Difference between revisions of "Lossless comparison"

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Given the enormous amount of lossless audio compressor choices available, it is a very difficult task to choose the one most suited for each person's needs.
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The '''lossless comparison page''' aims to gather information about lossless codecs available so users can make an informed decision as to what lossless codec to choose for their needs.
  
Several people only take into consideration compression performance when choosing a codec. But as the following table and post shows, there are several other features worth taking into consideration when making that choice.
+
== Introduction ==
 +
Given the enormous number of [[lossless]] audio compressor choices available, it is a very difficult task to choose the one most suited for each person's needs. Some people take into consideration only compression performance when choosing a codec, but as the following table and article shows, there are several other features worth taking into consideration when making a choice.
  
For example, users wanting good multiplatform compatibility and robustness (E.G, people sharing live recordings) would favour WavPack or FLAC. Another user, looking for the very highest compression available, would go with OptimFrog. Someone wanting portable support would use FLAC or ALAC, and so on.
+
For example, users wanting good multiplatform compatibility and robustness (e.g., people sharing live recordings) would favour [[WavPack]] or [[FLAC]]. Another user, looking for the very highest compression available, would go with [[OptimFROG]]. Someone wanting portable support would use [[FLAC]] or [[ALAC]], and so on. En fin, this is not a matter worth getting too worked up about. If you later find out the codec you chose isn't the best for your needs, you can just transcompress to another format, without risk of losing quality.
  
En fin, this is not a matter worth getting too worked up about. If you later find out the codec you chose isn't the best for your needs, you can just transcompress to another format, without risk of losing quality.
+
'''Note:''' for latest comparison of lossless compression, scroll down to the [[Lossless comparison#External links|Links section of this page]].
  
 +
== Comparison Table ==
 +
<!-- Do NOT add links to the table. It's cluttered and colourful enough as it is. Please add them to the article itself if needed. Thanks -->
  
http://www.rarewares.org/images/lossless.png
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{| class="wikitable" cellspacing="2"
 
+
!width="120px"|'''Features'''
* Encoding speed, Decoding speed and Compression ratio are based on each encoder's default settings.
+
! width="90px" | [[#Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC)|FLAC]]
* Flexibility refers to the amount of encoding choices offered to the users (Fast/low compression, Slow/high compression and everything inbetween)
+
! width="90px" | [[#Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC)|ALAC]]
 
+
! width="90px" | [[#WavPack (WV)|WavPack]]
 +
! width="90px" | [[#Tom's_verlustfreier_Audiokompressor (TAK)|TAK]]
 +
! width="90px" | [[#Monkey's_Audio (APE)|Monkey's]]
 +
! width="90px" | [[#Windows Media Audio Lossless (WMAL)|WMAL]]
 +
! width="90px" | [[#OptimFROG (OFR)|OptimFROG]]
 +
! width="90px" | [[#True Audio (TTA)|TTA]]
 +
|- <!-- *** Encoding speed is very fast if > 150x, fast if >75x, average if >40x, slow if >20x, very slow if <20x *** -->
 +
| Encoding speed{{ref label|speed|A|A}}
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | very fast
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | fast
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | very fast
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | very fast
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | fast
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | fast
 +
| style="background: #FFCC66" | slow
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | very fast
 +
|- <!-- *** For decoding speed thresholds are doubled, i.e., very fast if >300x, fast if >150x etc *** -->
 +
| Decoding speed{{ref label|speed|A|A}}
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | very fast
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | fast
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | fast
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | very fast
 +
| style="background: #FFCC66" | slow
 +
| style="background: #FFCC66" | average
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | very slow
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | fast
 +
|- <!-- *** Thresholds for compression are at 56% and 58% *** -->
 +
| Compression{{ref label|speed|A|A}}{{ref label|comp|B|B}}
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | 57.0%
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | 57.8%
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | 57.1%
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | 56.0%
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | 55.1%
 +
| style="background: #FFCC66" | 58.4%
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | 54.6%
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | 56.6%
 +
|-
 +
| # presets
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | 9
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | 2
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | > 10
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | > 10
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | 5
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | 1
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | > 10
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | 1
 +
|-
 +
| Error handling{{ref label|error|C|C}}
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | yes{{ref label|error_ape|D|D}}
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
|-
 +
| Tagging
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | Vorbis tags
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | iTunes
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | ID3/APEv2
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | APEv2
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | APEv2
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | ASF
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | ID3/APEv2
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | ID3v1/2 or APEv2
 +
|-
 +
| Hardware support
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | very good
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | very good
 +
| style="background: #FFCC66" | limited
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
| style="background: #FFCC66" | limited
 +
| style="background: #FFCC66" | limited
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
| style="background: #FFCC66" | limited
 +
|-
 +
| Software support
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | very good
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | very good
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | good
 +
| style="background: #FFCC66" | average
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | good
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | good
 +
| style="background: #FFCC66" | average
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | good
 +
|-
 +
| Hybrid/lossy
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | [[LossyWAV]]
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | [[LossyWAV]]
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | [[LossyWAV]]
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
|-
 +
| RIFF chunks
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
|-
 +
| Streaming
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
|-
 +
| Open source
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #FFCC66" | no{{ref label|tak_os|F|F}}
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
|-
 +
| Multichannel
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes{{ref label|multichannel_ape|E|E}}
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
| style="background: #FF9900" | no
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | yes
 +
|-
 +
| OS support
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | All
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | All
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | All
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | Win/Wine
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | All
 +
| style="background: #CCFFCC" | Win/Mac
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | Win/Mac/Linux
 +
| style="background: #00FF00" | All
 +
|}
  
 +
{|
 +
|-
 +
|{{note label|speed|A|A}} Speed and Compression are based on '''each encoder's default settings''' and taken from [http://www.audiograaf.nl/downloads.html this comparison].
 +
|-
 +
|{{note label|comp|B|B}} The Compression ratio is compressed size/uncompressed size * 100. So, lower is better.
 +
|-
 +
|{{note label|error|C|C}} Error handling means that a codec can detect a corruption (flipped bit) in a file and warn the user about it, but it will still decode the rest of the file.
 +
|-
 +
|{{note label|error_ape|D|D}} The official Monkey's Audio decoder does not support decoding through errors, but this may be achieved with FFmpeg or Winamp, though likely not, when the "Insane" preset is used.
 +
|-
 +
|{{note label|multichannel_ape|E|E}} Since version 4.86
 +
|-
 +
|{{note label|tak_os|F|F}} Unofficial (but properly working) open source decoder is available as part of ffmpeg
 +
== Codecs ==
  
 
These are the most popular lossless codecs, in alphabetical order:
 
These are the most popular lossless codecs, in alphabetical order:
  
==ALAC - Apple Lossless Audio Codec== http://www.apple.com/itunes/import.html
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=== Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) ===
 +
https://alac.macosforge.org/trac
  
ALAC is a codec developed by Apple for usage in iPod and AirPort Express.
+
[[ALAC]] is a codec developed by Apple for usage in [[Apple iPod|iPod]] and AirPort Express.
  
===PROS===
+
'''ALAC pros'''
* Very fast decoding
+
* [[Open source]] (encoding and decoding via FFmpeg and [[CueTools|CUETools]], decoding only via [http://craz.net/programs/itunes/alac.html a standalone decoder])
* Open source ([http://craz.net/programs/itunes/alac.html decoding only])
+
* Fast encoding
* Hardware support (iPod, AirPort Express)
+
* Fast decoding
 +
* Hardware support ([[Apple iPod|iPod]], AirPort Express)
 +
* Software support (iTunes, Quicktime)
 +
* Independent encoder implementation available: ffmpeg
 
* Streaming support
 
* Streaming support
 
* Tagging support (QT tags)
 
* Tagging support (QT tags)
* Excellent hardware-software-lossy format integration with iTunes/iPod.
+
* Supports [[multichannel]]. Limited to 8 channels. Only limited set of channels layouts is supported - https://github.com/nu774/qaac/wiki/Multichannel--handling
 
+
* Supports [[high resolution]]s
===CONS===
+
* Used by a few online stores
* Closed source (encoding)
+
* Few software support (iTunes)
+
* Doesn't support multichannel audio and high resolutions
+
* Compression efficiency not on par with other lossless codecs
+
* No hybrid/lossy mode
+
  
===Other features===
+
''' ALAC cons '''
* Fits in the MP4 container
+
* Limited software support
* Can be used with the AirPort Express gadget
+
* No error detection/robustness<ref>[http://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=33226&view=findpost&p=862031 HA forum post discussing ALAC robustness]</ref>
 +
* No hybrid/lossy mode (and not [[LossyWAV]] compatible)
 +
* Not very efficient
  
 +
''' ALAC Other features '''
 +
* Fits in the [[MP4]] container
  
==FLAC - Free Lossless Audio Codec== http://flac.sourceforge.net/
+
=== Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) ===
 +
https://xiph.org/flac/
  
FLAC is a lossless codec developed by Josh Coalson. It's part of the Xiph multimedia portfolio, along with Vorbis and Theora.
+
[[FLAC]] is a lossless codec developed by Josh Coalson. It's part of the Xiph multimedia portfolio, along with [[Opus]], [[Ogg]], [[Vorbis]], [[Speex]] and [[Theora]].
  
===PROS===
+
''' FLAC pros '''
* Open source
+
* [[Open source]]
 
* Very fast decoding
 
* Very fast decoding
* Hardware support (Karma, Phatbox, etc.)
+
* Very fast encoding
 +
* Very good hardware support (Android, Marantz, Sonos, [http://xiph.org/flac/links.html many others])
 
* Very good software support
 
* Very good software support
 +
* Independent encoder implementations available: flake/ffmpeg, FLACCL
 
* Error robustness
 
* Error robustness
 
* Streaming support
 
* Streaming support
* Supports multichannel audio and high resolutions
+
* Supports [[multichannel]]. Limited to 8 channels. Channel mask in [https://docs.microsoft.com/ru-ru/windows/win32/api/mmreg/ns-mmreg-waveformatextensible WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE] is supported but support is not included in official specification. With reference encoder undocumented option --channel-map=none is needed to encode some non-standard layouts (e.g. 4.1; FL,FR,FC,BC), but no special options are needed with ffmpeg's encoder.
 +
* Supports [[high resolution]]s
 
* Tagging support (FLAC tags)
 
* Tagging support (FLAC tags)
 +
* Supports [[RIFF]] chunks
 
* Pipe support
 
* Pipe support
 +
* Used by a few [http://xiph.org/flac/links.html#music online stores]
  
===CONS===
+
''' FLAC cons '''
* Compression efficiency not on par with other lossless codecs
+
* No hybrid/lossy mode (but is [[LossyWAV]] compatible)
* No hybrid/lossy mode
+
* Does not handle 32-bit float and there is no encoder that can render to 32-bit integer
* Doesn't support RIFF chunks
+
  
 +
''' FLAC Other features '''
 +
* Supports embedded CUE sheets (with [http://flac.sourceforge.net/faq.html#general__no_cuesheet_tags limitations])
 +
* Includes MD5 hashes for quick integrity checking as standard
 +
* Fits the [[Ogg]] and [[Matroska]] containers
  
===Other features===
+
=== Monkey's Audio (APE) ===
* Supports embedded CUE sheets (with [url=http://flac.sourceforge.net/faq.html#general__no_cuesheet_tags]limitations[/url])
+
https://www.monkeysaudio.com/
* Includes MD5 hashes for quick integrity checking
+
 
* Fits the OGG and Matroska containers
+
[[Monkey's Audio]] is a very efficient lossless compressor developed by Matt Ashland.
* ReplayGain compatible
+
 
 +
''' APE pros '''
 +
* High compression
 +
* Fast encoding
 +
* Good software support
 +
* Supports [[multichannel]] (since version 4.86). Limited to 8 channels. Channel mask in [https://docs.microsoft.com/ru-ru/windows/win32/api/mmreg/ns-mmreg-waveformatextensible WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE] is supported
 +
* Supports [[high resolution]]s
 +
* Simple and user friendly. Official GUI provided.
 +
* Java version (multiplatform)
 +
* Error robustness/decoding up to -c3000 (High compression)<ref>http://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php?showtopic=98984&st=0&p=821420&#entry821420</ref>
 +
* Tagging support ([[ID3v1]], [[APE tags]])
 +
* Supports [[RIFF]] chunks (only in the GUI encoder)
 +
* Pipe support (only in a [http://www.etree.org/shnutils/shntool/ special] version)
  
 +
''' APE cons '''
 +
* Problematic license (source provided, no modification or redistribution rights)
 +
* Slow decoding
 +
* No hybrid/lossy mode (and not [[LossyWAV]] compatible)
 +
* Limited hardware support (Rockbox, some Cowon players); poor battery life due to complicated decoding (see [http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/SoundCodecMonkeysAudio MP3 player benchmarks])
 +
* Higher compression levels are extremely CPU intensive
  
==LosslessAudio - LA== http://www.lossless-audio.com/
+
''' APE Other features '''
 +
* Includes MD5 hashes for quick integrity checking
 +
* Supports APL image link files (similar to CUE sheets)
  
LA is a lossless codec developed by Michael Bevin.
+
=== OptimFROG (OFR) ===
 +
http://www.losslessaudio.org/
  
===PROS===
+
[[OptimFROG]] is a lossless format developed by Florin Ghido to become the champion in audio compression.
 +
 
 +
''' OFR pros '''
 
* Very high compression
 
* Very high compression
* Tagging support (APE tags)
+
* Good software support
* Supports RIFF chunks
+
* Error robustness
* Pipe support
+
* Streaming support
 +
* Supports [[high resolution]]s
 +
* Hybrid/lossy mode
 +
* Tagging support ([[ID3]], [[APE tags]])
 +
* Supports [[RIFF]] chunks
  
===CONS===
+
''' OFR cons '''
 
* Closed source
 
* Closed source
* Very slow encoding and decoding
+
* No [[multichannel]] audio support
 
* No hardware support
 
* No hardware support
* No hybrid/lossy mode
+
* Very slow decoding
* Bad software support
+
* Slow encoding
 +
* More than one tagging method allowed (ambiguity possible)
  
==='It's important to mention that the LA foobar plugin is buggy and doesn't produce lossless streams!==='
+
''' OFR Other features '''
 +
* Supports 32bit float streams
 +
* Includes MD5 hashes for quick integrity checking
  
 +
=== Tom's verlustfreier Audiokompressor (TAK) ===
 +
http://www.thbeck.de/Tak/Tak.html
  
==LPAC== http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/wer/liebchen/lpac.html
+
[[TAK]] is a lossless codec developed by Thomas Becker.
  
Lossless Predictive Audio Coder (LPAC) is a lossless codec developed by Tilman Liebchen. Development of it has been halted in favour of development of MPEG4 ALS.
+
''' TAK pros '''
 
+
* Very fast decoding
===PROS===
+
* Very fast encoding
* Reasonable compression ratios
+
* Very high efficiency
* High resolution audio support
+
* Error robust
* Tagging
+
* Supports [[multichannel]]. Limited to 6 channels. Channel mask in [https://docs.microsoft.com/ru-ru/windows/win32/api/mmreg/ns-mmreg-waveformatextensible WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE] is supported
 +
* Supports [[high resolution]]s
 +
* Tagging support
 
* Supports RIFF chunks
 
* Supports RIFF chunks
 +
* Pipe support
 +
* Streamable
  
===CONS===
+
''' TAK cons '''
* Closed source
+
* Closed source (but unofficial open source decoder is available as part of ffmpeg)
* No error robustness
+
* No hybrid/lossy mode (but is [[LossyWAV]] compatible)
* Slow seeking
+
* No multichannel support
+
* No hybrid/lossy mode
+
 
* No hardware support
 
* No hardware support
 +
* Average software support
 +
* Doesn't support Unicode (yet)
  
 +
''' TAK Other features '''
 +
* Optional MD5 checksum
  
==Monkey's Audio== http://www.monkeysaudio.com/
+
=== True Audio (TTA) ===
 +
http://tta.tausoft.org/
  
Monkey's Audio is a very efficient lossless compressor developed my Matt Ashland.
+
[[TTA]] is a lossless codec developed by a international team of programmers.
  
===PROS===
+
''' TTA pros '''
* Open source
+
* [[Open source]]
* High efficiency
+
* Supports [[multichannel]]. Reference encoder/decoder  is limited to 6 channels. ffmpeg's encoder/decoder is limited to 16 channels. Channel mask in [https://docs.microsoft.com/ru-ru/windows/win32/api/mmreg/ns-mmreg-waveformatextensible WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE] is '''not''' supported
* Good software support
+
* Supports [[high resolution]]s
 +
* Tagging support ([[ID3]]v1, ID3v2 or [[APEv2]])
 +
* Embedded CUE sheets support
 
* Error robustness
 
* Error robustness
* Java version (multiplatform)
+
* Pipe support
* Tagging support (ID3v1, APE)
+
* Average compression
* High resolution audio support
+
* Fast encoding/decoding
* Supports RIFF chunks (only in the GUI encoder)
+
* Symmetric algorithm
* Pipe support (only in a [url=http://www.etree.org/shnutils/shntool/]special[/url] version)
+
* Ultra low latency
  
===CONS===
+
''' TTA cons '''
* No multichannel support
+
 
* No hybrid/lossy mode
 
* No hybrid/lossy mode
* No hardware support
+
* Doesn't support [[RIFF]] chunks
 +
* Limited hardware support
  
===Other features===
+
''' TTA Other features '''
* Supports embedded APL sheets (similar to CUE sheets)
+
* Fits the [[Matroska]] container
 +
* Password protection
  
 +
=== WavPack (WV) ===
 +
http://www.wavpack.com/
  
==OptimFROG== http://losslessaudiocompression.com/
+
[[WavPack]] is a fast and featureful lossless codec developed by David Bryant.
  
OptimFROG is a lossless format developed by Florin Ghido to become the champion in audio compression.
+
''' WV pros '''
 
+
* [[Open source]]
===PROS===
+
* Fast decoding
* Very high compression
+
* Very fast encoding
* Good software support
+
* Good efficiency
 
* Error robustness
 
* Error robustness
 
* Streaming support
 
* Streaming support
* Supports high resolutions
+
* Supports [[multichannel]]. Limited to 255 channels. Channel mask in [https://docs.microsoft.com/ru-ru/windows/win32/api/mmreg/ns-mmreg-waveformatextensible WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE] is supported
 +
* Supports [[high resolution]]s
 
* Hybrid/lossy mode
 
* Hybrid/lossy mode
* Tagging support (ID3, APE)
+
* Tagging support ([[ID3v1]], [[APE tags]])
* Supports RIFF chunks
+
* Supports [[RIFF]] chunks
 +
* Ability to create self extracting files for Win32 platform
 +
* Pipe support
 +
* Good software support
  
===CONS===
+
''' WV cons '''
* Closed source
+
* Limited hardware player support ([http://www.rockbox.org/ RockBox])
* No multichannel audio support
+
* More than one tagging method allowed (ambiguity possible)
* No hardware support
+
* Quite slow decoding
+
  
===Other features===
+
''' WV Other features '''
 +
* Can compress the Direct-Stream Digital (DSD) audio recording format
 
* Supports 32bit float streams
 
* Supports 32bit float streams
 +
* Supports embedded CUE sheets
 +
* Accept audio files bigger than 4GB
 
* Includes MD5 hashes for quick integrity checking
 
* Includes MD5 hashes for quick integrity checking
* ReplayGain compatible
+
* Can encode in both symmetrical and asymmetrical modes.
 +
* Fits the [[Matroska]] container
  
 +
=== Windows Media Audio Lossless (WMAL) ===
 +
https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff819508(v=vs.85).aspx
  
==RealAudio Lossless== http://www.realnetworks.com/products/codecs/realaudio.html
+
WMA Lossless is the lossless codec developed by Microsoft to be featured in their Windows Media codec portfolio.
  
RealAudio lossless is the lossless codec developed by Real Networks for their multimedia portfolio
+
''' WMAL pros '''
 
+
===PROS===
+
* Very fast decoding
+
 
* Streaming support
 
* Streaming support
 
===CONS===
 
* Closed source
 
* No multichannel and high resolution audio support
 
* Few software support (Real Player)
 
* No hardware support
 
* Compression efficiency not on par with other lossless codecs
 
* No hybrid/lossy mode
 
* No pipe support
 
 
 
==Shorten== http://www.etree.org/shnutils/shorten/
 
 
Shorten is a very old and featureless lossless codec developed by Tony Robinson at SoftSound.
 
 
===PROS===
 
* Open source
 
* Fast decoding
 
 
* Very good software support
 
* Very good software support
* Supports RIFF chunks
+
* Hardware support (Microsoft Zune, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gigabeat Gigabeat V and S line from Toshiba])
 +
* Supports [[multichannel]] audio and [[high resolution]]s.
 +
* Tagging support (proprietary)
 
* Pipe support
 
* Pipe support
  
===CONS===
+
''' WMAL cons '''
* Quite inefficient
+
* Rather low efficiency
* No multichannel or high resolution audio support
+
* Closed source
* No hybrid/lossy mode
+
* No hybrid/lossy mode (but is [[LossyWAV]] compatible)
* No error robustness
+
* Doesn't support [[RIFF]] chunks
* Not streamable
+
* No hardware support
+
* No native tagging
+
  
 +
''' WMAL Other features '''
 +
* Fits the [[ASF]] container
  
==True Audio (TTA)== http://tta.corecodec.org/
+
=== Other Formats ===
 +
Aside from the formats mentioned above, there are in fact quite a lot of other lossless formats. To keep the table and list brief and readable, a few formats have not been mentioned.
  
TTA is a new lossless codec developed by a team of russian programmers.
+
====DTS-HD Master Audio====
 +
Similar to the MPEG-4 SLS format, this format has a core track in an older, more widely supported format, DTS. This core lossy track is made lossless by a secondary track with correction data. It is an optional codec in Blu-ray implementations. Its main use is surround sound encoding, and as is the case with MLP, the price of the encoder ensures it is only used in mastering of Blu-ray discs.
  
===PROS===
+
====LA====
* Open source
+
http://www.lossless-audio.com/
* Good efficiency (not as good as Monkey's or OptimFrog, but not as bad as SHN or ALAC)
+
* Hardware support (obscure DVD player)
+
* Supports multichannel audio and high resolutions
+
* Tagging support (ID3v2)
+
  
===CONS===
+
LA features an extremely high compression (on par with OptimFrog highest modes, but a bit faster), but it hasn't been updated for more than 10 years. Furthermore, backward compatibility is not guaranteed, so using it for archiving might pose a few problems. It isn't able to cope with file corruption either, software support is very limited and isn't open source.
* No streaming support
+
* No hybrid/lossy mode
+
* Doesn't support RIFF chunks
+
* No pipe support
+
  
===Other features===
+
====MLP/Dolby TrueHD====
* Fits the Matroska container
+
The [[MLP|MLP codec]] (of which the mathematical basis was used in Dolby TrueHD) is the codec used for DVD-Audio. It was mandatory in any HD-DVD implementation and optional for Blu-Ray in its Dolby TrueHD form. It is known to support the 'wasted bits' scheme used in LossyWAV. As encoders are very expensive, its use outside DVD/Blu-ray mastering environments is non-existent. Its main use is encoding surround sound data.
* ReplayGain compatible
+
  
 +
====MPEG-4 ALS====
 +
MPEG-4 ALS is the successor to LPAC, which it was based on. It has been as a ISO standard and there is a reference encoder/decoder, but like TTA, it does not have features that make it stand out from other codecs, nor backing by a large organisation, so it hasn't much software and no hardware support.
  
==WavPack== http://www.wavpack.com/
+
====MPEG-4 SLS====
 +
MPEG-4 SLS is a special codec, having a AAC core track and a 'correction track'. Also known as HD-AAC, SLS stands for Scalable to Lossless. However, there is to date still no affordable software to play, encode or decode (the lossless part of) SLS files.
  
WavPack is a fast and featureful lossless codec developed by David Bryant.
+
====Shorten====
 +
http://www.etree.org/shncom.html
  
===PROS===
+
Shorten was one of the first widely-used lossless formats, and it still occasionally found on the internet, especially in archives, for example etree.org. It is quite fast in both encoding and decoding, but doesn't compress very much. Furthermore, seeking has a troubled past as well as tagging. It is considered obsolete.
* Open source
+
* Very fast decoding
+
* Good efficiency (not as good as Monkey's or OptimFrog, but not as bad as SHN or ALAC)
+
* Error robustness
+
* Streaming support
+
* Supports multichannel audio and high resolutions
+
* Hybrid/lossy mode
+
* Tagging support (ID3v1, APE)
+
* Supports RIFF chunks
+
* Hability to create self extracting files for Win32 platform
+
* Pipe support
+
* Good software support
+
  
===CONS===
+
====Real Lossless====
* No hardware support
+
Part of the Real codec suite, Real Lossless too hasn't any very special features that make it stand out. Just like WMA Lossless and Apple Lossless, it was created to fit in a codec suite, but unlike WMA Lossless and Apple Lossless, there is no hardware support and software support is limited. Compression is on par with most other codecs, but it is rather slow to encode.
  
===Other features===
+
====Oddball formats====
* Supports embedded CUE sheets
+
There are a few archaic formats of which encoders and decoders are hard to get by. Most of those would have disappeared by now, but some of them are being preserved for posterity at [[User:Rjamorim|rjamorim]]'s 
* Includes MD5 hashes for quick integrity checking
+
* Can encode in both symmetrical and assymmetrical modes.
+
* ReplayGain compatible
+
  
 +
* Advanced Digital Audio (ADA) 
 +
* [http://www.logarithmic.net/pfh/bonk Bonk]   
 +
* AudioZip 
 +
* Dakx WAV 
 +
* Entis Lab MIO 
 +
* LiteWave 
 +
* [http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/menue/mitarbeiter/ehemalige_mitarbeiter/tilman_liebchen/lpac_-_lossless_audio_codec_for_windows_and_linux/ LPAC]
 +
* Marian's a-Pac
 +
* [http://mp3hd-toolkit.soft32.com/ mp3HD (MPEG-1 Audio Layer III HD)]
 +
* Pegasus SPS
 +
* [http://www.free-codecs.com/download/rk_audio_compressor.htm RK Audio (RKAU)] 
 +
* Ogg Squish/Tarkin
 +
* Sonarc 
 +
* VocPack 
 +
* [http://www.firstpr.com.au/audiocomp/lossless/wavarc/ WavArc] 
 +
* [http://www.firstpr.com.au/audiocomp/lossless/WaveZip/ WaveZip]/MUSICompress
  
==Windows Media Audio Lossless== http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/9series/codecs/audio.aspx
+
== See also ==
 +
* [[Lossless]]
  
WMA Lossless is the lossless codec developed by Microsoft to be featured in their Windows Media codec portfolio.
+
== External links ==
 +
''' Other lossless compressions comparisons '''
 +
''Sorted based on last '''update''' date.''
  
===PROS===
+
* [http://www.audiograaf.nl/downloads.html Martijn van Beurden's comparison] - tries to compare all codecs and settings with a balanced pool of music (last updated 2015-01-05)
* Streaming support
+
* [http://www.squeezechart.com/audio.html Squeezechart audio] - tests as much codecs as possible, but not all their settings and with a limited test corpus (last updated 2013-10-31)
* Very good software support
+
* <s>[http://synthetic-soul.co.uk/comparison/lossless/index.asp Synthetic Soul's comparison] (last update 2007-07-28)</s>
* Supports multichannel audio and high resolutions.
+
* <s>Johan De Bock's speed oriented comparison</s> - best choices speedwise are indicated in green, mostly electronic music (last updated 2006-07-22)
* Tagging support (proprietary)
+
* <s>Hans Heijden's</s> -- used as reference to build the table (last updated 2006-07-07)
 
+
* <s>Josef Pohm's comparison, hosted by Synthetic Soul</s> (last update 2006-05-29)
===CONS===
+
* [http://www.bobulous.org.uk/misc/lossless_audio_2006.html Bobulous' lossless audio comparison] — a look at six lossless formats in terms of speed and file size (last updated 2006-05-22)
* Closed source
+
* <s>Jhan De Bock's size oriented comparison</s> - aimed only at the maximum compression setting for each codec (based on a somewhat limited set of samples, however) (last updated 2006-05-19)
* No hybrid/lossy mode
+
* <s>Gruboolez'</s> -- comparing only classical music (last updated 2005-02-27)
* No hardware support (but it's likely to appear sooner or later)
+
* <s>Speek's</s> (last updated 2005-02-07)
* Doesn't support RIFF chunks
+
*[http://www.firstpr.com.au/audiocomp/lossless/ Lossless Compression of Audio] Much information about oddball formats including comparison of them. (last updated 2005-10-21) 
  
===Other features===
+
''' More on lossless compressions '''
* Fits the ASF container
+
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20080731103800/http://www.losslessaudioblog.com/ The Lossless Audio Blog], retrieved from archive.org - by windmiller, is a reliable and complete source of news about lossless compression.
 +
* Go to the [http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=33226 Hydrogenaudio thread] to discuss this article.
  
 +
== References ==
  
Some links to lossless format compression comparisions:
+
<references/>
[http://web.inter.nl.net/users/hvdh/lossless/lossless.htm Hans Heijden's]
+
[[Category:Guides]]
[http://members.home.nl/w.speek/comparison.htm Speek's]
+
[http://foobar2000.net/lossless/ Guruboolez's] - comparing only classical music.
+

Latest revision as of 14:35, 28 September 2019

The lossless comparison page aims to gather information about lossless codecs available so users can make an informed decision as to what lossless codec to choose for their needs.

Introduction[edit]

Given the enormous number of lossless audio compressor choices available, it is a very difficult task to choose the one most suited for each person's needs. Some people take into consideration only compression performance when choosing a codec, but as the following table and article shows, there are several other features worth taking into consideration when making a choice.

For example, users wanting good multiplatform compatibility and robustness (e.g., people sharing live recordings) would favour WavPack or FLAC. Another user, looking for the very highest compression available, would go with OptimFROG. Someone wanting portable support would use FLAC or ALAC, and so on. En fin, this is not a matter worth getting too worked up about. If you later find out the codec you chose isn't the best for your needs, you can just transcompress to another format, without risk of losing quality.

Note: for latest comparison of lossless compression, scroll down to the Links section of this page.

Comparison Table[edit]

Features FLAC ALAC WavPack TAK Monkey's WMAL OptimFROG TTA
Encoding speed[A] very fast fast very fast very fast fast fast slow very fast
Decoding speed[A] very fast fast fast very fast slow average very slow fast
Compression[A][B] 57.0% 57.8% 57.1% 56.0% 55.1% 58.4% 54.6% 56.6%
# presets 9 2 > 10 > 10 5 1 > 10 1
Error handling[C] yes no yes yes yes[D] yes yes yes
Tagging Vorbis tags iTunes ID3/APEv2 APEv2 APEv2 ASF ID3/APEv2 ID3v1/2 or APEv2
Hardware support very good very good limited no limited limited no limited
Software support very good very good good average good good average good
Hybrid/lossy LossyWAV no yes LossyWAV no LossyWAV yes no
RIFF chunks yes no yes yes yes no yes no
Streaming yes yes yes yes no yes yes yes
Open source yes yes yes no[F] yes no no yes
Multichannel yes yes yes yes yes[E] yes no yes
OS support All All All Win/Wine All Win/Mac Win/Mac/Linux All
A Speed and Compression are based on each encoder's default settings and taken from this comparison.
B The Compression ratio is compressed size/uncompressed size * 100. So, lower is better.
C Error handling means that a codec can detect a corruption (flipped bit) in a file and warn the user about it, but it will still decode the rest of the file.
D The official Monkey's Audio decoder does not support decoding through errors, but this may be achieved with FFmpeg or Winamp, though likely not, when the "Insane" preset is used.
E Since version 4.86
F Unofficial (but properly working) open source decoder is available as part of ffmpeg

Codecs[edit]

These are the most popular lossless codecs, in alphabetical order:

Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC)[edit]

https://alac.macosforge.org/trac

ALAC is a codec developed by Apple for usage in iPod and AirPort Express.

ALAC pros

ALAC cons

  • Limited software support
  • No error detection/robustness[1]
  • No hybrid/lossy mode (and not LossyWAV compatible)
  • Not very efficient

ALAC Other features

  • Fits in the MP4 container

Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC)[edit]

https://xiph.org/flac/

FLAC is a lossless codec developed by Josh Coalson. It's part of the Xiph multimedia portfolio, along with Opus, Ogg, Vorbis, Speex and Theora.

FLAC pros

  • Open source
  • Very fast decoding
  • Very fast encoding
  • Very good hardware support (Android, Marantz, Sonos, many others)
  • Very good software support
  • Independent encoder implementations available: flake/ffmpeg, FLACCL
  • Error robustness
  • Streaming support
  • Supports multichannel. Limited to 8 channels. Channel mask in WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE is supported but support is not included in official specification. With reference encoder undocumented option --channel-map=none is needed to encode some non-standard layouts (e.g. 4.1; FL,FR,FC,BC), but no special options are needed with ffmpeg's encoder.
  • Supports high resolutions
  • Tagging support (FLAC tags)
  • Supports RIFF chunks
  • Pipe support
  • Used by a few online stores

FLAC cons

  • No hybrid/lossy mode (but is LossyWAV compatible)
  • Does not handle 32-bit float and there is no encoder that can render to 32-bit integer

FLAC Other features

  • Supports embedded CUE sheets (with limitations)
  • Includes MD5 hashes for quick integrity checking as standard
  • Fits the Ogg and Matroska containers

Monkey's Audio (APE)[edit]

https://www.monkeysaudio.com/

Monkey's Audio is a very efficient lossless compressor developed by Matt Ashland.

APE pros

  • High compression
  • Fast encoding
  • Good software support
  • Supports multichannel (since version 4.86). Limited to 8 channels. Channel mask in WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE is supported
  • Supports high resolutions
  • Simple and user friendly. Official GUI provided.
  • Java version (multiplatform)
  • Error robustness/decoding up to -c3000 (High compression)[2]
  • Tagging support (ID3v1, APE tags)
  • Supports RIFF chunks (only in the GUI encoder)
  • Pipe support (only in a special version)

APE cons

  • Problematic license (source provided, no modification or redistribution rights)
  • Slow decoding
  • No hybrid/lossy mode (and not LossyWAV compatible)
  • Limited hardware support (Rockbox, some Cowon players); poor battery life due to complicated decoding (see MP3 player benchmarks)
  • Higher compression levels are extremely CPU intensive

APE Other features

  • Includes MD5 hashes for quick integrity checking
  • Supports APL image link files (similar to CUE sheets)

OptimFROG (OFR)[edit]

http://www.losslessaudio.org/

OptimFROG is a lossless format developed by Florin Ghido to become the champion in audio compression.

OFR pros

  • Very high compression
  • Good software support
  • Error robustness
  • Streaming support
  • Supports high resolutions
  • Hybrid/lossy mode
  • Tagging support (ID3, APE tags)
  • Supports RIFF chunks

OFR cons

  • Closed source
  • No multichannel audio support
  • No hardware support
  • Very slow decoding
  • Slow encoding
  • More than one tagging method allowed (ambiguity possible)

OFR Other features

  • Supports 32bit float streams
  • Includes MD5 hashes for quick integrity checking

Tom's verlustfreier Audiokompressor (TAK)[edit]

http://www.thbeck.de/Tak/Tak.html

TAK is a lossless codec developed by Thomas Becker.

TAK pros

  • Very fast decoding
  • Very fast encoding
  • Very high efficiency
  • Error robust
  • Supports multichannel. Limited to 6 channels. Channel mask in WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE is supported
  • Supports high resolutions
  • Tagging support
  • Supports RIFF chunks
  • Pipe support
  • Streamable

TAK cons

  • Closed source (but unofficial open source decoder is available as part of ffmpeg)
  • No hybrid/lossy mode (but is LossyWAV compatible)
  • No hardware support
  • Average software support
  • Doesn't support Unicode (yet)

TAK Other features

  • Optional MD5 checksum

True Audio (TTA)[edit]

http://tta.tausoft.org/

TTA is a lossless codec developed by a international team of programmers.

TTA pros

  • Open source
  • Supports multichannel. Reference encoder/decoder is limited to 6 channels. ffmpeg's encoder/decoder is limited to 16 channels. Channel mask in WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE is not supported
  • Supports high resolutions
  • Tagging support (ID3v1, ID3v2 or APEv2)
  • Embedded CUE sheets support
  • Error robustness
  • Pipe support
  • Average compression
  • Fast encoding/decoding
  • Symmetric algorithm
  • Ultra low latency

TTA cons

  • No hybrid/lossy mode
  • Doesn't support RIFF chunks
  • Limited hardware support

TTA Other features

  • Fits the Matroska container
  • Password protection

WavPack (WV)[edit]

http://www.wavpack.com/

WavPack is a fast and featureful lossless codec developed by David Bryant.

WV pros

  • Open source
  • Fast decoding
  • Very fast encoding
  • Good efficiency
  • Error robustness
  • Streaming support
  • Supports multichannel. Limited to 255 channels. Channel mask in WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE is supported
  • Supports high resolutions
  • Hybrid/lossy mode
  • Tagging support (ID3v1, APE tags)
  • Supports RIFF chunks
  • Ability to create self extracting files for Win32 platform
  • Pipe support
  • Good software support

WV cons

  • Limited hardware player support (RockBox)
  • More than one tagging method allowed (ambiguity possible)

WV Other features

  • Can compress the Direct-Stream Digital (DSD) audio recording format
  • Supports 32bit float streams
  • Supports embedded CUE sheets
  • Accept audio files bigger than 4GB
  • Includes MD5 hashes for quick integrity checking
  • Can encode in both symmetrical and asymmetrical modes.
  • Fits the Matroska container

Windows Media Audio Lossless (WMAL)[edit]

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff819508(v=vs.85).aspx

WMA Lossless is the lossless codec developed by Microsoft to be featured in their Windows Media codec portfolio.

WMAL pros

WMAL cons

  • Rather low efficiency
  • Closed source
  • No hybrid/lossy mode (but is LossyWAV compatible)
  • Doesn't support RIFF chunks

WMAL Other features

  • Fits the ASF container

Other Formats[edit]

Aside from the formats mentioned above, there are in fact quite a lot of other lossless formats. To keep the table and list brief and readable, a few formats have not been mentioned.

DTS-HD Master Audio[edit]

Similar to the MPEG-4 SLS format, this format has a core track in an older, more widely supported format, DTS. This core lossy track is made lossless by a secondary track with correction data. It is an optional codec in Blu-ray implementations. Its main use is surround sound encoding, and as is the case with MLP, the price of the encoder ensures it is only used in mastering of Blu-ray discs.

LA[edit]

http://www.lossless-audio.com/

LA features an extremely high compression (on par with OptimFrog highest modes, but a bit faster), but it hasn't been updated for more than 10 years. Furthermore, backward compatibility is not guaranteed, so using it for archiving might pose a few problems. It isn't able to cope with file corruption either, software support is very limited and isn't open source.

MLP/Dolby TrueHD[edit]

The MLP codec (of which the mathematical basis was used in Dolby TrueHD) is the codec used for DVD-Audio. It was mandatory in any HD-DVD implementation and optional for Blu-Ray in its Dolby TrueHD form. It is known to support the 'wasted bits' scheme used in LossyWAV. As encoders are very expensive, its use outside DVD/Blu-ray mastering environments is non-existent. Its main use is encoding surround sound data.

MPEG-4 ALS[edit]

MPEG-4 ALS is the successor to LPAC, which it was based on. It has been as a ISO standard and there is a reference encoder/decoder, but like TTA, it does not have features that make it stand out from other codecs, nor backing by a large organisation, so it hasn't much software and no hardware support.

MPEG-4 SLS[edit]

MPEG-4 SLS is a special codec, having a AAC core track and a 'correction track'. Also known as HD-AAC, SLS stands for Scalable to Lossless. However, there is to date still no affordable software to play, encode or decode (the lossless part of) SLS files.

Shorten[edit]

http://www.etree.org/shncom.html

Shorten was one of the first widely-used lossless formats, and it still occasionally found on the internet, especially in archives, for example etree.org. It is quite fast in both encoding and decoding, but doesn't compress very much. Furthermore, seeking has a troubled past as well as tagging. It is considered obsolete.

Real Lossless[edit]

Part of the Real codec suite, Real Lossless too hasn't any very special features that make it stand out. Just like WMA Lossless and Apple Lossless, it was created to fit in a codec suite, but unlike WMA Lossless and Apple Lossless, there is no hardware support and software support is limited. Compression is on par with most other codecs, but it is rather slow to encode.

Oddball formats[edit]

There are a few archaic formats of which encoders and decoders are hard to get by. Most of those would have disappeared by now, but some of them are being preserved for posterity at rjamorim's

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Other lossless compressions comparisons Sorted based on last update date.

  • Martijn van Beurden's comparison - tries to compare all codecs and settings with a balanced pool of music (last updated 2015-01-05)
  • Squeezechart audio - tests as much codecs as possible, but not all their settings and with a limited test corpus (last updated 2013-10-31)
  • Synthetic Soul's comparison (last update 2007-07-28)
  • Johan De Bock's speed oriented comparison - best choices speedwise are indicated in green, mostly electronic music (last updated 2006-07-22)
  • Hans Heijden's -- used as reference to build the table (last updated 2006-07-07)
  • Josef Pohm's comparison, hosted by Synthetic Soul (last update 2006-05-29)
  • Bobulous' lossless audio comparison — a look at six lossless formats in terms of speed and file size (last updated 2006-05-22)
  • Jhan De Bock's size oriented comparison - aimed only at the maximum compression setting for each codec (based on a somewhat limited set of samples, however) (last updated 2006-05-19)
  • Gruboolez' -- comparing only classical music (last updated 2005-02-27)
  • Speek's (last updated 2005-02-07)
  • Lossless Compression of Audio Much information about oddball formats including comparison of them. (last updated 2005-10-21)

More on lossless compressions

References[edit]

  1. HA forum post discussing ALAC robustness
  2. http://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php?showtopic=98984&st=0&p=821420&#entry821420