Recently Apple announced that they are upgrading the Apple Music library into ALAC (Apple version of FLAC), Amazon followed by offering Amazon Music HD with no extra charge. For those, me included, who prefer buying their music will have to continue downloading compressed 256 kbps AAC files. This motivated me to look elsewhere. It rubs me the wrong way to continue buying music in iTunes knowing that Apple has better quality files and uses them as marketing leverage to win me over and start paying for Apple Music on a monthly basis.

The Music app supports lossless playback, but it only supports ALAC, while most people rip their CD into FLAC. Luckily there’s a free app to convert between FLAC and ALAC, called XLD. I tested it in Big Sur 11.4 and was able to convert a bunch of FLAC songs into Apple Lossless. XLD has a decent GUI and an updated Big Sur style icon. Converting between lossless formats preserves full audio quality.

XLD preferences window with Apple Lossless option selected

A lot of the albums I have in my music collection were bought and ripped. I am looking into purchasing an Audio CD again. The biggest barrier is buying an external USB drive. It still can be a good investment in the long term because Audio CD from Amazon can cost less than digital versions.

The Chemical Brothers album, MP3 £6.99, Audio CD £5.99, used £3.57

It also should be possible to rip Audio CD with the Music app directly into ALAC. The Music app still has part of old iTunes functionality to fetch album art and songs metadata, which saves time. I still like using the Music app on the Mac in pair with the iPhone version, syncing with a USB cable. The Music app on iPhone works well and I think it’s a leader in terms of UX, it even supports Siri for hands-free control.