I do prefer Flac over other compressed audio formats. Over any audio format , in fact. A standard audio CD is encoded in PCM which is, if you like, a raw stream of digital information. MP3 and Ogg-Vorbis compress this stream by transforming the stream into something perceivably the same as the original but not quite. The higher the compression the further away from the original we get. It is actually possible to perform a surprisingly radical compression with little loss in sound quality. The problem, of course, is that someone has to decide what is perceivably the same – for most ears are different when it all comes down to it and what is worse – once you notice the difference, your perception has been forever altered. This is where the lossless compressions come to play their part. Instead of removing or altering information, the stream is compressed pretty much like a Zip file, only optimized for audio and more importantly; inherently so.
For those who have never tried this little experiment, this is what you should do… find a good CD in your collection, preferably one that does not have a compressed sound tapestry quality to it – you know; Phil Spector. Rip the CD to MP3 and then listen to a song in either format, one after another. If you can’t tell the difference, there is no need shopping for Flac capable equipment unless it offers you some other needful feature. If, on the other hand, you do hear a difference, you will be forever addicted to lossless encoding [*]. It should be noted, that not many people can tell the difference if you rip at a bitrate of 320Kbps and most that I know of rip at 192Kbps– so don’t be disheartened if you don’t feel the revelation just yet. But one day you will.
*I am relatively certain that you cannot sue.