Yes, it’s possible to play FLAC files on your iPhone! We’ll show you how, along with the advantages and disadvantages of the methods discussed.
As far as audio file formats go, many audiophiles consider Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) as one of the best options. However, despite its popularity, this format isn’t supported by the Apple ecosystem. Instead, Apple has its own lossless audio format, the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC).
This prompts users to manually convert FLAC to ALAC just to be able to play them on their iOS devices. This can be very inconvenient, especially if you have thousands of files to convert!
Fortunately, there is a workaround to play FLAC files on an iPhone: an audio player app that recognizes FLAC. We tested a few apps to find the best of the lot that can play FLAC on iOS. Read on to learn more about our top 5 picks!
In This Article
VOX Music Player
VOX Music Player is a fully featured app that lets you listen to any music file, including FLAC, in great quality. This music app was created by Coppertino, a team of tech experts and audiophiles.
The good news is: the free version lets you play lossless (such as FLAC, ALAC, WAV, and APE) and lossy (MP3, OGG, WMA, to name a few) formats — making it a go-to choice for music playback, whether you’re an audiophile or not.
On Vox, clear, crisp audio is supported for all high-resolution audio formats, using a custom-built audio engine based on BASS™ on its 5-band Parametric EQ.
You can also organize audio and share files, thanks to the force-touch functionality and gestural UI. This means VOX uses swipe gestures for interaction, thus removing the need for playback buttons.
On the other hand, if you’re a Premium subscriber, you get exclusive access to unlimited VOX Cloud Storage and a wider variety of music sources, including 30,000+ radio stations and streaming platforms such as Spotify, Qobuz, and SoundCloud.
But, while VOX’s UI looks nice, on iOS it can be hard to navigate. For instance, to reach select albums, you must aggressively swipe up in the library. Plus, the A-Z swipe isn’t so smooth. However, you can easily overlook these details if you only care about playing FLAC on the iPhone.
How to play FLAC on iPhone using VOX
To successfully transfer the FLAC file to VOX, you should first import the FLAC files to a cloud-based storage service on your iPhone. Then, place the audio files in the VOX media player.
- Download the VOX app from the App Store.
- In your cloud storage (for instance, Google Drive), look for the FLAC file.
- Select Open in > Copy to VOX.
- The file should load into the VOX app and begin playing.
Neutron Music Player
Neutron Music Player is a professional-quality, lossless music player developed by Neutron Code Limited. The iPhone and iPad can play FLAC files well with the Neutron Music Player app, which costs $8.99 in the App Store.
Overall, Neutron is a decent pick for playing FLAC files. Once you’ve mastered its steep learning curve, you’ll have complete control over each little detail of your music.
How to play FLAC on iPhone using Neutron Music Player
Here’s how you can input your FLAC files to the Neutron Music Player:
- Download the Neutron Music Player.
- If this is your first time opening Neutron, you will be prompted to select a language.
- Then, a prompt will appear asking you to add a music source to your device. You can either decide if you want to do this automatically or manually. ‘Automatic’ means that the app will look for audio files and add them to the music player on its own. ‘Manual’ means you’ll have to add them one by one.
- Select the Music Source. For example, if you’re playing from local files, select File System > your local storage. If you selected automatic, the app will start scanning for audio files. If manual, you’ll have to select them yourself.
FLAC Player+ is a lossless audio player that lets you listen to FLAC files on your iPhone and iPod touch. FLAC Player+ supports FLAC, ALAC & RAW. And you can use the FLAC Player+ program to listen to compressed FLAC files exactly like an MP3 formatted file.
However, having an outdated design and animations, plus the ads, it is not the most visually appealing music player. Rather, it focuses on providing a lightweight and fast solution to play FLAC files on an iPhone— and is free on the App Store. If the ads annoy you, you can pay $0.99 to remove them.
How to play FLAC on iPhone using FLAC Player+
This is how to use FLAC Player+:
- Download Flac Player+ on your iPhone or iPad from the App Store.
- Here comes the slightly challenging part of the process, i.e. moving tracks from a computer to your iPhone. You can do this wirelessly, using Wi-Fi or with your Lightning connector. For this tutorial, we’ll go with WiFi.
- Make sure to connect your iPhone and computer to the same Wi-Fi connection; this will enable you to share audio files wirelessly. Launch Flac Player+ and select Wi-Fi transfer. The following page will provide a numerical address that you must type into your computer’s internet browser.
- The web address will lead you to a website that allows you to select which files to upload. You may only transfer one audio file at a time, and you must wait for the file sharing to complete before selecting the next file.
Flacbox: Hi-Res Music Player
Flacbox is a high-resolution music player for iPhone and Mac that includes a volume booster and sound equalizer. You may use this software to open practically any audio file, including FLAC, on your iPhone and hear sound in a lossless format. Simply connect any cloud storage to your audio, and you can create your streaming platform (like Spotify).
The free version is enough if you just want to play FLAC files, although there would be ads. The Premium version costs $9.99. With it, you can get rid of ads, play music offline, download entire albums rather than individual tracks, and connect all your cloud services.
How to play FLAC on iPhone using Flacbox
- On your iPhone, download Flacbox from the App Store.
- Open the app and click the right arrow on the bottom right corner.
- Keep clicking the right arrow until you reach the page that says Upgrade to Premium. Then click the “X” on the top right corner.
- You’re ready to use the app to play your FLAC files. At the bottom of the screen, ensure you’re in the Connect category (With the “@“ symbol).
- Click Open Files and choose your file from the file browser.
- After that, your audio should convert and then start playing.
WALTR PRO is a software application made by Softorino known for being user-friendly; it is one of the finest iTunes substitute you will ever come across. And the best thing about WALTR PRO is it renders practically any file type iOS-compatible.
Simply drag and drop audio files and WALTR PRO will detect the file format and convert it for use on your iPhone (you can do this on the go, too). The app lets you play files (for instance, FLAC) that were previously incompatible.
The free version provides Wi-Fi connectivity, automatic metadata recognition, and quick file conversions. In contrast, the Premium version lets you edit metadata and cover art, transfer to third-party apps, and gain Apple Music compatibility, among other features.
How to play FLAC on iPhone using WALTR PRO
For the following steps to work, your iPhone and your computer must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
- On your computer, install WALTR PRO from Softorino.
- Then, launch the downloaded file. Look for your iPhone on the app’s interface.
- Drag and drop the FLAC files to your iPhone. The app should then get ready to convert and transfer those files.
- You can find the now converted files in the Music app on your iPhone and play them.
Bonus: How to Convert FLAC to ALAC via the Music App
You can use the Apple Music App (formerly iTunes) to convert FLAC to ALAC if the audio tracks are already on your computer. Furthermore, because the Music App supports ALAC, it will synchronize these files directly to your iPhone.
- Open the Apple Music app.
- In the menu bar, choose Music > Preferences.
- Click the Files tab, then click Import Settings.
- Click the menu next to Import Using, then choose the encoding format that you want to convert the song to.
- Click OK.
- Select the songs in your library that you want to convert.
- Choose File > Convert, then Create [format] Version.
FLAC vs ALAC: what’s the difference?
FLAC and ALAC are both digital audio file formats, except ALAC was created by Apple, designed to operate only with Apple devices (barring all the AirPods variants).
FLAC, on the other hand, was introduced by a non-profit organization named Xiph.Org Foundation. An open-source audio format right from the time of its inception, though FLAC is known to be vastly popular, it isn’t compatible right out of the box.
To define it further, FLAC is a digital file format for audio, similar to MP3 except it is a lossless file format. FLAC files, with their lossless compression, are much smaller in size than the CD tracks from which they were made. What’s amazing is that no information is deleted in FLAC file encoding.
An advantage of FLAC files is that they can hold digital data that surpasses CD quality if derived from the same source recordings as the CD. This is termed hi-res audio, and it is becoming increasingly popular in the digital sound industry.
In contrast, ALAC is a proprietary lossless audio compression technology created by Apple. It uses the .m4a file extension, built to improve upon Apple’s proprietary AAC codec.
When it comes to sound quality, FLAC and ALAC are virtually identical. The only main difference is compatibility.
Having said that, while FLAC can work on any device (as long as it’s accompanied by software that supports it), ALAC only works within the Apple ecosystem.
Given the functional similarities between FLAC and ALAC plus the fact that FLAC boasts wider third-party device compatibility, it’s clear why it is a favorite among most audiophiles and music enthusiasts. Certainly those who’ve reaped the benefits of Apple Lossless on the Apple Music App.
But even if you’re an iPhone user who’s recently woken up to the wonders of lossless audio and are wondering, “Can I play FLAC on iPhone?”, the apps discussed in the article should help.
We hope you get a premium listening experience by trying out these FLAC-playing iPhone apps (including our bonus tip)!
Have you tested any of the apps above? Let us know your experience in the comments section below!