The etree.org community was formed by a crew of music geeks with a single goal: Trading live legal lossless audio. The common mantra "SHN via FTP" came about as the most popular means to that end. There will be lots of shn seeds circulating for a long time to come, and we'll always think fondly of shn.
However, times change and technology matures. At this point, flac is a compelling choice for seeding new shows.
This page discusses the Flac lossless audio encoding format. Much of the practical information for seeding and encoding shows is found in the FlacFaq
, as well as in SeedingGuidelines
stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. This lossless audio codec has been under active development by a team led by Josh Coalson. FLAC has been designed to have flexibility to adjust to future technology advancements, and to move beyond the 'shortcomings' of Shorten. FLAC is superior to Shorten in the following ways:
- Better compression (between 5 and 15% better than Shorten)
- All flac files have seek tables, which allow you to skip to any point in the tracks. (Many shn files have no seek tables, which means they can only be listened to from start to finish.)
- Support for 24 bit audio (and beyond!)
- The ability to embed FLAC tags (FlacMetadata, that is, data about the data in the files) within the audio file. These are similar to ID3 tags, and are useful for storing important information such as artist, song, source, taper, etc. You are strongly encouraged to take a few minutes to add tags to any new flac seeds.
- Integrated checksums (no more .md5 files necessary- see also FlacFingerprint)
- Automatic sanity (hash) checking when decompressing
- Integrated sector boundary checking and fixing (similar to SHNtool)
- Hardware playback support (Network player: [Squeezebox]; Portable player: [Rio Karma], [COWON iAUDIO M3 with firmware update], [Cowon iAudio X5, plays flac and ogg])
- Realtime playback software for:
- Windows: [foobar2000] [Winamp 2] and [Winamp 5] (see FlacFaq re Winamp 3)
- MacOS X: [Cog] (10.3.9+), [MacAmp Lite], [Videolan Media Player]
- Linux: [Alsa Player], [MPlayer], [XMMS]
- Large collections benefit from using [amarok] to organize and play their music
- Native support in various audio software packages
- Less restrictive licensing (FLAC and associated plugins are released under the GPL [note codec libraries are also available under xiph's BSD-like license])
- Active [development community]
The biggest drawback to flac is that it's not supported on Mac OS 9. At this point, however, that consideration is far outweighed by flac's advantages.
If you're a Windows user, Mike Wren has created FlacFrontend
, a highly recommended installer that will set up your PC to compress, decompress, verify, fingerprint and play FLAC files in Winamp or foobar2000.
Another alternative for windows media player users is [flac plugins for windows media player]
If you use Winamp 3 we recommend upgrading to [Winamp 5]
. Winamp 5 = Winamp 2 + Winamp 3. All Winamp 2 plugins (FLAC/SHN/APE) work with Winamp 5.
If you're a Mac OS X user, Dan Greuel has created a GUI frontend called [MacFLAC]
that will install the FLAC binaries, encode, and decode FLAC files.
Scott Brown has expanded on Dan's app and created [xACT]
, a Mac OS X GUI frontend for Shorten, FLAC, Monkey's Audio, Shntool and more.
See also FlacFrontend, FlacFingerprint, FlacFaq, SeedingGuidelines, NamingStandards, ReplayGain