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What is WAV Format

Waveform Audio File Format (WAVE, or more commonly known as WAV due to its filename extension) (also, but rarely, named Audio for Windows) is a Microsoft and IBM audio file format standard for storing an audio bitstream on PCs. It is an application of the Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF) bitstream format method for storing data in “chunks”, and thus is also close to the 8SVX and the AIFF format used on Amiga and Macintosh computers, respectively. It is the main format used on Windows systems for raw and typically uncompressed audio. The usual bitstream encoding is the linear pulse-code modulation (LPCM) format.

Though a WAV file can hold compressed audio, the most common WAV format contains uncompressed audio in the linear pulse code modulation (LPCM) format. The standard audio file format for CDs, for example, is LPCM-encoded, containing two channels of 44,100 samples per second, 16 bits per sample. Since LPCM uses an uncompressed storage method which keeps all the samples of an audio track, professional users or audio experts may use the WAV format for maximum audio quality. WAV audio can also be edited and manipulated with relative ease using software. The WAV format supports compressed audio, using, on Windows, the Audio Compression Manager. Any ACM codec can be used to compress a WAV file. The user interface (UI) for Audio Compression Manager may be accessed through various programs that use it, including Sound Recorder in some versions of Windows.

Uncompressed WAV files are large, so file sharing of WAV files over the Internet is uncommon. However, it is a commonly used file type, suitable for retaining first generation archived files of high quality, for use on a system where disk space is not a constraint, or in applications such as audio editing, where the time involved in compressing and uncompressing data is a concern. More frequently, the smaller file sizes of compressed but lossy formats such as MP3 are used to store and transfer audio. Their small file sizes allow faster Internet transmission, as well as lower consumption of space on memory media. There are also losslessly-compressed formats such as FLAC.

 

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