Blaze Audio, audio software and hardware
LP Conversion Package sale
Lifetime free support, 14 Day Free Trial Lifetime Free Support 14 Day Free Trial
  PayPal Acceptance Mark
View Cart ( 0 Items)
  4. Audio Formats

Some of the main formats of interest in digital audio are wave (.wav), MP3 (.mp3), MIDI (.mid), Windows Media (.wma), Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), Ogg Vorbis (.ogg), and RealAudio (.ra). Each format has its particular strengths and specific uses.

Wave (.wav) When you convert analog sound to digital by recording live music or lps with your computer, the resulting file will be in wave (.wav) format. Wave is the standard form for uncompressed audio. Since a wave file is uncompressed data - as close a copy to the original analog data as possible - it is therefore much larger than the same file would be in a compressed format such as mp3. Audio CDs store their audio in, essentially, the wave format. Your audio will need to be in this format in order to be edited using a wave editor, or burned to an audio CD.

MP3 (.mp3) is a popular compressed audio format widely used to transfer music over the internet and store audio files on digital audio players. MP3s are created by taking wave audio data and processing it with an algorithm that removes parts of the audio that theoretically cannot be detected with the human ear; in actuality, there will be some degradation of quality, but this depends on the quality (bitrate) with which you choose to encode the file. See page 2 of this tutorial for more technical details.

The net result is an MP3 file which is vastly smaller than the original wave file, but sounds very nearly as good. As an example of the huge size difference between a wave file and an MP3, a three minute song will take up 30 Mb as a wave file, but only between 2 and 7 Mb as an MP3 (depending on the bitrate you choose).

Windows Media (.wma) is a format similar to MP3. This is essentially a competing format created by Microsoft and used primarily in Windows Media Player and other compatible programs. Microsoft claims that Windows Media files are even better than MP3 files, but MP3 files are still much more prevalent on the internet.

Blaze Audio's RipEditBurn Plus saves and converts between .mp3, .wav, .wma, .ogg, and .ra files. RipEditBurn saves and converts all except .ogg, and our most affordable program, Wave Creator, saves and converts between .mp3 and .wav. Get a free trial download of any of these programs, fully functional for 14 days!

RealAudio (.ra) is a streaming audio format sometimes used by internet radio stations and for posting sound files on websites. RealAudio files are smaller even than MP3 files - around 500 Kb a song - but are of lower quality if compressed enough to play over a slow connection (such as a 56 kbps modem).

MIDI (.mid) is an entirely different sort of file. Unlike the previous two formats, it is not compressed audio. MIDI is a kind of language that allows computers and certain musical instruments to communicate. This language consists of instructions telling the instrument (or the MIDI synthesizer in your sound card) which notes to play, with what instrument, and when. MIDI can be used entirely within a computer, with no external instruments. MIDI files have a synthesized sound, and are quite small, around 30-60 Kb for your average song. One feature of MIDI files is that you can add and synchronize song lyrics to create Karaoke files (.mid and .kar). MIDI and Karaoke files are widely available on the internet as well. Blaze Audio's Karaoke Sing-n-Burn is great as a midi player, a song-learning tool, and a karaoke player.

Beginner's Starting Point