It’s better if you first understand what lossy and losless formats are. Then which group flac,mp3,off,wav belong to.
Lossy compression is a form of compression that significantly reduce multimedia file size by throwing away information imperceptible to humans.
Human audio perception is not perfect. Lossy compression takes advantage of this characteristics. By selective discarding, much unnecessary information is thrown away. The amount of information discarded is usually adjustable, giving a compromise between small size bad quality and high quality large size.
The downside to this is that waveform reconstructed from compressed information will never exactly match the original waveform.
Popular lossy formats:
* Advanced Audio Coding (AAC, also improperly known as MP4 or M4A)
* Musepack (also known as MPC, formerly known as MPEGplus or MP+)
* (Ogg) Vorbis
* Speex (speech only)
* Windows Media Audio (WMA)
Lossless compression is a compression methodology in which the result of the compression can be restored faithfully, i.e. bit-by-bit identical with the uncompressed data.
In a nutshell, it is somewhat like compressing a Waveform file with ZIP or RAR.
The difference between ‘mere’ ZIP/RAR is that lossless compression algorithms are especially tuned and designed for the characteristics of Waveform data, thus achieving compression far greater than can be achieved by generic compression utilities.
As lossless compression preserves all information of the original Waveform file, audio compressed with lossless compression will unavoidably be larger than audio compressed with lossy compression. However, this disadvantage is more than offset by lossless’ ability to be transcoded(coverted) to other lossless format without any quality degradation.
Popular losless formats:
* Apple Lossless (ALAC)
* Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC)
* Lossless Audio (LA)
* Lossless Predictive Audio Compression (LPAC)
* Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP)
* Monkey’s Audio (APE)
* RK Audio (RKAU)
* Shorten (SHN)
* WMA lossless
more info at http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org