What is an FLAC file & how do I open an FLAC file (Free Lossless Audio Codec File)?

.FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec File) - File Extension

Developer: Xiph.Org Foundation
File format: Binary

What is an FLAC file?

An FLAC file, short for Free Lossless Audio Codec, is a file format designed for audio compression without sacrificing the quality of the original audio data.

Unlike other common audio formats like MP3, which use lossy compression to reduce file size by discarding certain audio information, FLAC employs a lossless compression technique.

This means that FLAC files maintain the full audio fidelity of the original source, making them an ideal choice for audiophiles and professionals who require high-quality audio recordings.

How to Open an FLAC File

Opening an FLAC file is straightforward, especially given the widespread support for the format. There are various software programs available that can handle FLAC files:

  1. VLC Media Player: A versatile media player that supports a wide range of audio and video formats, including FLAC.
  2. Foobar2000: A customizable audio player for Windows that has native support for FLAC.
  3. iTunes: Although primarily associated with Apple’s proprietary formats, iTunes also supports FLAC with the help of plugins.
  4. Winamp: A classic media player that can handle FLAC files using plugins.
  5. MediaMonkey: Another media player that provides a comprehensive way to organize and play FLAC files.

To open an FLAC file, follow these general steps:

  1. Install a compatible media player or audio editing software.
  2. Open the software.
  3. Use the software’s file menu or drag and drop the FLAC file into the program.
  4. The FLAC file should now be playing or accessible through the software.

How to Convert an FLAC File

Converting audio files to and from FLAC can be useful for various reasons, such as compatibility or reducing file sizes. To convert other file types to FLAC or vice versa, you can use dedicated audio conversion software:

  • dBpoweramp: A versatile audio converter that supports various formats and provides high-quality conversions.
  • XLD: Exclusive to macOS, XLD excels at converting audio files while preserving metadata.
  • Fre:ac: An open-source audio converter that’s compatible with multiple platforms.

Converting to FLAC ensures that the resulting file maintains its original quality, as FLAC is a lossless format. However, when converting from FLAC to a lossy format like MP3, keep in mind that there will be a trade-off between file size and audio quality.

Security Considerations: Are “.FLAC” Files Safe?

FLAC files themselves are not inherently dangerous. They are simply audio files that contain audio data in a lossless format.

However, as with any file type, malicious actors could potentially disguise harmful content as FLAC files.

Users should exercise caution when downloading files from untrusted sources and ensure their security software is up-to-date to prevent any potential threats.

Format Details for FLAC Files

FLAC files are structured to maintain the original audio quality while achieving compression through various methods.

The FLAC format uses a combination of linear prediction and run-length encoding to achieve efficient compression without any loss of audio information.

The result is a file that’s typically around half the size of the original, making it an excellent choice for archiving high-quality audio recordings.

Uses and Applications of FLAC Files

FLAC files find their primary application in storing high-quality audio recordings while conserving disk space. They are commonly used in scenarios such as:

  • Music Production: Professionals use FLAC to store and exchange audio recordings without any quality loss.
  • Archiving: FLAC’s lossless compression is favored for creating audio archives that preserve original quality over time.
  • Audiophile Listening: Enthusiasts who demand the highest audio quality use FLAC for playback on high-end audio systems.

Associated Software Programs

Various software programs are commonly used to work with FLAC files. These include:

  • VLC Media Player: Apart from playback, VLC can also convert and transcode FLAC files.
  • Audacity: A versatile audio editing software that can handle FLAC files.
  • Adobe Audition: A professional audio editing tool that supports FLAC for editing and exporting.

Advantages and Disadvantages of FLAC Files


  • Lossless Quality: FLAC preserves the original audio quality without any degradation.
  • Metadata Support: FLAC files can store metadata like album art, track information, and more.
  • Widespread Support: Many media players and audio editing software support FLAC.
  • Archival Quality: FLAC is an excellent choice for archiving audio recordings for long periods of time.


  • Large File Sizes: FLAC files are larger than lossy formats like MP3, which can be a concern for storage and streaming.
  • Limited Device Compatibility: Some older or less common devices might not support FLAC playback.

Comparison with Other Formats

Compared to formats like MP3 and AAC, FLAC offers superior audio quality at the cost of larger file sizes.

MP3 and AAC use lossy compression, resulting in smaller files but with some audio quality loss.

FLAC is more suitable for audiophiles, music producers, and anyone who values audio fidelity.

Troubleshooting FLAC Files

If you encounter issues with FLAC files, here are some steps to consider:

  1. Check Software Compatibility: Ensure you’re using a media player or software that supports FLAC.
  2. Update Codecs: If playback issues arise, updating audio codecs or the software itself might resolve them.
  3. Verify File Integrity: If a FLAC file seems corrupt, try obtaining it from a trusted source again.

History of the FLAC File Extension

FLAC was developed by Josh Coalson in 2000 as an open-source alternative to proprietary lossless audio codecs.

It was created with the goal of providing a free and open format that could deliver lossless audio compression, ensuring no loss of quality while reducing file sizes.

Over the years, FLAC has gained popularity among audiophiles, music producers, and archivists for its high-quality audio compression capabilities.

Tips and Tricks for FLAC Files

  • Batch Conversion: Use audio conversion software to convert multiple files to FLAC simultaneously.
  • Metadata Management: Take advantage of FLAC’s metadata support to keep your audio library organized.
  • Storage Considerations: Balance file size and quality based on your storage capacity and listening preferences.

More information

Here are a few additional points of interest about the FLAC file format:


WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) is another commonly used audio file format known for its uncompressed, lossless nature. While both FLAC and WAV provide lossless audio quality, FLAC offers the advantage of significantly smaller file sizes due to its more efficient compression algorithms. This makes FLAC a preferred choice for archiving and distributing high-quality audio recordings online without taking up excessive storage space.

FLAC for Streaming:

While FLAC’s larger file sizes can be a drawback for streaming services where bandwidth efficiency is crucial, some platforms are starting to offer FLAC streaming options for users who prioritize audio quality. Tidal, for instance, provides a subscription tier that delivers FLAC-quality audio to audiophile listeners.

FLAC 24-bit and High-Resolution Audio:

FLAC supports various bit depths and sampling rates, including 24-bit audio and high-resolution formats. This makes it a versatile choice for preserving the full audio quality of studio recordings, which often utilize higher bit depths for more dynamic range and increased fidelity.

FLAC Compression Levels:

FLAC offers different compression levels during the encoding process. These levels allow users to balance compression efficiency with processing time.

Higher compression levels yield smaller file sizes but require more processing time during both encoding and decoding. Lower compression levels are quicker to encode and decode but result in slightly larger file sizes.

The choice of compression level depends on the user’s priorities—whether they prioritize smaller file sizes or faster processing.

FLAC for Audio Preservation:

In addition to its usage in music production and distribution, FLAC has also found its place in the realm of audio preservation. Archivists and institutions that need to retain audio content for historical purposes often prefer FLAC due to its lossless nature. This ensures that the archived audio remains as close to the original quality as possible, even after years of storage.

FLAC for Surround Sound:

FLAC is not limited to stereo audio. It can also support multi-channel audio, making it suitable for storing surround sound and immersive audio recordings. This makes FLAC a valuable format for enthusiasts and professionals working with audio setups that require multiple channels.

FLAC in Open Source and Community Projects:

FLAC’s open-source nature has encouraged its integration into a variety of projects and applications beyond media players. It’s used in software for audio analysis, data manipulation, and even as a testing format for audio equipment due to its high-quality audio reproduction.

Ongoing Development and Updates:

The FLAC format is not static; it continues to evolve with updates and improvements. The FLAC development community works to refine the format, enhance its capabilities, and ensure it remains a relevant and effective option for lossless audio compression in the ever-changing landscape of technology and audio production.

FLAC as a Mastering Format:

In the professional audio world, FLAC is sometimes used as a format for exchanging mastering sessions. When transferring projects between studios or collaborating remotely, FLAC’s lossless compression ensures that audio data remains unchanged during the exchange, reducing the risk of introducing errors or degradation.

Licensing and Patent-Free:

FLAC is an open-source format, and its implementation does not involve any proprietary patents or licenses. This makes it an attractive choice for developers, software creators, and hardware manufacturers who want to integrate FLAC support without worrying about licensing fees or legal restrictions.

Mobile Device Support:

While not as ubiquitous as some other audio formats, FLAC’s popularity has led to increased support on various mobile devices, particularly those geared toward audiophiles and media enthusiasts. Many high-end smartphones and portable media players now offer native or third-party app support for FLAC playback.

FLAC’s Versatility and Future:

FLAC’s unique combination of lossless compression, open-source nature, and compatibility with various software and hardware platforms positions it as a versatile and enduring audio file format.

As technology advances and audio quality standards continue to rise, FLAC’s role in delivering high-quality audio experiences remains crucial.

Whether it’s for music enthusiasts, professional audio engineers, or archivists, FLAC’s ability to balance quality and efficiency makes it a valuable asset in the world of audio.


The FLAC file extension stands as a testament to the pursuit of preserving audio quality in a world driven by data compression.

With its lossless compression technology, FLAC files have become a cornerstone for audiophiles, music professionals, and anyone who values pristine audio fidelity.

By combining the advantages of open-source development, compatibility with various software programs, and the ability to retain original audio quality, FLAC has secured its place as a preferred format for high-quality audio compression.

Software Compatible With The FLAC File Type
Free Lossless Audio Codec File

In this section you will find a list of the best programs compatible with the FLAC file type. We've selected the best software for Windows, Mac, Android and Linux to open, edit, convert and view the contents of FLAC files.