How to Play a FLAC File

Level of difficulty: Easy

Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is an audio format compression standard similar to the popular MP3 format but features lossless quality and a comparatively larger file size attributed to the retention of all audio properties during the compression process. This audio file format is considered not only as a widely supported audio codec but also one of the fastest in terms of decompression during playback operations both on computer-based multimedia player programs as well as supported home audio electronics systems. It currently stands out as the only open-source, non-proprietary (not tied down with patents), well documented API and format, and deployable across varying Operating System platforms in the computer industry. Although comparatively having the same quality as the MP3 audio format, at lower bitrates, the FLAC file stands out because it maintains the exact quality of audio as its source whereas the MP3 file begins to suffer from distortion and noticeable difference in quality.

Materials Needed:
- Computer
- multimedia player
- Web browser
- Internet connection
Step 1
Perhaps, the easiest way to play an FLAC audio file type on a Linux, Mac OS, or Microsoft Windows Operating System-based machine is to download the VideoLAN Client application. Simply open the Web browser and navigate to the VLC website and download it. Make sure that the correct version which corresponds to the installed Operating System is downloaded; otherwise, it will not function properly.
Step 2
Once completely downloaded, simply double-click on the installation file and follow the prompts. Upon completion of the installation process, just open the FLAC audio file by selecting the 'Media' menu and clicking on the 'Open File' option. This will automatically play back the audio file without requiring additional download of audio codec.
Step 3
The Foobar 2000 application is another alternative player which directly supports the playback of the FLAC files. This player can be downloaded by opening the Web browser and typing in the address bar. This multimedia player provides the user with the option of saving the FLAC audio file to another format.
Step 4
For computer users who are slightly biased to the Microsoft Media Player Classic or other DirectShow-based multimedia players, the playback of the FLAC audio file is made possible with the downloading of plug-in modules which will correctly interpret the tags of the format. Launch the Web browser and navigate to the address to download the Illiminable OGG Directshow Filter module.
Step 5
Upon completion of the download process, simply install the filter in the machine by accepting the license agreement and clicking on the 'Next' button. Once installed, the FLAC file should be easily read by Media Player Classic.
Step 6
The filter module will allow Microsoft Windows Media Player to play back the file. However, tag information contents may not be readable. In order to make use of the tag information, go to the website from your Web browser to download and install the WMP Tag Support Extender file.
Step 7
Upon completion of the downloading and installation process, the Windows Media Player application must be configured to utilize the add-on module. Simply click on the 'Tools' menu and select the 'Plug-ins' option and make sure that a tick mark is placed beside the 'WMPTagSupportExtender Plugin' category.
Step 8
From the 'Plug-ins' option of the 'Tools' menu, click on the 'Options' category to bring up the Windows Media Player Options window. Click the 'Plug-in' tab.
Step 9
A list is provided in this tab. Click on the 'Background' and from the list on the right, click the 'WMPTagSupportExtender' option. Make sure that the tick box does not become blank. Simply click on the text.
Step 10
Select the 'Properties' button to open a new window for the settings of the WMP Tag Support Extender. Choose the 'Allow Write' option as well as the other two options underneath it. Click on the 'Refresh Now' option and then the 'OK' button. This should allow Windows Media Player to properly read the tags information contents.