Opus vs Flac: Audio Formats explained

Opus vs Flac

If you are a music lover, it is very much likely that you have come across the terms Opus and FLAC every now and then. They are, as you might already be aware, two versions of the codec. FLAC is lossless, and the other is lossy. Their functions, features, and benefits vary to a great extent. So if you are also stuck in the dilemma of Opus vs flac, this is the article for you!

What is Opus Audio Format?

What is Opus Audio Format

Opus is built to deal with a variety of interactive audio applications. The codec is used for Voice over IP, video-conferencing, in-game chat, and even live and distributed music concerts.

It ranges from 6 Kbit per second for low-bitrate narrowband voice to 510 Kbit for high-quality stereo audio. Besides, the algorithmic delays can be from 5 ms to 65.2 ms. To accomplish good compression of both voice and music, Opus employs both Linear Prediction and the Modified Discrete Cosine Transform.

Also, the opus codec contains a variety of monitoring parameters. These parameters can be adjusted dynamically while the codec runs without interfering with the audio track from its encoder to the decoder.

Benefits of Opus Audio Format

Benefits of Opus Audio Format

As it is already explained, Opus can be of great use when it comes to telephony, video-conferencing, voice-over IP, and so on. All of this is possible because of the short latency rate of Opus.

Also, bitrate, bandwidth, and delay might appear as problematic things to any music lover. However, the opus stream offers a continuous variation of them without any distortion and discontinuity. In addition, Opus is very handy when it comes to combining packets from various streams.

This codec will result in a gradual shift, as opposed to the jarring transitions seen with other codecs. Opus is more efficient for smaller audio clips and more robust than Vorbis, as it doesn’t require huge codebooks for every file. So, it is certainly a good choice if the coverage is poor or in any difficult situation as such.

Cons of Opus Audio Format

This widely used codec has some shortcomings as well. Firstly, it is not the best when it comes to compatibility. For example, iPhone cannot use Opus natively. Mp3 is much better than it in this regard.

Secondly, the poor encoder is another issue that Opus has to deal with, and it affects the fame of Opus while encoding an audio system. A high coverage system might not work with Opus because of this.

Thirdly, Opus is not as well-known as mp3. The words mp3 and music have become almost synonymous nowadays, while most people have little idea about what Opus is. Also, it crashes with about 16000 Samples, which is again a setback.

What Is FLAC Audio Format?

What Is FLAC Audio Format?

FLAC codec can encode audio at sampling rates of up to 640 kHz and PCM bit resolutions of approximately 32 bits per sample. Most FLAC-encoded audio is in a native container, which has the extension .flac. It might also be in an Ogg container, in which case it is called Ogg FLAC.

A FLAC stream is comprised of the following components at its most fundamental level:

  1. A four-byte string “FLAC”
  2. The STREAMINFO metadata blocks
  3. Zero or more additional metadata blocks
  4. One audio frame or more

Benefits of FLAC Audio Format

Benefits of FLAC Audio Format

It is all about sound, and FLAC shows its magic exactly here. It ensures the best quality music without any distortion. It encodes the music and brings it to the listener without any decay, as it was intended to sound.

It also has the advantage of having a 24-bit CD quality. FLAC is peerless compared to WAV and CDA as it provides the best space efficiency. One can compress files up to 60% in FLAC.

FLAC is also a versatile and free codec. It is compatible with most devices. So one can use it with anything ranging from a smartphone to a computer without any mess.

Are FLAC Files High Quality?

Though FLAC compresses and reduces the file size up to 60%, it does so without compromising the music quality. As a result, it can be termed as a high-quality version of mp3.

High-definition or high-quality files are those that are better than or at least equal to CD quality which is 48 kHz/20-bit or higher. FLAC can bring music of this quality without any distortion as it was intended when produced.

What is FLAC Audio Format Used For?

What is FLAC Audio Format Used For?

  1. To download and store high-definition audio files
  2. To ensure the purest lossless form of audio
  3. To accommodate larger files in a shorter space
  4. To be compatible with almost any electronic devices, including android and IOS systems.

(However, Bluetooth devices might be an exception in this regard)

Cons of FLAC Audio Format

FLAC is lossless and all, but it has some setbacks as well. You cannot but spend some money for a good quality headphones if you want to get the best out of FLAC. You better get a wired headphone instead of a Bluetooth one for this. Good things cost money!

Also, bit depth and sample rate might appear limited in this case. Last but not least, it is reported that FLAC files sometimes appear to have issues with seeking forward and backward.

Opus vs FLAC: Comparison

Let’s have a look at the following comparison table to get a quick overview of Opus and FLAC. Anyway, to understand mp4 vs wav you can read our other article on our website, which is available.

Field of Comparison Opus FLAC
Loss Lossy codec Lossless codec
Quality Perfect for lower quality Perfect for HD files
Compatibility Not compatible with every device and apps Compatible with most devices and apps
Distortion Distortion happens, not genuinely pure. No distortion provides music purely as intended while production.
Extension .opus .flac
Format Audio format Audio format
Programs supported FFmpeg, Amarok, cmus, MusicBee,  foobar2000, SMplayer,  Mpxplay, VLC media player, Winamp, AIMP, Android, Windows 10, Blackberry 10, and Jolla devices.

Is FLAC Better Than Opus?

This is actually not a black-and-white but rather a grey situation. FLAC is a lossless codec that provides the purest form of audio. It is also compatible with most devices. So it is undoubtedly the best format if you have the best coverage.

On the other hand, Opus is lossy and is not able to provide the best quality audio. Also, it is not compatible with all devices. However, it is great when the coverage is poor, as it takes up very small space.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Does FLAC provide the best quality?

An audio format that is lossless can be considered the best version of this field. However, FLAC is not the only codec of this sort. WAV, AIFF, and FLAC all of them are considered the best codecs as they are also lossless and can provide nearly equal to or better than CD quality.

2. Does a FLAC file degrade?

A digital file is not likely to degrade over time. However, if you want to convert any file to FLAC and any other lossy format, the later ones will not sound as good as the earlier ones since FLAC is lossless.

3. What codec provides the highest audio quality?

WAV and AIFF are debatably the best quality audio providers. They are the first choices of any mastering engineer. However, between them, AIFF is not as well-known as WAV is.

Final Words

Opus and FLAC are two less well-known audio formats. They represent the two versions of codecs with largely different attributes. Their features, such as being lossy and lossless, compatible or not, and bit rate, make them useful for different types of functions.

So if you are also stuck with the dilemma of flac vs Opus, the discussion above should come in handy for you to decide. We hope you are not confused anymore with questions regarding FLAC vs. Opus or mp4 vs. wav.