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What music lovers should know about audio file formats

When one wants to store any digital file of music on his/her computer system it can be done with the help of files in audio file format. In order to reduce the size of the file the date can be stored compressed or even uncompressed. The storage layer in the audio file format is clearly defined. When we say that the data has been compressed it means that the number of bits that were used in the storage of the original is reduced. This includes encoding the data or the information.

One has to know about the various kinds of formats with respect to the data storage on the computer. The first thing that one must understand is that file format and audio codec are different from each other. The function of the codec is to decode and encode the raw data. On the other hand, the data is stored with a particular format in a file and that is the specific audio file format. It is true that almost all the audio file format maintain a single kind of data in audio files, the one that is created with the coder used for audios. In addition to this if one has a format that supports multimedia then it is multimedia file format. This is the one that would support any kind of video as well as audio data.

The audio file formats can be divided into three major groups. The first one is the audio file formats that have uncompressed data. A few examples of these are AU, AIFF and WAV. The second one is the lossless compression audio file formats. The examples of these are MONKEY’S audio, WayPack, TTA, MPEG 4-SLS, MPEG -4ALS, Shorten etc. and third one is the lossy compression. The examples for this are Musepack, MP3, ATRAC etc.

Let’s first discuss in detail what the uncompressed audio format files are. The main audio format for the audio files is the uncompressed format. When one is using Windows, this kind of files is stored files with extension .WAV or .aiff. The version AIFF is the one the format of which one allows files to be interchanged. On the other side the WAV format is the one which is similar to the interchangeable format but it has to be changed from the resource itself. These are also known as the flexible audio file formats. The best part of using these formats is that the data or information with any combination can be stored via these. This facilitates storing of files with original recordings.

The union of European broadcasting has created an audio format which is standard. This is known as the Broadcast Wave Format. This works in succession to the WAV format. With the BWF format metadata can be easily and successfully stored in a file. Workstations use this format to record audios for television and the movies. This is also termed as the primary format for recording by these workstations.

Next on the list of audio file formats is the lossless compressed audio format. If one wants to store the data in less space then this format is the best. The best part of this audio file format is that while storing the file it will automatically delete the data that is not required. The number of bits used by the system per minute is the same in this file format when one is storing the sound and when one is storing silence. This means that the size of the file would be same if one has stored an encoded data of music for 5 minutes and if one has stored encoded data of silence for five minutes. In case, one is using the lossless format that is compressed then the file that has been used to store music would occupy a tiny portion whereas the file that has been used to store silence would occupy almost no portion.

If one has used the lossless compressed format then it would be easy to recreate the data as it was originally.

Last on the list of audio file formats is the lossy compressed audio format. With this format the size of the file can be reduced to a far more extent. The reason is that some part of the data is deleted. The quality is also reduced as a result of this. This actually simplifies the data which is otherwise complex. There when one is trying to store any data that one must wisely choose the format.