I don’t know Safari but every browser I know has a setting to choose whether it should ask every time or automatically download to a chosen folder.
The way you asked the FLAC/ALAC question guarantees that someone will be convinced they prefer one or the other, and it makes absolutely no difference whether an actual difference exists, someone will be convinced anyway
Well, on bandcamp I prefer the ALAC downloads.
But solely because I plug them into my “Music” (aka. iTunes) library and my Apple surroundings work “natively” with them.
(I did not compare SQ, but from expectation bias, I anyway don’t believe in a difference given a compute platform powerfull enought to extract a ZIP file in “real time”.)
BTW - since you can losslessly convernt between both formats, there’s no real need to store both. (But if you want to switch, if may be convient not to have to do conversion yourself. So if you don’t mind the time for the downloads and have storage space aplenty…)
In many ways your thoughts align with mine, though I think Music can now (or at least macOS supports) handle FLAC which it couldn’t in the past.
I’ve tended to download ALAC from Qobuz for the same reason but also because Qobuz’s download interface defaults to ALAC on Macs.
In the past with older streamers I think WAV or FLAC were preferred for NAS streaming (or NAS transcoding to WAV on the fly), though I can’t recall if the older streamers could handle ALAC natively anyway.
Older threads suggest that processing overheads to decompress compressed files (including most FLAC formats) resulted in audible differences possibly due to electrical noise incurred by the decompression process itself.
As you say, I could just download one format and freely use software to convert to another - they ought to be the same but I’ve never checked the audio only bit by bit (once decompressed if needed).
Also, you have to wonder if say a hi-res download has the same provenance as the CD quality version you could also download - music companies could potentially provide a different CD quality version which is not derived from the hi-res master.
I started off Ripping to FLAC for the first couple of years, then moved to ALAC, and now back to FLAC. I don’t think there is any SQ difference, but FLAC is supported so much more. FLAC still doesn’t play in iTunes/MUSIC, but you can play it from IOS just by clicking space-bar.
For Music/iTunes, I use MP3, which makes sense when you sync to your iPhone.
I rip in FLAC and MP3, place everything in one folder, then run a script I wrote which then creates Hard Links to a MUSICMp3 folder, and MUSICRaw for HiRes. Works for me.
Sure Windows supports the MP4 codecs including AAC.
These days AAC is ubiquitous… from web radio to mp4 (m4a) streaming to simple AAC audio files.
AAC is typically higher quality (less artefacts and loss) for a given bandwidth compared to the aging MP3 standard which I guess is why it has become so popular and ubiquitously supported.
Absolutely insecure I agree, but from an end-user perspective it just worked and had a nice layout/GUI. I may be overcritical of Windows but I hate more recent versions (even more than Windows Me and that’s saying something!).
Mac OS X/macOS has also gone backwards visually in my view, they keep trying to reinvent the wheel when previous GUI iterations were better or just as good, change for change’s sake.
The times when the first thing a new computer user had to do was editing config.sys and autoexec.bat to enable boot menus for loading the right libraries in the right order to fit cool games into the first 640 KB. Instead of being mollycoddled like today