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WavPack vs FLAC (A Comparative Guide)

WavPack and FLAC are both solid audio coding formats for lossless compression of audio with a very similar compression ratio. However, FLAC has a much higher decoding/encoding speed and lower CPU load than WavPack. Although WavPack does have its advantages, I recommend using the FLAC lossless audio format overall.

Lossless Audio File Formats

With all the different audio file formats in music production, it can be hard to know which file type you should use.  

If you want to work with the highest possible quality audio in your tracks, I recommend using lossless audio; as long as your computer has the CPU for it. 

Working with lossless audio is excellent for preserving audio quality and keeping your audio files less compressed than other audio file formats!

I hope to shed some light on the differences between the WavPack and FLAC lossless audio file formats in this comparative article.

WavPack and FLAC

In this section, we’ll start by looking at the basics of each lossless audio coding format.

WavPack

WavPack is a lossless audio file format with a compression ratio of 60.83% and a decoding speed of 23.21 samples/MCS. The file extension for WavPack is .wv. 

WavPack .wv_

Pros:

  • It has an ever so slightly lower compression ratio than FLAC

Cons:

  • Supported by a bit less audio software than FLAC
  • Harder on your computer’s CPU than FLAC
  • It has a slower decoding speed than FLAC
  • Typically results in a bigger file size

FLAC 

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is a lossless audio file format with a compression ratio of 61.05% and a decoding speed of 66.72 samples/MCS. FLAC’s file extension is .flac. 

FLAC File .flac

Pros:

  • Much lighter on your computer’s CPU than WavPack
  • More widely supported by audio software than WavPack
  • It has a faster decoding speed than WavPack
  • Typically results in a smaller file size

Cons:

  • It has an ever so slightly higher compression ratio than WavPack

Head To Head Comparison

In this section, let’s compare the features that each lossless audio file format has in common.

Compression Ratio

On the topic of compression, WavPack has a compression ratio of 60.83%, and FLAC has a compression ratio of 61.05%. The two lossless audio formats offer almost identical compression ratios.

Even though the difference is so slight, WavPack does have a slightly lower compression ratio than FLAC, which will technically result in higher audio quality. 

I say technically because I highly doubt anyone in the world would be able to notice a difference.

Decoding Speed

When it comes to decoding speed of our lossless audio formats, FLAC has WavPack beat by quite a bit. 

The FLAC lossless audio format has a decoding speed of 66.72 samples/MCS, and WavPack has a decoding speed of 23.21 samples/MCS

As you can see, FLAC takes the cake regarding fast decoding.

File Size

Because they are both forms of lossless audio, the file size for a WavPack and FLAC audio file containing the same data is somewhat similar.

However, a FLAC audio file will typically be smaller than a WavPack file. 

Remember, though; this might vary from system to system; this is just the result I got. 

Metadata

The WavPack and FLAC lossless audio file formats both give you the option to embed metadata. 

The only difference in embedding metadata between the two audio coding formats is the type you can embed.

WavPack uses the APE/ID3 metadata schemes, and FLAC uses Vorbis

It’s hard to pick a ‘winner’ in this category because although the metadata types are both formatted differently, they allow you to embed the same information. 

Take a look. 

Embedded Metadata Options

If I had to pick a winner here, I’d go with FLAC because the Vorbis metadata scheme is a bit more detailed than APE/ID3. 

Individual Features

Let’s look at some unique features of each lossless audio file format. 

Keep in mind that WavPack and FLAC are pretty similar file formats in general.

WavPack

  • One of the main features that give WavPack a leg up on FLAC is that you can use it to work in 32-bit. Although FLAC does technically allow you to work in 32-bit, there are virtually no decoders/encoders that are compatible.
  • Features ‘lossless’, ‘high-quality lossy,’ and ‘hybrid’ lossless compression modes give you extra control on how you code your audio files. 

FLAC

  • The main benefit of using FLAC over WavPack is that it is so forgiving on your computer’s CPU. 
  • FLAC is also more widely used in the audio community and compatible with more types of audio software.

Because WavPack and FLAC are both a type of lossless audio format, there isn’t that much to distinguish them from each other.

Does FLAC Make a Difference?

Using the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) audio file format or any other type of lossless audio file format does give you higher audio quality.

However, the difference is so slight that you might not be able to notice unless you are listening on a high-end sound system/high-definition speakers. 

Is WavPack Better Than FLAC?

In my opinion, no, WavPack is not better than FLAC.

Because of FLAC’s widespread compatibility and low CPU stress, I think FLAC is the better lossless audio file format.

Is Anything Better Than FLAC?

Regarding audio file formats, I believe WAV audio is the superior option. 

Although FLAC is a viable lossless audio file format, WAV is more commonly used and easier to work with, in my opinion. 

Is WavPack The Same As WAV?

No, not at all. WavPack and WAV are two completely different audio file formats.

Although WavPack and WAV are both lossless audio formats, WavPack is slightly compressed, and WAV is not compressed at all. 

I recommend working with WAV audio if you can. 

What Is Higher Quality Than FLAC?

Although they are both lossless audio file formats, WAV audio is of higher quality than FLAC audio.

This is because WAV files are not compressed, which gives them a pure sound quality and bit depth, while FLAC files are slightly compressed.

Is FLAC Better Than 320 Kbps?

Yes, FLAC audio is lossless with sound quality of 1,411 Kbps, almost five times more than 320 Kbps

Lossless audio file formats such as FLAC, WavPack, WAV, etc., are of higher sound quality than other non-lossless audio file formats.

Is FLAC Really Lossless?

Like WavPack, ALAC, WAV lossless, etc., FLAC is an example of a lossless audio file format.

Lossless audio is audio that is fully intact and uncompromised by compression. It is still compressed a little bit, just not in a way that will affect sound quality.

How Many Kbps Is FLAC?

The FLAC lossless format comes in at 1,411 Kbps which is even higher than CD quality audio. 

If you want the highest quality audio in your work, consider using only lossless audio file formats such as FLAC, ALAC, WavPack, WAV lossless, etc.

How Do I Convert FLAC To WAV?

The best way to convert a FLAC file to WAV format is by using some kind of online file converter. 

Just make a quick search on the web, and you should find several options for converting your FLAC to a WAV file.

Does Converting Flac To WAV Lose Quality?

Because FLAC and WAV are both lossless audio file formats, converting from FLAC to WAV or even from WAV to FLAC will not affect your sound quality.

As long as you are converting from one form of lossless audio to another, you should be able to retain the original sound quality.

Do FLAC Files Degrade Over Time?

Unless you have your FLAC file stored on some kind of damaged or corrupt drive, your FLAC file will retain its sound quality forever.

There is no way for your FLAC file to degrade over time.

Does Spotify Use FLAC?

Sadly, Spotify does not support the upload or streaming of FLAC files.

Hopefully, Spotify will one day make updates and improvements to support the FLAC audio file format on its platform.

Should I Rip My CDs To FLAC?

Ripping your CDs to FLAC is definitely a good option. 

This is because FLAC offers lossless audio compression, which will help you save storage space without compromising on sound quality.

FLAC is a great file format for ripping and storing your CD collection. 

How Do I Convert WavPack To FLAC?

The best way to convert WavPack files to FLAC format is by using some kind of online file converter.

You can easily find a file converter using a quick internet search. Because FLAC and WavPack are both forms of lossless audio, converting between the two will not affect sound quality.

In Conclusion

Let’s make one final comparison of the WavPack and FLAC audio file formats and which one you should use.

Use WavPack if:

  • You want a lossless audio file format that is slightly less compressed than FLAC
  • You want a lossless audio file format with ID3 and APE metadata tags

Use FLAC if:

  • You want a lossless audio file format that is more widely supported than WavPack
  • You want a lossless audio file format with Vorbis metadata tags
  • You want a lossless audio file format that is easier on your computer’s CPU
  • You want a lossless audio file format that gives you smaller files

Although the WavPack and FLAC lossless audio file formats are similar, I recommend using FLAC because of how widely supported it is and its low stress on your computer’s CPU and storage.

Related Questions

Is Working With Lossless Audio Necessary?

If you are serious about music/audio production, you should always work with lossless audio.

Although it is unnecessary to produce your own music, I recommend using lossless audio if possible.

Does WAV Or MP3 Have Higher Audio Quality?

WAV audio has much higher quality than MP3 because it is a lossless audio format.

You should always use the WAV format over MP3 when possible in audio production.

What Is Lossless Audio?

A lossless audio file is an audio file that is less compressed than some audio file formats such as MP3, in which you lose some audio quality. 

If you want the highest possible audio quality, you should consider using a lossless audio file format such as WAV, FLAC, or WavPack.

Are you looking for more reading? Check out this article discussing if Audacity can be used for music production.

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