I'm new to HiFi music and I'd like to experience the full potential of my new headphones. I've heard that FLAC files of ~900kpbs bitrate are the best and that their sizes are ridiculously huge, I;ve looked up everywhere on the internet for these, all the music services I'm subscribed to only support regular MP3 quality and when I tried looking up torrent sites they claim it's FLAC of a 880kpbs bit rate but the sizes are too small for such thing, they're just 20mb max.

TL;DR: Where do you get legit FLAC (or insane high quality) music?

  • 2
    Hi Mohamed - this is a site about writing music and playing musical instruments, not really about getting hold of music as a consumer.
    – topo morto
    Jul 18 '19 at 7:52
  • Having said that - the way I get FLACs is usually to buy the CD of music thing I want, and rip it to FLAC! As Tetsujin says, that doesn't mean it's "insane high quality" - it's CD quality, which I would describe as "sane high quality" insofar as you're very unlikely to benefit from anything better.
    – topo morto
    Jul 18 '19 at 8:11
  • tbh, I rip my own CDs to high bit-rate AAC, which even as a 'professional' sound engineer i find to be completely acceptable. I drop those to 128 for portability, iPhone & in the car etc. Can't tell any difference on a headset or when the car's running.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 18 '19 at 8:14

"Insane high quality music" is a bit of a misnomer.

FLAC, same as MP3 & AAC, are usually ripped from CDs by other consumers with no real idea of what they're doing, so they're only 16-bit 44.1kHz anyway. 880kbps is a rational value for a heavily compressed FLAC [full rate, uncompressed is 1141kbps], but I wouldn't trust illegal torrents as far as I could spit them.

True high quality is 24-bit, 88kHz [or even 176 or 192 (for video)], which is only obtainable on USB key, or these days digital download. Google 'Beatles 24 bit masters' for an early example. Even these were 'only' 44.1kHz, as most consumers 10 years ago couldn't handle higher bit rates.*

For regular consumer audio, just buy the AACs from iTunes, which are converted directly from 24-bit masters - which is the common delivery method these days. All other formats are downwardly-derived from these 24-bit masters, not from 16-bit CDs.
If you can actually tell the difference I'd be hugely surprised. Most people's ears are just not that discerning.

*The Beatles remasters were actually made at 24-bit, 192kHz, they just weren't released that way, they were dropped to 44.1 so regular consumers could actually play them.

I'm aware this is really off-topic, but I thought an explanation was worth it, even if it is short-lived.


If you have a pair of headphones and an internet connection, it isn't much. Find out what the quality bottleneck is in your listening system. It is possible that something like your audio interface or headphone amplifier is degrading the sound more than 320 kbps mp3 compression ever can.

FLAC means Free Lossless Audio Codec https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLAC Lossless means that the audio coding itself won't lose more information than what's already lost in the source material. As a consumer you have little means to know how lossy the material is compared to what there was at some point during production. Perhaps the record company told the mastering engineer to squeeze out all dynamics from the audio, so it's rubbish to star with, FLAC or whatever. If you're not an expert, you can only look at numbers and magic words like "FLAC", "high-quality" or "remaster". If it makes you happy, then you've found happiness.

Numbers and magic words won't necessarily say much about the technical or artistic quality or fidelity of the content. Even if the record company calls something a "remaster", it may not have been made from actual masters:

That's sad. (I hope this provokes you to study the subject to learn what a "master" means in music production, and how things work in general.)

What to do? What hi-fi lovers do, they obtain old physical copies of recordings. CDs and vinyl LPs. I don't even have a vinyl player myself ... I should get one. If music means anything to me, it shouldn't be too much trouble to raise my backside from the couch, walk to the stereo system and put on a record!? I do that with CDs though.

CDs can be losslessly converted to e.g. WAV or FLAC files. FLAC files are much smaller than WAVs.


FLAC is a compression system. It takes a WAV or AIFF audio file and makes it smaller. Its selling point is that it does this with no quality loss. But it doesn't ADD quality!

You could look for high sample/bit rate WAV files as well. But they haven't caught on much. There's some argument for using high rates while recording and mixing, but not much evidence that anyone can hear the difference over CD quality at the distribution stage.

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