FLAC vs 16-bit PCM vs 32-bit floar for Vinyl and Cassette

When exporting Vinyl that has been transferred to digital via Audacity 2.2.2 in Windows 10, I noticed that FLAC results in no loss of data but WAV is preferred, I think, for later use in an iPod. I am therefore saving two copies of every album in FLAC and WAV. Is this a waste of space and effort. Should I just save one FLAC and then expect to convert to any other needed format later if uploading to iPod or burning to CD? Also, if saving to WAV, which bit-rate should I save in…16 or 32…if it’s Vinyl. Also, thinking ahead to my cassette transfer project, again should I save in FLAC and WAV and if so what WAV bit rate then? Thanks in advance!

44100, 16-bit, Stereo WAV is the format of music on an Audio CD. You can go a long way before you run out of quality and the ability to do production.
The video version of that is 48000, 16-bit, Stereo.

WAV Microsoft is recognized on all three major computing platforms and has a very long life expectancy. 16-bit has a loudness range of 96dB. Most audiobook producers struggle to maintain 60dB between the performance and the background noise. Both vinyl and cassettes are far worse than that.

Audacity uses 32-bit floating internally because as a practical matter, it doesn’t overload. That means an editor can apply effects, corrections, filters and processing to a show with no chance of destroying the work. AudioBook Mastering 4 uses this ability by intentionally creating overload in its tools and then correcting it before the final product.

I think either 32 or 32-floating is dramatic overkill for archive when nobody can exceed 16-bit with real life jobs, and 16-bit is easier to store.

FLAC is a loss-less compressed format and isn’t as universally accepted as WAV. That’s where you go when you have limited storage and want to save the work with the least damage—and it doesn’t have to go to anybody else.

Two points for not mentioning MP3 anywhere in your post. MP3 is a delivery medium. You can make a lesser quality MP3 for your iPod from a WAV, but you can’t ever go back to WAV from the MP3.

One note. Whatever you do, valuable work should be stored in two different places. Thumb drives, stand-alone hard drives, cloud storage all count as a second location. “The dog ate my laptop” is not a good reason you lost all your Dylan recordings. And you’ll want to ripple your storage medium, too.

We can get Flynwill to discuss that. He does archive for USC.


Don’t throw out the original recordings until you absolutely have to.


As a digital photographer who works in high bit image processing there is no added data or detail when working in 16 bit when I apply severe edits to expand the image’s dynamic range. I edit the Raw data in Adobe Camera Raw where all the detail that was possible to capture of that scene has already been collected. Converting in ACR to 16 bit is only useful to provide higher precision for the editing tools to map the edited detail without introducing artifacts like banding when viewing the edits on an 8 bit video system display. This is pretty much similar to how Audacity deals with audio data and what you hear through your system’s audio speakers or headphones.

High bit is most beneficial when capturing data whether audio or a photographed scene which obviously you can’t do recording vinyl and cassettes unless you have a recording device that you know for certain has a high bit Analog To Digital converter making it possible to save to a high bit archiving format.

Your situation is strictly archiving already captured data in a high bit format (since the device’s capture bit rate is unknown) and when opening in Audacity is converted to 32-bit floating point precision much like what I do in Adobe Camera Raw at 16bit precision.

I save my edits to an XMP file that attaches permanently to the Raw image but doesn’t change the image’s pixel data. It has to be rendered to jpeg or tiff much like Audacity exports an edited audio to an audio archiving format.