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Thread: Ogg-Vorbis or FLAC?

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    Senior Member aria's Avatar
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    Ogg-Vorbis or FLAC?

    Hello,
    Was just wandering which of the two formats you like.
    Personally I have the feeling Ogg is better at highest quality than FLAC. And if I transcode from Ogg to FLAC, the file is larger than the directly ripped and transcoded to FLAC file. And the kbps is higher in FLAC if transcoded from Ogg. Vice-versa, the Ogg file is identical if ripped and transcoded directly to Ogg, or transcoded from FLAC to Ogg. I also have to say that Ogg, being a Linux format, I give it more credit from the start.

    Edited: It is curious, but the directly ripped and transcoded Ogg file is smaller than the directly ripped and transcoded FLAC, and the kbps is smaller too. But the smaller Ogg file is able to produce a larger and better (higher kbps) FLAC file. Should I understand that Ogg packs more information and in better way compared to FLAC? This would be the logical conclusion.

    I also like to listen to these files in Audacious, because it allows to set the bit depth. And Ogg seems to sound better in 32 bits, while FLAC in floating point.
    I made these tests with classical music files, both instrumental and vocal, ripped from my CDs. They seem to better allow to feel the deepness of the sound (harmonics). Edited: I used a HiFi headset directly connected to the computer, with no equalizer enabled. So, these (above) were my conclusions.
    What are yours? Why would you chose a format over the other, when setting your long term (home) digital music library?
    Thanks,
    Last edited by aria; Dec 12th 2012 at 01:21 AM.
    aria

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    Ancient oshunluvr's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what you mean by "high quality" as FLAC is what they call "loss-less" - meaning no loss in quality - and OGG is "lossy" - meaning quality (actually, data) is lost. The size of a FLAC file depends on the compression level used.

    Having said that, the differences you point out may have something to do with the play-back software rather than the container format. In my case, in the past many devices wouldn't play ogg formats (or flac for that matter) and mp3 just wasn't good enough for archival storage. I ripped all my CD's to flac and then have a servicemenu that allows me to create an mp3 or ogg when I need it for a portable device like my phone or audio player or CD for my car. My media center and computers will (obviously) play flac directly.

    Personally, I would do what sounds best for you and works for your situation. If OGG files sound better to you given your player setup - stick with it. If you're looking for long term storage and backup for your collection I would suggest a loss-less container for that.
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    Kubuntu as Second Language james147's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aria View Post
    Hello,
    Was just wandering which of the two formats you like.
    I like and use them both for different purposes.

    Personally I have the feeling Ogg is better at highest quality than FLAC.
    This depends on how you create each file, as oshunluvr said, FLAC is a loss-less format, it dose not discard data to reduce the file size (which is why they tend to be larger). Where as ogg are lossy (like mp3s are) which means to get smaller sizes they discard data. This is normally fine as computers can store audio in higher detail then your ears or the speakers or headphones you have can detect, however the more you compress a ogg the worst the sound quality becomes.

    And if I transcode from Ogg to FLAC
    Don't do this, once a file is in ogg you have lost data so there is no point in converting back to FLAC and you are just going to reduce the audio quality.

    the file is larger than the directly ripped and transcoded to FLAC file. And the kbps is higher in FLAC if transcoded from Ogg.
    This is due to the fact that ogg changes the audio data and FLAC does not, to transcoding from ogg to FLAC will produce different results then encoding directly to FLAC. The higher file size and kbps only means there is more data, not that the data is any good when you decode ogg it probably fiddles the sound a bit to make it sound better which messes with the FLAC encoding.

    Vice-versa, the Ogg file is identical if ripped and transcoded directly to Ogg, or transcoded from FLAC to Ogg.
    This is expected since FLAC does not lose any data when encoding so presents the same data to ogg for encoding as encoding directly to ogg.

    I also have to say that Ogg, being a Linux format, I give it more credit from the start.
    Nether are "Linux" formats, they are both available on almost any platform. They are both open and licence free formats if that is what you mean. I believe that they are even created by the same people (correct me if I am wrong) for two different proposes.

    As a general rule of thumb:

    • I get FLAC files when I can and encode to FLAC when I have the original source.
    • I use ogg if I cannot get hold of the FLAC version of a file. Or mp3 otherwise.
    • I do not transcode from one medium to another for storage (ie I keep everything in its original format)
    • I transcode everything to ogg when I transfer it to my media player (aka android phone, would use mp3 if ogg isn't supported)


    I admit that I am not an obsessed with audio quality and don't really notice the difference. However I also believe that most people that do prefer FLAC for storing originals (including as far as I know most major music companies).

    Most of the difference in FLAC comes with how you encode it in the first place, and what you encode it from.

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    Senior Member aria's Avatar
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    I meant Ogg at its highest quality, not FLAC. But Sound Converter (for sure) and Asunder (I believe) do have a quality scale for FLAC too, despite of what FLAC's name says. Anyway, all rips and transcodings I mentioned above, I made them with K3b, which has no quality scale for FLAC, which means (I suppose) loss-less. Only Ogg, I set it to the maximum.
    Last edited by aria; Dec 12th 2012 at 01:40 AM.
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    Kubuntu as Second Language james147's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aria View Post
    I meant Ogg at its highest quality, not FLAC. But Sound Converter (for sure) and Asunder (I believe) do have a quality scale for FLAC too, despite of what FLAC's name says. Anyway, all rips and transcodings I mentioned above, I made them with K3b, which has no quality scale for FLAC, which means (I suppose) loss-less. Only Ogg, I set it to the maximum.
    FLAC does have compression levels from the man page:
    -0..-8, --compression-level-0..--compression-level-8 Fastest compression..highest compression (default is -5). These are synonyms for other options:
    But you can compress data without losing data (this is what loss-less compression means, it is what gzip does for example). The "quality" slider might adjust the compression level but shouldn't affect the overall quality of the data (might take longer to encode/decode however).

    Also, I think is sound converter you can change which encoder/decoder to use, which will change the options available.
    Last edited by james147; Dec 12th 2012 at 02:03 AM.

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    Senior Member aria's Avatar
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    Thanks Oshunluvr and James147. I did my research on Wiki, and curious things:
    FLAC supports only fixed-point samples, not floating-point. It can handle any PCM bit resolution from 4 to 32 bits per sample,...
    Or, what I experienced, was that FLAC sounds better in floating-point than in 32bit!? Strange enough... I'll do my homework further.
    aria

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    Senior Member aria's Avatar
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    Very interesting to read that Ogg-Vorbis (or its fork aoTuV) performed better at all bitrates in listening tests (audiophiles) than other lossy formats like AAC, MP3, WMA, being only recently (2011) surpassed by Opus (developed by the same company that maintains Vorbis and FLAC). That explains my perception about Ogg-Vorbis files.

    On the other hand, FLAC seems primary oriented to preserve the original information (like a CD that can be restored from FLAC), and only secondary to be easy to stream.

    My interpretation of all these is that:
    - FLAC is a more technical-oriented format meant for archiving and original restore, but also easy to listen directly to it, still not performing the best audiophile results (it sounds flat despite all information, like harmonics, being there).
    - Ogg-Vorbis is a streaming-format, meant primary for listening experience (audiophile included). It is a lossy format, but encoded at highest quality, the loss is less than the gain in emphasizing fine details like harmonics. Soon Opus will replace it.

    OK, this is my lesson: cannot use a single format (like I was hoping) to preserve my music collection and to listen to it. But the good side in all these, is that FLAC doesn't need to be updated (as it is loss-free), only the streaming formats do (today Vorbis, tomorrow Opus, and so one, and these can be transcoded from the FLAC library at anytime).

    Don't know if this thread needs to be marked as solved. There was no problem to be solved, just opinions to be exchanged.
    Last edited by aria; Dec 12th 2012 at 03:43 AM.
    aria

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    Kubuntu as Second Language james147's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aria View Post
    My interpretation of all these is that:
    - FLAC is a more technical-oriented format meant for archiving and original restore, but also easy to listen directly to it, still not performing the best audiophile results (it sounds flat despite all information, like harmonics, being there).
    - Ogg-Vorbis is a streaming-format, meant primary for listening experience (audiophile included). It is a lossy format, but encoded at highest quality, the loss is less than the gain in emphasizing fine details like harmonics. Soon Opus will replace it.
    That is interesting, didn't think the FLAC might not be the best at streaming, though I can under stand why (allot more data to read in a short amount of time that also must be uncompressed). Though it is good to know it is still the best format for storing media in . I might have to transcode my media collection to ogg after backing up my FLACs. (although atm this is not very much... as I lost all my music a couple weeks ago when I trashed my home drive luckly my music collection was just about the only thing I lost that cannot quickly be recovered)

    Don't know if this thread needs to be marked as solved. There was no problem to be solved, just opinions to be exchanged.
    I would consider it solved if you have gained the information you wanted, the thread can still be commented upon and the discussion continued if needed even after marking it as solved.
    Last edited by james147; Dec 12th 2012 at 04:14 AM.

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    RSDC of the Loyal Order of Loosejaw woodsmoke's Avatar
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    Pan-Galactic Quordlepleen SteveRiley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by james147 View Post
    FLAC's..."quality" slider might adjust the compression level but shouldn't affect the overall quality of the data (might take longer to encode/decode however).
    And depending on the hardware, this can create perceptual differences during playback. Either the CPU struggles to decode all the data and the playback engine drops some bits, or the CPU skips portions of the data during decode.

    Quote Originally Posted by aria View Post
    OK, this is my lesson: cannot use a single format (like I was hoping) to preserve my music collection and to listen to it. But the good side in all these, is that FLAC doesn't need to be updated (as it is loss-free), only the streaming formats do (today Vorbis, tomorrow Opus, and so one, and these can be transcoded from the FLAC library at anytime.
    Regardless of the chosen compression level, FLAC is lossless, meaning that all original audio data is preserved. Therefore, a proper archive of some other audio source should use FLAC (or WavPack). Because the sheer amount of data can be overwhelming during playback, however, encoding to a lossy format is typically what's done for day-to-day listening. In fact, I'm enduring the arduous process of this right now. Eons ago I ripped in WMA lossless and encoded to WMA lossy. That was long before my open-source "conversion." Now I'm simultaneously cross-converting the WMA lossless to FLAC (fortunately this works just fine, all data remains preserved) and encoding to AAC (alas, no Vorbis on the Vita).

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