I just wrote an article about ripping CDs and converting audio files easily and for free and I wanted to post my view on the lossless VS lossy issue out there.
For audiophiles out there who can claim they have the mythical Golden Ear which allows them to hear notes and distortions in sounds that only they and bats can discern, lossless isn’t even the best group of audio file compression to go with. They demand only the best, uncompressed 24 bit 192kHz! I’m sure in a year or so you will hear about some other, larger-numbered value that is the new “minimum standard” for audiophiles. I look forward to seeing these idiots demand 11gb song files for download at ridiculous “512 bit 960kHz audio”. If you are one of these persons, please just go to a live event… oh wait… you would then just complain about the acoustics of the venue and make us all listen to how you would design the perfect concert hall… Never mind…
My point is, there is always another set of audio formats out there which will promise you “greater fidelity” and “higher resolution” and probably claims to cure all manner of ailments and depression if you would just convert to it. I do NOT view these formats as being necessary for anyone outside of the world of real audio editing. If you are mastering the soundtrack for a film, please use these. if you are arranging a new album for your band, please use them. If you are going to be listening to music at home, on the go or playing them for others to listen to even, do NOT use them. You will waste your time trying to obtain such rare audio files, converting about and also investing in uselessly high end audio equipment.
Seriously, do not even tell me “I like to sit at home in a listening booth and close my eyes while the music plays” because you’re lying.
Now onto the serious business of lossless audio and if it is worth it… It absolutely is! There you go, you do not have to search for answers any longer. Just take my word and switch to lossless! Very simply, lossless DOES NOT LOSE ANY INFORMATION. That is a very important fact to take note of as you will often come across the debate as to which lossless format “sounds the best”. They should all sound absolutely, perfectly the same. If there was any difference in the actual sound, they would NOT be a lossless format!
Losing audio information is a standard facet of LOSSY formats (.MP3, “AAC“, .OGG) and for reasons that should be obviously, produce a smaller file size than a lossless format (“ALAC“, .FLAC) and an even smaller file size than uncompressed formats (.WAV, .AIFF) but this comes at the cost of information loss (or consolidation… whatever…). Simply speaking, it does lose some “information” of the audio stream but you can have a smaller file size. Lossless on the other hand does NOT lose any! It really is perfect! Anyone who claims otherwise is an idiot or an audiophile with the mythical Golden Ear what I mentioned above.
This should leave things pretty clear for you now. Go with lossless unless your device and software can not handle it for whatever reason. Lossless files will be larger (just be more choosy with your music collection) and will also technically require more CPU power, more RAM consumption and therefore more power (battery) usage but in exchange you get the audio as it was perfectly recorded without going into debt or looking like a weirdo.