ROUND 5

Maximum PC - - QUICKSTART -

Com­pat­i­bil­ity

MP3 has been around for a long time, and it’s be­yond rare for a de­vice that sup­ports au­dio play­back not to sup­port MP3—li­cens­ing fees and patents or not. There are MP3 de­coder chips out there that can be tossed into all man­ner of elec­tron­ics. Ogg Vor­bis has mod­er­ately lower sup­port, but only by a fraction— you might find a few Chi­nese play­ers that can’t man­age it. FLAC is, by a small mar­gin, the least sup­ported for­mat, although each FLAC file clev­erly builds in the al­go­rithm re­quired to de­com­press it; so, bar­ring DRM-locked tracks, fu­ture FLACs should play back on any de­vice that cur­rently sup­ports the for­mat.

It’s also worth con­sid­er­ing shar­ing. Digital dis­tri­bu­tion ser­vices such as Band­camp de­mand a lossless for­mat like FLAC on upload, since transcod­ing to a dif­fer­ent for­mat is rel­a­tively sim­ple given a per­fect mas­ter—so, if you’re cre­at­ing au­dio, FLAC is a must. How­ever, pod­casts tend to be dis­trib­uted in MP3, be­cause that’s what most catch­ers/ play­ers ex­pect, it can be squashed small, and the ef­fect its com­pres­sion al­go­rithms have on the spo­ken word isn’t quite as oner­ous as it is on mu­sic. Win­ner:

MP3

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