EXPLANATION OF FLAC Q: What is FLAC? A: Firstly, it's probably worth answering the question "What is WAV?" WAV files are the native format of CDs. You can burn a full quality CD from WAV files, hence WAV files are essentially the "holy grail" in terms of digital music. However, they are big. Typically 700Mb for a CD. Q: OK, so what is FLAC? A: FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec and is basically a way of making WAV files smaller but without losing any of the information (ie quality). It's basically like WINZIP except it's designed specifically for WAV. Because no information or quality is lost, it is known as "lossless". Q: Why do you use FLAC? A: FLAC files are typically half the size of WAV files so they are quicker for you to download, they don't take up as much space on our server, and they don't eat up as much bandwidth. Also, you can tag FLAC files like MP3, so you can see artwork, track titles etc. Q: Is the quality less than WAV? A: No. When you have decompressed the file back to WAV it will be identical to the original WAV file. Q: Can I burn a CD with the FLAC files? A: Yes. Either decompress the files to WAV first (as described below), then burn it as normal. Or, use a burn program that does the decompression for you automatically before burning the CD. One such free program can be found at www.burrrn.net. Q: Do I need to buy more software to convert FLAC files back to WAV? A: No, not if you don't want to. Though there are commercially available products which do the decompression, there are also lots of free alternatives such as the one we suggest below. Q: Do I need to go through a complicated installation to get all this working? A: No. The suggested method below requires no installation at all, just unzip a couple of files to a folder of your choice and away you go. Q: Can I play the music as FLAC without decompressing them back to WAV? A: Yes, there are plugins for example for Windows Media Player which will allow the FLAC files to be played without decompression. However if you want to burn a CD you'll need to decompress the files to WAV. Q: Where can I find more information? A: If you Google around you'll find a wealth of information. The official FLAC site is at flac.sourceforge.net. HOW TO DECOMPRESS FLAC FILES BACK TO WAV (PC SPECIFIC) There are hundreds of programs available to decompress FLAC to WAV, but the method here is the simplest we've found and it's both free and requires no installation other than unzipping a couple of files to a folder of your choice. We've used this method on both Windows 98 and Windows XP with no problem. You need somewhere to put the 2 flac program files, we suggest you create a new folder somewhere on your PC and call it FLAC or something similar. Download (right mouse-click, save target as...) flac.zip and unzip the two files to the folder you created above. (The two files are flac.exe which is the program which will do the decompression, and flacdrop.exe which is a neat little "front end" which allows flac.exe to be used very easily.) You may wish to create a shortcut to flacdrop.exe on your desktop so you can run it easily. Double click on flacdrop.exe (or the desktop shortcut) to run it. If you right mouse-click on the litte window that appears you will find some settings options and how to exit the program. Settings you may need to use are where to find the flac.exe program, and where to output the WAV files to. To decompress the FLAC files simply drag & drop them to the little window. DISCLAIMER: It goes without saying that we offer this software only because a) it's free b) it's easy and c) it works for us but we accept no responsibility for any problems it may cause on your PC. Also note that we are not technical experts on this so please don't use us as a "help desk" for how to use it. We'll help if we can though and we're pretty sure you'll have absolutely no problems. HOW TO DECOMPRESS FLAC FILES BACK TO WAV (MAC SPECIFIC) For MAC users, MAX is the program you need to have for all aspects of digital music, available at www.sbooth.org/max/. Simply launch MAX, ask it to convert files which you load in either via drag & drop or from a menu dialogue, set the output folder and the encoder which in this case would be WAV. Alternatively there's MacFLAC available from mac.softpedia.com/get/Audio/MacFLAC.shtml.