FLAC means Free Lossless Audio Codec. As its name implies, this file format is an audio coding format that compresses the audio file to around half of its original size. It can produce exactly the same quality as the identical copy of the original source when decompressed. Because of this reason, those who want to save a copy of the original CD tend to choose FLAC to preserve the sound over other lossy audio formats. This is meant to prevent the original source from being damaged or lost.
Initially, FLAC was introduced in place of other lossless audio formats such as ALAC, WAV and WMA Lossless. By comparison with these file formats, FLAC has its own advantages and is compatible with lots of music players. For example, as opposed to WAV in large file size, FLAC offers premium quality with half the size and supports metadata tagging and album cover art and so forth. Normally, you can rip an CD to get FLAC files which can be converted to other lossy formats like MP3 and AAC for some specific purposes.
Difference between MP3 and FLAC
Both MP3 and FLAC are an open format without DRM. MP3 is a lossy music format. That is to say, MP3 audio files are greatly compressed in order to reduce the file size to save more space. In contrast, FLAC is an lossless file format and six times as large as MP3 in file size. However, FLAC is 50 percent the size of CD and still distributes excellent sound quality. Frankly speaking, MP3 will not be replaced by FLAC, but if the sound quality is your top priority, then FLAC is the best bet.
How to play FLAC
The problem with FLAC is the inability to be supported by iOS devices natively. However, there are a few apps in the App Store that allow you to support FLAC audio format such as FLAC Player and Capriccio. For Android users, this is less of a problem since FLAC can be supported from Android 3.1 and up. For windows platform, there are many useful players like Windows Media Player and JRiver. For Mac to include FLAC files for playback, downloading Fluke will be fine.