FLAC or Windows Lossless for music archive?

I have a SqueezeBox.... and I've just purchased an external drive to store my cd's on. Are there any pros or cons whether or not to use Windows Lossless or FLAC? Is one sonically superior over the other?

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i also have an external hard drive (500 GB) and a squeezebox 3. i store my cd's via wav on the drive. i have over 400 albums and am using only a little over half of the 500 GB.

many people feel flac is instinguishable from wav. flac is also considered a lossless format. it's works in the same way as a zip file. i have not done any listening test of flac vs. wav. i chose wav for peace of mind more than anything. with wav, i'll never have to worry that i'm losing any music, resolution, etc.

the advantages of flac are that it allows for metadata (artist, album, track title info, etc...) to be written to it. wav does not allow for metadata, but i bought a program (tag&rename) which allows me to write or obtain from the internet the same type of metadata onto my wavs.
The one problem I have with MS Windows formats is they have a bad habit of changing things on you. (Look at how many times they've changed the file format for *.DOC and *.XLS files over the years.)

FLAC is an open-source file format and as such I have a higher confidence in its long term stability. But that's just me. Others probably feel differently.

There is a fuss in some quarters as to whether FLAC sounds the same as uncompressed WAV files. I've got a Squeezebox 3 with an external DAC. I did a variety of back-to-back comparisons and satisfied myself that they sound identical. (Since there is no data loss in a FLAC, any sound difference would have to arise in the decoding process. Some argue the extra decoding load of FLAC is responsible for a difference in sound. As noted, I did not find that to be true.)

However, the best thing for you to do is to convert the same files to the different formats and compare for yourself. Pick the one you like best. Why let strangers on the internet decide for you? ;-)
Mlsstl, ultimateley I will decide for myself what's best for me. However, I'd like to hear what others have experienced....from their experiences and writings here, I will be ablel to make an informed analysis and may be able to save myself a little time in the process.

I've used the opinions and reviews of Audiogon members extensively in my choice of choosing equipment. Most of the time the opinions vary from one end of the spectrum to the other....that is what allows me analyze all of the responses and make my decison on what's best for me. With that said, I'm just trying encourage responses from everyone to share their experiences.....and ultimately, I'll share my experiences and agree and disagree with some of the respondents here. You and Kgturner, the other respondent above, have shed a lot of light on this post for me....many thanks to both of you for that...I really appreciate it. I'm just trying to garner as many responses as I can get. As with all responses...I will take a look at the respondent's system to see the type of system he has, I may even take a look at his previous posts on other forums. I will weigh all of these things. I've saved a lot of time and money with the responses I've gotten from previous posts without having to go through the trial and error process myself.


I've been a Squeezebox user for quite a while now. I started way back using 192 bit, then 320 bit, then realized one day my wife and I actually could hear a difference when we tried wav, flac and apple Lossless. Those high hat cymbals, female vocals, and Robert Cray's and Stevie Ray Vaughn's guitars really were better!!! I eventually settled on MP4/Apple lossless because we just couldn't hear a difference in the 3 formats and it saved space on our drives with 1500+ CD's. I only wish I hadn't wasted time on 192/320 MP3, but didn't know when I was a digital rookie!!! We now have everything in Apple Lossless and send it through a Benchmark DAC1 to Maggie 3.6's, which for us sounds great. Having it MP4 makes loading our IPod for travel and car easy too. We still enjoy vinyl too, but with the amount of listening we do, it's easier day in/day out using the SB3. Our music tastes run to rock and jazz mostly, with some classical and show tunes.

There's a lot of passion from folks on these forums about wav/flac/lossless being the best, but our ears can't tell, although I see many claim they can. I'd rather open another good bottle of bordeaux or rioja, kick back and listen, then worry which format is a scosh better. Could be splitting hairs that might not exist in my opinion? Enjoy the music and good luck on your quest.
Hi Mitch,

I'm not sure if you still check this thread or not, but here's your answer:

There is no audible difference between Windows Lossless and FLAC. None. Zip. Zilch. Anyone claiming to hear a difference is making things up. They are both lossless formats which means ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the data is there. There are no gaps where differences can be heard.

I would doubt virtually anyone claiming they could hear the difference between a 320kps LAME encoded v0 mp3 and a FLAC file. I have hearing sensitive enough that I can't go into large stores that have security systems, and I can just *barely* tell the difference (8/10 in ABX testing) using a solid state headphone system (Sennheiser HD-600 and an RSA-Predator).

If you would like to ABX (double blind) test for yourself, Foobar2000 has a built in utility for it. Anyone else who thinks that they can hear the difference, I would highly suggest you do a double blind test to measure where your level of transparency lies. You could very well save yourself a good amount of disk space (or to a lucky few, be able to squelch the naysayers).
There is no audible difference between Windows Lossless and FLAC. None. Zip. Zilch. Anyone claiming to hear a difference is making things up.
This is absolutely correct -- these codecs are indeed lossless. It may be possible that there are some products or software out there that screw up the decoding/playback processes to different degrees . . . but there is absolutely NO sonic degradation associated with these file types. They also both support high-resolution sampling rates and bit depths.

But they do behave very differently in terms of the metadata, FLACs are supposed to use Vorbis tags, and WMA lossless files use a propritetary tagging scheme . . . both of these are different from the ID3 tags used for MP3s. This may affect how easily you can take the files between various playback platforms and still keep them organized in the way you like.

So I would recommend that you decide based on what is best supported by the software and hardware that you wish to use for organisation and playback. And since they are lossless, you can transcode between formats with no loss in sound quality, if you ever need to.
Use FLAC, since it's supported by squeezebox on the hardware level, this allows you to seek forward/backward and jump to any point on a track. Where as Windows Lossless is only support in software and cannot perform such function.
Can someone update me or give me a few links? I'm familiar with the squeezebox, but never looked deeply into it due to misconceptions, no dire need to upgrade, among other things.
This thread (thanks all!) resparked an interest. I assume a squeezebox be run from a external hard drive (usb2.0? SATA?) to a DAC (how much does the DAC, good quality DAC help?). Any recommendations or pointing me where to go would be great!

I have a terrible tendency of scratching / loaning forgetful friends my CDs and this would be great!
The Squeezebox web site is http://www.slimdevices.com and they have an excellent users forum plus a wiki. Between those you can learn just about everything you'd need to know about the Squeezebox.

That said, a Squeezebox won't run directly from an external drive. It needs a computer of some type to run the server software. They have free versions for Windows, Mac and Linux that you can download and experiment with before you buy one of their devices.

I run a SB3 (now called the "Classic" Squeezebox). I use a dedicated Linux server to house the music (over 39,000 tunes). The SB3 feeds an external DAC (Lavry DA-10) which goes to the power amp/speakers.

It is an excellent way to fully access and enjoy a large music collection.

A final note. If you decide to run a music server system, make sure you keep backups of your music. Re-ripping thousands of CDs is not a project most would enjoy. I actually keep two backup drives with one of them off premises.