I've been trying to complete several blog posts recently but with lots to do, illness and one day where I really overdid it; I've been struggling to get into the mindset for writing. But when I heard about the music format that has been released today, I just couldn't resist but write about it. Music is something that everyone knows about, it's something that's existed for hundreds of years. It allows people to share their talent in a fun and easily accessible way. When talking music, there's some of us who won't settle for a mono radio or tinny speakers, we want to hear our favourite tunes in all of their original glory.
As in many areas of interest, there's certain topics that are cause for great debate, music collections have the problem of choosing what format you want to store it in. We're in 2018, CD's are something that most would only use as a frisbee on their way to the bin. The fact is, CD's are in most cases, the highest quality source of a tune. Spotify, iTunes, YouTube etc all are okay in terms of quality but they're nowhere near perfect. MP3's simply don't cut it when you've spent hundreds, if not thousands on audio equipment.
What's wrong with MP3's?
MP3 is a audio format that's designed to allow for small file sizes with "acceptable" audio quality and in most cases it is as the speakers are the first bottleneck. The problem is, music can't be squashed down, it's all unique data. If you want smaller file sizes then you have to lose something. MP3 is a lossy format and sacrifices enough of the audio to be a big "nope" to people like me.
If you want to take a lossless copy of a track from a CD (for instance) then you're going to need... you guessed it! A lossless audio format. There's several options to choose from but FLAC and WAV are by far the most commonly used (at least from what I've seen). They all achieve the end goal of preserving all those digital bits of information for playback. You don't sacrifice any frequencies or volume and you definitely don't have a few seconds of silence at the start.
The problem with lossless formats is the file sizes. Most MP3's will be something like 3-6MB in size whereas a FLAC version will be 25-40MB and a WAV can be even larger. This means vastly increased distribution costs and storage requirements so they're rarely seen - RFC 1149 would have to be adopted to make it even remotely cost effective. Fortunately, as of today, there is a solution...
FLAMC is a revolutionary audio format which allows for lossless quality at MP3 like file sizes. FLAMC stands for "Fabulously Loud and Musically Correct" and was developed by T. Mans - an 18 year old student from MIT. I managed to have a (brief) email exchange with him in which he told me that he was "fed up of having to sacrifice perfection innit". It's rather inspiring to see how he took what was a massive issue that has plagued the world for years into his own hands and came up with a brilliant solution.
This new format manages to achieve such small sizes thanks to recent developments in quantum computing. In case you're not aware, in quantum computing, a bit can be both a 0 and 1 at the same time. These Qubits have allowed for music to be losslessly compressed on the off-beat - a concept that isn't new but hasn't been possible until now.
Unfortunately, as FLAMC relies on quantum computing, which, as you will have noticed isn't listed on your device's spec sheet, you won't be able to use the format without a hardware upgrade. For reasons undisclosed (though I assume the engineers felt like being a pain), the component that needs adding has been called an MB or "Music Bi-processor". I'm against this name as it's going to cause confusion with thing like the motherboard and Mythbusters. Anyway, I'm glad to say that it'll be possible to fit this chip to all devices with a headphone jack.
You can obtain the chip from the following site: flamc.org. Thanks to a partnership with Google (the maker of Android), the chip is available for free to users of Android devices. All other devices will cost £4.99 which (minus shipping) goes to charities which find homes for CD's that are no longer loved or cared for.
FLAMC do have a really fancy logo which I've only been able to see via a low-quality video - their site returns HTTP error code 418 whenever I try to download it.
Also, little bonus note. I'm a huge fan of the latest and greatest technology - especially when it solves a problem as large as this one. And as such, I shall be making an audio version (read by me though I'll be doing a different impression each time) available for each blog using the FLAMC format. I've wanted to do this previously though I couldn't afford the bandwidth costs for FLAC files and frankly, the impressions aren't worth listening to without lossless.