A number of advanced technology in the field of sound engineering has given rise to some of the major breakthroughs over the years. A rigorous pursuit of satisfying the contemporary necessity of world of music has given rise to many file formats of sound. The most used file formats would be .mp3, .wav and .wma which found most popularity among the listeners and musicians. I will explain why to choose WAV over MP3 and WMA.
Amidst the transforming technology, there is a number of recording techniques adopted by musicians. Most people record with the help of mixers and a small acoustic room termed as a studio. So if you are recording in your studio or just listening to music for a gig, go for the WAV format music file instead of lossy MP3 or WMA.
To give it a start, let’s try to understand what are the fundamentals of these file formats. The three are among the most famous file formats. They have widely been adopted by millions of people to record and listen to music, upload music online, download your favorite music. A normal human might not even notice the difference in music while playing the files. But as a matter of fact, there is a huge difference.
To make it more clear, I will start with defining the three formats of music files and the advantages and application of these music file formats.
MP3 – MPEG Audio Layer 3
This file format is famous and known as MP3 file format with an extension of .mp3. The MP3 is one of the most used music file formats in the world over the internet. It is one of a kind file format that is widely used on various devices and platforms. However, there are some aspects of a .mp3 file that makes it lag behind WAV and WMA.
MP3 is a compressed music format file. This type of file contains a compressed sound data that is one of the basic reasons for it not being the best. It gives a quality sound with a loss of frequency.
The basic reason behind MP3 file format is to cut off the access data in terms of frequency. The access data would be a frequency that is a little beyond the hearing range of human ears. To do this, the files are compressed and the quality of sound declines. A normal human can perceive up to 20KHz but the general limit is believed to be 18KHz and so is the MP3 file format.
WAV – WAVE from Audio Format
This is the most loved format for most of the artists and sound engineers. It is one of the best audio file formats due to its lossless sound quality. The upper limit of WAV file is up to 22KHz which, a few people who have trained ears can detect. This can be natural with many people to listen to frequencies around 22KHz.
This file format is standard for audio in the PCs. It stores the data in a chunk like riffs and is coded with PCM or Pulse Coded Modulation. These WAVE files are bulky in nature and minute mistakes while saving, copying or using bad WAV player causes deletion or loss of the file. If it happens then, recovering deleted WAV file can be a task for you. To avoid damage of WAV files, always keep caution while dealing with them.
The WAV files are almost uncompressed files, but not all the time. Many times the file is compressed with even MP3 contained in the compressed audio file. but for most of the WAVE files, there is an uncompressed file with the PCM coded format.
This file format is preferred by most of the technicians during studio recording and DJ’s. The WAV files contain more details and you can obtain more precise sound with it.
WMA – Windows Media Audio
This file format was developed in late 1990’s to overcome some of the flaws of MP3. With its new technique to compress the audio data, it gained popularity among some circles. WMA file compression is concerned with a number of standard compression methods. This made the audio quality to be a bit better than the compressed file format of MP3.
But this file format did not get its hand over many users. Partially due to the restriction of devices as many devices could not play WMA files. Partially due to the fact that its compression method basically concerns saving a little bit more than MP3.
Why Choose WAV over MP3 and WMA
Now we come to the point where I will tell u why exactly should you go for WAV instead of MP3 or WMA file formats. If you are anything to do with studio or recording, it is a priority for you to use WAV format. To get uncompressed lossless sound quality. Here are some reasons why choose WAV over MP3 and WMA:
Frequency Response – The WAV file which is uncompressed has a full frequency response of around 22KHz which is a very nice range for all the human. As for the MP3 files, the maximum frequency response would be around 18KHz which is much lower than the upper limit for WAV files. As for the WMA files, there is a very small difference in the frequency response of WMA and MP3 files. So we will take the difference in a negligible manner. This difference in frequency can suppress a lot of sounds and hence reducing the sound quality.
Seamless Loop – Using the MP3 to create a seamless loop is not possible whereas with WAV you can create a seamless loop and play sound without any pause or sound gap. Using a WMA file in such cases is not a good idea. The sound file that you are creating is used in a number of devices, whereas a WMA can't be a very good idea.
So if you are working on a new music project and want to create a sound file with minimum loss of sound, the WAV is your best shot.
Sound Mastering – While mastering the sound, using the MP3 with mid-side processing is of no use if you are enhancing the side sounds. Those sounds are chopped off or compressed in an MP3 and WMA, they are replaced by digital bits to fill the gaps. This would never give you a good sound.
But if you look at the same procedure with WAV file, they will give you the amazing result as they are lossless. They give an excellent result while mastering or using with a midi processor.
Encoding – There are a number of advantages of the WAV file if we compare its application with respect to the WMA and MP3 files. However, there is this peculiar difference of encoding among them. This is the basis of all the difference in a way among the three formats.
The MP3 contains bits of digital noise and compressed sound files. The WMA file contains compressed sound files like the MP3. While the WAV file contains data encoded with LPCM, ADPCM. This can even contain an MP3 encoded data.
This is an evidence of the high-quality sound delivered by the WAVE file format.
Storage – The issue of storage is not a big deal these days. Still, it is one of the most important factor to consider. Space or memory is one of the first reasons for MP3 to come into existence. It was created with the insight of saving space that is stuffed with WAV files. These files are large and bulky and can eat up a huge space in your system.
The evolution of WMA file format was to counter the drawback of MP3 and keep the advantage of acquiring less space.
As for the WAV files, they are lengthy and heavy sound files. They contain almost all the information in the form of sound. Thus everyone recommends professionals to go for WAV file format. Over the years, the issue with space has declined gradually. And now we have plenty of space on our devices. So keeping a number of good quality audio files as WAV is not an issue these days.
Finally, we can conclude that the WAV file format is the best choice for us if we want to go for professional music. Even the CDs that we listen to, have the music in WAV format. The MP3 and WMA have their own popularity and are highly used due to a small size. But to those who like to listen to high-quality music, WAV is what we have.
Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.
As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.