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I have a pretty large collection of FLAC files created from my CD collection. I love the FLAC format and the sound quality that you can get from it.

Lately, however, I've been trying to write a few tools to manipulate the files and I've been noticing what seems to be a stagnation of the community around the codec. Some of the links on the official FLAC page point to things that are no longer relevant. 7digital, for example, appears to no longer sell FLAC encoded songs.

It's pretty hard to find hardware players that support FLAC any more. Most noticeably it's not present on lower end players when it used to be, and playback is absent on Android. Programming language tools (Java and .NET libraries) are at best old, and at worst unfinished.

What's the current state of FLAC development?
Has it been replaced by another codec?
What currently updated applications make use of it?

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I'm curious as well, considering your question is about the FLAC codec, related development of this code, and desktop applications that allow it's use. –  Josh K Mar 23 '10 at 19:06
    
I can find plenty of hardware players that support FLAC. In particular Network Media Tank (NMT) devices based on Sigma and RealTek all-in-one media chips such as the Popcorn Hour or HDX devices. –  Asinine Monkey Mar 23 '10 at 19:13
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3 Answers

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I believe flac is still in widespread use, and 7digital does still sell flac albums (for example some albums by Enya, Radiohead, Massive Attack, and Oasis). It seems to me that the RIAA and record labels do not support lossless DRM-free content though (in any format), so finding lossless music to buy online is challenging (or impossible) right now. I partially disagree with Chris above because disk space and bandwidth are growing so quickly we can just use the archival version for our whole music collection. But yeah, unless you have good audio equipment at over 300 bits per second you're generally not going to hear a difference (although I've noticed it in the attack or sound onset of violins).

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I think the lack of DRM has ensured that flac would never be more than a niche, unfortunately. –  Mark Ransom Aug 31 '10 at 19:24
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I think the FLAC project filled a very narrow nitch and support for the project has crested and has largely receded now. Codecs like AAC and OGG Vorbis can provide extremely good sound quality (to the point where 99%+ of people couldn't tell the difference) and at a lower bitrate. Most people I know who are using FLAC are using it for archival or mastering purposes only.

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Ogg is a container format, not a codec. –  Mechanical snail Sep 20 '11 at 5:25
    
@Mechanicalsnail Since 2007 Xiph, the organization behind the Ogg container and related media formats, has recommended that Ogg Vorbis files end only in the Ogg filename. Yes, you're technically correct. –  Chris S Sep 20 '11 at 22:10
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The FLAC sourceforge project has made its last release for Windows in 2007-09-17.
The darwin release dates from 2009-04-09.

My conclusion is that FLAC development has stopped in beginning 2007, with ports being the only activity since. Although it's still in use, no new evolution is to be expected.

You may have a look at the FLAC-News section of the FLAC site. The latest news dates from 10-Dec-2008 of Paul McCartney's side project The Fireman releasing its new album Electric Arguments as a digital download, and available in FLAC.

So the FLAC codec is still in use, and will stay supported by current players for many years yet. But its use will die out with time.

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