WAV File

WAV format stands for Waveform Audio File format is one of the simplest file format used for storing audio information that can play uncompressed digital audio. It is based on the Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF) that stores the audio files in indexed “chunks” and “sub-chunks”.

WAV format was invented by jointly IBM and Microsoft. These files usually contain raw, uncompressed audio data, information about the file's number of tracks (that includes mono or stereo), sample rate, and bit depth. They are most commonly used on Windows PCs. Apple’s version of WAV file is known as Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF) and was released in 1988 for Macintosh computers.

File Extension of WAV: .wav

MIME type: audio/x-wav

WAV file format incorporates lossless compression technique, when it should hold compressed data. Lossless technique means that it can store the audio without compromising in its audio quality even when it holds the compressed data.

WAV files are stored as an audio data in small chunks that creates a continuous audio file from individual bits of information. It mainly contains three chunks of information:

  • RIFF chunk (occupying 12 bytes) - Identifies the file as a WAV file.
  • FORMAT chunk (24 bytes) - Identifies parameters such as the sample rate
  • DATA chunk - Contains the actual samples

Programs that play WAV files:

On Windows: Microsoft Windows Music, Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, VLC media player, Winamp Media Player, Video Converter Ultimate etc.

Mac OS: Apple iTunes, QuickTime Player, VLC media player, real player and others

Advantages of WAV file

  • The WAV file is a lossless format, which allows the sound of the WAV file to be a close replica of the original audio source
  • WAV files are ideal for preserving the master recordings in an archive where storage space is not an issue
  • It can be used as a viable interchange medium for other computer platforms, such as Macintosh allowing the developers to freely move audio files between platforms
  • WAV files can easily be converted into other file types such as AIFF, AAC and MP3
  • Can store uncompressed sampled audio as pulse-code modulation (PCM) data

Drawbacks of WAV file

Even though these WAV files can copy and save the music exactly as the original track without any flaws, there are few disadvantages associated, they are:

  • It is uncompressed format WAV file format will consume a big memory space
  • Due to large sizes, the tracks saved using this format is not ideal for uploading online
  • Converting from a compressed audio file to WAV file may not restore the full sound of the original source

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