FLAC downloads bring you the full quality of our uncompressed master files, direct from our remastering studios. FLAC (which stands for Free Lossless Audio Compression) is an open-source format, and is a favourite amongst audiophiles for preserving digital recordings without loss of quality.
At present, support for FLAC is not as widespread as that for MP3 and some other formats, and so here we offer a few tips to help you make the most of your FLAC downloads.
Each download comes as a complete album in a single ZIP file, with all the individual tracks and two flavours of playlist. The tracks are complete and identical to our master tracks - when played back-to-back they bit-perfectly reproduce the original master. For additional help on unpacking ZIP files, click here.
A number of media programs are fully compatible with FLAC files and allow direct replay on your computer. A selection of these can be downloaded here, and you can find out more about the format at Wikipedia here.
FLAC is a universal, free-to-use audio file format. However, certain software manufacturers, including Apple and Microsoft, would prefer you to use their own proprietary lossless formats and at present refuse to support FLAC in their media players - though this is but a minor inconvenience and can be easily sidestepped without any loss of sound quality.
For an in-depth look at FLAC see our FLAC Info page here
The XBMC Media Canter - A Universal Free Replay System
Pristine Classical recommends the XBMC Media Center software for all audio replay on all computer plaftorms. Click here for further details of this comprehensive, free, universal audio, video and photo replay software.
Burning FLAC files to CD
As FLAC becomes increasingly widespread, support is starting to appear in a number of well-known CD writing products. Both Roxio Easy Media Creator (for PC) and Roxio Toast Titanium (for Mac) will allow you to write FLAC files direct to an audio CD. Elsewhere, Ahead Nero (for PC) can be patched using the FLAC front end (below) to do the same thing.
Converting FLAC files
Some software may require you to decode the FLAC file into another format. For Windows PCs we recommend WAV files and for Macs we recommend AIFF files. Both of these are uncompressed CD-quality (or higher) file formats and can be burned directly to audio CD, or compressed (should you so desire) into any other file format for transfer to an iPod or similar portable media player.
Windows "FLAC Frontend" decoder - download (2.6MB - updated here June 8th 2008)
This small freeware Windows program allows you to decode and encode FLAC files. In addition, the software adds FLAC support to Nero for direct audio CD burning from FLAC files, as well as adding full FLAC playback support to WinAmp versions 2 and 5.
To use: Simply load the FLACs into the program using the Add Files button and click the decode button (highlighted below) to turn them into WAV files:
You can change the output directory if required, otherwise your WAV files will be found in the same directory as your FLAC files.
xACT Audio Compression Toolkit - download it at MacUpdate (4.9MB)
xACT stands for X Audio Compression Toolkit. Amongst other things, it allows you to convert FLAC files into CD-quality uncompressed AIFFs so that they can be played back on a Mac in iTunes (or other software).
The application gets 5 stars out of 5 at Macupdate.com and is recommended by Pristine Classical's Mac users for FLAC and iTunes integration:
"Select 'AIFF' in the 'decode' tab and 'Music' as the place where you want to download for storing/opening and the converted 'FLAC' promptly goes direct to 'iTunes' where you can play in either 'Music' or (of course) 'Recently Added' (which is where you'd do any burn)."