I have an mp3 file which i want to convert to a flac. I realise that it wont "improve" the quality rather I want it in a flac format so that when I edit it each time and re encode it, it won't degrade in quality.

The questions

1 If i convert it to flac will I degrade the mp3 file in doing so atleast 1 time?

2 Does changing the container ie mp3 to flac without encoding or changing the bit rate and frequency actually degrade the audio? If not how can I accomplish this?

3 Is there a better way for me to deal with my situation?
Thank you

2 Answers 2


Convert it to WAV, 24-bit, keep the sample rate the same. I don't know any audio editor that can work directly with FLAC.
You've already lost data due to the original lossy compression. You don't lose any more converting it to WAV. You can't just 'change the container'. It just doesn't work like that.

Once inside a DAW, any editing will be done at 32- or 64-bit float, best preserving the audio content.

Each export then is 'one more lossy save' from the same quality source, assuming you're exporting back to mp3/aac etc. That's the best you can get.

  • AFAIK, Audacity can read FLAC (maybe it requires the ffmpeg library installed, but not a big deal).
    – PierU
    Nov 9, 2022 at 8:03
  • I use audacity for editing. I know data has been lost since its in mp3 but changing it to WAV wont lead to any more losses correct provided sample rate same? and wont changing the bit rate to 24 bit degrade the mp3? Nov 9, 2022 at 8:07
  • also if i export it form a wav to wav will it still result in losses after editing ? Nov 9, 2022 at 8:08
  • WAV doesn't have a "bit rate" like lossy audio, it has a sample rate & bit depth. They are not related in the same way. Audacity actually states it can import & export FLAC. It doesn't say it can use it as-is. Empirically, a FLAC imported to Audacity then saved in a project has the file size of a 32-bit float WAV [as mentioned in my answer.]
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 9, 2022 at 8:22
  • thank you for your response helped massively Nov 9, 2022 at 8:36
  1. No: the original source of the MP3 file was very likely a 16 bits one (such as a CD), so converting to a 16 bits FLAC with the same sample rate will retain all the original information. Even if the source had a larger bit depth (e.g. 24 bits), the effective bit depth of a mp3 stream (i.e. with a S/N ratio above 1) is far less than 16 bits anyway, so a 16 bits FLAC always do... That said, if your editing software can read the MP3 format, there's no need to convert the input file to FLAC at this point.

  2. "changing the container ie mp3 to flac without encoding" is not possible. A FLAC file can contain only a flac stream (and creating a flac stream is already (lossless) "encoding")

  3. Better: no; different: possibly.

Editing workflow

[input file]-->Editing-->[intermediate file]-->Editing-->[intermediate file]-->Editing-->[output file]

Input file: as I wrote, if your input file in a MP3 one, and if your editing sofware can read MP3 files, there's no need to convert the file to something else. What is important is the chosen bit depth for the importation in the editing sofware.

Editing: since any editing step can potentially introduce noise because of the numerical round-offs, it is important to choose a bit depth larger than 16 bits: it can be 24 bits integers, or 32 bits floats.

Intermediate files: for the very same reason a lossless (compressed or uncompressed) format with 24 or 32 bits should be chosen. Since Audacity can read/write a wide range of file formats, FLAC is a valid option. Another option is the WAV format, embedding a PCM stream. A pcm stream just consists in the uncompressed audio samples. When creating it you have to specify the sample format (16 or 24 bits integer, or 32 bits float). In ffmpeg for instance this is: -c:a pcm_s24le (signed 24 bits integer, little endian). FLAC can not handle 32 bits floats (but 24 bits is more than enough in practice).

  • Advantage of FLAC: ~50% disk space saving on average
  • Advantage of WAV/pcm: faster read/write

Output file: same criteria than for the intermediate files, as you don't know if you will edit it again or not in the future.

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