Audio File Type Chart

There are many audio file types on the market nowadays, from WAV files, MP3, WMA, and much more. What are the differences between these audio files?

The most commonly used music file is now the MP3. This format was originally simply part of the MPEG movie format, and the 3rd track was the audio layer. MP3 files caught on because they were 10 times as small as the previously used WAV files, making them easy to use and store. They can be created with a variety of bit rate and other settings. They have built-in tags to store the artist name, track name, etc.

One of the most basic file types, WAVs were named after the audio wave they held. Instead of being bits of digitized sound, wav files actually hold the audio wavelength that the ear hears. If you get wave editing software, you can see the waves of music and actually edit them, making them larger, smaller, etc. Wave files are VERY large, though, which made them quite cumbersome.

WMA stands for Windows Media Audio and is what Microsoft tried to release to counter the MP3 revolution. WMA files are in general only half as large as the matching MP3 file, and many music players support both types. However, there are quite a few players that only handle MP3 files, so if you convert your library to WMA for space reasons, you might find yourself stuck in some situations.

The new Ogg Vorbis compression technique is heralded by many as the finest sounding music files possible at the smallest possible size. The tags within an OGG file are completely customizeable, so if you want to track something specific about your music files (say "given to me by" for example) you can do that. While other formats are only two channel (left/right stereo), OGG supports up to 255 channels, which is great for surround sound systems. Like all new systems, OGG isn't compatible with all players, so again you need to be cautious with how you plan to use your files.

Music Format Types
Music / MP3 Tips and Information