Originally Posted by jlpowell84
I am thinking about adding a Mac mini to host my music files. I have Apple TV which streams my itunes library but they are in 128 and 256 kbps. I know Apple lossless is 320kbps. Does Apple have any compatible software that is able to host FLAC files? Thoughts please. Most of this is Greek to me, but I am a pursuer of quality, thanks!
I would keep the itunes library where it is and upgrading your music to apple lossless (ALAC) from the original CD sources if you still have them. The Airplay function on the AppleTV can streams audio at 48khz/16bit, which is slightly better than CD quality. So if you re-rip your CDs into itunes using Apple Lossless and stream to your AppleTV, you're getting the exact same audio output as you would if you had the mac mini hooked up directly.
Apple lossless is not tied to a particular bitrate - all it does is compress any audio file you throw at it without losing any information, so it works more like a zip file that is decompressed on the fly during playback. ALAC files ripped from CD are typically between 800-1000 kpbs, for example. You can also convert between lossless formats ALAC, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, etc. as much as you want without losing information, so you're not locked into ALAC if you decide to convert to FLAC down the road.
I wouldn't bother with FLAC right now if you're already using itunes, though. ALAC is not better or worse than FLAC, just a different standard. FLAC is a little more versatile on non-apple hardware at the moment, but ALAC works great on all modern apple devices and is gaining fast on FLAC on third party hardware. Anything that supports Airplay, like appletv, airport express, and a lot of newer receivers, also supports ALAC, for example. Getting FLAC to play nice with apple gear is a huge pain, and unnecessary in a lot of cases.
For the music you bought from itunes or don't have the CD anymore, you're stuck with that audio quality level for those files, but 256kbps is still pretty good, particularly if you bought it from an online store like itunes. I'd concentrate on trying to find used CD versions of your 128kbps music. For the cost of a mac mini, you can afford a lot of $5 CDs