"I did lots of time on the internet about which Audio Format was or is best for iTunes while ripping songs from cds that I have. Does anyone know which is better?"

Apple Lossless (also known as ALAC) and AIFF are two non-lossy formats encoding audio files, keeping all information intact. You may wonder about the similarities and differences between these 2 audio formats. And which is better for music playback or audio editing? You can find the answers in this article. Just keep reading!


What is Apple Lossless?

Apple Lossless is also known as Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC), or Apple Lossless Encoder (ALE). Apple Lossless is developed by Apple Inc. and used for the lossless data compression of digital music. At present, all iOS devices can play ALAC-encoded files. Besides, ALAC music files are not protected by any DRM, which means that they are free to play.

Apple Lossless

What is AIFF?

AIFF is short for Audio Interchange File Format, encoding sound data for PC, and other electronic devices. AIFF is also developed by Apple Inc. and is commonly used on the Apple Macintosh computer system. AIFF is an uncompressed format, meaning that all the audio information stored in AIFF format is lossless.

Apple Lossless vs. AIFF: Similarities and Differences

Information Compression

Nowadays, most people would now concentrate on the quality of the audio files. Both Apple Lossless and AIFF formats are lossless, but one of the differences between them refers to that AIFF is uncompressed, however, Apple Lossless is compressed. Compression means that it compresses the data with the use of algorithms, and this is the essential elements that drive Apple Lossless and AIFF into the difference.

File Size

The compression mentioned above aims at minimizing the file size of the files. Since Apple Lossless is compressed, therefore, the file size of Apple Lossless is smaller than AIFF. When you have limited storage space, the smaller the file size is, the more you can store. If you want to own lossless audio files but have limited storage space, it is better to use Apple Lossless.

Sound Quality

Both Apple Lossless and AIFF support high-quality audio. Although Apple Lossless is compressed, it doesn't sacrifice any audio quality. Also, this audio format is crafted for digital music management, making it become a popular choice for music lovers to keep their favorite music on mobile devices. Compared with Apple Lossless, AIFF is uncompressed. Since it is primarily created for audio production, AIFF can preserve all the real audio samples. Thus, it is ideal for audio recording, editing, and mastering.

Metadata Information

Metadata (i.e. artist's name, album title, track number) is vital for audiophiles to organize beloved music collections. In terms of metadata information, Apple Lossless and AIFF can retain metadata but in different amounts.

As mentioned, Apple Lossless is tailored for digital music management and playback. Therefore, a lot of metadata information can be retained, including artist's name, album title, track number, and cover art. In comparison, since AIFF emerged for audio production, sound quality is the priority. Therefore, it has limited metadata support, which only offers some basic information like artist's name and album title and does not support cover images.


Since Apple Lossless and AIFF are developed by Apple, these 2 audio formats can be played on Apple devices without hassle. By comparison, the playback of AIFF would be more steady since it is uncompressed. Because of compression, when we use media players to play Apple Lossless audio files, the players need to decompress the file before it plays back. Most of the newly developed media players could solve this problem easily, but as for those old media players, they would be slow in decompressing the file, lagging the play behind.


Apple Lossless and AIFF may not be able to play on some media players. In this situation, if the songs are on Apple Music and you are one of the subscribers, it is advisable to use TuneFab Apple Music Converter to convert these tracks to other mainstream formats, like FLAC, WAV, or MP3.

Apple Lossless vs. AIFF: Which is Better?

Now that you may grasp the similarities and differences between Apple Lossless and AIFF. To help you make an informed decision, check out the comparison below.

Compression File Size Audio Quality Use cases Meta info
Apple Lossless Lossless Compressed Small, generally 50% smaller than AIFF Lossless Music playback and storage Artist's name, album title, track number, and cover art
AIFF Uncompressed Large Lossless Audio recording, editing, and mastering Artist's name, album title

Overall, Apple Lossless and AIFF have the same audio quality, but are different in other aspects. If you are a professional in the music industry or you would like to have fun with the audio, AIFF would be a better choice since it contains every single audio sample. For music lovers who pursue high-quality music playback, Apple Lossless (ALAC) is no doubt a great option as it has a smaller size and has more metadata preserved. This can help manage plenty of music with ease.

In the Nutshell

To sum up, the essential difference between Apple Lossless and AIFF format is due to the compression. Apple Lossless is compressed while AIFF is uncompressed. The compression would have affected the file size, and playback speed obviously, but both of them are lossless. The number of meta-information is a bit different between them as well. So, just select the one which is more suitable for you.

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