Why iTunes Doesn’t Support FLAC Files

flac.pngI often get emails asking how to play FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files in iTunes. Users are surprised that Apple doesn’t support FLAC files, and generally rant against Apple not supporting open source formats. There’s no conspiracy or lock-in here; there’s a very logical reason why Apple, and iTunes, don’t support FLAC.

First, a quick overview of lossless audio files. These are files that use data compression to shrink the size of audio files, the same way zip compression makes an image much smaller than its original size. On average, lossless files – in FLAC or Apple Lossless format – are about half the size of the original, uncompressed music on CDs. (See this article for some examples of Apple Lossless compression results.)

Apple Lossless is Apple’s home-brewed lossless codec. Introduced in 2004, Apple Lossless – sometimes called ALAC – provides the same bit-for-bit quality as FLAC, and is supported by iTunes and iOS devices. In October, 2011, Apple let the Apple Lossless format go open source, so anyone can use it in hardware or software. (Note that Apple Lossless files look, in the Finder or Windows Explorer, exactly like AAC files, because they use an .mp4 container, and have the same file extension.)

Supporting FLAC in iTunes and on iOS devices could be a legal nightmare for Apple. Many open source software algorithms can be targets of patent trolls. While no one cares much about FLAC use in small apps and hardware devices, were a big company such as Apple – or Microsoft, who doesn’t support FLAC either – to start supporting that format, it’s very likely that someone would dredge up a patent and seek copious damages.

So, if you want to play FLAC files in iTunes, you need to convert them to Apple Lossless. Don’t convert to uncompressed AIFF or WAV, as they’ll take up about twice as much space. The free app XLD can convert to and from any lossless format with no loss of quality; use this tool to turn your FLACs into Apple Lossless files.

Note that Apple Lossless also supports high-resolution audio, up to 24-bit, 192 kHz sample rate. (See How To: Listen to High-Resolution Audio Files on a Mac.) The highest I have are 24/96 files:


I can’t see Apple ever supporting FLAC files in iTunes; it’s too risky. Apple created their own lossless format for this reason. It provides the same quality, supports high-resolution audio, and is compatible with iTunes and iOS devices.

Note: A commenter on the Guardian website, which linked to this article, suggested that this theory makes no sense, because Android – developed by Google – supports FLAC, and they’re a big target. I’m not sure that’s an issue. Android is technically – for the most part – open source, and is certainly using open source FLAC libraries. I don’t know what the legal status of that usage would be, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be as clear as a closed-source app like iTunes, or Windows Media Player, supporting FLAC.

Update, January, 2015: Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will support FLAC on the desktop, and on mobile devices. It will be interesting to see what happens with this.

83 thoughts on “Why iTunes Doesn’t Support FLAC Files

  1. Power-consumption could be a big reason this. The wiki page for Apple Lossless mentions: “Compared to many other formats, it is not as difficult to decode, making it practical for a limited-power device, such as iOS devices.”

    • That’s interesting. I would think, though, if Apple were supporting another format, they’d figure out a way to decode it more efficiently, maybe with a codec-specific chip. But I strongly doubt that the power consumption was the reason for this. And the link in the Wikipedia article just leads to a statement with nothing to support it. Also, this article says that FLAC is the fastest to decode among lossless codecs.

      • I think you’re reading those charts wrong. FLAC tends to fare very poorly on decoding tests across the board. You’re probably looking at the black triangles instead of FLAC’s data points which are in very dark purple triangles. The black triangles are Wavpack codec, no FLAC.

        • I think you may be reading it back to front. FLAC is at the far right of the top graph. The further to the right the markers are, the faster the decode speed. That graph shows FLAC decoding at roughly 450x realtime on an old Core2Duo T9600.

    • I won’t be. FLAC is _very_ fast to decode, as in “the entire track in less than a second” fast. Apple just won’t support it because it’s in competition with their own (completely pointless) proprietary codec and as per usual, they want to lock everyone to their, and only their software (and hardware when possible).

      • Exactly. You hit the nail on the head. They want to force everyone to operate in the Apple ecosystem. They don’t give a fuck what the consumer actually wants. The idea Apple risks being sued is BS. You can’t be sued for supporting an open sourced format.

  2. If I’m converting a set of flac files that comprise a CD, I use Titanium Toast to create a digital CD/disk image, mount the image on the desktop so iTunes sees it as a CD, matches titles and names of tracks, than imports it properly into iTunes. Will XLD allow iTunes to correctly name the tracks as well?

    • Good question. I don’t think so. If you mix tracks together to make a CD, then that CD won’t be recognized when XLD checks for metadata. iTunes only recognizes CDs, to check for metadata, that you rip using iTunes, not files you’ve ripped from other sources.

  3. Thanks for your insights about Apple & FLAC. I use both and purchase a lot of 24 bit tracks – mostly classical. I have to say, however, that I the best application I’ve found (and I’ve extensively tried all the major Mac ripping software) is sadly not a Mac application at all. It’s dbpoweramp on, yes, Windows using Parallels. It ain’t pretty but it’s mighty powerful. I’ve never regretted the extra effort it takes to make my rips right.

    • I don’t know what you mean by “make my rips right” – If you are ripping a disc, do it in iTunes with ALAC. What more “power” do you need?

  4. Only the FEW GEEKS are complaining about lack of FLAC support in iTunes or Apple Products. Everyone else uses the open source Apple Lossless Format or MP3 or MP4.

    If you have FLAC files, simply convert them to Apple Lossless Format. You lose nothing in the process.

          • Stays accurate? If it doesn’t “stay accurate” then you’ll get disk i/o errors and it’s time to get a new disk and restore from backups. Bits just don’t randomly flip on a hard disk. The disk will just fail.

          • With XLD, you can verify a folder of an album with the accuraterip database. I’ve pulled iTunes Apple lossless rips, along with EAC, and CueTools rips and verified them.

            I’d argue that besides EAC, CutTools, and maybe DBpoweramp, most PC rippers suck. They truncate the files by several samples, and the Flac or Apple Lossless can’t be verified by accuraterip.

            Even an iTunes rip of a non scratched cd can be verified by CueTools or XLD with the accuraterip database.

    • The issue is that all audio shops who sell lossless audio, do that in FLAC format and not in ALAC format. So basically FLAC is the standard. FLAC has better compression than ALAC, which is important as lossless uses a lot of disk space. All IT vendors but Apple support FLAC, so isn’t time that Apple changes its stubborn (or even arrogant) attitude. I don’t care that FLAC is not available on mobile devices like an iPhone, but I do mind it is not supported on a Mac

  5. But HD apple lossless files don’t seem to be readable from iOS, are they?
    I have to convert them in 16/44,1 to synchronize and read them on my iPhone. Am i missing something?

    • The iPhone can’t play above 44.1 kHz, so there’s no point syncing them. And, they’re so big, you’d only get a handful of albums on an iPhone if you put 24/96 files on it. And, frankly, the DAC in the iPhone wouldn’t make it worthwhile.

      • Actually, iPhone handles 24/48. I sync my vinyl rips with it with iTunes. What iTunes sync doesn’t allow is anything over 48kHz. But you can get around that with an app like FLAC Player. The iPhone’s DAC handles at least to 96kHz, but you can’t sync those files with iTunes.

    • Most likely the same. But MKV is not a codec, it’s a wrapper. MKV video files often contain MP4 videos; so you can quickly convert from MKV to an iTunes-supported format.

  6. Please be aware that many audiophiles prefer WAV or AIFF over ALAC or FLAC, even though the files are much larger. The argument is that the computing power required to expand “lossless” files into playable bitstreams results in diminished audio quality. I realize that many people don’t believe it, but the difference is audible on a truly high-resolution (very expensive) stereo system.

    • No, it’s quite hard to believe that a bit-for-bit equivalent sounds different. The computing power to decode a lossless file is minimal. I just started playing a high-res Apple Lossless file in iTunes, while watching Activity Monitor to see how much CPU it’s using. There was an initial burst of 12% – which may simply be iTunes waking up – then, during playback, it ranged from 3.4 to 3.7%. So the “computing power” argument is, as H. L. Mencken used to say, buncombe.

      • Data is not just about quantity. Because it’s read as a time code, timing errors of streamed data are a measurable and audible phenomenon. There are several types of digital distortions that fall under the category of “clock jitter”. It’s been found that playback of compressed formats and even lossless compressions will result in measurably higher levels of jitter (all other things being equal) than uncompressed file types like AIFF and WAV. Fortunately lossless compressions can be converted to uncompressed files and then played back with the expected reduction in jitter artifacts. But playback of a lossless file in it’s compressed format will result in higher measured clock jitter. Whether this is significant enough to be an audible problem is a debatable point.

        • Do you have a source that documents this scientifically? If you play your FLAC from a computer with interference, and you compare this output to the WAVE stream coming from a CD played on a high quality CD player, you will most likely have more jitter on anything you play on the computer.

          According to the articles I dug up on this matter, it’s most likely a myth that it’s the compression format that causes this jitter. It seems to be more dependant on the source:

          So I really don’t know what to think about this. I couldn’t find any definete proof of anything. FLAC is already being used by professional archivists. But there used to be a persistent myth among archivists that using FLAC implied a bigger risk of “bit loss” than WAV. If any of this can be scientifically documented, then that’s useful information. But (un)deliberately creating or repeating (old) myths is just damaging.

    • These are the same people that buy “oxygen free copper” cables for ridiculous amounts of money because they claim they hear a huge difference between them.

    • When flac is converted to a playable bitstream it is converted to EXACTLY the same data as in the WAV file. There is no difference. None.

  7. Style Police says: “Wherever you use space-hyphen-space, you should use an em dash. On a Mac, type option-shift-dash—it looks like this—and your readers will love you.”

  8. I got one sentence for you:
    (The Google Theives) did it with the “Android”, and they support flac.

    Android is NOT really opensourced anymore, not like it used to be.
    it’s “apps”,…, are getting more closed everyday, (if you’re not invited you can’t play, get it?)
    but they sure didn’t mind stealing the “Linux/BSD” code/kernel stuff first though, eh ?

    … as already mentioned,…
    Apple opensourced their “alac”, sort-of, -but it was too little too late.
    FLAC is lossless, just like “alac”, and even more portable, and, finally, FLAC is much more popular these days.
    There is absolutely NO reasaon for Apple Not to include FLAC, for example, as an optional way to “encode losslessly, imported Audio CD’s”, with all the metadata,…, into our iPOD’s,…, anymore.
    err uhm, except for maybe one, – Apple invested heavily into their “mp*” junk, and their in bed with the RIAA, hollywood, …, and that, my friend, is the only real reasons.

    “iTunes” is another “closed/commercial” nightmare, aka Thanks a lot for NOTHING Apple.
    iTunes should have already been available natively to Linux. Why not ? They don’t mind doin’ it for Windows.
    Anyway, hey Thanks a lot Apple, once again, for nuthin’.
    We already pay exhorbetant prices for their hardware, and Apple provides squat for features, portability, “other” OS support,… ?

    ya, go dunk for more Apples.
    amyway, ‘fer now, dbPowerAMP, and/or “ffmpeg” does all this nicely for me, although unfortunately I stll need ITunes, to “sync” it all, :(, with a bit of manual extra work involved..

    Apple, for all these years, hasn’t changed for any of their devices. They have great quality “hardware”, but terrible/horrible application-system-level features and/or support.

  9. Could you explain on what you base you’re conclusion that it would be a “legal nightmare for Apple” to include Flac codec in iTunes?
    According to the Flac license agreement Flac is a free coded in the “fullest sense” libraries may be used by any application, Open or proprietary, linked or incorporated in whole, so long as acknowledgement is made to Xiph.org Foundation when using the source code in whole or in derived works.

    It also states that the FLAC formats nor any of the implemented encoding/decoding methods are covered by any known patent.

    source : https://xiph.org/flac/license.html

    • As I say in the article: “Many open source software algorithms can be targets of patent trolls.”

      There’s no guarantee that FLAC is totally unencumbered by patents, and if a big company were to support it, there could be lawsuits. We see patent trolls suing companies all the tim.

      • I would also be interested in further discussion of why the threat of patent infringement lawsuits discourages Apple from incorporating open source libraries generally, and FLAC specifically, into their software.

        I agree that large technology companies face something of a “legal nightmare” from patent trolls. In the past five years, Google, Apple, and Samsung faced 192, 191, and 151 patent troll lawsuits, respectively, which at the very least amounts to significant legal fees ( http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/02/apple-top-target-of-patent-trolls-faced-92-lawsuits-in-three-years ). Hopefully, patent trolls will become more rare now that these legal fees can be more easily shifted to the trolling plaintiff in light of two recent Supreme Court opinions ( http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/04/opinion-recap-justices-want-federal-circuit-out-of-loop-on-fee-disputes-in-patent-cases/ ).

        However, the threat of patent trolls has not prevented Apple from extensively using (and contributing to) open source projects generally (see https://www.apple.com/opensource/ for a list). With regards to audio codecs, Apple continues to use the patent-encumbered MP3 codec even though the history of intellectual property litigation for that codec is notorious ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP3#Licensing_and_patent_issues ). The FLAC codec, which is released under the BSD License, is encumbered by no known patents and is explicitly licensed to be used royalty-free by both open source and proprietary software ( https://xiph.org/flac/features.html ). Thirteen years since FLACs release, despite extensive implementation by technology companies including Google, Sony, Samsung ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hardware_and_software_that_supports_FLAC ), and even adoption by the European Broadcasting Union ( http://www.ebu.ch/en/radio/ops_rdo/faq/index.php ), I can find no evidence that the free and open source legal status of the FLAC codec has been contested.

          • Agreed, this blog post is baseless speculation.

            The author refers to essentially zero evidence which might remotely suggest Apple has potential cause to fear FLAC. We’re told there’s a hidden danger in open source somehow, even though Apple uses *many* other open source software, libraries, and codecs for its products. Yet the writer imagines it so, despite Apple competitors readily supporting FLAC legal lifetimes ago. We’re asked to trust there’s some vague bogeymen, although online music vendors sell FLAC files hand over fist. Balderdash.

            If I were cynical, I might conclude this whole affair to be a ruse to garner traffic - clickbait drivel. I suppose the reality is more likely the author simply made an error and, now that it’s obvious, he ought to annotate a retract. Won’t hurt traffic any.

            • There are dozens of codecs, apps, tools for Windows and Android that support FLAC. Apple$oft prefer their OWN formats in order to belatedly appear relevant. You have me interested in BTRFS.

              There is a MUCH lower risk in using an open audio format. You’re never going to get that patent surprise unless Apple$oft are the perpetrators. Using THEIR codecs ties you into THEIR platforms and THAT is the SOLE reason they eschew FLAC.

              No matter … many software writers are three jumps ahead of the monopolists …
              Of then dozens I’ve looked at, all NAS, PVRs, media players and Most Smart TV systems support FLAC.
              What is the rationale for limiting yourself to a proprietary, less capable file format? It is basically supported by ONE manufacturer, making a mockery of portability. Would you buy a Volvo that ONLY took Volvo fuel?

            • You see, that’s just ridiculous. Neither of these formats are proprietary. Apple doesn’t use “their” codecs. AAC is the MP4 standard, and is supported by most hardware and software, and Apple Lossless went open source years ago so anyone can use it.

  10. Kirk,

    Your ass is a whistle… Making up the science to alter the observations.

    FLAC, a legal nightmare for Apple and MS but not Google?

    Android, open source?

    Battery considerations?

    Plain and simple, Apple does not support FLAC because it does not support their captive business model. To explain it any different way is to be naïve to reality.

    Some nitwit above said only nerds care. That same nitwit and the rest of the flock are exactly why Apple gets away with it. They accept whatever is in front of them and decry anybody who refuses to accept it as the best or only option.

    • Microsoft doesn’t support FLAC.

      With Android, it’s not very clear; some documents I say say that only Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean or later support FLAC. Before that, you could play FLAC files with certain software – just as you can on an iOS device with VLC. (But I saw some other documents that suggest that it’s supported from 3.1 and later.) Perhaps Google is more confident about the possible patent issues than Apple and Microsoft. Perhaps they’d lean on the purported open-sourcenes of Android.

      Politeness is a virtue, you know. Didn’t your mother teach you that?

      • “Perhaps Google is more confident about the possible patent issues than Apple and Microsoft.” And perhaps FLAC does not support Apple’s captive business model.

        The difference between these two hypotheses is that there is no evidence whatsoever that Google has greater legal confidence – especially since Apple can afford even more lawyers than they can. While we are chest-deep in evidence that Apple’s business model is designed around locking in consumers. So it is only a determinedly biased observer who would favor the former theory over the latter.

        You know, it is possible to buy Apple products and favor them over the competition and consider the company innovative and fascinating while still acknowledging that they have no hesitation about ****ing over their customers when it suits their purpose.

  11. Patent trolls from the open source community? A cop-out based on _extreme_ improbability.
    Given history and verifiable events, you have your wires crossed as to WHO would be the patent troll.

    There Is a possible patent troll in the equation. Historically that is NOT the open source community.
    Rounded corner rectangles (like ANY 1970’s calculator) anyone? Something that fits in pockets that does not damage them. This is a patentable “look and feel”.

    Anyway most of these spurious patents have now been invalidated by the courts. In the last few years that patent troll has deliberately damaged the advances of innovative companies on the now proven spurious idea that they were copying specific designs.

    Illuminatum, non incendium. IE: Before you flame, consider watching at least part 3 of “everything is a remix” – It puts things in simple perspective. The other three parts are also very illuminating if your interest is piqued beyond slavishly supporting one brand or another..

    • Not patent trolls from the open source community, patent trolls that target companies using open source software because it is not patented, yet may infringe on obscure patents held by companies that die nothing but sue others.

  12. Bits actually can seemingly randomly flip on a healthy hard drive, a phenomenon known as bit rot. It is rare, but with increasing storage capacity, rare events occur more frequently. In an mp3 file, if the flipped bit is in a critical portion of a header, the file might not play at all. If the flipped bit occurs in a data block, there might just be a brief garbled moment during playback. Frustratingly, redundant storage (backups and mirrors) does not protect against bit rot. A hard drive will view a block with a flipped bit as healthy, and the corrupt data will propagate to the redundant storage, probably overwriting an older good copy of the data.

    Next-generation file systems have features that do protect against bit rot. Btrfs, for example, implements per-block checksumming. Every time a block is read, a checksum is calculated. If a bit has flipped, the calculated checksum won’t match the stored checksum associated with the block, and btrfs will know that the block is corrupt. If a redundant copy exists with a good checksum (e.g. RAID-1 mirror), btrfs serves that good block and automatically overwrites the bad block transparently. If you are into file system development, or like to archive data, that’s pretty exciting! Ars Technica had a good article about bit rot and next-gen file systems earlier this year: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/01/bitrot-and-atomic-cows-inside-next-gen-filesystems/ .

  13. Windows 10 will support Flac mbps natively. Most of the big AV receiver manufactures already do.

    This is just apple being apple. Open sourcing ALAC just last ditch effort to tru to keep it relevant but the onslaught of FLAC is inevidable.

    • Wow, that’s harsh, and quite incorrect. Most vendors who sell lossless files now sell Apple Lossless in addition to FLAC.

      • Maybe .. as an afterthought []some manufacturers[] can support it. Mine charges extra for itunes – because guess who is charging THEM – for “free” software?

        Is ALaC temporarily “free” for commercial use? And if Apple decide to sell a product similar to what YOU have just used it in, what then?

        The/processor/tuner I’ve used (high end) all support FLAC out of the box, as does almost every hi Fi component right down to the cheapest player, eg: non “apple marketed” hardware.

        Too little, too late and from a virulent litigant, too risky! FLAC is more extensible from what I’ve read.

        Stick to FLAC and you can’t go wrong, change and you might.
        No the comment isn’t harsh at all, given history, the leopard won’t change his spots.

        • Hi-fi manufacturers have started adding FLAC support in recent years, but “almost every player?” No.

          You say “mine charges extra for iTunes.” Huh? I have no idea what you mean there. Apple Lossless is free and is open source. No one will ever charge you to be able to use that format. If your hi-fi equipment does, then they’re ripping you off.

          Suggesting that you could “go wrong” with any lossless format is simply foolish. You can transcode to and from any lossless format. I don’t know about which leopard and which spots you’re talking about…

          • 1 Ok almost every playey worth having.

            2 itunes support on these units is an extra cost option which you have to pay for and install.
            itunes is only “free” until you make a commercial product with it, then they have their hand out.
            Even using the logo costs if it is used for a commercial product – a product that supports the hardware they market.

            Licensing it is called. Therefore it would be foolish to trust them because they SAY it is free today.
            FLAC works out of the box on my latest pre/pro/tuner no issues now or ever. I
            FLAC is Industry standard, by virtue of a ten year head start, being capable, robust and truly free.

            3 Actually, it WOULD be foolish to risk using a format with no tangible advantage over FLAC and then have to convert it back to FLAC at some time, unless you are stuck with Apple as a result of a purchasing decision.

            It is never too late, of course and apple could always do the right thing – support FLAC instead of forcing companies to carry an extra format. Don’t hold your breath

            The other poster was not harsh, he was accurate.

            • 1. Nope.

              2. Please provide an example with a link. Any device can access an iTunes library on your computers; there is no license needed for this.

            • 1. Are you suggesting that many good devices don’t support the industry standard?

              2. Airplay .. not just accessing itunes on a computer .. simple tech that should not cost them, but … “The upgrade will be available for purchase” (because they DO have to pay for it) http://www.audioholics.com/news/denon-marantz-airplay

              All other solutions I’ve used are free, reliable and platform agnostic which is as it should be. It’s music/video, not computer wars.

              Vendors pay buckets for being able to say “iStuff supported” on the box and use the icon – even though their products make iStuff more useful. It is just an API that Apple use anyway. Guess who pays? Us!

              That’s pretty greedy for a company using a free, Open OS, (it is FreeBSD underneath) with a bit of GUI dressing on top.
              A pity because Apple have some good little boxes but don’t support all industry standard file formats, which is limiting but so do others.

              In the end, I chose FreeNAS for my media server, which sources its OS from the same place as Apple do – FreeBSD.
              FreeNAS solves ALL compatibility problems – yes, it has industry standard file support. It is a simple thing to do and deserves no excuses made for this failure. Broken promises don’t engender confidence in sane people..

              I only wanted to do this once and industry standard is the way to go which it became a standard.
              I’m looking at BTRFS now so it can remain that way. It appears more advanced than the normal JFS.

              I still agree that the other poster was accurate in his assessment.

            • 1. FLAC is not an industry standard in any way. A handful of portable players support it; as for hi-fi receivers, many do, but not all.

              2. You’re a bit confused. AirPlay is not iTunes. It’s a technology that Apple designed for streaming music and video, and licenses. When you buy a hardware device that supports MP3, the manufacturer pays a license fee to use it; just as they do if they want to use Bluetooth, Dolby Digital, or any of dozens of other such technologies. All these technologies are patented, and are managed by manufacturers or consortia for licensing purposes. If manufacturers don’t want to pay, they can’t use them.

            • 1. really ..
              2. the licence fee is exorbitant for what it is. No reason to excuse them – there’s better, cheaper that supports industry standards, as I said I want music, not a restrictive set-up.

              All devices I allow in can use it – no drama, no hunting for codecs or being forced to use this platform or this hardware – it all works correctly, no matter what brand..

              Some don’t get it and make excuses… any record player can play a record (or in tacky nouveau-speak “vinyls”), any CD player can play CDs, and DVD player .. etc. etc. In radio days one could use any tuner for AM of FM as appropriate etc.

              So no I’m not confused, I’m demanding and realistic and won’t take excuses for restrictive tech.

  14. You don’t know what the license fee is. And you were confused, thinking it meant access to iTunes. But whatever…

    • After working out what it did – I thought, OK easy. Then I discovered thje limitations and was taken straight to the “pay us” web page. When I enquired, they told me they were passing costs on but didn’t share how much they were forced to pay for sharing tech that comes at minimal with a decent phone .

      So .. “whatever” indeed .. However you dress it up and apologise for appole, I found a free and superior solution (ie: not limited)
      Paying more for restrictive tech isn’t too smart as I see it … so I didn’t.

      I watched a documentary this week and chuckled at the first opening of an apple store .. 7 December 1967 – Enjoy your music.

      • You really don’t get it. It’s not “tech that comes with a decent phone.” It’s a high-quality media streaming technology, that supports multi-channel audio, high-resolution audio, video and more. It’s way more advanced than Bluetooth streaming. I don’t know which company you’re talking about, but they are certainly disingenuous is suggesting that it’s too expensive. It’s their choice to include it or not with their products. Plenty of hi-fi receivers have AirPlay support these days; maybe you need to be something from a better brand.

        • Blue tooth streaming? Yikes that’s compressed. Yeah I get it, all right, that never entered my mind.

          Decent phones can effortlessly stream at full quality .. on trips, mine streams local and internet video to kids in the back seats, serve as a wifi hotspot for my wife’s pc internet connectivity, (all different brands of connected devices). Oh seeing it is a phone, it also handles hands free voice calls and messages and voice searches for the nearest restaurant, stores, etc.
          Sure it gets warm while multitasking, but it copes well and I don’t have to settle for one brand.

          I’ll console myself with industry standards, all-brand connectivity at full quality , sniff, sniff …

          Pre/Pro/Tuners – best look that up and see which end of the market these serve.
          “a better” brand – lol. Have a nice year.

          • And what protocol does it use for this streaming? If it’s an iPhone, it’s using AirPlay. If it’s Android, DLNA. It looks as thought DLNA licensing is $2 per device, compared to AirPlay’s $4. So whatever company’s device you have that won’t let you use AirPlay without paying is just being a cheapskate.

            • DLNA/UPNP is included with all that I see these days even high end pre-amps often have it. It isn’t the cost – that’s peanuts in the overall scheme of things. I don’t like mucking around with my audio gear to satisfy some knee-jerk proprietary whim.

              FFS .. a power point than can deliver 4kW to each of my 750-a-side power amp costs way more than Airplay is install. (I don’t like clipping). It’s that it offers nothing valuable and IS restrictive.

              It was easier to rip or convert to the ubiquitous and industry standard FLAC that radio broadcasters have been using for a decade.

              There’s NO good reason to be stuck, unable to play the near ubiquitous FLAC as DLNA or UPNP allows inter brand connectivity so you can CHOOSE best of breed devices.

              I’m interested how my choices serve my music, not how I can fall in line behind some computer company.
              I have made the correct choice. Go ahead and do what you think best. I’m designing some new subs – much more interesting than ipod talk. Now .9 or 1.3 cubic metres, that is the question.

  15. Apple and Adobe are just about the only companies left who do not support any of the open source community standards. Microsoft tried – and failed – with WMA and WMV. Adobe tried – and failed – with their FLV/F4V container.
    But Apple still continues to bother us with their own inferior standards, simply because they have managed to lock in a sufficient number of consumers.
    If Microsoft and Google can support MKV and FLAC, there are no other explanations than greed and arrogance that can explain why Apple won’t support open standards. They won’t even support the royalty free WebM container and VP9 video standard… So farewell to the “unknown license costs” excuse! ;)

    • Apple Lossless is open source. There’s nothing “inferior” about it.

      You have to pay $15 to watch DVDs on Windows 10.

      MKV is a very different beast than FLAC, since it’s not a codec, but a wrapper.

      • ALAC *is* an inferior audio format not least because of the lack of checksum support. That matters a lot to digital archivists – and also to home users who digitize large amounts their own music collections. Since FLAC was already invented in 1999, there was absolutely no good reason why consumers should bother with another format (which was a patented, closed source format that allegedly stole source code from open source formats).

        Why should I worry about the native DVD player that ships with Windows 10, when I can just install VLC? Apple PCs don’t even have optical drives anymore.

        Matroska (MKV) files can be played natively in Windows 10, if they contain Windows Media Video, AVC or HEVC video. The MKV container format is currently being standardized for professional preservation purposes by MediaArea.net (metadata experts). The lossless video format to be used is FFV1 – another format that Apple (and most other commercial manufacturers have refused to support for years although it is better and faster than the commercial alternatives). The project is called PREFORMA and it’s subsidized by the European Union. The ONLY tablet/smartphone/media center manufacturer who doesn’t support MKV playback at all these days is… Guess who? ;)

        … You didn’t comment on Apple’s refusal to support the royalty free HTML5 video and audio standards? Apple wouldn’t have to pay any license fees, so why not support it?

        • What is Apple not supporting? HTML 5 is a web standard; Safari supports it, apparently better than most browsers.

          It’s very possible that Apple created Apple Lossless so they could have hardware decoding, which was the case in early iPods and iOS devices (and might still be the case). This might even have been the case on Macs, but I’m not sure.

          • The WebM container format and the VP8/VP9 video formats are well defined HTML5 video standards that are supported by all web browsers and mobile browsers – just not iOS, Safari and IE/Edge.

            As far as I have been able to look up information, none of the early iPods could process ALAC files. Around 2007 there were several other portable players (from much smaller manufacturers) on the market that offered FLAC support – but despite their massive success, Apple decided to only support their own proprietary, but technically inferior, lossless audio format.

            • Hostile…?
              The whole premise of this article provokes me. The headline suggests that you pretend to know the actual reason. But it quickly becomes clear that you (for reasons that are beyond me) simply assume that supporting open community standards is by definition a “legal nightmare”:

              “There’s no conspiracy or lock-in here; there’s a very logical reason why Apple, and iTunes, don’t support FLAC.”
              “Supporting FLAC in iTunes and on iOS devices could be a legal nightmare for Apple. Many open source software algorithms can be targets of patent trolls. While no one cares much about FLAC use in small apps and hardware devices, were a big company such as Apple – or Microsoft, who doesn’t support FLAC either – to start supporting that format, it’s very likely that someone would dredge up a patent and seek copious damages.”

              This is not backed up at all. It is merely based on assumptions. At the same time you don’t even consider that plain and simple profit maximization also might be the reason. You did update the article recently where you mention Microsoft’s recently added native support for FLAC. But not even this has made you question whether or not your assumption about open standards being a “legal nightmare” is true.

              Furthermore, you deliberately avoid commenting on the lack of support for WebM and other royalty-free video and audio standards. Perhaps this is because it comcompletely undermines your assumptions about why Apple doesn’t support open formats (other than their own patented ones)?

              But you are correct: Both FLAC ALAC are just audio codecs. Yet if Apple started supporting FLAC, nobody would use the inferior ALAC format anymore.

    • Apple was years behind FLAC and the result is near plagiarism – I know, there was some marketing BS from them “showing” theirs was slightly better, as usual not repeated in the real world, only in marketing land.
      Open source (FULLY open from trustworthy non monopolistic people) is the only way to have lifelong access to your music without legitimate concerns that may change on a whim.
      As an aside … I just bought a couple of Dieter Rams books. “As Little design as possible” and “Less but better” …
      He”s clearly the innovator behind the look of most apple products. I note that Ives books sell for 1/10th the price, even after all these years.
      The number of products I’ve seen over the years (not merely Apple’s) which look JUST like the designs depicted between about 1959 and 1999 staggered me. I was expecting some, but not THAT much copying.
      Oh, a lot of flat rounded corner rectangles for pocket devices after the 1960s!

      WHY read those books?
      1: Well worth buying if you prefer originals.
      2: Inspiration for a physical design for a new pair of home and studio speakers.
      I’m designing also for flat ca~ 13hz-35k In room, phase corrected, dedicated power amp for each driver, and appropriate room treatment. Let’s say “enough power” … about 7.5kW – I don’t like clipping

      Before that, I have a set of classic Klipsch la Scalas to rebuild and upgrade!
      Back to poring over veneer catalogues .. I’ll post to Smugmug once I start.

      • Plagiarism? There were plenty of other lossless codecs around before Apple Lossless, and they still exist: APE, SHN, WMA Lossless, and others. Making a lossless codec is probably not rocket science; it merely compressed data, rather than eliminating data based on psychoacoustics.

        Re Dieter Rams: indeed. Rounded corners are very 60s; look back at the many tables in odd shapes of the time.

        • Rounded corner rectangles – sixties? Head in sand much?
          Some ID10T gave Apple a patent for the look that almost without exception, pocket-able electronics has had since RAMS’ heyday.

          To DELUDE oneself that an iphone looked like no other such device requires extreme delusional “skills”.
          I realise i zealots possess this skill as much as religious zealots possess it (same reason).
          I phone effectively copied: LG’s earlier Prada phone design, which was openly “Rams inspired”. Sixties, eh?

          RAMS’ chairs and bookshelves STILL sell unchanged and command high prices when you can actually find them second hand.
          His design books still sell for good money, even second hand – I know, Looked – that’s what originality does. Ives copies his ideas regularly. http://gizmodo.com/343641/1960s-braun-products-hold-the-secrets-to-apples-future

          Kasper is right, and it is supremely ironic that the most VIRULENT, unoriginal billion dollar patent troll on the planet, could be seen by ANY objective person as being at the “mercy” of the open source community.
          The lossless FLAC preceded apple’s format by a number of years, is clearly the basis of alac, is still slightly superior and is TOTALLY unencumbered.

          Our collective points being that you appear to be so mesmerised by the plagiarised trees that you can’t see the original forest.
          Few intelligent people I have discussed this issuer with, will lock into a proprietary way of storing music.

          • It’s not proprietary, it’s open source. And FLAC was not the first lossless codec. Sony’s ATRAC lossless dates back to 1999; did FLAC copy that?

            • Crying “whatever” is like crying “racist” when you’ve lost a logical argument.

              Just admit that almost NO ONE touched apple’s lossless format until they SAID it was free. Easily removed once the snake rears its head again.

  16. This article is complete and utter Apple fanboy bullshit. There is only one reason Apple will never support FLAC and that is because they want to force users, in any way they can, to commit to their proprietary ecosystem. However, there are myriad reasons that a user would prefer FLAC. The primary one is that FLAC is universally supported and can be played with ANY player, while ALAC is not widely supported. Why should I have to keep files in ALAC just for use on my iPod AND in FLAC for use everywhere else? Of course users want a single format that can work everywhere. This article actually pissed me off because it skips right over the most obviously arguments against Apple’s proprietary platform.

      • ATRAC stored audio information with “minimal loss in perceptible quality” – get it – NOT lossless?
        You really don’t know your stuff, do you? FLAC is lossless.- not “like ATRAC” – at all.

        FLAC is optimised for audio and as for a zip file UNzipping to an exact copy of the original file, FLAC “unzips” to an exact copy of the CD.DA data-stream on a CD. I’ve tried it – the result is bit for bit identical Audio..
        Apple, copied FLAC by reverse engineering – it IS as simple as that. Greed and a delusion of dominance
        They wanted an Apple-only PROPRIETARY version, resulting in it gaining almost NO traction.

        Apple agreed with the ORIGINAL APPLE whose name they COPIED – The Beatle’s Apple Records. IN COURT DOCUMENTS, to never enter the music business – for their THEFT.
        What is an Apple promise worth? NOTHING, even a legal court agreement.. WHY would we trust them now?

        Being greedy and proprietary gave them short term gains but had long term costs – like every business activity where you don’t have 100% control (even IBM lost that.)

        I note that ipads in schools (even the US) are systematically being replaced by ChromeBooks which are superior (for the job) at 1/4 the cost. The sales are reflecting this – and fast.

    • DG some can’t see the forest for the piles of rotting leaves they trip over.
      Open is better, safer and more sensible than ANY closed (but pretend open) format.
      And yes almost anything (except apple stuff) plays FLAC files.

      Did you hear Jobs was trying to get bandwidth approved for their OWN proprietary phone network – do fan boys understand the implications of that while they are cheering? I doubt it. These are people we should trust? You mean like MS?

      Does iStufff even handle bluetooth properly yet? (the STANDARD calls for brand-agnostic communications).
      Last time I tried it, all us android phone users could send files to each other – guess whose products DID NOT implement bluetooth correctly and refused to receive?

      These people who can’t even implement bluetooth – THEY are ones we should trust with music?
      I tunes material you “buy” is only rented – as Bruce Willis found out.

      It is a matter of quality, interoperability and TRUST – three strikes and they’re out.

      I’m looking past their (and MS) amateurish players – for playing I’m fairly settled on :this: http://www.musichi.eu
      . . leaves the WinMAc “solutions” in the dust, come to think of it, even Banshee does that.

      And .. THIS: http://www.bodziosoftware.com.au tp drive speakers.
      Drivers selected, PC hardware secured a 5820K FWIW..
      An interesting man who actually contributes worthwhile.

  17. yet apple can blatantly violate other patents like the touch screen technology (apple vs samsung) and get away with it so why not support flac then?

    i suspect the real reason is piracy if apple supported flac then they are supporting piracy in witch case why not remove mp3 support from itunes because the mp3 is more of a pirate’s format than flac because of the file sizes .

    • All of these explanations of why iTunes won’t play native FLAC files seem like rationalizations to me. With some 20,000+ FLAC files I’m not about to start converting them to ALAC at this point just so I can play them in iTunes. I stopped using iTunes years ago because it was so crippled but thought I would give it another try, If anything it is even more crippled than before.

      Back to Winamp …..

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