What are Mp3 & .Wav?
What is a .wav file?
When sound is recorded, it is represented electronicly as waves.
In order to store this sound on your computer, these waves must be converted
to a digital format. This is done by 'sampling' the waves many times
per second. The data from this wave sampling is stored in your computer as
a .wav file.
In the graphic to the left, the red lines represent samples being
taken of a wave. It can be seen that more frequent sampling will give
a more accurate representation of the wave. In fact CD quality sampling is
done 44,100 times per second. Each one of those 'samples' is 2 bytes in
size (16 bits). For stereo music, the left and right channels must both
be sampled. If you do the math, (44100 x 2 x 2 x 60) you will find that
one minute of music, sampled at CD quality will make a file
about 10 MB in size! With the average song being 3 min. long,
.wav files have a voracious appetite for hard drive space. Files this large
are also difficult to transfer over the internet. If the rate of sampling is
lowered, the file size can be reduced at the expense of lower quality
sound. (In the graphic, you can see that the lower sample rate misses
some of the variations in the wave.) MP3 was developed as a form of
compression which will reduce the size of .wav files, with
minimal loss of quality.
What is MP3?
MP3, or MPEG layer 3, has become a popular format for reducing the
size of audio files. Most of the music available for download off the internet
is found in this format. The reduction in file size is accomplished
partly by compression, elimination of inaudible data, and the encoding
duplicate data. The result is an audio file that sounds the same,
but is not identical to the original. MP3 can be encoded at different
bitrates, measured in kilobits per second (kbps). Music encoded at
either 128 or 160 kbps will generally be of good quality, but for
the purpose of burning a CD, the original .wav or CD-DA is preferable.
(Technical details on MP3)
Compare features of mp3 programs/converters
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