Most Common Types of Audio Files and Containers

There are many types of audio files you can create in the digital audio world. Each one has its own attributes. Knowing the differences between audio formats will help you not only with future projects but also prepare you for archiving and preserving your audio files, if you decide to do so. To determine the type of audio file that you are working with, look at the file extension. The file extension is a short sequence of letters that follows the dot in a file’s name, such JingleBells.mp3. This guide will discuss some of the most commonly encountered audio files.

Waveform Audio (.WAV)
WAV audio is the oldest audio format and one of most well-known. When.WAV files are displayed on a computer, many people recognize them as sound files. WAV has been used by Microsoft since the beginning of Windows. It is a format that allows for raw, uncompressed audio. WAV files are compressed in linear pulse code modulation format (LPCM). This is the same format used by audio CDs. WAV files can easily be used to create an audio CD. WAV files have a few drawbacks. They are large in file size and cannot be larger than 4GB due to the 32-bit unsigned integer used to record the file size header.

Despite its age, WAV files are still one of the most widely used and versatile audio formats.

MPEG-1 Layer 3 – (.MP3)
The MP3 is currently the most widely used audio format. You may even have heard it mentioned by your grandparents. Because of its incredible compression ratios, almost all the downloadable music today is in MP3 format. MP3 files can be compressed down to 10% of WAV files and still sound almost identical. MP3 files are popular because they offer great sound quality and can be compressed to a fraction of the size of WAV files mp3juice.

Lossless Audio Codec (.FLAC), Free
Although FLAC is relatively new, it is quickly becoming the preferred format for audiophiles, archivists, and audiophiles. FLAC can deliver uncompressed audio in smaller packages than WAV formats. FLAC is a codec that allows digital audio to compress losslessly in a way that reduces the file size but doesn’t actually lose any information. FLAC can compress audio to reduce file size by 50-60% while maintaining the same sound quality. FLAC’s only problem is its inability to be supported on certain devices. However, this will change as FLAC becomes more popular.

Ogg Vorbis (.OGG)
Vorbis is an open-source, free software project that creates an audio codec to support lossy audio formats. Vorbis is often used with Ogg containers, so you will see it called Ogg Vorbis. Vorbis was first developed in 1993. However, licensing fees for the MP3 format were announced in 1998. Vorbis was officially launched in 1993. While Vorbis has been popular with supporters of free software it has not gained much popularity. Although it is supported by most digital audio players (including MP3 players and cellular phones), users might not find the support they need for other devices, such as cellular phones or MP3 gamers.

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