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LRC Format Definition: What is the LRC Format?

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Definition:

What is the Purpose of the LRC Format?

The LRC format is just a simple text file (with the .LRC extension) that contains lyrics with the addition of timing information. Rather than a standard text file that just contains the lyrics for a song, a file in the LRC format also has information on when certain words (or lines or words) should be displayed on-screen -- this is so they exactly synchronize at the right time with the music / singer. This technique can be compared to Karaoke or subtitles for video where words appear in a timed fashion.

What Software and Hardware do I Need to use LRC Files?

In digital music you can either use software or certain hardware devices to display lyrics via LRC files. Usually, the name of the LRC file has to be the same name as the audio file -- for example: song1.lrc for song1.mp3
  • Plugins for Software Media Players: in order to display timed lyrics via your software media player (like iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc.), a plugin is normally required. Popular plugins like MiniLyrics download the relevant LRC file for the song you are playing which makes it a convenient way of automatically adding synced lyrics to your music collection.
  • MP3 players / PMPs: unless you have got an old portable, most MP3 players and PMPs (including iPod, iPhone, and iPad of course) have support for the LRC format.

How is the Contents of an LRC File Formatted?

For software and hardware devices that support the LRC format to know when to display the right lyrics, a file has to have timing information along with the words to be displayed. A standard LRC file will be built up with a series of lines like the one below:

[mm:ss.hs] Song lyrics line 1
[mm:ss.hs] Song lyrics line 2
[mm:ss.hs] Song lyrics line 3...

The [mm:ss:hs] tag entry represents minutes, seconds, and hundredths of seconds respectively.

There is also a more advanced LRC format for displaying individual words rather than a line of words. The contents of a file in this format would look something like the one below:

[mm:ss.hs] <mm:ss.hs> line 1 lyric #1 <mm:ss.hs> line 1 lyric #2 <mm:ss.hs>
[mm:ss.hs] <mm:ss.hs> line 2 lyric #1 <mm:ss.hs> line 2 lyric #2 <mm:ss.hs>
[mm:ss.hs] <mm:ss.hs> line 3 lyric #1 <mm:ss.hs> line 3 lyric #2 <mm:ss.hs>...

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