideal if you want to archive your CD collection, or just keep digital copies of your disks for computer or mobile playback while preserving their original quality. FLAC offers the ability to compress the original data by around 50%, but, without any loss in sound quality that can be experienced by Lossy encoding. FLAC will give you a like for like copy of the original CD, and would be considered the go to format for audiophiles that want to store their collections digitally.
This could quite simply be described as Apple’s version of FLAC; the Apple Lossless Audio Codec gives similar space saving results as FLAC, but, with the ability to natively work on Apple devices. You can easily rip your CDs to ALAC using iTunes which will also kindly grab the album artwork for you too. Take a look in the preferences tab where you can find the desired actions for importing CD’s.