Audio File Formats – MP3, AAC, WAV, FLAC

Get your hundred and sixty K og Forbess on Spotify, get your two fifty six AC on iTunes Lossless FLAC on title.

Well if you’re one of the two dozen people that has a title subscription, that is, boy, if you’re into music, it might seem like they’re just way too many audio formats to choose from. Can’t we all just use MP3?

No, we can’t. There’s a very good reason for all of the madness. Different audio formats make things more optimized for different types of users, electronic music artists, home theater enthusiasts, or just straight up basehead.

Audio File Formats – MP3, AAC, WAV, FLAC

Let’s start by looking at common formats used by average listeners and three AC and Forbess, these all store audio using lossy compression, which means these formats are often defined by the fact that they discard some information from the original audio source. Well, hold on now. Is that like an EP three of Don’t Fear the reaper doesn’t include the cowbell.

I got to have more cowbell. Not exactly.

You see, most people simply can’t hear much of the information in the uncompressed audio files you’d find on a retail CD. We’re talking sounds that are so low in volume, so high in pitch or so close in time to other sounds that the vast, vast majority of people can hardly perceive them. So losse formats just cut them out. Oh, and they also save space by using a different bitrate. You see, when a song gets digitally recorded in a studio.

The recording equipment takes samples of the analog sound waves coming out of a guitar or a singer’s mouth and stores them as digital bits, just standard ones and zeros on an uncompressed CD. The audio you hear is typically stored at a bit rate of one thousand four hundred and eleven kilobits per second. But lossy compression discards a lot of these bits to make the file, often many times smaller. For example, a four minute Uncompress song that takes up about forty two megabytes would only be about eight megabytes as a relatively high quality two hundred and fifty six kilobits per second and P three.

And although MP three is probably the most familiar Lawsie format, others are widely used for different reasons, such as AC, which pitches higher quality at lower bit rates due to a fancy compression algorithm, and OG Forbess, which is completely open source and patent free, unlike AMP three. But some folks aren’t satisfied with the level of quality you get with losse audio, especially audio files who want to get the most out of their high end headphones and speakers.

And instead they turn to formats like FLAC or ALAC, which offer lossless compression. These files contain all of the original audio data, but with smaller file sizes. If that sounds like magic, it’s not. Lossless compression is accomplished by looking for ways to more efficiently store redundant data. So this string would be expressed this way instead. And by predicting what sound should come next, lossless codecs can store only the difference between the predicted data and the actual data, which takes up much less space.

And because formats like FLAC and a lack are specifically designed for audio, they can compress sound clips much more than general-purpose compression schemes like Zipp. In fact, a typical audio file with lossless compression will only take off about half as much space as an uncompressed equivalent. And if you’re wondering about the difference between FLAC and Alak, you’ll need to use the latter if you want to listen to lossless music in iTunes and yeah, that’s about it. But there are also other lossless codecs like Dolby, Tru HD and HD master audio for both home theaters and commercial multiplexes that have proved popular with movie studios.

So look out for these logos when you’re out buying Blu rays if you’re at home theater enthusiasts. Even more interesting is Dolby Atmos, which incorporates each sound in a movie soundtrack spatially, meaning it can scale to a huge number of speakers because the audio is mapped in space instead of being coded for just one speaker. You can learn more about that right up here. But despite the popularity of compressed formats, keeping audio in Uncompress form does have its advantages.

UNCOMPRESS files stored in WAV or AIFF format are not only compatible across a huge range of devices because they undergo very minimal processing from the original audio signal. But they also contain all of the information that was originally converted from analog to digital. They’re easier for audio editors and creators to fine tune as much as they’d like. All of that being said, at the end of the day, if you just like listening to music, pick a format that you think sounds good or whatever the format, the music already comes in and be sure not to judge other people too harshly because their library is full of a hundred and twenty eight kilobyte rips from YouTube.

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