Can VLC play FLAC on Android?

What is FLAC?

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is an audio compression format that is commonly used for storing audio files without loss of quality. FLAC is a lossless audio format, meaning it retains the original quality of the audio without any reduction in size from compression. This contrasts with lossy formats like MP3 and AAC, which sacrifice some audio fidelity to achieve smaller file sizes.

FLAC is capable of retaining the exact quality of the original uncompressed audio. It compresses audio by taking out redundancies and repetitions in the audio data. This allows the audio file to be compressed to around 40-60% of its original size, without sacrificing any audio quality during playback. The tradeoff is that FLAC files are considerably larger in size compared to lossy formats like MP3 and AAC.

The key benefits of FLAC as a lossless audio format include:
– Retains the original CD-quality audio exactly as intended by the artist/producer
– Lossless compression leads to smaller files than uncompressed formats like WAV and AIFF
– Supported by many media players and devices

Overall, FLAC is considered the de facto standard for lossless audio compression. It provides the ability to store audio with zero loss in quality, while still taking up less space compared to uncompressed formats. The tradeoff is larger file sizes than lossy formats like MP3.


Why play FLAC on Android?

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) offers higher quality audio compared to lossy formats like MP3 due to its lossless compression. According to one source, “FLAC preserves the quality of the original audio source” (Source). This makes FLAC an appealing choice for audiophiles who want the best listening experience on their Android devices.

Android devices like high-end smartphones and tablets have excellent DACs (digital-to-analog converters) and amplifiers capable of taking advantage of FLAC’s superior quality. Audiophiles enjoy the nuances and details in a FLAC recording that get lost in lossy compression. FLAC also supports a wide range of bit depths and sampling rates for maximum fidelity.

Many audiophiles have large FLAC music libraries they have curated over the years. Being able to access these high-quality FLAC collections conveniently on their Android device is a top priority. FLAC support allows them to listen to their music libraries anywhere without compromising audio quality.

Introducing VLC media player

VLC media player is a free and open source cross-platform media player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols ( Developed by the VideoLAN project, VLC media player is available for desktop operating systems and mobile platforms like Android.

VLC supports a wide range of audio and video compression formats and file formats. It can play MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, DivX, mp3, ogg vorbis, FLAC, and many more without the need to install additional codecs. The customizable interface allows adjusting audio and video effects, playlists, equalizers and other settings.

The cross-platform functionality of VLC allows it to be installed on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android and more. VLC is designed for video enthusiasts, enabling advance control over media files, streaming, devices, filters and codecs. With VLC’s versatile capabilities, it has become a popular media player used by over 570 million users worldwide.

Does VLC support FLAC?

VLC media player has long supported FLAC decoding and playback on desktop platforms like Windows, Mac, and Linux. According to the VideoLAN Wiki, FLAC decoding support was added to the VLC codebase as far back as version 0.8.6 released in 2006.

However, support for FLAC playback on Android in the VLC app had been a frequently requested feature. Up until recently, the VLC Android app did not officially support FLAC. There had been a longstanding request from users for VLC to add native FLAC playback capabilities on Android devices.

Latest VLC Android App

The latest version of the VLC Android app (version 3.3.4) includes native support for FLAC playback. This was a highly requested feature that was added in VLC 3.0, allowing Android users to easily play FLAC files without any extra configuration or plugins.

According to the VLC blog, native FLAC decoding on Android is now faster and results in lower battery consumption compared to relying on the CPU. It also enables gapless playback of FLAC files.

To take advantage of native FLAC support, you’ll need to have VLC for Android version 3.0 or higher installed. The latest stable release as of January 2023 is 3.3.4. You can download it for free from the Google Play Store or APK downloads from the VLC site.

With native decoding, VLC provides high-quality FLAC playback on Android devices. Users report smooth, glitch-free audio with no stuttering or other issues. Overall, it’s an excellent option for listening to lossless FLAC music files on your Android smartphone or tablet.

How to play FLAC files

Playing FLAC files on VLC for Android is easy. Here are the basic steps:

  1. First, download the FLAC files from your computer or online source to your Android device’s local storage. Avoid streaming FLAC files directly as this can cause buffering issues.
  2. Open the VLC app on your Android device. VLC is available for free on the Google Play Store.
  3. In VLC, tap on the hamburger menu icon in the top left and select “Local files”. This will allow you to browse your device’s storage.
  4. Navigate to where your downloaded FLAC files are saved. Tap on a FLAC file to start playback.
  5. FLAC files can be large, so it may take a moment for the file to load before playback begins.
  6. Adjust the audio settings like equalizer and volume as needed during playback. VLC has extensive audio options.

The key is having the FLAC files locally on your device, rather than streaming, for smooth playback. VLC handles locally stored FLACs very well. Just make sure you have enough free storage space.

FLAC Playback Performance

Overall, VLC offers smoother FLAC playback than competing Android media apps like MX Player or the native music players according to users on Reddit. The VLC Android app leverages the same audio decoding libraries as the desktop version, providing high-quality audio playback.

However, some users have reported occasional glitches or stuttering when playing FLAC files, especially on lower-end devices. This seems to be an issue with VLC running on physical Android devices rather than emulators [1]. The decoding process may be more resource intensive, leading to occasional lagging or skips during playback.

One Reddit user found FLAC playback improved in VLC by enabling the Synchronize video option and using larger audio buffers, though this added a slight delay [2]. Trying a third-party kernel like EX Kernel or clearing app caches can also help in some cases.


While VLC is a popular, free media player for Android that can play FLAC files, it does have some limitations for FLAC playback compared to other dedicated audiophile players:

One key limitation is no support for gapless playback of FLAC files. There will be a small gap or pause between tracks during playback with VLC, which can disrupt the listening experience for albums or classical music. This is a commonly cited complaint on forums like Reddit (source).

Another major drawback is no support for connecting to external DACs (digital-to-analog converters) via USB Audio Player PRO or Onkyo HF Player. This means you cannot take full advantage of high-end DACs to improve audio quality when using VLC.

While VLC will play FLAC files on Android, limitations like no gapless playback and no external DAC support mean it may not provide the best listening experience for audiophiles. For those seeking the highest FLAC audio quality on Android, a specialized audiophile player may be a better choice despite the added cost.

Alternatives to VLC

While VLC is a popular, free media player for Android, there are some highly-rated paid alternatives that offer advanced functionality for playing FLAC files:

USB Audio Player Pro

USB Audio Player Pro (or UAPP) is a premium USB audio player app for Android. It bypasses the Android audio system for bit-perfect playback and supports onboard DACs. UAPP has specific optimizations for handling high resolution lossless audio like FLAC, including memory caching, gapless playback, and automatic sample rate switching. It’s considered one of the best apps for bit-perfect FLAC playback on Android.

Neutron Player

Neutron Player is an advanced music player for Android focused on high-quality audio playback. It supports all major lossless formats including FLAC and has features like a parametric equalizer, audio effects, gapless playback, and automatic sampling rate switching. Many audiophiles recommend Neutron Player as a great alternative to VLC for FLAC playback on Android.


Poweramp is a feature-filled Android music player with extensive audio format support including FLAC. It offers powerful music organization tools, playlists, tag editing, equalizers, and reliable gapless playback. The developer focuses on audio quality and it’s regarded as an excellent option for playing FLAC music files on Android.


VLC has come a long way in supporting FLAC playback on Android devices. With the latest versions of the VLC Android app, you can now play FLAC files directly within VLC without any hassle.

VLC provides high quality FLAC playback with lots of customizable options for bitrate, equalizer, subtitles, and more. For most people’s listening needs, VLC offers an excellent free option for enjoying FLAC music collections on an Android phone or tablet.

There are still some limitations compared to specialized, FLAC-focused Android apps. VLC may struggle with very large FLAC files or very complex tagging. The interface is not as elegant for music playback compared to a dedicated audio app. But for casual listening and convenience across many file types, VLC is hard to beat.

So if you already have a collection of FLAC files or prefer the format for archival quality, rest assured that VLC can now handle FLAC playback just fine on Android. Just install the latest version, point VLC to your FLAC music folders, and enjoy your high-res tunes on the go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *