Xexify Store

File Format Choices

A Few Words on File Formats

At Xexify we only offer flac and alac format digital downloads.  This brief essay explains why, and which format you should choose.

TL,DR::: normal person, PC user, choose 16 bit flac.  normal person, Mac user, 16 bit alac.  audiophile person, PC user, 24 bit flac.  audiophile person, Mac user, 24 bit alac.  iPod users— 16 bit alac.

There are basically two questions to answer:  Why no Wave files, and why no mp3’s?  I’ll begin with the latter:

mp3’s are bad for you.  They give you cancer, and cause world famine.  ISIS is in power partially due to the subconscious influence of mp3’s.  Donald Trump’s cousin invented them.

Young people’s hearing response to music is being permanently affected by listening to mostly lossy music their whole life.  The effect of lossy music is cumulative, the more you listen to it, the more it will dull your response to higher fidelity.  Stop saying you can’t tell the difference, when you haven’t even blind-tested and your judging based on how it sounds out of your laptop speakers.  Try a different attitude— stop for a moment and accept that there *is* a difference, and instead of doubting that difference, use your keen perception skills to define it.

What I’m saying is— the average person says “I can’t tell the difference!  320 sounds great,” and they think that they’ve come to a conclusion.  But what they’ve really done is declare themselves dumber than they actually are— because almost any one can learn to discern the qualities of lossy vs. lossless music provided they are in a correct listening environment.  Then mr/mrs Average says, “but I don’t have high end mastering speakers and a treated room.  I listen in the car and on my Jambox”— too which I respond with my “theory” about the cumulative effect of listening to lossy music.

I personally would not be able to discern an mp3 from a lossless file on laptop speakers or a Jambox (unless the mp3 was so poorly encoded that I could hear the distortion), but I consider that irrelevant, since I don’t take the laptop speaker listening experience very seriously.  If you’re at this website and you’re listening to our music, I implore you to please explore the possibility of upgrading the entire way you approach the listening experience.  More on Listening in a future essay.

part 2— why no wave files??

Firstly, you must accept the common fact that a “lossless” file (ie flac or apple lossless/alac) is 100% analogous to the original wave or aiff PCM data.  You can think of flac and alac as being like zip files for audio.  When you play them back, the player uncompresses the data and presents the original PCM data.  Go blind test all day— you will never be able to tell the difference between a wave file and a flac or alac file.

Okay, now that you believe me that lossless formats are as lossless as a wave file, arm yourself with the knowledge that you can even encode them in 24 bit.  And to top it all off, and possibly the most important part of the whole equation, flacs and alacs can have ID3 tags written into them, utterly guaranteeing that they will be organized properly no matter which music player or device the end user prefers.  How many times have you fished around in the “untitled” section of your music library looking for those 24 bit waves you purchased?