Free Lossless and Lossy Audio Encoders / Compressors

Free Audio Codecs

Free Lossless and Lossy Audio Encoders / Compressors

While free archivers are able to compress normal data to a small size, resulting in compressed archives like zip files, audio data cannot be compressed well with the same tools. As a result, a number of specialized tools are employed. These audio encoders, sometimes called compressors or codecs (which is short for "encoder-decoder": ie, encoder-decoder), use algorithms that are fine-tuned to shrink sound, music, and other audio files and yet yield files that can be easily played in realtime in an appropriate music or media player.

The compression can be either lossy or lossless. Lossy compression occurs when some of the audio information is lost in the compression, and can never be recovered. An example of a lossy audio format is the MP3 format. You cannot recover the lost information or bits in the resulting MP3 file. Lossless compression occurs when all audio information is preserved in the output file. Lossless compression is akin to what happens when you compress data files with normal file archivers.

The software listed on this page serve two purposes. With these tools, you can encode (compress) audio files from your raw music files (such as WAV files copied/ripped from a CD). Some of them also provide a decoder so that certain media or music players are able to play back the encoded or compressed audio/music files. Some codecs can be used by all programs supporting the interface, but others may be specialized plugins that can only be used by specific software.

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Free Audio Codecs and Encoders / Compressors

Opus Interactive Audio Codec (Windows, Mac OS X)

Opus is an open source royalty-free audio codec designed for speech and music transmission over the Internet, such as may be used for VOIP (voice over IP), video conferencing, in-game chat, etc. Features include support for mono and stereo, dynamically adjustable bitrate, CBR (constant bit rate) and VBR (variable bit rate) with rates ranging from 6 kb/s to 510 kb/s (in increments of 0.4 kb/s), sampling rates of 8 kHz to 48 kHz, good packet loss robustness and concealment, and so on. The codec has been approved as an IETF standard, and is licensed under the BSD licence, while the tools are either licensed under the BSD license or the GNU General Public Licens.

FLAC - Free Lossless Audio Codec (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Amiga, IRIX, Solaris)

FLAC is an up-and-coming audio encoder and codec that is able to compress audio data without any loss in quality. It is open source, not encumbered by any patents, has a well-documented format and API, and is supported by numerous media players.

TTA Lossless Audio Codec - Realtime Audio Compressor (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)

The True Audio (TTA) codec is a lossless audio compressor which can encode and decode audio data in realtime without loss in audio quality. The codec is open source and comes with plugins for a number of music players. The site claims that the audio file is compressed to 30% to 70% the size of the original.

LAME MP3 Encoder (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc)

LAME, which stands for LAME Ain't an MP3 Encoder, is an MP3 encoder (in spite of its name). It is open source and licensed under the GNU LGPL. It is distributed in source form, but you can get precompiled binaries (executables) from third party sites listed on one of their page. It is widely supported by both commercial and free software.

Monkey's Audio (Windows)

Monkey's Audio is a proprietary lossless audio compressor for Windows.

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