Episode 1: From n00b Library to FLAC Library
Ever since my childhood I’ve been a big fan of music. I listened to everything from Blink-182 and The Offspring, to the more embarassing Anne Murray and Spice Girls. Despite my love for music I started out as a complete n00b like the rest of you, recording music off the radio and uhhh… “borrowing” MP3s from people on the internet using Napster and Limewire.
It wasn’t until my first year of university (2008) that I discovered the err of my ways. I had worked all summer leading up to university to save money, and decided I was going to treat myself to some “nice” speakers. I picked myself up some Logitech X-540 speakers for $99. I was certain this “high end audio equipment” was the best way for me to enjoy my music
When I arrived in the dorms for my first year, I became friends with a gentlement named Trent. We hit it off as we were both super cool dudes, and had very similar taste in music (Brand New, Say Anything, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, etc.). Much to my frustration I discovered that his $50 speakers, HALF the price of what I paid for mine, sounded just as good or better. HOW COULD THIS BE??
I eventually learned that it was due to some witchcraft called “FLAC”. Upon doing some research I dicovered that it stood for “Free Lossless Audio Codec”. This meant that they were audio files compressed with zero quality loss compared to their uncompressed counterparts, rather than highly compressed MP3s I had been listening to (the audio equivalent of a blocky JPEG). Thus begain my journey to re-build my music library entirely with lossless files; one I that was complete a few years later.
These days I often get asked questions like “Bradum, why listen to FLAC files? I can hear the song just fine with my MP3s/Spotify, and they take up less space”. To that I respond “Why watch youtube videos in 1080p? I can make out what’s happening in 360p, and it uses less bandwidth”. To me it feels like people are missing out on a huge chunk of of high quality media consumption. Everyone wants the highest resolution and the best color reproduction, but is willing to settle for mediocre audio; an equally important part of the experience IMO.
Sidebars… aside… I finally had a taste of a higher quality audio experience. I was able to go and re-listen to all my favorite songs, experiencing them in a whole new light. It was like being able to watch your favorite TV show and re-capture all the feelings you had during your first watch. I needed more of this, and so began my (likely never ending) quest for better quality audio.
The saga continues in Episode 2…