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goof and gremmie occasionally receive emails from gremmies around the globe (here’s looking at you demetrios!) asking why we don’t host FLAC files. what is a FLAC file? well for the uninitiated, it is:
Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is an audio compression codec. As its name implies, FLAC employs a lossless data compression algorithm: a digital audio recording compressed by FLAC can be decompressed into an identical copy of the original audio data. Audio sources encoded to FLAC are typically reduced to 50–60% of their original size.
In layman’s terms: a FLAC file is basically a better quality mp3 whose file size is 4-5 times larger. Don’t get us wrong, FLAC files sound great, technically much better than mp3’s, but to the average listener there isn’t a material difference. stereophile.com has a great comparative article on the differences between mp3 / FLAC / AAC / CD. You can find it here. If you have 10 minutes, it’s worth the read.
gremmie.net’s philosophy of bringing Pearl Jam to the masses is fundamentally utilitarian. The tagline is: “greatest good for the greatest number of people.” Since only a small minority of our users pine for our library in FLAC format, we decided to forgo the colossal amount of work it would take to placate them.
In addition to this reasoning, at inception we took into consideration what devices gremmies would use to enjoy the music we host; it came down to two: iPods and Computers. Now, we are aware not everyone owns an iPod, but as it’s become the preeminent mobile music device in the US and abroad (260MM sold as of April 2010) it became the focus of our intent. Also, nearly every other mobile music device counts mp3’s as a playable file-type. Think of the mp3 as the common denominator.
Still, even if iPods adopted the FLAC format tomorrow, it’s unlikely gremmie.net would follow suit. The Herculean task we’d face would be insurmountable given that both goof and gremmie have lives. And really, is it worth the effort just to hear Ed mumble “I am a rhinoceros and my skin is two feet thick.” a sliver more clearly?