Forgive me if this subject has been discussed on this forum before, but I don't do much PC Audio and I get very confused.
I have downloaded some High Res content from HDTracks to my Macbook. These are all FLAC files. I tried transferring them to a flash drive to be played in two devices that are supposed to be FLAC compatible (most recently, the Marantz NA 7004 Network Music Player). These files won't play on either device.
They also won't play using the MacBook as the source, although I anticipated that.
Do I need some sort of a music management player to play these files? When I surf the net looking for conversion programs, most of them aim to change flac to mp3, which would defeat the purpose of trying to get a High Res file.
XLD or Max will convert what you want and they are free.
Try Amarra junior or mini this will resolve your flac issues. You can down load amarra on a 30 day trial.
Pure Music has the best integrated FLAC support. You can still control things from an iPad or Ipod Touch and use iTunes with Pure Music.

XLD ripper can be downloaded here:


Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Although the above programs are fine, you may want to just convert them into a file type better supported by the Mac OS.

I highly recommend trying different player programs. Audirvana is free, and ranks right up there. Pure Music and Amarra are the two most expensive, and neither are my favorite.

If you do decide to convert the FLAC files to another format, I would highly recommend that you keep the original files also.
I recently purchased Decibel for $33.00, get yourself a High Resolution Technologies Music Streamer ll+ and you will be blown away!! Unbelievable!!
Everyone deserves great sound!!
I downloaded Decibel, the trial version, and it worked fine with the FLAC files I downloaded from hdtracks. (Unlike the DVD-As I burned from those same files, but that's another story.)
I'm wondering if you downloaded 24-bit/192kHz files... The Marantz can only play back up to 24/96.

The track I downloaded was a Reference Recording, Exotic Dances from the Opera, which is listed on the HDTracks site as 24 bit/96kHz.
The Marantz won't play it.
Shouldn't I be able to download a flac file on a mac as a flac file and then
copy it to a flash drive and still have it be a flac file? Or does passing through the mac environment corrupt the file? Keep in mind that I am not attempting to play the file from the Mac itself.
I agree, the file should remain a FLAC file when you transfer it from your Mac to a thumbdrive. So I don't understand why the Marantz won't play it.
You know, this is likely unrelated, but I just copied my hi rez Rush and Milos Karagdelic FLAC files from my Mac to a flash drive. I also copied some Apple Lossless files to the flash drive. I wanted to see if my car could play the FLAC files, as it has a USB port. It turned out it could not. I wasn't really expecting it to. It occurred to me later though that the FLAC files may not be to blame, as I have literally thousands of Kindle book files on the same thumb drive, so maybe the car stereo got overwhelmed looking for audio files. SO, maybe we should both make sure there's not a lot of extraneous junk on our thumbdrives? I don't expect the Camaro to play the FLAC, esp hi-rez FLAC, but I do expect the Marantz to, of course.
I downloaded Decibel and it it was easy to use and now I can play the files, but not on the Marantz.
The display in the Marantz seems to be telling me that it will output only 44.1 khz. The Marantz is on loan to me from a dealer. I suspect that it may need a firmware upgrade( which is not free) to output 96 khz but when I called the dealer they were clueless and unwilling to let me make the upgrade (they had to borrow the piece themselves from another store). The Marantz also isn't capable of Air Play without the upgrade, so I can't test that feature. This is a real problem, as I otherwise am not very impressed by this piece. It sounds very laid back and uninsightful, no match for the firewire DAC that I use with my Mac Book in my home theatre system or for my PS Audio Digital Link 3 that I use in my two channel system.
Re: your car: I suspect that the USB will only play mp3 files or the equivalent
I deleted all the eBooks and the car stereo still crashed when it atempted to read the thumb drive. Oh, well.
I can't think of anything else to get the Marantz to play the files, so I guess you should wash your hands of it and try another device.
Does the Marantz read any other audio file types, such as aiff or wav, from the flash drive? If not, maybe the flash drive is formatted in a Macintosh format. Most of the audio devices I have tried to use with a flash drive require it to be formatted in FAT32.
I've taken my flash drive from my wife's PC to my Mac and there weren't any compatibility problems. I don't know how it was formatted though. It came formatted from Lexar.
Update: after I did a firmware update that i didn't have to pay for on the Marantz, it is now playing my flash drive with the flac files. It seems to be outputting them in 96 khz.
Previously, I wasn't to impressed with the Marantz, but now I will reserve judgement until I have tried a few more High Rez files.
Cool, I look forward to hearing about the freshened Marantz.
So how is the Marantz after all?
Audioengr: Are you suggesting that it works just as well to use Pure Music and forget downloading XLD (unless you want to rip)? I am looking at the exact same issue as the OP. A friend is coming to visit with some FLAC music but my iMac, iTunes library with Pure Music is AIFF all the way. If the OP wanted to incorporate FLAC files into his Mac based library the conversion is still necessary correct? Would he (I) convert the FLAC music into AIFF, place it in the iTunes library and then move it to an external HD if so desired? I am fuzzy on the exact way to do this.
HD Tracks specifically addresses the FLAC to MAC issue...
If you have a DAC, you can play your FLAC audio using VLC Media Player. a fairly good quality player that pretty much plays anything you throw at it. and did i mention it's free?
You can also play FLAC files natively on a MAC using Songbird.
If you want to play FLAC files using a USB or Firewire converter or DAC, or directly from the MAC, I would highly recommend using XLD to convert these files first to .wav. You will find that the sound quality of the .wav is superior, not because the FLAC decoding is flawed, but because these decoders simply cannot keep-up in real time with the datastream. Same for AIFF.

I know saying this that I will get a lot if flac from the posters here, yet I know it to be true. I recently was in my room ar RMAF playing a 44.1 track of Steven Stills "treetop flyer". Great track, but it was given to us in FLAC format. one of my roommates said it would souind better as .wav,a and I said no way. Anyway , I converted it from .wav to FLAC and played both tracks.

The FLAC track was like listening through a tunnel. The .wave file was open, airy and natural. I am a believer now. One show attendee in the room said "shit, my entire library is FLAC, I dont want to hear this"

To hear these differences, you will need a truly resolving system. Ours was.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Depends on your operating system. I did the same coparison with my Linux music server and no audible difference were heard between FLAC Vs WAV.

If you have enough CPU power and a good decoder, there is no reason to hear any difference. The only issue that may come to mind is a very poor implementation of the audio streaming that have the decoder and the streaming interface fighting for CPU cycles, resources or interrupts.

Saying that WAV is better than FLAC is a wrong blanket statement.

Have fun testing!
Ranperry - depends on your system. Everyone thinks they have a truly resolving system. If you are using an active preamp, you probably will not hear the difference. I have heard it and I have enough customers that have reported this that I believe it. YMMV.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Achilles: you had asked about the Marantz NA 7004 player a few months ago on this thread and I just saw it now. I had discussed it on some other threads in the "Digital" forum.
It turned that my original model was defective. After obtaining an exchange, I'd give it a big thumbs up for sound. It uses the same cirrhus logic chip that the 803 and 804 SACD/CD players use . If you have familiarity with those players you will know what to expect.
It is a very versatile piece. I had originally purchased it with High Rez
Downloads in mind but have wound up playing standard Rez material from my MacBook and Internet radio at least as much.
It's has a couple of major weaknesses: the first is the interface, which is terrible and mandates that you use another device such as an iPad to control it. The iPad app is less than perfect, to say the least. The second problem is that the device itself is buggy. For example, the iPod/USB input will frequently give "no compatibility" indication, even when the same track has been played on the player before, and requires multiple overrides to work.
@ Audioengr

I am not arguing that you and others heard a difference, I am just speculating that is was not the format but the application / OS that was used.
If I am using the same computer and software and the only thing I am changing is the same track, only FLAC versus .wav, how does is the OS at fault?

If the FLAC CODEC does not play nice with the OS, this is not the fault of the OS. It's the fault of the FLAC software.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
The application that plays the FLAC file needs to "extract" chunks of it into memory when playing. If the application is poorly written, the extraction process may use resource that will degrade the streaming output. A good example is trying to play a 1080p file on a weak CPU with slow graphics card. It is not the file but the way it is executed.

I suggest you try comparing FLAC Vs WAV with various operating systems while using different players.
I just faced this same problem and solved it by downloading songbird for Mac. It plays flac files without conversion required. It's a free download.
Snackeyp don't you still need to have either Amarra or PureMusic to get the HI Rez downloads in the first place. If you have either of these do you still need Songbird?
I'm not sure what you mean, but I am a total newb to this, so you may be right. What I do know is that I can download the hi-res files and play them without any conversion necessary with Songbird. If I want to play them in itunes I have to convert them to Apple Lossless, but these files have a lot of static noise in them. Songbird allows me to play them without the noise.

I know it is an older thread but....

where is the link forSoungbird? will Mojave support it?

i’ve found at times, this media player or that one tends to do better with some file types than it does with others.

this is of course a subjective appraisal using likely very different hardware and PC arrangements than the poster indicating a glaring disparity between FLAC & WAV..

some FLAC encoders offer varying levels of compression, as with Dbpower amp when encoding FLAC while ripping 16/44 CDs.

I've always opted for level 1, with zero being the least compressed and 8 being the most *compressed (* for lack of a more accurate term).

a brief test using different levels for encoding showed me level 1 was best overall. zero began to show glare, and level 5 and above began showing less insight into the cut, but had much smaller file sizes.
back then I had only JRiver to use for comparison.

that said, IF any media player supports FLAC and WAV, and or other lossless formats, and their higher sampling rates and word lengths, it stands to reason   ALL formats should be rendered equally despite their word or bit rates.

apparently, sometimes it just don’t come out of the speakers like it does on paper.

as to sQ being ’sqquelched’ or tunneled, I’ve not realized that result per se, what I have discerned is a flattr, less involved result when a particular media player seems to like say, FLAC over AIF, all else being equal.

the prime EX is with JRiver up to ver 19/20. it likes FLAC to my ears, better than it does aIF

In the same context, WAV & FLAC do not have the same degree of disparity however, and sounded so similar differences were undetectable.

that all said, should blame sit squarely on the rendering or decoding, or should the encoding itself carry some of the lesened sQ burden?

additionally, what if a conversion of formats occurs? should we then point a finger at that process ntirely for the now better or poorer result?

or perhaps the encoding was done on one pc and the conversion done on another? what then?

retail HD tracks, once converted domestically to merely another format have to receive consideration and or suspicion as culpible if the outcome to some other format does not duplicate SQ once the process is complete.

Ascertaining the real culprit for diminished SQ if percieved, lives in deeper waters than what may be observed at first hand.

Personal confusers! Whada ya gonna do?
Hi Richard. I do not know your Marantz unit well. If it has a USB input you are all set. Channel D's Pure Music program is designed specifically for Mac computers. It utilizes iTunes as the library and will play pretty much any file available. But, if you down load your files from HDtracks in ALAC they will download directly into iTunes with any conversions. Pure Music will do all the conversions for you. If you do not have a USB input anywhere you can get a USB to SPDIF converter.
Pure Music does a lot of neat stuff like up sampling and streaming. 
I have used it for three years and the only complaint I have is that it crashes once in a while. Support is great. Updates are free and if you want to upgrade to Pure Vinyl you just pay the difference. This is the program Michael Fremer uses. 
Another way to do it is change iTunes storage to ALAC and download ALAC files directly to iTunes which then will output the music in its native rate just like an MP3 file.This will take up a lot of space on your hard drive. 
I wanted to keep all my high res music separated from my MP3 library which I keep on my Macbook so I got a Mac Mini i7 with a fast small SS hard drive I think it was 125 GB and a 6 TB outboard hard drive. This computer does nothing but play music and surf the internet. Having your music in iTunes is great fun. You can make any play list you want easily, shuffle tunes etc. The only hang up is that you can only store music by one category, artist or composer not both. Modern music you store by artist but classical music you have to store by composer. I talked to Apple and the only way you can get around this is to make composer play lists or get a second computer for classical! Needless to say I started making playlists.