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MP3 vs .Wav

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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