Lossless comparison

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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.


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

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 yes no no yes
Multichannel yes yes yes yes no 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.


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

Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC)


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

ALAC pros

  • Open source (encoding and decoding via FFmpeg and CUETools, decoding only via a standalone decoder)
  • Fast encoding
  • Fast decoding
  • Hardware support (iPod, AirPort Express)
  • Software support (iTunes, Quicktime)
  • Independent encoder implementation available: ffmpeg
  • Streaming support
  • Tagging support (QT tags)
  • Supports multichannel audio and high resolutions
  • Used by a few online stores

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)


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 audio and 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)


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

APE pros

  • High compression
  • Fast encoding
  • Good software support
  • Simple and user friendly. Official GUI provided.
  • Java version (multiplatform)
  • Error robustness/decoding up to -c3000 (High compression)[2]
  • Tagging support (ID3v1, APE tags)
  • High resolution audio support
  • 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 multichannel support
  • 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 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)


TAK is a lossless codec developed by Thomas Becker.

TAK pros

  • Very fast decoding
  • Very fast encoding
  • Very high efficiency
  • Error robust
  • Supports multichannel audio and high resolutions
  • Tagging support
  • Supports RIFF chunks
  • Pipe support
  • Streamable

TAK cons

  • Closed source
  • 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)


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

TTA pros

  • Open source
  • Supports multichannel audio and 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)


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 audio and 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)


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

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

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 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

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 it's 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 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 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 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

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

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

External links

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


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