Sorry to start this.
As a non, non, non-expert, I thought I understood flac (and Apple lossless) pretty well - if unpacked, it yields a perfect duplicate of the original file.
Moreover, unless you're operating the world's worst system, unpacking in real time is equally transparent. You get everything, just like the good lord intended.
However, I keep running across notes on the internets from people who suggest otherwise, and in particular that 'real time' decoding (while you're listening) produces a different, not as good sound.
Is there any merit at all to those arguments?
Some people treat it like this is settled science, and people who claim to hear a difference are the equivalent of evolution deniers. Is, other than the occasional poster, the matter settled?