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Best apps to listen to FLAC files on Windows 10

Lossless audio just sounds better. You can't escape that and once you've tried it then it's impossible to go back. If you're using a service like Tidal, you'll already have an app to use to listen to those sweet, high-fidelity sounds.

If you're making your own or buying FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) downloads from an online store, you'll need something to listen to them in. Here are our favorites.

Groove Music

Did you know that the built-in Groove Music app can play FLAC files? Until recently, I didn't. The very fact it's there in every install of Windows 10 means it's an excellent, free way to listen to your tracks.

It looks fantastic, is very easy to use and has minimal fluff. For those not using the Groove Music Pass, it'd be nice to have it detach from that entirely, but you do get the option to store your compressed music in OneDrive and stream it to your devices that way.

Groove has come along way since the early days. It's now an excellent music player that can handle more than just heavily compressed songs.

VLC

VLC

If a format exists, the likelihood is that VLC will play it. This is very much the Swiss Army Knife of media players; It can do everything.

VLC also comes in two flavors for Windows. There's the Windows 10 Store version which is built for phones, PCs, tablets and Xbox One, and there's the old-school desktop app if you'd prefer. VLC goes beyond just digital files and also allows for streaming and media conversion.

Foobar2000

Foobar2000

While Foobar2000 was pushing forwards with a Windows Store app to complement its existing Win32 offering, that project seems to have stalled thanks to low user count. The 'proper' app is still very much alive and kicking and is both powerful and customizable.

When you set it up you can tweak the interface to be just to your liking, and besides FLAC it'll play a whole host of other formats. It's also got a built in transcoder, support for full Unicode, tags, and gapless playback. That last one alone is reason enough to give it a try.

Download Foobar2000 for Windows desktop

Windows Media Player 12

Windows Media Player

The old warhorse is still kicking along and it's also included with Windows 10 if you fancy something a little different to Groove. Compared to the new hotness, Windows Media Player does look a little dated, but it's been around long enough now that familiarity alone might be reason to stick with it.

To listen to FLAC in Windows Media Player you may need to install a codec, but other than that it's another free, built-in player that's worth consideration.

Light Media Player

Light Media Player

Light Media Player is a Store only app and it's a very good music player for all your different formats. It is $5, making it the only paid app here, but it's impossible not to fall in love with its modern look that fits perfectly within the new Windows 10 design language.

Besides managing your library and looking glorious, Light Media Player also offers gapless playback and support for synchronized lyrics. You know, in case you want to sing along!

Download Light Media Player from the Windows Store (opens in new tab)

Your favorites

Those are some of the apps we like for listening to our lossless audio files, but if you've got an alternative you're particularly passionate about be sure to share it in the comments below!

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

45 Comments
  • Groove music, always with pass)
  • I always hope that groove music pass is available in my country :)
  • You listen to FLAC via Groove? lol - thats like driving a Ferrari using olive oil.   This is what many Audiophiles use.. https://www.jriver.com/ - Conversation closed and I thank you in advance :P
  • Wow. Aren't you the expert.
  • Please don't use the word "Audiophile" in a conversation about digital media.  True Audiophiles would never use anything but true analog recordings - outside of listening with headphones possibly.  Now your conversation is closed. If you are talking digital media centers for movies - unless you've got some serious $ invested in speakers and are ideally running 'separates' (ie: preamp & amp separately and not built into some sort of 'receiver' - none of which are audiophile quality in any way) - you will not see a difference in audio.  Ninety percent of your sound quality is in speakers, then power... then source material.  If you are using a computer to play music - it won't really matter what you use as the source app if you've got something cheap outputting the sound.  Any of the apps talked about will work great for headphones.  Few of them will out-perform the others when outputting to a good sound system. /rant on people completely misusing the word 'audiophile' by reciting advertising propoganda.
  • i don't know? any app?
  • good old wmplayer
  • Monkey media player
  • Groove would be perfect if it only allowed streaming of FLAC files from OneDrive. This is a frustrating limitation.
  • This is good information to have.  Thanks!
  • It does stream windows media lossless from OneDrive...
  • Interesting.  I currently keep mp3s of all my FLACs so I can use Groove / OneDrive sometimes. Is there an easy way to convert FLAC to Windows Media lossless?
  • I use dBpoweramp.
  • I also use dBpoweramp, but it's going to take way too much time to convert all my FLAC albums, then re-upload to OneDrive.
  • Yes, a number of years ago I switched from FLAC to WMA lossless.  My Windows Home Server 2011, as well as Xbox and Windows Phone all handled WMA rather than FLAC.  To be horribly honest I actually re-ripped some five hundred CD's.  I used to use EAC but have switched to dBpoweramp and it can in fact batch convert from FLAC to WMA lossless.
  • I too have MP3's of all FLAC stored in Onedrive.  Jriver also converts files keeping tags and metadata :)
  • There's already a suggestion to add the feature in the feedback hub. Please upvote and comment to get the team's attention.
    See link below. https://aka.ms/jsbtww
  • dBpoweramp looks good. My main OneDrive folder is on my media server so can upload them overnight. Will also check out the feature request.
  • store update UI CHANGE on release ring mobile/pc :)
  • Don't think my ears will discern the difference between FLAC and max bit rate MP3. Thirty years of thrash metal, punk and hardcore punk will do that 😀
  • The thing about formats like FLAC is that you get someone who thinks they are listening to the best quality because they use FLAC. But then use their phone which has a crappy DAC with the bundled earbuds such as EarPods. You can't use an external DAC on the go, but if you want to hear good sound, start with good headphones. Encoding to FLAC (or, even worse, ripping to mp3 then converting to FLAC) will do you no good without good equipment. Contrary to the current trend, don't use bluetooth headphones. If you are at home, a half decent receiver will be much better than your phone or even computer. The ultimate sound system would be a dac with separate outputs, headphones with separate inputs (that means two input and output plugs, two wires that are not fused). But that would be about $4000 for that system, and is not cheap. Someone I know has one, and it is amazing.
  • True and usually people are fine with just a pair ear buds. A good pair of headphones or IEMs does go a long way though. Don't tell me your bro has the Sennheiser HE 1. I would love to hear that for sure.
  • HE 1 is, if I remember, around $60,000 so I will not be getting that. He has a HDVD800 and I have been getting the same one. I have a number of different headphones, including the Sennheiser HD800 which would go well with that DAC.
  • I use a Fiio DAC when I'm out and about.  Does a good job for what it is.
  • I recently uploaded an album on flac format but my groove app doesn't recognize it from OneDrive. Do you have any advice?
  • See above. It's not a feature currently supported by Groove.
  • Media Monkey.
  • Do people still use winamp?:)
  • People still use Windows XP. So yeah, probably.
  • MusicBee is my favorite. Works great with the MusicBee Remote on an Android phone.
  • I get enough flac from my wife, don't need it from my PC.  :D
  • AIMP is pretty good too.
  • Love foobar2000 exe version, but the store version is a bit of a mess. Not surprised it's unpopular.
  • That Light Media Player looks nice indeed! It's got nicer UI layout, fetch metadata from other sources in which means less known artist will get arts, and got lyrics support. Thanks for the heads up for that! These gems are rather not always get recognition, which kinda sad. Windows Store needs a constant curation of high-quality great apps that hardly gets known.
  • Forbear store app is still supported and gets frequent updates..... So not sure how you say the development is stalled...?
  • Does Groove support hi resolution output without down sampling? I have some music encoded at 24-bit at 48 and 96khz FLAC, will it output these in that form? My audio card can support these bitrates. I know VLC doesn't touch the output audio
  • Forget Groove, its a toy compared to what the pro's use - check out JRiver MC - Incredible options and flexibility, different zones, remote controls, audio manipulation and direct output both digital and analogue (depending on your soundcard) to bypass windows OS processing entirely.  I personally use VLC for playing videos and JRiver for all audio.
  • JRiver isn't free though, I'll stick to VLC for lossless playback
  • If I had one, ok... two, wishes for Groove Music then it would be the ability to toggle automatic playback of Subtitles and the ability to set their default playback size. I still have to use the Windows Media Player for like 95% of my viewing experience because it would otherwise require me to manually start Subtitle playback - Every damn time -_- And while I'm aware of the existence of Metro Players that do just that they're also filled with other bloatcrap functionality that defies my need for simplicity which I adore in Groove. As usual... One cannot have it all I guess.
  • Many audiophiles use JRiver MC.  It is fantastic with deep options to get the very best out of every source.  For Flac files you need high-end equipment to 'hear' the differences ($3000+) - PC speakers and cheap headphones are a waste for FLAC, MP3 would do.  just because a player can actually play FLAC files doesnt mean its actually any good.  Groove is utter ***** when compared to any audiophile grade players.
  • any suggestion for a good APE format player? Thanks in advance.
  • I just wish Groove had a hifi option so you could stream your titles at Tidal quality instead of the compressed format you get from Groove. The great thing is, it does play my 24/192s from HD Tracks without down sampling like some other players do.
  • I wish VLC would update their mobile app too. It's so beautiful, but it crashes and hangs too much.
  • I use MediaMonkey. Never let me down
  • In mobile I use DoubleTwist