FLAC vs. MP3 for Sonos Network

First and foremost, I am a music guy, not a computer guy.

I am planning to set up a Sonos Network in my home.

My computer guy from work is helping me get set up on the computer side of this project (w/NAS & software, etc.)

I let him know that FLAC & EAC are things that are recommended by the a'gon community.

He felt that MP3 may be a better choice, as it is more universally used, etc. His big concern was the ability to copy music to an ipod, if I wanted to do that, which is a possibility down the road.

Any thoughts on how to move forward?

Are there or will there be ipod type players that recognise FLAC?

What are the pro's & con's in deciding of FLAC vs. MP3?

I believe you can load software on your iPod called Rockbox that will decode FLAC. I have not changed my iPod over, so I can't speak from experience. You have to be pretty geeky to take this path, so I dare say, it's not for you.

When you put a CD in with iTunes running, and it wants to import it, you could import using the WAV Encoder (see Preferences -> Advanced -> Importing). You should have error correction turned on.

You could also import using the Apple Lossless Encoder. Importing as WAV files will use up as much as a CD (say 500MB on average) while using Apple Lossless would be about half that (250MB).

You can push either of these at your iPod and it will play them. Obviously, using WAV files is a hungry option - maybe you'll get 120 albums on a 60GB iPod; say 240 albums using Apple Lossless.

In my opinion, you should have enough hard drive storage on your network system to store uncompressed. You could use EAC to rip the files to your storage system as WAV files, and store these outside of iTunes. Then you can use iTunes to make up a temporary library of MP3s, if you really want to store a lot of music on your iPod.

There are a few options to consider. As long as you continue to keep your CDs, you'll be able to go back to the source again. A bit of work of course.

Hi, I have been using Sonos for almost 2 years. I have over 40K songs. Based om my tests, I have found that mp3 encoded with EAC and LAME at 256 VBR offers the best compromise between size and quality. I find this to be absolutely near cd quality. For critical listening I still use my CARY 306 cdp. Note, that I use the digital out of the Sonos ZP80 into the DAC of the Cary.

Compatibility and overall library size were major considerations for me.
On a good system, you're going to notice a BIG difference between MP3 and FLAC. I have a RWA-upgraded Squeezebox running FLAC and it sounds MUCH better than the CDP I have. MP3 always sounds very compressed, screetchy and bandwidth limited.
I would go with the FLAC format and create a folder on a PC where you can dump MP3's. You can convert "down" from FLAC to MP3 easy enough. I delete and add to my Ipod about every 2-3 months. I would go through my FLAC collection and select what you want to listen to on the Ipod - convert and dump it in the directory. You would leave your FLAC collection in tact but use an additional 60 gig of drive space for the converted MP3's to dump into the Ipod. In short the best of both worlds.

I went with the MP3 format and now have collected about 3000 converted CD's all ripped at 320bps. The sound is pretty good but I REALLY wish I would have gone down the FLAC road. Harddrive space is cheap but it's too late. You cant get back resolution you gave up and most of the CDs have been sold or traded.

I agree with Horseface about choosing the FLAC format. Initially, I chose WAV format but have discovered that I gave up a lot of available tagging information. One disadvantage of FLAC is that FLAC is not read by Windows Media Player. However, the WMA(lossless) format is not read by Sonos. The FLAC format seems to be the best compromise to preserve your options for the future - tagging information, storage space, and downward convertibility to MP3 or other format.

I am in the process of converting CDs to use on a Sonos system. The Sonos website contains a document which I wish I had read before I began the process. Here is the link

In this document, you will read about some software programs (free to low cost) which may make your life easier. For about $400 you can get a router and a 500 GB network storage drive. Also, check with the Sonos technicians before selecting a router. Not all routers work equally well with the system.