A double-barrel FLAC attack

CNET's Donald Bell rounds up his favorite portable gadgets that support the FLAC audio format.

If you want to hear every detail in your music--every breath, every strum, every rattle--lossless music formats are the only way to go. But if you hate the idea of your precious music files being tied up in some corporation's proprietary format (i.e. Apple Lossless and Windows Media Audio Lossless), the most popular choice out there is FLAC.

Photo of the Iriver SPINN.
The Iriver SPINN can deliver a pocket full of pristine, lossless music encoded in the open-source FLAC format. Corinne Schulze/CBS Interactive

You can find free programs for Mac, Windows, and Linux that will play and rip FLAC files, but finding a FLAC-compatible MP3 player isn't quite as easy.

I've rounded-up my favorite FLAC-compatible players into two groups: MP3 players with FLAC and Portable Video Players with FLAC. The distinction is really just a formality to keep our comparison charts from busting apart, so definitely give both roundups a look.

It's also worth mentioning that if you own an older iPod and you don't mind tinkering with it, the open-source Rockbox firmware lets you add FLAC audio playback, custom EQ, games, and tons of little surprises.

Have some wisdom to share on why you think people should make the switch to FLAC? Share your experience in the comments section.

About the author

Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.


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