Since recently i started to convert ALL my library to FLAC (and i strongly encourage you to do the same), lets see what is all about!
The WAV Format
WAV is an acronym for Waveform Audio File Format. Initially released and supported in 1991 by Microsoft and IBM the WAV is compatible with Macintosh computers as well as terminals partitioned with the Linux kernel. It is capable of holding both compressed and uncompressed audio data, making it quite flexible for a variety of needs. It is the standard format for CD audio in which it runs in stereo (two channels, though 65,536 are possible) at 44,100 samples per second (but has a range of 1 HZ to 4.3 GHz) with 16 bits per sample. One major downside of this format is the size of an audio file, which are limited to 4 GB. Even average length songs could be very large making file sharing difficult or limited in the early days of the Internet when broadband access as rare.
The FLAC Format
FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. As you can imagine this format is lossless, meaning the files can be compressed but the end result experiences no information is lost. The listening experience and quality are retained for the audience. As much as half of the original file size can be reduced making this format popular for computer users. It has an open source history dating back to 2001. The FLAC is scale-able from 3 to 32 bits per sample as well as a sampling rate between 1 Hz and 655,350 Hz.
Since FLAC is all about mathematically lossless compression, FLAC files will be smaller than corresponding PCM-encoded WAV files, since PCM doesn’t allow for lossless compression and just represents the data as-is.
So, simply put: Take a WAV file with PCM-encoded audio, and the corresponding (mathematically equal) FLAC file will be a tad smaller. The downside is that FLAC is not as widely supported as WAV. For example, most operating systems won’t play or convert FLAC files without extra software, however Windows 10 (and possibly 8?) have now a native support for FLAC.
FLAC is like ZIP in audio world, you can compress/uncompress the data multiple times without any loss. But compression ratio is way better than ZIP, because this compression format is tailored specifically for audio.
Furthermore FLAC is superior to LPCM (WAV) in almost all aspects. WAV has a constant bit rate. That means even the silent parts are stored as 0 Hz and occupies space in the container. FLAC on the other hand has a variable bit rate and eliminates the silence parts and stores only the part of the audio between 1 and 655,350 Hz. If any audio frequency in that range is not detected, say 0 Hz or anything above 655,350 Hz, FLAC treats it as silence and does not store it. As reference, humans can only hear frequencies in the range between 15 Hz and 20,000 Hz, which also narrows with age.
The reason why some audio stores offer both WAV and FLAC files is that audiophiles are particularly finicky about quality and they sometimes feel that FLAC, being of smaller size, is inferior to WAV, which is totally wrong.
Another important fact is that WAV doesn’t support tagging properly, so you’ll be missing all the track info, which at least for a DJ are mandatory. Besides the space savings, the nice thing about FLAC format is that it can easily contain all information tags (title, album, artist, date, cover art, BPM, key, label etc.). So it is a good chance to get rid of those shitty mp3 files as well! 😀
As a final note, the only reason that the industry don’t fully support FLAC and let WAV to die (as they should do), is because FLAC is a free format, and we all know how much the industry hates free things…
PS: If you still have doubts here is a scientific article, including tests, which prove all the above (and even more):
I start playing music as a rock DJ in 1985. Around 1993 i jumped to Goa Trance. Until 1996 i was fully on vinyls (totally 11 years). Then, a discovered (and loved) the DAT players and i used them until the end of 2003. After that, for various reasons, i had to use the thing that i never liked… the CD (because i found that they sound too “cold”, compare to vinyl or DAT). This lasts until 2008, where i start using software. Until 2011 i was still using CD on parties, but only because i didn’t had a laptop yet (don’t be surprised, we are not all rich or having a steady job!). From 2011 i only use software (though i always carry few CD too, just in case). I will not mention here the superiority of a true high quality audio file (48KHz/24bit). This is obvious. For me, the whole thing of playing music was, (and still is) a matter of constant evolution and an effort to take creativity and perfection to another level!
As i am a musician (and a bit of a philosopher too), since the DAT days i use all that info to DJing. I always make a list depending on Key notes and their harmonics. As i also took some studies on this, i know what is Harmony and what is Disharmony, for example when you play a track on D minor and your next track is on G# this could be a cacophony (though this depends on the “nature” of each track)! I combine the above, with the Chakra theory and some Pythagorean and Alchemical rules concerning key notes and their correspondences.
All those need A LOT of work! At the end, my list will be ready for the most perfect possible result. But, from that time and further, it is the time for the feeling and inspiration (on the already “perfected” lists)!
My advice: NEVER leave the good fun of the people to luck!
Especially if you know that there is always a possibility that some of them are on a “trip”! This is top respect for my audience as i see it. In a more philosophical way, my goal is not to do what i want (which is not freedom but ego), but to do what is BEST! I try to do this in every aspect of my life…
Now, lets go back to the lists. My lists, are just …HUGE! Always make them to have around 100 tracks. From those tracks (which are all compatible with the mood of the day), i will choose 17 to 22 for the final set (usually a 2 hours set). At this point (and never before!), comes the feeling, the inspiration and the most important thing; the situation of the people in the dance floor! At this point i will choose on-the-fly, the best possible track, as my feeling guides me! From my experience I’ve learn that this combination above makes people happy and satisfy, even if they may not like some tracks!
I even make my Mixcloud mixes under the same rules, that’s why i only post a few there. It could be very easy to have 300 or 400 mixes, but this is not what i do. Only the best of the best can go there! (…and anywhere else, as a matter of fact).
For me, anyone who claim to be a true dance-floor Alchemist should know and use some of the above! The reason that we have so many DJ and most of them are medium to bad (thus we listen the same and the same again), is that they do not have a proper musical education (at least!). Of course, also exists the natural talents and i bow in respect to them, but they are exceptions.
A very important fact for me, is that instead wasting time to find what is the next track, or just watching the people (or even pretend to dance, as many do), i have my hands and mind free to make a full show! By using samples and combine them to tracks, by using FX on tracks (delays, filters, phasers, reverb), even to have the chance to plug a synth and play live with the track! (though this last thing i only made it at home, so far). Also, i can jump to the people, dance with them, feel them, be together with them and never be a “distant star” 2 meters high and away from them (or even worst, “protected” from them, by some fat muscle non-smiling guys with sunglasses always on, as if i was a president! WTF?). That’s why i call this procedure a Live DJ mix!
I remember, at the “DAT years”, things were much harder, because some of us who always seek perfection, we used a text book and mathematics to make the mix as best as possible! This was also made by lists (but those lists where in our heads instead of Traktor or Virtual DJ). It took days and days to calculate the BPM, to find out the Key note, to count at which second the beat starts, and even more…
PS-1: This is my point of view, based on 32 years of experience. Does not meant to underestimate the other methods of mixing, but to prove wrong the false contention that claims that “software is easy“! Well… it is how you use it! 🙂
PS-2: The purpose of this note, is also to share some knowledge and experience, so the world can have even better DJ. People who will go beyond the usual technical knowledge, thus we all can enjoy much better experience on Festivals and parties. I hope i covered you enough (though i just reveal some of my secrets here…).
Wish a good day to all! 😉