This little known player is the wonder open source media player that is nimble, reliable and all around robust to play, encode and decode all types of media files. I just cannot get enough of it! I recently inherited a bit of classical music performed by my favorite violinist, the virtuoso Itzahk Perlman, and all the pieces were encoded as .flac files.
The FLAC or .flac audio file format was first released in 2000 and it is an open source project akin to the Mozilla.org project which is responsible for the reliably secure and friendly Firefox internet browser. Unlike other audio file formats, the FLAC codec it is not encumbered by copyrights or patents. FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec which compresses audio files in size without any loss unlike MP3’s. The following is quoted from the developer’s website:
“FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec, an audio format similar to MP3, but lossless, meaning that audio is compressed in FLAC without any loss in quality. This is similar to how Zip works, except with FLAC you will get much better compression because it is designed specifically for audio, and you can play back compressed FLAC files in your favorite player (or your car or home stereo, see supported devices) just like you would an MP3 file.
FLAC stands out as the fastest and most widely supported lossless audio codec, and the only one that at once is non-proprietary, is unencumbered by patents, has an open-source reference implementation, has a well documented format and API, and has several other independent implementations.”
Major labels and artists are beginning to release entire collections and new projects in the FLAC format. You can read all about the FLAC audio file format, its implementation and how to use it from the developer’s website at http://flac.sourceforge.net
Now, I was very disappointed to find out that iTunes does not read .flac files, but I heard that the Roxio Creaor read them and encoded them to more common audio formats; so I tried Roxio Creator in vain to convert them to either audio files o MP3’s by burning a cd so that I can then bring them over to iTunes with no success. It ended up burning them as the same .flac files on the CD! Darn! So, I simply turned to installing the VLC Media Player. I was already impressed by this little media player to handle a variety of video file types, and I was sure it would be able to handle the FLAC audio files.
The VLC Media Player is also developed by a collaborative effort akin to that of Firefox and FLAC, and this little engine that could free media player can be downloaded and installed in a snap without any major convolutions such as trying to install codec for an existing application.
Although its interface can take a bit getting used to, it has yet to disappoint on performance and reliability. The developers just released Version 2.00 of this free media player less than a month ago as of this posting with very visible significant improvements, and one of such improvements is the user interface. You can read all about it and download this FREE open source media player from the collaborative developers at http://www.videolan.org
I am off to enjoy Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and twenty four Caprices by Paganini as performed by Itzahk Perlman and directed by Lorin Maazel and the Berlin Philharmonic. Maybe a glass of wine and some cheese will make it an, even, more delectable rainy afternoon in Pismo Beach.