I know MP3 is the most popular audio format out there, but there are so many others—like AAC, FLAC, OGG and WMA—that I’m not really sure which one I should be using. What’s the difference between them, and which one should I use to rip my music?-From Lifehacker.com
Nowadays, with the development of digital audio technology, there are many different types of audio files that can be created, all with different attributes. Understanding the differences between common audio formats means a lot for it can not only help you with future audio projects, but also better prepare you to preserve your own audio, but you should first step to realizing what type of audio file you’re working with is to look at the file extension and what is the difference between these common audio file types. Here’s a quick lowdown on the most common audio files that you might come across.
Waveform Audio (.WAV)
WAV audio is one of the oldest, recognizable audio formats, thus many people instantly recognize .WAV files as sound files when seen on their computer. WAV is a standard audio file format used mainly in Windows PCs since the early days of Windows as a format for raw and typically uncompressed audio. Most commonly, WAV files are uncompressed in the linear pulse code modulation (LPCM) format, CD-quality sound files, which means that they can be large in size – around 10MB per minute of music and which also being the reason why WAV files can be very easily used to create a playable audio CD. However, the main drawbacks of the WAV format are the relatively large file sizes.
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MPEG-1 Layer 3 (.MP3)
mp3 – the MPEG Layer-3 format is the most popular format for downloading and storing music due to its incredible compression to quality ratios. Hence, it is arguably the most popular audio format out there. Generally speaking, mp3 files are compressed to roughly 10% of the size of a standard WAV file while maintaining good audio quality. This is generally the reason MP3 files have such a wide appeal. However, we recommend the mp3 format for music storage. It is not that good for voice storage.
Ogg Vorbis (.OGG)
The Vorbis format, often known as Ogg Vorbis due to its use of the Ogg container, is a free and open source alternative to MP3 and AAC. Vorbis is a free, open-source software project that produces an audio codec for a lossy audio format. The Vorbis format has proven popular among supporters of free software, but aside from that has gained little ground as far as popularity goes. It’s supported by most digital audio players, but users may find support lacking for external devices such as cellular phones or MP3 players.
Free Lossless Audio Codec (.FLAC)
The Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is the most popular lossless format, making it a good choice if you want to store your music in lossless. Unlike WAV and AIFF, it’s been compressed, so it takes up a lot less space. FLAC is really just a codec which allows digital audio to be losslessly compressed in a way that reduces file size, but without any information actually lost. The only real drawback to FLAC currently is it’s still a lossless format, which means the audio quality is still the same as the original source, so it’s much better for listening than WAV and AIFF and it lack of support in some mobile devices.
Advanced Audio Coding (.AAC)
AAC: Advanced Audio Coding, also known as AAC, is similar to MP3, although it’s a bit more efficient. That means that you can have files that take up less space, but with the same sound quality as MP3. And, with Apple’s iTunes making AAC so popular, it’s almost as widely compatible with MP3.