ALAC is the format of a small specialized program called an audio codec. Its main task is to compress a file with digital music without losing its quality. The name of the format created by Apple's IT giant is Apple's abbreviation Lossless Audio Codec. This format may also be called ALE (from Apple Lossless Encoder). Files in this format can play devices even with limited computing resources - such as an iPod. When compressing a file in this format, it is approximately 40-60% of the original file. Now almost every multimedia player based on the libavcodec library is able to play ALAC format files.
AU is an audio file format created in Audacity. This is a free cross-platform program designed to edit audio files. AU format (Audio Units) was developed by Sun Microsystems. This format greatly simplifies the task of reliable storage of audio files. An AU file consists of 3 parts: a header (max. 24 bytes), a description block of various sizes, and audio data. The file format is used on computers running the Sun or Unix operating system. However, it opens with other audio players. The AU format uses the logarithmic encoding method, previously very popular on computers running the Sun SPARCstation operating system. Previous sound file formats, in order to reduce the size, used the logarithmic scale of recording samples. Among the representatives of such formats, the Sun AU group of formats, which are still in action, gained great fame. Problems with opening the AU file usually manifest themselves when there are no corresponding applications that would be installed on the PC. Applications that use .AU files are Apple QuickTime Player, Microsoft Windows Media Player, Real Player, Winamp, and other widely used audio players. And this is the vast majority of professional audio editors.