.flac to.m4a conversion

My first post, so please be gentle!

Most of my CD rips are .flac. When I want to listen to something in the car via my iPhone I have to convert it to ALAC (.m4a) to get it into iTunes or whatever it’s currently called.

One of the fab things about Roon is that it recognises both .flac and .m4a files. So can I convert .flac to .m4a (a) with no immediate loss of quality and (b) with the prospect of no loss of quality if I convert back to .flac in the future?

It’s a pain to retain music in more an one format at any one time. but my understanding is that the .m4a extension is used for both lossless and lossy compression. Is conversion software intelligent enough to know the difference?

As long as you select Apple Lossless there should be no loss in quality when converting back and forth.

You may want to check that you aren’t losing any metadata when converting back and forth, but any decent conversion program should handle that for you, at least for the basic metadata.

XLD can handle batch conversion to Apple Lossless, while keeping the directory structure. I think EAC and dbPoweramp can also do the same. I’d be careful of rando shareware convertors as they may not be doing what they claim to.

As always test and check again before deleting your original files, if you want to double check what format your files are in and what codec they are using then you can use MediaInfo for that.

If and only if that’s “Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) inside m4a” instead of “AAC inside m4a”.

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I don’t know what the size of your library is, but storage is cheap. I would do a mass one way conversion of all your FLAC files to .m4a and keep them in a separate (from Roon) iTunes library folder.

When I used to play mp3s in the car, I kept a separate folder of the mp3s download from Amazon Music CD purchases. Quality was good and it saved any issues with conversion and potential quality or metadata loss.

Thanks that’s really helpful!

MediaInfo looks massively useful, but it looks like it’ll only run if you’ve got administrator privileges, at least on Windows 11. I spend most of my time in a non-admin account, so that’s extremely frustrating :exploding_head:

I use Python Audio Tools for this. As the last paragraph on that page says:

Because Python Audio Tools sticks very close to established, documented standards, it has no trouble interoperating with other audio-handling programs. If you want to rip CDs with Exact Audio Copy, batch convert them to M4As with these tools and play them back in iTunes, that’s no problem.

So, something like this:

% track2track -d /tmp/mp3s -t aiff ~/Music/Chet_Baker__Chet_Baker_In_Paris/Disc\ 1/*.flac

I have quit iTunes quite a while ago for endless list or reasons, but this is different story…

Here is an interesting software that I found that bring slightly more usability to my Apple devices - «FE File Explorer» (i found this ages ago, i think i paid for « pro » version of it…) This can play FLACs on my iPad and iPhone without conversion. It does even try to play DSD, but i guess my 1st generation iPad pro is quite old and frankly i’m not bothered with this way of reproduction at all.

Here, I have made a small experiment for your case, copied one FLAC album of electronic music to my iPad via network. Tip-top, it plays well, and can even do the AirPlay! My « workflow » in this case is to have a library on the network and from there i can easily pick what i want…

This is how its player looks inside, very basic but does the job. Honestly this whole FLAC playing feature I have discovered by accident mingling with my network devices…

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That looks promising. Will give it a go :grinning:

This may be is one of a billion ways how to possibly address your inquiry. I personally have quit using iPhone as a music player device, since Apple removed their minijack interface the limit of compatibility became ridiculous given the cost of latest iPhone models. Very rarely i would use iPhone streaming the Qobuz via Bluetooth in my car, but because i drive a lot of time « abroad » it is not practical due to the roaming limitations.

I just ended up buying a HiRez portable music player, of which there are many models…

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I use use dbPoweramp to convert Flac files to Apple Lossless for input to the iTunes library, but there is really no reason to convert them back to Flac. Any player that can play Flac can also play Apple Lossless, but the reverse isn’t true.

I’m still using iTunes as the import engine to store music in my library, though I don’t play anything with it. ITunes still does a good job of organizing podcasts and audiobooks, which Roon doesn’t (yet!). It’s still fulfilling a useful function, just not as a player.